happy hunting, dv
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A closing letter to Mostly Archery readers.

Three years and ten days ago, influenced by an advertisement on Mike Adam’s Up North Journal podcast, I wrote Hello from Mostly Archery with dustyvarmint on the Skinny Moose Network.  I’d always liked sharing my projects, adventures and tips on bowhunting forums, but I didn’t like how this information got buried over time.  While no journalist I felt I knew where a period went and could spell most words up to and including bowhunting (that doesn’t spell check by the way).  I’m not sure what I was thinking when I named the blog “Mostly Archery”, but I almost immediately regretted it and wished it had been “Mostly Bowhunting”.  Everything was set up, though, so Mostly Archery remained.

From the beginning my intention for Mostly Archery was a weekly bowhunting blog.  One post reliably published each week that was “heavier” in content than the average blog’s more frequent entries.  Now, any blogger knows that frequent new content, plus promotion, are the keys to a successful blog.  So, with my “anti-model” growth was slow.  Over time, though, dvMA went from about one “hit” per day to an average of around 199 per day.  Not gangbusters, but at about 6000 hits per month.  Only a very, very small number of weeks ever missed a post and those were more than made up for by “Mid Week Extras”.  By my definition the concept was successful.  One area I wasn’t successful in was followership.  Rather than random drive-bys I wanted a regular readership.  Repeat visitors are only about 21% of dvMA readership with subscribers being pretty low in number.

dvMA’s mission was to, “…help you avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made over time.”  That included telling the truth in product and outfitter reviews, not just turning the other cheek to allow you to make the same poor purchase.  When I dropped my bow, cam first, on the concrete floor I told you that too.  I believe my How To – Make Your Own Turkey Friction Call is one of the best and FREELY shared resources on the subject on the internet.  Additionally, I also believe my daily journals and other highly detailed posts about bowhunting Africa are some of the most informational resources for the aspiring African plains’ game bowhunter available anywhere.  

There were bad times and good times along the way.  Skinny Moose through three different ownership models was sometimes the source of serious frustration as was using the publisher Word Press.  However, I also believe dvMA was my step onto a number of shooting and pro-staff positions.  That in itself is an experience needing to be written about.  dvMA was the reason I was able to attend the coveted ATA show in 2011 and 2012.  I met some great people through those opportunities and blogged about them here. 

I have often said that when I am with Mrs. dustyvarmint and my beloved dogs, Lexus and Maggie, that I’m thinking about bowhunting.  And, when I’m bowhunting I’m thinking about Mrs. dustyvarmint and Lexus and Maggie.  I’ve also said that bowhunting, to me, is a lifestyle not just a hobby.  Having said those things here once again I’ve decided, among other life changes, to stop posting on dvMA.  I hope the gap, if any, left in the bowhunting blog community is quickly filled by another new blogger who isn’t afraid to tell the truth on product reviews or about a company’s customer service.  The Links page has several highly recommended resources to satiate your bowhunting information thirst in the mean time.  I do not know what Skinny Moose may do with dvMA, but I hope interested readers will be able to access the information for some time to come.

Thanks for reading and…   happy hunting, dv

dv’s Bow Highlights from ATA 2012
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I shot a few bows at this year’s ATA show.  Here’s what I think about them.
 

There is a popular internet based gun writer who is often accused of, “Never meeting a gun he didn’t like.”  I enjoy reading his work, but also think it odd that all the guns written about are good and perform flawlessly.  In his defense he notes that he never chooses “junk” to write about.  Well, I have to echo that sentiment here.  There are many bow manufacturer’s present at ATA.  I probably shoot samples from less than half of them.  Now, just because they don’t appear below doesn’t mean they are junk.  Rather, I’m simply not interested in shooting one for my bowhunting pursuits.  I was sorry to not see Athens Archery at the show as I really liked their 2011 offerings.  Honestly, though, there are so many good bows out there these days that choosing one is an almost mind boggling process.

Also, unless something is egregiously wrong (as was the case with major noise and vibration in a company’s 2011 Flag Ship offering) simply shooting the bows not properly set up or tuned to draw or poundage preferences in the lanes offers a pretty small snap shot of what it has to offer.  Additionally, I in general dislike it when manufacturers represent their bows’ speeds in IBO.  First, I don’t believe the average archer has a 30” draw length.  Second, I don’t believe a light 350 grain arrow is appropriate for the average bowhunter.

Above:  Hoyt Rampage XT. 

Hoyt Rampage XT

  • 32” axle to axle
  • 7” brace height
  • 4 lbs
  • 323 FPS (ATA)
  • Available in draw lengths from 24.5” to 30”
  • Available in draw weights from 30-80 lbs
  • Features include the In-Line Roller Guard, XTS Pro Arc Limb System and the Fuel Cam.
  • General comments:  I shot the cast riser Rampage XT in a 25”, 60 lb configuration.  Fit and finish were good.  I didn’t know if I’d like the Pro-Fit Custom Grip, but it was fine.  There was a small amount of vibration at the shot, but very small.  Noise was minimal.  It rolled forward nicely on the shot which will help balance out a sight and attached quiver when set up for hunting.  Since I usually shoot 68-70 lbs it was difficult to get a feel for the cam upon drawing.  I like this bow.  As an everyday, ordinary bowhunter I’m not afraid to depend on a “value line” bow like the Rampage XT for all my pursuits.

Above: Hoyt’s Carbon Element.  

Hoyt Carbon Element

  • 32” axle to axle
  • 6 ¾” brace height
  • 3.6 lbs
  • 330 FPS (ATA)
  • Available in draw lengths from 24.5” to 30”
  • Available in draw weights from 30-80 lbs
  • Features include the In-Line Roller Guard, XTS Pro Arc Limb System, the RKT Cam and a whole lot more.
  • General comments:  I shot the carbon riser Carbon Element in 26.5”, 60 lb configuration.  It is a beautiful bow although I’m not convinced the four-tenths of a pound reduction over many other bows on the market is worth the premium pricing.   The Pro-Fit Custom Grip was “squishy” on the bottom end which I did not like.  As with the Rampage XT there was very little noise at the shot, but slightly more felt vibration.  The Carbon Element also rolled forward nicely at the shot.  Again, draw cycle was hard to judge as the bow was set 8-10 lbs less than my normal draw weight.  The Carbon Element is a Flag Ship offering from one of archery’s premier bow manufacturers.

Above:  The Bowtech Assassin. 

Bowtech Assassin 

    • 30 5/8” axle to axle
    • 7” brace height
    • 3.8 lbs
    • 333 FPS (IBO)
    • Available in draw lengths from 26” to 30”
    • Available in draw weights from 50-70 lbs
    • Features include Octane Strings, Rotating Modules for easy draw length adjustment and Ready Aim Kill (R.A.K.) accessory package.
    • General comments:  The lane was pretty chaotic so I did not get the specs for draw length and weight that I shot the Assassin in.  This is not a new offering from Bowtech and I have spent a little time shooting one while helping Outdoors Buddy Seth pick out a new bow for the 2011 season.  The plastic overlay grip with a slight back-radius was ok with a bit of traction.  The draw cycle is not objectionable and I believe it to be a fairly smooth shooting bow.  Having previously shot Octane Strings on a Bowtech SWAT I’ll say that they are of good quality which prevents the need to swap out them out on a brand new bow.  I’d like to see the R.A.K. accessory package offered as an option rather than automatically included, though.  I like this bow and once again point out that I’m not afraid to rely on a price point bow for all my bowhunting pursuits, but prefer higher quality accessories than those offered in the package.  Bowtech is not known for their customer service and they often take quite a beating on the popular archery forums.

Above:  The Bowtech Insanity

Bowtech Insanity CPX 

  • 32” axle to axle
  • 6” brace height
  • 4.3 lbs
  • 355 FPS (IBO)
  • Available in draw length from 25.5” to 30”
  • Available in draw weights from 50-80 lbs
  • Features include Octane Strings, OverDrive Binary Cams, FLX Guard, 7-layer limbs and more.
  • General comments:  Again, the lane was pretty chaotic so I did not get the specs for draw length and weight that I shot the Assassin in.  The draw cycle was smooth and the bow sat dead in my hand at the shot with very little vibration.  The grip is simply the riser itself, my favorite kind of grip, with the corners cut off at 45 degree angles on the two back edges.  Laminate scales adorn the riser on each side of the grip.  Again, Bowtech is not known for their customer service often taking quite a beating on the popular archery forums.

Above:  The Elite Hunter. 

Elite Hunter 

  • 31 ¾” axle to axle
  • 7 1/2” brace height
  • 3.9 lbs
  • 319 – 323 FPS (IBO)
  • Available in draw length from 25” to 30”
  • Available in draw weights from 40-80 lbs
  • Features include the ESX or Tour Cams adjusted by mods depending on draw length.
  • General comments:  I shot the Hunter in a 26.5”, but unspecified draw weight.  Like the Bowtech Assassin the Hunter is not a new-to-2012 offering.  I chose it for its generous-by-today’s-standards brace height and its availability in my draw length of 26.5”.  Elite turns out a beautifully fit and finished bow.  At 319-323 FPS IBO the Hunter is not a barn burner, but a dependable, forgivable bow for pursuing your game of choice.  I do like the draw cycle on the Hunter and would be happy to shoot this bow more.  It did nothing at the shot but sit in my hand.  The grip was my favorite of all bows shot, simply the nicely radiused riser itself with scales on either side.  Elite is known for their customer service and lifetime warranty. 

Well, that’s it. My short snippets on a few bows I’d likely be willing to shoot while pursuing critters in the field.  Do you have any comments on the bows in this post?

happy hunting, dv

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Outfitter Report – Fair Chase, Ltd 2012
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The following is my trip report from a recent adventure with Fair Chase, Ltd. for javelina and hogs. This is a modified North American Hunting Club format.

1) Outfitter: Fair Chase, Ltd

2) Owner: Rob Kiebler

3) Address: P.O. Box 1679, Azle, TX 76098

4) Phone: 972-523-5621 (cell)

5) E-mail:  fairchaseltd@aol.com

6) When: January 18-20, 2012

7) Where: El Indio, TX

8) Guided: Fully

9) Drop: No

10) Transportation to hunting area: By truck driven by guide and/or outfitter.

11) Accommodations: Motel-type rooms that exceed the comfort and quality of actual motels; two beds per room per bathroom.  The strip of rooms has a large porch with Cracker Barrel rockers.  Separate game room, lounge and bar also with a large covered porch and rocking chairs. Separate kitchen and dining building.

Above:  The “motel” type rooms at the Cinco Ranch.

Above:  The interior of a Cinco Ranch room.

Above:  The exterior of the game room and bar.

Above:  The interior of the game room/bar.

Above:  The pond is just outside the “motel” rooms.

12) Trophy hunt only: No

13) Species hunted / harvested: Javelina and feral hog hunted. One javelina harvested with two botched opportunities on feral hogs.

Above:  I love stalking javelina.  Probably because we are of about the same intelligence level.

14) Tools used: Compound bow.

15) Land hunted: Private

16) Cost: Booked at 2012 rate of $375 per person per day for three-day hunt including one animal per day, food, various beverages, lodging, guiding, transportation on ranch and basic meat and trophy care. Check with outfitter for current rates. Additional costs included air fare $296.30, rental car $223.56, license $49, and tip.

17) Challenging terrain adversely affect hunt: No

18) Did weather adversely affect hunt: No

19) Quantity of game: Outstanding

20) Quality of game: Excellent

21) Guide’s Competence: Guide and outfitters’ skills and ability to apply them exceeded my own hunting skills.

22) Guide’s Hunting Ethics: Excellent

23) Condition of Equipment: Good

24) Food: Outstanding!

25) Trophy care: Excellent

26) Meat care: Good

27) Number of outfitted / guided hunts for myself: 9

28) Recommended: Highly!

29) General comments: Rob is part outfitter, part guide, part host, part concierge.  His customer service is second to none that I have ever experienced.  Smilie the ranch manager who also acts as guide is also the consummate host.  Juanita and Pattie prepare fabulous Tex-Mex meals that absolutely ensure a hunter will not starve away from home.  The approximate 15,000 acre low/no/cattle fence O’Brien Cinco Ranch is a fantastic place.  My only regret hunting with Fair Chase and on the Cinco Ranch is that I can’t do it every year or multiple times each year.  

Temperatures ranged from forty to low eighty degrees.  Being cold-blooded I often wore long underwear in the mornings and shucked them after breakfast.  Cell service for many visitors is extremely limited on the ranch which is on the Rio Grande River in southwest Texas.  Shot distances from blinds, ladder stands and tri-pod set-ups ranged from 16-21 yards.  There is a separate gun area.

happy hunting, dv

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Vapor Trail Archery Strings and Cables
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 Talking about one of my favorite bowhunting products.

Back in 2004 I was preparing for my first feral hog hunt, see Into the Sunny Black.  I’d been on time-demanding sea duty for two years and didn’t feel the string and cables on my old round-wheel Hoyt Spectra Fast Flite were quite up to snuff primarily due to a lack of love on my part.  After a lot of research Vapor Trail Archery replacements were decided upon.  From that day forward, with one silly short-term exception, my bows have worn Vapor Trail strings and cables.  That Spectra Fast Flite in particular has seen lots of abuse as my primary bowfishing bow since 2005.  Recently, the Berger button nut on this cast riser bow simply fell out, but amidst heat, freezing temperatures, water, ice, slime and blood those strings and cables are still going strong.

Above:  I’m pictured with Vapor Trail’s Steve Fondie at the recent 2012 Archery Trade Association show.

When you call Vapor Trail in Ham Lake, MN you talk to a person.  I like that.  You are likely to be referred to Steve or Jarrod Fondie, president and vice-president respectively, for technical or business questions.  Orders are shipped fast for a reasonable price.  I can’t remember it taking more than 2-3 days to receive a new set.  Who wouldn’t like that?  Even when I’ve screwed up my own order, thanks to a manufacturer’s technical listing, VTA got me strings and cables so quickly, twice, that I was able to change them out between weekly league shoots.  I have used more expensive strings with far less customer service support, but with no better performance results.

    Above:  Available in a wide-variety of color combinations VTA strings look as good as they function. 

To my knowledge VTA doesn’t advertise what their strings are made.  However, whatever it is they are made well and, apparently, pre-stretched.  Thought goes into their construction.  For example I’ve received VTA strings that had serving at the string stopper location where the original manufacturer’s strings did not.  That is a good feature for this wear-prone location.  Thread is inserted into the middle of the string near where your peep should go to make installation easier.  In my experience they are usually set within about ten shots.  I can count on no further peep rotation after that point.  This also makes tuning, a necessary process I hate, quicker.

dv’s Time Out Corner:  If at all possible I do not subject my bow and, by inclusion, strings/cables to the extreme internal temperatures of  a hot vehicle for long periods of time.  Again, once in a great while, if unavoidable, they will get left in the truck under full sun, but overall through many years of hunting trips and 3D shoots it is the rare occasion that they experience this.  I feel that over time this practice has had positive results where I see others complain about good quality strings/cables over-rotating and stretching who are less cautious with their equipment.

It is true that I was selected for VTA’s pro-staff in 2011 and have been renewed for 2012.  However, I used their products for six years before joining and would use and recommend their strings and cables even if I were not on their pro-staff today.  VTA strings and cables are what I trust on dustyvarmint’s everyday ordinary bowhunting adventures.

happy hunting, dv

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People Pictures from Archery Trade Association 2012
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Profiling some great people I met at this year’s ATA show.

 Above:  Up North Journal staff member Kevin Hutchings poses with UNJ boss man Mike Adams outside the show entrance. 

 Above:  Cindy Braun of AMS Bowfishing graciously showed me the year’s new products.

Above:   Terry Harmston, owner of Hunting Made Easy stands in front of the company’s many bow hanging devices.  HME products are innovative, affordable and some of my favorites.

Above:  Mikes Sohms, owner of Magnus Broadheads showed me how they are packaging Bullheads with their recommended arrows and an instructional DVD.  Magnus is well known for their no fault lifetime guarantee and superior customer service.

Above:  Jarrod and Steve Fondie of Vapor Trail Archery took time out at their high energy booth for this photo.  Their strings, cables and rests are among the best products in the industry.

Above:  A prized photo and experience. Left to right clockwise: Chase Fulcher continues to set new bowhunting records each year, Day One Camouflage owner Gary Christofferson, yours truly, Casey Brooks is one grizzly short of the Super Slam, Super Slam bowhunters Gary Martin, Tom Hoffman and Jack Frost and, finally, the renowned Randy Ulmer.

Above:  Dave Holt has been an extremely strong technical influence in the world of bowhunting for decades.  I attended my first seminar with him in 1994 and highly recommend his books Balanced Bowhunting and Balanced Bowhunting II for anyone who heads into the field with a bow more than two or three times a year.  He now spends four to five months a year in Africa testing equipment and helping others realize their bowhunting dreams on that continent.  Dave can be contacted at dhafrica@juno.com

Above:  Bowhunter magazine editor Curt Wells and Super Slam Bowhunter Gary Martin.  Curt’s articles and interviews are interesting and practical.  Gary always keeps me hopping in one way or another.

Above:  Cameron Hanes inspires many bowhunters to challenge themselves physically.  Fitness is something I also consider essential to bowhunting.

Above:  I shared accommodations with Michigan friend and fellow Skinny Moose blogger Lonnie Collins who writes Aim Small Miss Small.  Lonnie is a wise fount of shooting and hunting knowledge.

Above:  I watch very, very few hunting videos, but those put out by Todd Prignitz’s White Knuckle Productions make the short list.

Above:  Joe Jacks of TiteSpot produces the best quiver in the industry AND he’s a darned nice guy.  Here he shows off the now 10% lighter 2012 quiver in the new Carbon Weave pattern; hmmmm…..

That’s it for people pics from the 2012 Archery Trade Association show.  Look out for my product picks coming soon.

happy hunting, dv

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dv’s 2011 Bowhunting Year in Review
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 I review my bowhunting related successes and failures of 2011.

Above:  Larry Jones is gracious enough to pose with me during ATA 2011.

January rolled in with me joining the Hot Shot ManufacturingStrother Archery and TightSpot promotional staffs as well as attending the 2011 Archery Trade Association show.  I am very grateful to Hot Shot, specifically Robin Parks, Strother, specifically Cori Upper, and TightSpot, specifically Joe Jacks, for these opportunities.  The ATA show was everything those of us who haven’t attended dream it to be.  While I don’t get into the glitz and glamour of “professional hunting personalities” I was ecstatic to shake the hands of such greats as Larry Jones and Norb Mullaney.  See dv’s Top Product Picks from ATA Part I, dv’s Top Product Picks from ATA Part II and People Pictures from the Archery Trade Association.

March wasn’t so happy.  Without previous symptoms I hurt my ankle on a fifteen mile marathon training run.  Three doctors, numerous physical therapists and literally months of therapy later it has not recovered.  My focus has now changed to weight-lifting and the elliptical trainer for cardio.  I miss running greatly, but in life’s marathon I want to make sure I can still walk.  Here’s to hoping the ankle improves in 2012.

Above:  Kansas friend Brian poses with one of his 2011 spring toms.

For the first time since 2007 I returned to Kansas for the archery only turkey season in early April.  I spent four days hunting with high school friend Brian and one day with high school friend Big Will.  Despite many opportunities and seeing the most bearded hens I’ve ever seen in my life I did not seal the deal.  Brian and I weathered an awesome tree-dropping storm in the woods one evening following a temperature drop of over twenty degrees in just a few hours.  Times like that make me feel alive.  With the help of local hunting intelligence Big Will had gathered he and I brought a tom to eight yards that actually yelped all the way in.  No arrows were released, but what a great day we had including a coffee and cinnamon roll break with the great folks in little Reading, Kansas which was annihilated a few months later by a tornado.   Best of luck to them as they rebuild.   

Above:  After five years I finally harvested a Wisconsin turkey.

Mid-April brought Wisconsin’s turkey season.  With the help of Outdoors Buddy Seth we finally brought a five-year journey in pursuit of my first Wisconsin turkey to its end.  See Turkey of the Dead here.

Above:  This four-plus pound dog fish went down to a new Strother Valor.

The summery months brought a smidgeon of bowfishing with Super Slam Bowhunter and friend Gary Martin.  We have a hard time making our schedules match so the trips are not nearly as frequent as either of us would like.  Besides the large dog fish pictured above I also took the largest, nastiest looking “leather” carp I’ve ever seen.  It was so sickening my stomach hurt looking at it and I don’t want to share another picture of it. 

Above:  My first whitetail doe of the 2011 season.

September brought Wisconsin’s whitetail season, thankfully.  One long, wet, five-hour morning sit in the Peanut Butter stand produced nothing, but the game camera later showed that I left at 11:30 am and a doe arrived at 11:31 am.  Go figure.  That afternoon’s hunt, though, produced my first whitetail doe of the season, see Rainy Day Doe here.

Above:  My first Kansas fall hen turkey.

October found me in Kansas once again hunting with Big Will and Brian.  Will and I both had deer in front of us  the very first day and I took a nice doe that evening, see First Kansas Archery Whitetail here.  My brother, who lives just a few miles away, came out one evening.  He had a doe in front of him nearly right away.  Although I saw no bucks the signs were there and compared to the land I hunt in Wisconsin game was very, very abundant.  Later that week I took my first fall hen turkey with the help of Brian, see First Fall Turkey here.  The trips to Kansas have become the highlight of my year and I look forward to hunting with Big Will and Brian more and more.

Wisconsin rut hunting was good in November.  I did not harvest an animal, but saw the biggest buck I’ve ever seen outside of Texas dogging a doe on public land.  I also managed to get an eighteen-month old doe five yards in front of my Primos Double-Bull Dark Horse blind one evening hunt, another first.  I’d already used my tag back in September on the Rainy Day Doe so all I could do was sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

2011 brought other opportunities as well.  I joined the Buck Country Products, see The Oxy Elim-A-Scent here, the Straight ‘N Arrow Archery and, as noted in dv’s 2010 Bowhunting Year in Review, the Vapor Trail Archery promotional staffs along the way.  Throughout the year, as is expected, there were successes and there were failures.  All in all it was a good year, though, and 2012 is shaping up to be better with more of the same adventures plus some.  Anything you’d like to share about your 2011 bowhunting year?  Please leave a comment below.

happy hunting, dv

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The Hot Shot Infinity Release
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Covering the Hot Shot Infinity release.

In early 2011 I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the Hot Shot Manufacturing promo-staff. 
They have long been a manufacturer of archery releases.  Super Slam Bowhunter and friend Gary Martin has successfully used their products for many, many years.  In 2008 current owner David White bought the company and began a modernizing overhaul.  Hot Shot’s home page shows him posing with a beautiful 2009 SCI record book waterbuck.  Anyway, the all new line of Hot Shot products has brought them into the present age of materials with features serious archers and bowhunters want.  Hot Shot promo-staff manager Robin Parks noted that target shooters are clamoring to get the new products.

Above:  The Hot Shot Infinity Wrist Strap Release.   

Although I have shot the 4-finger Tempest I was specifically set up from the beginning to shoot the Infinity model which one might liken to a single-jaw caliper release.  Before I throw the next sentence out there let me say I’ve shot a lot of caliper-style releases over time including those by Scott, Winn-Free, Tru-Fire and many more.  The Infinity has the single best release mechanism of ANY, yes ANY caliper-style release I’ve ever shot.  It has zero take up, nearly no travel and breaks over extremely cleanly and effortlessly.  Hot Shot notes that this is done through the use of a Lever-Link™ trigger mechanism vice roller bearings.  Additionally, the mechanism is self-lubricating.  While in the new set up phase I adjusted the mechanism much too lightly and ended up with what one would call in firearm lingo a “hair trigger”.  A heavy breath under back tension would set that thing off!

The materials used are very lightweight compared to what is normally expected making the head feel unusually light for its size.  The connector from head to wrist strap is infinitely adjustable.  This is a feature I greatly appreciate as I shoot a very, very short strap length in order to maintain proper anchor with my already short draw length.  The wrist strap is soft, supple, doesn’t chafe and for as light as it is endures my 68-70 pound hunting draw weights just fine.

Rumor has it that Hot Shot is coming out with two new versions of the Infinity in 2012 as well as a new wrist strap.  I can’t wait to the new line up.  If you haven’t tried out their products yet I recommend you find a dealer that carries them or contact Hot Shot to see where you can give ‘em a shot.

happy hunting, dv

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The Oxy Elim-A-Scent
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A look at my use of the Oxy Elim-A-Scent from Buck Country Products.

The Oxy Elim-A-Scent is a lightweight, compact electronic scent elimination product that produces a “combination of natural cleansing activated oxygen and healthful negative ions (Oxyions) to safely destroy all bacteria and non-bacteria scent/odors, mildew, mold, pollutants and more”.  The Pro model, which was provided to me by Buck Country Products as part of their pro-staff is reasonably priced; especially when compared to other such devices on the market.  Now, in my opinion it wouldn’t be particularly ethical to write a review for a product that I’m on pro-staff for.  So, in order to give the Oxy Elim-A-Scent its due I’ll instead share how I use it and how it has performed for me.

Above:  The Oxy Elim-A-Scent Pro with AC and DC cords. 

I must note that I do not know if any scent elimination product effectively eliminates odor to a degree sufficient enough to fool an animal’s nose.  Anecdotal hunting evidence of scent elimination product effectiveness is always subject to a very wide degree of atmospheric conditions not usually recorded or replicated.  For instance I once had an 8-point whitetail approach my downwind side, trot to within 8 yards of me and end up with an arrow in his ribs. 

In that encounter I was using no particular scent elimination or cover product at the time other than non-hunting oriented scent free detergent, Dead Down Wind Field Towels  for clean up and Dead Down Wind antiperspirant.  It was morning.  Were rising thermals in play?  Was the deer distracted by the 6-pointer he was chasing or by the coyote that was chasing both of them?  Did the wind momentarily switch directions and I didn’t notice due to focusing on the show in front of me?  I don’t know the answer to any of these questions.  What I know is that he came from the direction the wind was prevailing to that morning, he didn’t spook at my scent if any blew in that direction and I shot him.

So, back to the Oxy Elim-A-Scent.  There were two things that always bugged me about attempting to be scent free.  First, there are items such as my safety harness and backpack that I don’t want to throw in the washing machine.  I’m a sweaty guy so those things get sweated up.  Second, with varying temperatures over any few days I may wear a heavy jacket only once and then need to wash it for scent prevention purposes.  All that washing certainly places wear on already expensive clothing.  The Elim-A-Scent helps me with both problems. 

Using a wardrobe hanger and wardrobe from a local variety store I created a chamber for my Elim-A-Scent Pro.  A small hole was cut in the bottom of the wardrobe, the Pro’s cord was fed up into it and the unit plugged in.  Always wary of fire potential from prolonged contact between electronics and fabric I hung the Pro from the wardrobe hanger’s bar and the Pro’s mounting hole vice just laying it in the bottom.  Now I can put my day pack, Eberlestock X2, safety harness and once-worn jacket or bibs in the chamber for scent elimination.  The Pro has Lo, Hi and Boost settings.  Unless I’m in a hurry I leave it on the Lo setting.

Above:  My homemade Oxy Elim-A-Scent Pro chamber.  The unit is near the bottom.

Above:  The chamber and wardrobe also serve well as a bow rack.

It also comes with a 12V DC plug in for use in vehicles.  I thought this would be pretty handy while traveling to hunting spots in the mornings or on transition breaks from one spot to another.  Especially since I never know what the inside of my truck may smell like.  However, I just don’t think I’m in the truck long enough on these short trips for it to matter so I didn’t continue the practice.   

When Kansas friend Big Will brought up the subject of similar scent elimination products I referred him to the Oxy Elim-A-Scent and he chose the Micro Aggressor; a small, battery operated unit with optional AC and DC cords.  Big Will hunts primarily from blinds so he wanted something easily packed that could be used in the blind.  So far he is happy with his selection and has taken a whitetail doe while using it.  Will is employed by a large university in central Kansas.  He told me once, “I know it (the Micro Aggressor) works.  At work we use a similar machine on a much larger scale to sanitize sporting equipment.  It (the Micro Aggressor) smells just like that larger unit.”  After seeing Will’s I’m also considering a purchase of the portable Micro Aggressor unit.

Items put into and then removed from the chamber I made have a sweet ozone smell.   I received the Pro model about the same time I received my 2010 African Archery Safari trophies.  The mothball smell was almost unbearable.  So, I put them all in a large box and put in the scent elimination unit.  It did not entirely remove the eye watering naptha smell, but it did noticeably reduce it.  I continue to utilize it for a variety of large and small items I want to de-scent.

Both the Oxy Elim-A-Micro Pro and Micro Aggressor are sturdily built.  The Pro comes with mounting hardware, extra emitter and 120VAC and 12VDC cords for $39.95 MSRP.  The Micro Aggressor comes with a mounting strip and hanging strap for $34.95 MSRP.  Again, I don’t know if scent elimination products work, but I feel confident the Oxy Elim-A-Scent products do something besides voodoo magic for a price that is reasonable compared to other similar products on the market.

happy hunting, dv

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dv Gear Review – Red Ram Everyday Merino Thermal Underwear
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A review of Red Ram’s Everyday Merino Thermal Underwear.

Overall Rating:  **+ (2+ stars of 5)

Specifications:  

  • Breathable
  • Soft
  • Natural Fiber
  • Naturally odor resistant
  • Comfortable
  • Sustainable source
  • Merino wool
  • For “Everyday” use. 

Performance:  **** (4 stars of 5).  Imagine yourself swaddled in a thin cloud.  That’s how soft and comfortable these garments are.  The synthetic, odor resistant light layer I usually buy is soft, but it doesn’t even come close to Red Ram softness.  Their extremely comfortable Everyday Merino products are for just that purpose – everyday use.  Cold at the office? Wear Red Ram Everyday Merino.  Need a light layer in mild weather for hunting?  Throw it on.  Need a buttery soft base layer for a second pair of heavier long underwear during the coldest of temperatures?  Right choice.

 Above:  Red Ram Everyday Merino Thermal Underwear boxers, leggins and long sleeve shirt.

With little body fat I tend to run cold.  Even in early whitetail season, almost no matter the weather, I wear light long underwear for morning and evening hunts.  No matter what the afternoon high may be those early morning and dusk temperatures usually are enough to make me put on long underwear so I’m comfortable.  For the past several months I’ve had the opportunity to do a field test of Red Ram’s men’s leggings, long sleeve top and boxers in several states and feel confident in providing a good field test of them.  I took two does this year, one in Kansas and one in Wisconsin while wearing it.  

The fabric thickness is somewhere between women’s hose and standard synthetic long underwear products.  I would not call it a single Midwest midseason layer unless coupled with a fleece outer garment.  However, for me, it has a dual purpose.  As previously mentioned a light layer like this gets worn in the early season.  Then, as the season rolls along I wear both a light layer of long underwear and a mid-weight layer.  This method keeps my cold butt warmer.  Here’s my view of the pros and cons.      

Pros:

  • The softest, most comfortable long underwear I have ever worn.
  • True to size. 
  • It proved to be very odor resistant even when I encountered unseasonably warm weather in Kansas.
  • They “feel” warm.  Even in the drizzly, dreary conditions the Wisconsin doe was taken in the wool felt nice. 

Cons:   

  • The boxers were a little more generously cut than I’d like, but I think they are designed that way versus boxer briefs.
  • The garments must hang dry versus using a dryer.  As a hunter I can’t hang them in the house due to scent concerns and the weather during hunting season generally isn’t conducive to hanging them outside – frozen undies just don’t feel right no matter what they are made of. 

Cost:  ** (2 stars of 5).  Approximately $29.99 for boxers, $57.99 for leggings and $57.99 for the long sleeve top.     

Manufacturer’s Customer Service:  ** (2 stars of 5).  When I needed clarification about the underwear’s intended purpose and who a customer should contact for service (it wasn’t clear on Red Ram’s website) it took approximately 10 days to get a response.   A company representative indicated contacting Ice Breaker from the About Us page would result in an answer to customer service inquiries. 

Source:  Provided by Red Ram for this review.  

General notes:  The Red Ram thermal underwear is nice, but the review ratings were drug down by the Cost and Customer Service categories.  Again, it is the most comfortable long underwear I have ever worn and a good gateway to merino wool for those garments.    They are available at Gander Mountain and Dog Funk.

happy hunting, dv

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What’s In Your Whitetail Pack?
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Discussing pack content and how it can vary by style of hunting.

A topic I often see discussed on bowhunting forums is the content of a bowhunter’s pack.  In this case your whitetail pack.  However, like most things in life there aren’t really simple answers.  Contents will be influenced by style of hunting.  For instance, I pack nearly everything on my back nearly every time, see Packin’ It In and Out – Treestands.  This means my pack consistently contains items such as a bow retrieval rope and bow hangers that the bowhunter who consistently hunts from permanent stands doesn’t necessarily need to carry.  Similarly, a whitetail hunter in western South Dakota may use a fully loaded day pack for his or her pursuits.  So, already knowing my style of hunting let’s do a deep dive into my pack and then I’d like to hear from you about the contents of your similarly purposed pack.

dv’s Whitetail Pack Content

  • Space blanket very tightly compressed. 
    • I do figure, though, that the time I fall out of a tree and have to sleep overnight crippled on the ground that the space blanket will still be in the pack on the stand.
  • Disposable lighter
  • Toilet paper; small amount tightly rolled and compressed.
  • Allergy and headache medicine.
    • These keep me in the field longer.
  • Two to three screw in or strap on bow hooks (depending on state rules).
    • I forget these things all over the woods.
  • HME Scent Dispensers, see the dvMA Review here.
  • I-pod and earphones.
  • dustyvarmint woodworks combination doe bleat/buck grunt call.
  • NikonMonarch ATB 10×42 binoculars with harness.
    • I’d like to find something smaller in size and lighter, but with similar light gathering capability.  Cheaper mini-binos are worthless and a more expensive set hasn’t popped up high enough on the priority list yet.
  • Fiskar’s pruning saw
  • Fiskar’s ratchet pruners
  • 6-8 ounces of water (in my custom camo’d, non-glare, “sock” bottle)
    • Priceless when you get that tickle in your throat.
  • Snacks
  • Toe and hand warmers during colder temperatures.
  • Backup battery charger for my smart phone. 
    • This is a very recent addition.
  • Safety harness tree tether.
  • Tack-type reflective trail markers.

 Above:  dv’s whitetail pack contents.

I don’t think that is too much stuff or “over the top”.  However, again, it is more than a person who consistently hunts from permanently placed treestands might carry and less than a western hunter might pack.  Conspicuously missing from that list are field dressing items, photography equipment and some means of dragging a deer out.  Since those items are needed on a minority of my hunts (I suck???) I see no reason to carry the extra weight of them on every hunt.  I’ll dead-head to the truck, drop off the stand and extra clothing and retrieve the items I need to perform those chores. 

Being a simple-minded guy I don’t want to remove stuff from my pack on the rare occasion I do hunt from a permanent stand.  More importantly I don’t want to forget to put it back in my pack later; especially something like the tree tether.  Nor do I want to switch gear back and forth to another pack for when I hunt from a blind.  I just leave everything in and strap it to my Eberlestock X2, see The Versatile Eberlestock X2 here, with the blind, chair and warm clothing. 

For my style of hunting that is what I normally carry routinely and why.  Different situations call for different items, though.  I might decide to bring in a scent dripper and scent, polar fleece vest, batteries for a game camera and who knows what else.   It’s all dependent on the exact conditions.  So that’s enough about my pack.  What do you carry on your whitetail pursuits?

happy hunting, dv

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