Backcountry Meal Planning :: Kodiak Island Hunt 2017
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A big part of planning any backcountry hunt is having to account for all of your daily sustenance. It’s a relatively simple task in everyday life. Eat whatever is available in your fridge and pantry and go to the grocery store or hit up a restaurant if you’re hungry for something else or need something that isn’t already on your shelf.

My approach for our Kodiak Island hunting adventure followed a couple general themes. First, I wanted a little more variety this year than in past years. In 2012, we ate DIY cauliflower, sausage, Ramen dinners every single day for over 2 weeks. Last couple elk trips, we ate similarly streamlined menus with only a couple, maybe 3, entree meal options. It’s a small thing being able to eat something different from day-to-day, but I particularly remember my appreciation for being able to choose on Andrew and I’s 2014 Montana spring bear hunt. That’s what I am aiming to recreate again for this hunt. Second, less sweets for snacks and more savory for the flavor profiles. Sugar gets old…quick. Third, mostly avoid the ultra-high sodium entree options. Fourth, and finally, expand my DIY meal-making assortment to include some new recipes. Oh, and without skipping over the obvious, DIY meal preparation while time consuming can save upwards of 70% of on your meal budget. So I guess that’s #5.

For starters, I’ve got a mixed supply of Starbucks VIA, Folgers, and Taster’s Choice instant coffee packets along with a half-dozen or so hot tea bags for early morning wake-ups and warming our gullets during a midday soaking rain.

Accompanying our early morning “cup of joe”, we will each pop 2 fish oil pills and another 2 in the evening before sleep. I’ve extolled the benefits of fish oil consumption in the backcountry in other posts…suffice it to say, I’m a fish oil advocate.

Breakfast options include 3 or 4 different flavors of oatmeal. I dump 3 single serve packets into a single freezer Ziploc, toss in some supplemental freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit, maybe some chopped walnuts depending on the flavor, and reseal. I also have about 6 scrambled eggs/omelet meals that I purchased from Mountain House, AlpineAire, and Backpacker’s Pantry. One of 2 items that we plan to grab at a Kodiak grocery store is a bag or 2 of fruit, so I imagine some apples or bananas will supplement our pre-packaged meals to start each day.

For lunches and dinners, we have a host of entree options ranging from proven DIY recipes, new experimental recipes I pulled together from other online resources and/or podcasts, and a few of my favorite commercially-available meals from Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry (Pad Thai and Sweet & Sour Pork to name a few). I had 6 meals leftover from last September’s archery elk hunt that comprised of dehydrated couscous succotash with venison roast. I pieced together some couscous and Tuna packets meals, Idahoan instant potatoes and gravy with venison roast and dehydrated carrots + kale powder meals, Knorr Sides alfredo + chicken breast chunks, and other interesting combinations. I went a bit wild dehydrating stacks of trays after stacks of trays of kale and plan to incorporate kale powder into a number of entrees. As far as consumption goes, I typically perform well eating a half-entree during midday and a full heavy meal after dark. We’ll see how dad’s metabolism cycles throughout the day, but that may be the approach we end up taking. Hoping some Sitka backstrap, a couple ptarmigan breasts, and maybe even some fish will add even more to our main menu. I’ve got tiny shakers of salt and pepper for those occasions.

For between meal-snacking and on-the-go purposes, I dehydrated about 4 pounds of jerky, plan to grab some tortillas in Kodiak to wrap up almond butter + honey wraps, bought a couple bags of coconut husks (ridiculously high calorie and subtly sweet snacks that I’ve come to love), loaded about a dozen candy bars to spread across the trip (Snickers, x-large Reese’s cups, and Pay Days), threw in a mixed assortment of Clif and Lara bars, and rationed 4-ounces of trail mix per person per day into freezer Ziplocs.

I’m hoping to consume 3200-3400 calories/day. Almost assuredly, that will put us in a substantial calorie deficit throughout the trip, but eating much more than that and I just don’t feel good with that much food churning through my system.

Kodiak Island DIY Adventure :: Gear Bag Dump, Part III
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So wrapping up my complete gear and equipment list, I’ll lay out my basecamp equipment, sleep system, and shelter. In prior posts (Part I, Part II), numbers posted were in ounces and are my realized weight. By realized weight, I mean the weight in ounces that my kitchen scale is spitting out and with modified packaging, sometimes extra strapping is lopped off to cut grams, maybe I have ditched the packaging altogether, etc. One of the few luxury aspects of our upcoming Kodiak Island hunt is that we will be air-dropped into the lake where are shelter, sleep system, and camp essentials will stay in one place. Therefore, while I can post weights of different items if someone is curious, I haven’t weighed these items as they won’t be part of any grunt work while on the Emerald Isle.

Our cook-kit will be bare bones—a spork and 700-ml kettle for each of us, a single pocket stove to share, two 8-ounce fuel canisters, 3 different methods to ignite a fire (waterproof matches, Bic lighters, Swedish firesteel), and a shared thermos to tote 16 ounces of hot coffee into the midday hours. That’s it. I might grab an 8” aluminum skillet that we can use to cook up ptarmigan breasts or Dolly fillets or Sitka backstrap on the wood-stove, but I’m torn on that. I’ve had excellent grouse, whole fish, and venison grilled on a spit too, so a skillet might ultimately get left behind as an unnecessary extra. I will make another post detailing our food menu for the trip.

I think I already mentioned the luxury of carrying a full package of wet wipes along—boy, that will be nice! I’ve also got a lightweight molded poly shovel for keeping a clean “outhouse”. It’s only respectful of whoever uses your lake on the next fly-in. Micro-fiber camp towels are another great item to spot-dry optics, a quick facewash in the creek, or a full-body towel off after a polar plunge in a lake.

I won’t detail our meat care strategy – only link you to this forum thread which details what our approach will be – but I will make sure to report back on how effective it is. We will be packing 2-gallon Ziploc freezer bags, a mesh sports ball bag, some 3-mL contractor bags, and I need to add a spray bottle of citric acid to the list. That’s an item that I will pick up in Kodiak City after our flight comes in from Anchorage and before we jump on the floatplane with Seahawk Air.

Just a couple other items to mention. Always take double or triple the amount of paracord that you think you will need. Paracord is almost as versatile as duct tape and can be used to meet a diversity of needs and fix a myriad of problems. I’ve got 50-feet of small diameter Lawson’s reflective cord and another 50 of the larger diameter more traditional type paracord. We’ll also round out our hand implement assortment with a folding saw (also taking a machete and hatchet). I purchased a Bahco Laplander folding saw which is a highly durable and lightweight (6 ounces!) option that the backpacking forums spoke of highly. I am also throwing in a really cool folding camp chair that I picked up at a yard sale several years ago. It weighs right at about a pound and collapses very compactly and is rock-steady sturdy. I’m sure you will eventually see some pictures of it in my post-trip Kodiak reports. I had someone tell me it was an old Boy Scout style chair, but I’m unsure if that’s accurate or not.

Not much has changed with my sleep system over the years, but I did throw in some ear plugs because dad is a confirmed snorer. Not horrible, but he snores sometimes and I don’t want to hear it when he does. I’m sure I’ve snored at least once before, and I guarantee my wife would return the sentiments. I think our bear fence rental probably fits best into this paragraph on sleep system as well. I read one guy’s forum post that said the best way to guarantee good sleep on Kodiak is a Tylenol PM, a whiskey nightcap, and an electrified bear fence.

I took the Redcliff on its maiden voyage last weekend to capitalize on the peak of the meteor showers . Not exactly rugged test conditions, but I have the utmost confidence from others’ reviews that the Redcliff and TiGoat stove system will handle the worst of what Kodiak Island can dish out.

Week 3 :: Wildlife Mgt Course 2017
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Before it gets lost forever in the shuffle, I wanted to post just a couple pictures from the third week of my Pymatuning Ecology Lab field course.

On Monday of the final week, the 3 student groups finished up their data collection and got to work entering numbers into spreadsheets, calculating some parameters using GIS-software, and framing an outline for their final report and presentation which were both due on that Friday. The frog diversity group had hours of acoustic recordings to go through in a wildlife “music” software platform. Looking for the visual signature of amplitudes and frequency and sound waves, they quickly were able to train themselves to pick out green frog from bullfrog from other species from the surrounding din of nighttime noises that one might usually hear around a swampy wetland. The water quality group had one more site to visit before coming back to the lab to sort through and identify collected specimens and make sense of how their water quality metrics matched up with aquatic biodiversity. The small mammal group completed the last of their 480 trap nights (!!) and were rewarded with the first confirmed meadow jumping mouse capture in recent PLE history. All told they captured nearly 40 small mammals throughout their best attempt to estimate population size using mark-(re)capture techniques and gauge diversity between different forested and field habitats.

For the midweek, starting on Tuesday at noon and returning Wednesday night, we made our annual expedition to Pennsylvania’s reintroduced elk herd near Benezette. We have exceptional access to a truly beautiful campsite right in the middle of the restoration zone and we were treated to some great elk encounters, a good discussion with the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s elk biologist and excellent water conditions to make use of the local swimming hole. I even coerced about half the students on an early morning hike that traversed almost 6 miles of state game lands hills and hollows.

We wrapped up the end of the week with group presentations, a small final exam, and a Thursday evening pontoon boat ride out onto the lake to spy on the local eagle nest where 2 adults and several sub-adults gave us an excellent show.

Kodiak Island DIY Adventure :: Gear Bag Dump, Part II
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Continuing on spilling all my gear and equipment list for my upcoming Sitka black-tailed deer hunt on Kodiak Island…

You already saw the highly-rated yet affordable Onite charger I picked up on Amazon. I made my second book selection to supplement “Monarch of Deadman Bay: The Life and Death of a Kodiak Bear”, and that is the sequel to “The Old Man and the Boy” by Ruark — “The Old Man’s Boy Grows Older.” I’ll be curious to see what dad’s book choices are and those pages combined with a deck of cards and a cribbage board will be the mainstay for passing sour weather tent-bound time. 4 pounds of entertainment could go a long ways if the weather socks us in bad, but hopefully goes largely neglected because we’ve got great hunting weather day-in and day-out. One can dream!!

I’m leaning towards taking my DSLR Canon camera with lens all the way to Kodiak’s interior. I bought a heavy-duty dry sack that I trust with the camera inside, but the overall moisture and humidity of the environment does have me wavering a little still on that decision. I know I will hate myself though if I don’t have it with me. Other than the potential conditions, Kodiak Island is a photographer’s heaven. I already mentioned the 2 pound bucket of plaster of paris to cast a brown bear track in a prior post, and 40-bulb lightweight LED floodlight rounds out our list of convenience items. I’m thinking the LED light will come in handy at camp for nighttime caping, meat care duty, and such.

My list of toiletries is short – I will brush my teeth and “wash” my hands daily but that’s about it. The first aid kit has a couple more items inside that can double as cleanliness options, but being grimy in the backcountry is something I accepted a long time ago. Which does remind me of one more convenience item…a whole package of moist wet baby wipes. Yes indeed, that will be a luxury item! I have never brought myself to packing them on backpacking hunting trips, but with the benefit of a fly-in on Kodiak Island, it was an item I was excited to add to the gear list.

Rounding out this portion of the list is my spare equipment — 2 extra headlamps and an extra Sawyer mini water filter. I also purchased some Lacrosse original Burly Air Grip un-insulated rubber boots. Those should be nice to wading the short distance from the float plane’s pontoons to shore and any creek crossings or days when we stay low due to fog or because we want to go fishing. I am still planning on wearing my Salomon 4D GTX boots that I’ve had for 6 years now. My 4Ds are completely shot and I can see my big toes through the fabric at this point, but the tread is still in great shape and I trust my ankles to those boots. I am figuring that anything short of a rubber boot is going to result in soaked feet on most days anyways, so I’m not worried about the aesthetically destroyed nature of my Salomons. This will probably be the last trip I ask of them before a replacement, but they have served my needs wonderfully for over 60 days of brutal backcountry punishment over those years. About $3/day insurance policy to protect your most crucial investment, can’t beat that.

One more thing about the Lacrosse boots. The tread is what I was shopping for in the Burly Air Grips. The above picture resolution is poor but you get the point. The pegged molded rubber supposedly provides superior traction on steep slopes covered in wet vegetation. We shall see. Some extra socks, boxers, short sleeve T, long sleeve T, pair of pants, and my Sitka 90 jacket in case of unseasonably cool temps and that rounds out this post. Numbers posted are my item weights in ounces according to my kitchen scale at home.

6.5 Creedmoor Extended Sight-In
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Took my new rifle out again last weekend of July and stretched my sight-in to the 200 and 300 yard mark. I made the full transition over to Hornady 143 grain ELD-X bullets which will be hunting round for deer-sized game. If I ever take the Creedmoor out for elk or bear, I will probably re-zero with a bonded bullet for better penetration and controlled expansion. Anyways, I checked the zero again at 100 yards and still performing at around 0.5 MOA and cutting same bullet holes every other round. At this stage, the gun is shooting BETTER than I had hoped. After checking the zero, I fired 3 rounds through my cousin’s chronograph which clocked an average of 2,775 FPS. A full 75 feet-per-second faster than the box advertises…I guess that’s the 26” barrel paying off.

Anyways, punched all that info into a bullet drop app – I’m using Strelok which works well on Androids – and walked out to 200, then 300 yards still shooting off a bench. My groups expanded a little, a little closer to MOA at 200 and 300 yards but still grouping great. Unfortunately, my bullets were consistently falling further and further below the bullseye as I pushed the distance out past zero. I needed another click at 200 yards and 2+ extra clicks to make dead nuts at 300 yards. (If you’re a gun nerd and are curious about such things – unlike myself – scope is in MRADs). A bit more discouraging is that the discrepancy is going to exaggerate the further out I go. So much so that by the time I push the gun to 500 yards, my actual bullet drop will be approximately 10” lower than what my bullet drop app is kicking out based on my input data.

Put this chart together to show what Strelok says should be happening with drop trajectory according to my input, then played with numbers to adjust FPS all the way down to 2575. That muzzle velocity, 2575 FPS, is what I had to enter as input data (which is 200 FPS slower than my rifle’s actual performance) in order to best replicate the drop I was observing in the field from a 100 yard zero to 300 yards. I hated to do that but wasn’t sure what else to do.

Now, I have reached out to a couple forums to seek out assistance and guidance for remedying my conundrum. The feedback I’ve received so far seems to indicate that this approach should solve the problem, but I’m not confident enough to take that system in the field without a little more ground truthing. I suppose the old fashioned method of moving back in 50 yard increments will be sufficient to learn my load’s clicks at each range. That will be pretty time consuming but that is what I need to do in order to have confidence at longer ranges out past the 300 yard marker. Ideally, I can do the range work necessary to make myself proficient (sub-MOA) out to 600-650 yards. If I can do that on the range, I feel confident that I could be extremely effective in most hunting situations to somewhere between 400 and 500 yards.

Kodiak Island DIY Adventure :: Gear Bag Dump, Part I
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Our upcoming Kodiak Island do-it-yourself hunting adventure has taken my gear and equipment planning to a whole new level. Part of that is because I am planning for myself and dad, part of that is because of the weight restrictions of our bush flight, part of that is because we are NOT backpacking with a mobile camp, and part of that is simply because I have never planned for Alaska. That said, I am feeling great about the thoroughness of my list and the quality of the gear and equipment on my list. For DIY hunts like our archery Colorado hunts, I usually keep everything in a single list, but with a more permanent base camp I decided to construct a series of lists. Most items are only located on a single list, but a couple pull double duty and will jump from the “camp” list to the “daypack” list on a daily basis.

For this first comprehensive gear post, I’ll cover what I will be wearing out hunting each day and carrying in my Kifaru Mountain Rambler. Dad’s pack will be similar minus any needlessly duplicative items.

A fairly standard list of gear rounds out the “kill kit” except for the Tyvek sheet equipped with grommets and hatchet. I’ve become a fan of having Tyvek to debone meat for any major pack-outs, and a grommet in each corner allows a lightweight tent stake to keep my mobile workstation locked in place. I’m planning to use my hatchet to aid in severing each deer’s ribcage from the spinal column. I am not taking any chances with Alaska’s wanton waste laws, and a compact hatchet seems like the quickest and most effective to accomplish ribcage removal.

Of course, my “kill kit” is part of a much larger hunting pack set-up. I’ll be taking my Kifaru pack; dad will have my old Badlands 2800. Again, a fairly straight forward list of equipment with a few exceptions. I am taking my folding windshield sunshade as a butt cushion for glassing, picking up bear spray canisters once we touch down in Kodiak City, and toting my Tramontina machete to aid in whacking our way through dense alder thickets. I’ve considered scrapping the hatchet from my list and hoping the machete will suffice for butchering, but I’m not sure it’s got the weight to plow through bones when necessary. The spotting scope is in red simply because I’m not sure if we will decide to always take it on our daily hunts. That spotter with quality tripod is quite the load and makes sense if we are planning to camp out on a glassing knob or two for the day, but it’s a slug to haul up those steep slopes. It’s heavier than my scoped rifle for crying out loud!

My early season Kodiak Island attire will closely resemble my normal backcountry September elk hunting get-up with the addition of some Alaskan-grade rain gear and my Outdoor Research gaiters. Worst case scenario, with the Helly Hansen rain jacket and my puffy, I could spend a fireless night on some god forsaken Kodiak mountain if absolutely necessary. No question something like that would be miserable, but with high grade gear and a somewhat level mind at least it wouldn’t become a life threatening situation. Dad is equipped similarly.

My day pack including weapon and everything listed + 2 L water + 12-16 ounces of food will total 35 pounds. Add in my “wearing” weight of just over 5.5 pounds and a 60 pound load of Sitka black-tailed deer venison will push my burden to the 100 pound mark quickly. Thankfully, dad and I will be hunting as a pair and hopefully we will have the restraint to not needlessly put ourselves in a twofer situation. Being mindful to not needlessly duplicate items between our packs, we hope to keep dad’s pack weight a bit lighter in the 22-23 pound range. Personally, I am surprised that it will weigh so much, but it’s all the rain gear, a rifle instead of a bow, and the “worst case scenario” gear that add up so badly. No way will I be skimping though. Kodiak can kill you.

Next up, my spare clothes, spare supplies, camp toiletries, and convenience items. After that and lastly, our equipment for camp life, meat care, and sleep/shelter system on the Emerald Isle…Kodiak Island, Alaska.

New Gear for Kodiak Island Hunt – Part II
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I bought a sweet hatchet, not quite an heirloom quality piece, but still a high quality Husqvarna hatchet. It’s got a razor’s edge on it, so it will have me almost as nervous as my Havalon whenever I am using it. That’s a good thing I guess, keeps your mind on safety. I’ll probably add the hatchet to my hunting daypack for helping to split the ribs off each Sitka buck, and at camp, the hatchet should be invaluable for splitting down the firewood to TiGoat stove-compatible pieces.

Admittedly, a 2 pound bucket of plaster of paris seems like the most random item of all the things I’ll be taking. That’s probably because it is the most random item and doesn’t even really qualify as gear. But there is a method to the madness. I want a cast of a Kodiak brown bears hind-foot. Plain and simple motivation. I’m hoping to find a clean track in some mud, mix some plaster, set the mold, come back after a couple of days and retrieve it. Who needs store-bought souvenirs?

2-gallon Ziplocs will make partitioning meat easier, particularly as we de-bone quarters back at camp. Not to mention 2-gallon Ziplocs are great waterproof containers for sealing up a dry change of clothes in the daypack. A couple heavy-duty dry sacks were also purchased to augment my existing supply. 3-mL contractor bags will also be along to seal in several 2-gallon Ziploc bags each and sink in the lake where we are landing for refrigerated meat care. Re-positioning to the south end of Kodiak Island, there is zero chance of benefiting from a nearby snowback for meat care, so we will have to get a little more creative. There will be no shortage of waterproof bags and sacks to keep moisture at bay.

If we do get wet, I’ve got plenty of ways to start a fire. My Swedish Firesteel striker will be the back-up to my back-up plan, some waterproof strike anywhere matches will be my back-up fire source, and my primary plan to light any necessary flames will be the ol’ Bic lighter. For fire-starting fuel, I grabbed a couple DuraFlame fire starter logs that I hacked into smaller pieces which will back-up the standard and most effective Vaseline-soaked cotton balls which I will have along in abundance. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Wrapping up this post, I decided not to purchase my own satellite phone or other communication device or even to rent one in the conventional sense. I made a post on a backcountry hunting forum asking if anyone had an Inreach unit that they would not be using during August-September and offered to rent it from them for an agreed upon price. Within a couple hours, I was chatting with a fellow from Texas who gladly took me up on my request. I’ll have the SE Inreach unit along for our adventure which is capable of sending and receiving pre-fabricated as well as custom text messages. For a fraction of the cost of renting it from an established vendor, I was pretty pleased with myself for plugging that hole in the equipment list via an extremely economical manner.

New Gear for Kodiak Island Hunt – Part I
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To continue from a much earlier and initial post on gear and equipment for dad and I’s Kodiak Island adventure, there are some basic constraints that our planning must conform to.

For one, and most importantly, our airplane that transports us from Kodiak Island to the southern end of the island 80-miles distant has an 800 pound capacity. No if’s, and’s, or but’s…safety is top priority. Plane weight does not factor into the flight out of town and into the bush, in fact, we are planning to load down the plane with firewood to cross one item of the “get camp set up” to-do-list when we touch down at our final destination. Even with 100 or so pounds of firewood, we’d still be able to accommodate a smaller NFLer with our spare weight. Coming back will be the tricky part. I’ll detail the total weight and extensiveness of our gear list in future posts, but suffice it to say, the weight of 4 dead deer + dad + me + gear/equipment won’t let us bring whatever firewood we didn’t burn through back to town. I expect our flight back into Kodiak City will run upwards of 750-775 pounds if we tag out on Sitka bucks.

Secondarily, getting from Raleigh-Durham airport to Kodiak City with as few pieces of luggage as possible is a priority. With each of our first bags checked free, 2nd bags cost $25/apiece, and 1 rifle case, I’m hoping we don’t dump more than $150 on baggage fees. Even stuffed to the gills, I’ve carried on my hunting pack in the past, so I’m thinking this is an achievable goal.

To run down a few more of my gear additions for Kodiak Island, I’ll start with my pocket stove. Picked this up locally from Clintonville Outfitters in Columbus, OH, for less than $40. It weighs 3 ounces on my kitchen scale and is sturdily built and was highly recommended by the person staffing the store that day. In fact, she pushed this product over a couple more expensive options that sat on the shelf. Because one cannot legally fly commercial flights with stove fuel, we will stock up on 2 containers in Kodiak City before heading into the island’s interior.

I’ve already mentioned my Seek Outside Redcliff shelter with TiGoat stove in an earlier post, and I am sure I will make a whole post reviewing that product post-Kodiak. For the time being though, I want to mention a small accessory purchase for the shelter system that might come in handy if we run into some of the inclement weather that Kodiak Island is famous for. Cyclone stakes from name-brand retailers can run upwards of $6/stake, but Amazon carries some knock-off 12” twisted stakes for much less. Reviews I’ve read say they are the best design for dealing with high wind and coping with soft ground. I still plan to set heavy rocks or logs on top of the corner stakes to provide additional insurance, but I will be supplementing the 12” plain Easton stakes with a half-dozen strategically placed Cyclones.

I am still running the same sleeping bag that I purchased back in 2012 for our first Colorado elk hunt, and I will be borrowing my buddy’s identical bag for dad. After 5 years of using my 2/3 Peak A/C sleeping pad, I’m going to use a Klymit sleeping pad for this trip with the Peak A/C in reserve in case of leaks. For dad not having much prior ground sleeping experience, I made a Big Agnes luxury purchase. Depending on the comfort comparison test, I can foresee purchasing a similar pad for myself for future non-backpacking hunting adventures.

The bug populations of northern latitudes are a common theme. In order to cope with potential swarms (low wind speed days are the biggest fear with bugs, conditions not commonly found on Kodiak’s windswept landscape), I picked up a couple Sea-to-Summit mesh head nets. Each weighs less than 1 ounce and has the micro-mesh which keeps out all the flying biting insects, even the no-see-um’s. Not all head nets are created equally, so buy carefully if no-see-um’s are known to be a problem in your area. To supplement our head nets, I also purchased a small bottle of 100% DEET. Now frankly, 100% DEET scares me a bit and I tell myself now that I will only use it liberally in case of a bugocalypse, but I imagine we will be spraying a bit whenever we’re stationary for extended periods of time – glassing, quartering and skinning game, etc. Kind of like drinking Coke though (remember it can dissolve pennies!!), spraying 100% DEET on your skin seems foolish when so many other outdoor products have warnings to not spray DEET on surfaces because of corrosive properties.

To cover technological needs, I will be packing my normal compact point-and-shoot digital camera, my cell phone (obviously has a camera too) to serve as bullet drop compensator and GPS unit using the Avenza PDF app, maybe (??still undecided) my DSLR Nikon with extended lenses, and a Delorme Inreach unit to connect with the air transporter and check in with family. To charge all those devices, I keep a charge on all those devices I picked up a 10,000 mAh power pack that is capable of recharging my cell phone several times from dead to full. A really affordable unit on Amazon and weighs 8 ounces, it is about the size of 2 Hershey’s chocolate bars stacked on top of each other. Switched on to airplane mode, being cognizant of keeping brightness to the lowest possible levels, and using the GPS sparingly (4-6x/day), I’ve nursed smartphones for 6+ days in the backcountry on a single charge. With dad’s phone along as a worst-case scenario back-up plan, utilizing smart phones to the fullest extent possible renders traditional GPS units (and cameras too for that matter) obsolete.

Last, we will each be taking along a couple books each for those wet, dreary, foggy socked-in days at the tipi. I haven’t chosen my second book yet, but my first is a lock – the Monarch of Deadman’s Bay. An old hardback edition about a huge Kodiak brown bear on the southern end of Kodiak Island. Some might say the book is not the best choice for reading material, but I’d counter and say it is the absolute best choice. Backcountry sleep is only so good to begin with, and I’ve got to imagine that going to bed with Kodiak brown bears dancing in my head was going to happen regardless.

Week 2 :: Wildlife Mgt Course 2017
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All that remains is the final week of Pitt’s Wildlife Management Course. The students will work hard to finish their reports and prepare presentations for Friday. Interjected in the middle, we will head out to Benezette to camp among Pennsylvania’s elk herd – always a highlight of the 3-week field course. During week 2, the students spent about half their time collecting data for their projects with 3 field trips sprinkled in – Erie National Wildlife Refuge, a large industrial forest landowner in north-central Pennsylvania, and Allegheny National Forest. A great week with spectacular weather.

Browning x-Bolt 6.5 Creedmoor Sight-In
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My cousin helped me to make some interesting discoveries about the Browning x-Bolt I picked up earlier this spring. Apparently the 26″ 6.5 Creedmoor run was a special limited model that Browning showcased at the 2017 SHOT Show. I honestly did not know that before, but it makes me even more glad that I was able to capitalize on what ended up being a complete STEAL of a price.

Oh, and that sucker will shoot.

This past weekend up at my grandma’s place in Pennsylvania, we put the 6.5 on the bench and put it’s first 18 rounds downrange. 3 shots, clean, 3 shots, clean, 3 shots, clean, etc. Sort of a dual break-in/sight-in session. We had moved out to 100 yards by the 14th shot and swapped over from Match Grade 140 grain to ELD-X 143 grain loads to see how similar they were shooting. Identically, accurately, and precisely. Here are my last 5 rounds with the ammunition that I will be hunting with. The little squares are 1/2″ by 1/2″ for reference and the yellow star was my aim point.

Can’t wait to get back up there next weekend and take it a longer range where we can stretch it to 2, 3, 4, and even 500 yards. No realize to believe it won’t be my go-to weapon for years to come with the start it’s off to. I’ll do some follow-up posts on the rifle down the road but my last comment is directed to what a pleasure a 6.5 is to shoot. Hardly any recoil to speak of and ammunition is reasonably priced to boot. More to come.

Infolinks 2013