Latest Blog Posts

The Best Camera for Hunting

Are you looking for the best camera for filming or photographing your hunting adventures? Honestly, most of us can’t afford the “best” camera out there. However, in this article we’ll look at a few options in a few different price ranges that are a very solid camera for filming your outdoor adventures.
Read More

Vortex Optics Fury Binocular

Vortex Rangefinding Binoculars

Vortex Optics will be releasing a new rangefinding binocular for summer 2017. While we don’t know much about them yet, we do know that they will be called the Fury and will be in a popular 10×42 size with the ability to range out to 1600 yards.

We don’t yet know what MSRP will be, although the email release does state that they won’t “kill your pocket book.  They are advertised as being an HD glass, and will, of course, be backed by their 100% lifetime warranty. This will be an interesting product to follow to see if they fall into a price point that isn’t being touched by most of the rangefinding binoculars that are available right now.

Image from Vortex Optics.

 

A Clearer View – Bino Adapters

We’re always being told that certain hunting items will make us better hunters; that we’ll kill bigger animals if we use a certain product. This product is one that has literally changed the method and duration of my glassing sessions. Introducing the binocular  tripod adapter. There are several companies making these small devices. My product recommendations will be listed at the end of this article (click here to jump right to them).

The bino adapter simply allows your binoculars to be mounted securely on a tripod. It’s popular among hunters to use oversized binoculars, with magnifications of 15x or 20x with 56mm objectives and larger. In order to effectively use these larger binoculars, you need to set them on a tripod, or a rest of some kind. These high magnification binoculars are awesome. They reduce eye strain, allow you to keep both eyes open, and stay behind the glass for longer periods vs. using a traditional spotting scope. However, you don’t need a pair of high magnification binoculars to reap the benefits of a tripod mount.

Glassingwithbinos
A few years ago, I started mounting my Vortex Viper 10x50s on a tripod and have been very impressed with the results. I didn’t realize how shaky I was. Even if I was leaning up against a tree, or sitting with my elbows propped up on my knees, I still shake and move. Setting these binos on the tripod quiets everything down. Movement is much more easily detected, and I was able to trophy judge animals much more effectively because I removed all of my movement from the equation. I also was a much more thorough glasser. If I got tired of looking through the glass, my binos stayed in that spot while I pulled my face away from the lens and took a little break. When I was ready to glass again, I was able to start from where I left off, and not miss an inch of the country I wanted to cover with the glass.

Do yourself a favor this season and pick up a bino adapter. You’ll be able to stay behind the glass longer, and in turn, turn up some more critters.

Recommended Adapters:

Uni-Dapter from Vortex Optics: This unit is reasonably priced at $30. There are two drawbacks to this design — the first being that the post stays on your binoculars, adding some weight. The second is that the post simply sits down in two grooves on the base so it could get bumped off, causing your expensive glass to fall to the ground. I didn’t have too much issue with it though and recommend this product from Vortex Optics. Retails for $34.00 on Amazon.com.

Field Optics Research Rapid Release Tripod Adapter: This unit does weight slightly more than the Vortex Uni-Dapter, however the reciever nut that stays attached to the binoculars is much smaller. This unit also snaps on, so your binoculars will not fall off of your tripod. Retail price: $24.95 on Amazon.com.

Outdoorsmans Binocular Adapter: This unit also uses a quick release that locks the unit in place.  The Outdoorsman’s adapter is available in 2 heights. I haven’t had a chance to weigh this unit. Retail price: $59.99 from Outdoorsmans.com.

binocular adapters

The Best states for an Elk Hunt

Elk are the ultimate hunting quarry. Combine their size, giant antlers, and in your face vocalizations, and you won’t find much more exciting. But hunting elk is a big undertaking. They are big animals, who can inhabit very uninhabitable country. They are much bigger than a deer, and getting that delicious meat out of the backcountry takes a fair bit of effort. You’ll want to be in hunting shape, or bring along someone, or some livestock that is. Planning a first elk hunt will also take considerable effort. When we look at the best states for hunting elk, we first have to consider our expectations. Most non-resident, public land elk hunts must be drawn through the state game and fish agencies. In some cases, it can take decades to accrue enough points to draw the more coveted tags. In other cases, tags can be acquired over the counter, or in just a few years. Therefore, identifying and considering your expectations, timelines, and abilities are paramount. Are you looking for that bull of a lifetime, or do you want an opportunity to hunt bulls more often and experience the hunt (this usually means compromising some trophy potential)? In this article we’ll visit the western elk states and try to break them down to decide which is the best. We will steer clear of giving Elk hunting states a defined ranking, rather — we’ll touch base on each state (from a non-resident perspective) and you can decide which one best suits your needs.

elkhair

Arizona
Arizona has BIG bulls, but doesn’t have much for OTC opportunities for elk hunting, but for the amount of habitat and demand for elk that exists in the state, I think they do a good job of managing the hunts and seasons. You’ll look to spend 3-7 points for a decent archery hunt. But these can be very good hunts. Of course the top tier units and rifle hunts will be a longer wait. With a little patience, you will have opportunities to harvest some very nice bulls in Arizona.

California
Tule elk are only found in California, so if you want one– you’ll have to hunt them there. It’s a very hard tag to acquire. California is the only state that has 3 elk species to hunt and hunter harvest success is pretty high. That being said, tag numbers are extremely limited.

Colorado
The reason Colorado sits at the top of the list is because it provides both “trophy” and “opportunity” hunts. Colorado has the most elk of any state in the world, with opportunities to hunt in areas where you can find BIG bulls over 350 inches. There are also a large number of units that hold elk that can be hunted with an over the counter tag every year. Which is great for those who want to put in for a trophy hunt, yet still hunt elk every year.  If you want to hunt big bulls, but don’t want to wait — Colorado also has opportunities to purchase landowner tags to access private and public lands.

Idaho
A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have recommended Idaho as a very good elk state. Wolves had decimated some of the largest herds in the state. But, Idaho still holds a lot of elk with some exceptional elk hunts. Much like Colorado and Wyoming, there’s opportunity to hunt, but Idaho also has a few units that have been pumping out some monster bulls over the past few years. Do a little bit of homework and you can find areas of the state that have outstanding elk hunting.

BBD

Nevada
Nevada is a desert — there are no elk in Nevada….wrong. Nevada has good elk hunting. Over the past few years Nevada has been producing some great bulls. They use a squared preference point system with no points reserved for max point holders, so you’re technically never guaranteed a tag, but you also have decent odds in some units once you reach 6-8 points. If you draw some of the top units in the state, you may just have a chance to kill a 360+ bull.

Montana
Montana is a great Elk state. Sure they have a few wolves around as well, but Montana does a good job of keeping under the radar. Tag prices have increased recently though, so expect to open your wallet for a chance to hunt. This price increase has made tags a bit more available. Montana has a good mix of big bull areas and opportunity hunts as well. Do your homework before you apply, and you should have a very good hunt.

New Mexico
New Mexico has some very good elk hunting, and good opportunities to purchase landowner tags. But New Mexico also has some great public lands as well. As with most elk states, the best units will take a while to draw, but if you are willing to spend a few thousand on landowner tags (some of which allow you to hunt the public land as well) you can hunt for big bulls often.

Oregon
Oregon is similar to Utah in that there are some outstanding units that take a long time to draw, and some areas that are harder hunting that are easier to get tags. Once again, do your homework, decide if you want to wait to draw a great tag, hunt a tougher unit, or just apply in another state. Roosevelt hunts can be challenging timber hunts, but not many states provide opportunity to kill a Rosey.

elk feeding

Utah
Utah isn’t quite what it was 10 years ago. But it is still one of the best states for BIG bulls. But you’ll have to wait your turn, unless you’re lucky. The southern end of the state has been producing the biggest bulls, and you have a chance to hunt bulls during the rut with a rifle! Harvest success rates are extremely high on these hunts, but tag numbers are very limited. Archery hunters should keep in mind that seasons are early and mostly pre-rut. You’ll probably be waiting 10+ years just to get an archery tag though. The OTC units in Utah are pretty crowded, but you can find a bull here and there to hunt.

Washington
Washington produces a giant every now and then, although it isn’t really known as a great elk state. Look to the southeast part of the state to find the biggest bulls. Washington also has some opportunity to hunt Roosevelt Elk, so take a look at Washington and Oregon if a Roosevelt bull is on your bucket list.

Wyoming
Wyoming also provides both trophy quality AND opportunity to hunters. You can play the points game and wait for a unit that has a good chance at providing that 350 + inch bull, or you can hunt every year, or every other year in the general hunt areas and have still see a lot of elk. Your chances at killing a monster are much more slim, but you will have an opportunity to see and kill mature bulls in the 300″ range.

Other States:
You’ll find very good elk hunting in a few other states like Kentucky, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania — along with a few other states. These tags are very limited without much public land. Keep tabs on the eastern states, as elk are recovering across much of their historic range, thanks to re-introduction and herd management.

So which state is best for you? Leave us a comment below and let us know about your upcoming elk hunting plans, or ask us a question!

Hunting Big mule Deer Book by Robby Denning

Hunting Big Mule Deer – Book Review

I think most of us who are obsessed with hunting big mule deer love to find as much information as possible. Typically I look around online and find this information, but I’ve read a handful of books on mule deer, but there are several that stand out that provide awesome information for hunting the high country of the western states. (Backcountry Bowhunting – by Cam Hanes, Public Land Mulies – by David Long). When I saw that Robby Denning had recently published a new book, I figured I’d better get a copy to read. The book’s title is “Hunting Big Mule Deer: How to Take the Best Buck of Your Life.” Robby is a devoted mule deer hunter who runs a scouting and outfitting business as well. He focuses solely on mule deer hunting and has been very consistent in taking some very nice bucks. I was in the heat of scouting season for my upcoming Wyoming muley hunt, so this caught me at just the right time.

Without giving away too much info from this book, the biggest takeaway I took from him was that it takes persistent, dedicated effort to kill big mule deer on a consistent basis. Robby has stopped hunting elk and other species to focus specifically on hunting Mule Deer. His deliberate, calculated hunting style is clearly conveyed as he goes over his gear, tactics, and approach to killing the biggest buck on the mountain.

Go grab yourself a copy, it’s worth having in your hunting library.

Available on Amazon.com in hard copy and kindle editions. Price as of the publishing of this article is $22.95

Hunting Big mule Deer Book by Robby Denning

Documenting your Hunting Adventures

Humans have been documenting their hunts for thousands of years. We find cave paintings from many hundreds of years ago adorned with images of bighorn sheep, elk and deer. The hunting tradition must have fostered fond memories for those ancient hunters, much like they do for us today. Photos, videos, taxidermy, and found objects can all serve as great reminders and help us remember some of our hunts more vividly – and in today’s world of social media and internet connectivity – we can share those digital reminders instantly with friends, family, and strangers across the globe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today we have the ability to capture and view our photos and video instantly. Even our cell phones take better pictures than we could take on an expensive camera 20 years ago. Through this article, and subsequent articles, we’ll investigate how we can better document our hunts through photography and videography. While our posterity may not be interested in keeping around a bunch of our old dead animals, hopefully they’ll enjoy viewing our photos, videos, and reading our stories.

We’ll cover the following topics over the next few weeks, so subscribe to our inbox delivery and receive an email when we publish a new post.

Equipment:

We’re fortunate today to have literally hundreds of camera options, from micro cameras, to large cameras with expensive lenses –many of which will take fantastic still AND video images.  It’s really up to you in regards to which make and model you like best. Multiple cameras are a must, and depending on your style of hunting you’ll want options to both zoom to far distances, and quickly grab action shots  when needed. Take a look at the Canon G20, Canon G30, Sony FDR-AX33, and the Sony HDR-CX900. There are many other cameras that capture HD video and provide a decent  zoom lense as well. Of course, everyone needs an action camera  as well.

The leader in point of view (POV) action cameras is GoPro. Their latest offering is the GoPro Hero 4 Black which is one of the best cameras for most types of hunting. Remember these POV cameras lack zoom, but are fantastic to get close range, time lapse, reaction shots, and filler material for your hunting videos. Most of these cameras will also take very good still photos. If you’re looking for something on a smaller budget (under $150) look at the GoPro Hero, or the action cameras from Contour.

Cameras, however, are only part of the equipment equation. Tripods, pan heads, audio equipment, sliders, drones, battery chargers, etc. all play an important part in producing smooth and quality video and photos.

elk feeding

Tactics:

There’s a lot of ways to film and hunt, but realize that whether you’re filming yourself, or bringing along a cameraman — hunting and capturing it all on film makes the hunt much harder. A few years back, I was assigned to be cameraman on my father’s Wyoming bighorn sheep hunt. We purchased a new HD camcorder and thought we had it all figured out. We had no way to recharge equipment and thought we’d wait until the kill shot to start capturing footage. When it came down to the moment of the kill, I set up the shot. The wind was blowing and I started filming the sheep. I stopped after a few minutes to wait for Dad to be ready for his shot. He whispered over the wind and asked if I was ready. I wasn’t and replied that I wasn’t, but he didn’t hear me. He shot, the sheep jumped — but they were out of frame. I missed the shot he wanted most. While we had a great time, it would have been better if I would have nailed that shot on video.

Some types of hunting are much easier to film, like shooting from a tree stand or blind. Spot and stalk hunting is much more challenging to film. In the end, it is worth it.

Plan your Story:

Almost every production you see on television is created using a script and shot lists. While you don’t know the specifics of how a hunt will end, you can typically anticipate a scenario or two that will happen during the hunt. I find that creating a list of photos or video shots before the hunt happens will help you tell your story the way you want, whether or not the hunt ends with an animal on the ground. By planning what shots you want to take, it’s much easier to have the content you needed for the final edit of your film, blog, or journal entry.

htoad3

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot:

I’ve never wished I had taken fewer photos or less video during a hunt. The bad stuff can all be sorted and deleted later. I find that keeping my camera very accessible allows me to take a lot more photos. If it’s tucked away in your pack, you’re much less likely to get it out when you see something. Sometimes the best photos come at unexpected times, and of unexpected objects. That being said — take the time to set up your shots as well. When taking harvest (trophy shots) photos. Taking a few moments to clean and reposition the animal can create a much more respectful image. So keep your camera out, and be sure to share your stories, photos, and videos with us!

Have Fun!

The point of documenting a hunt is to remember it fondly. It’s easy to lose patience at times when trying to film or perfectly photograph a hunt. Don’t let it get in the way of having a good hunt. If you’re there to harvest an animal, or spend time with friends/family — don’t let your camera get in the way of why you’re really out there.

elkhair

 

Minox MD50 – More than Expected

Lightweight spotters have always been a favorite of mine. While I do find value in large objective lenses that can gather more light in twilight conditions, personally, I prefer carrying lighter and smaller spotting scopes, as I find them more fitting to my hunting style. For the past few years I have used, almost exclusively while hunting in the backcountry, a 50mm objective spotting.

I first saw the Minox MD50 at the Western Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City. I was impressed with the size, build, and twist up eyepiece that I hadn’t seen in many other compact scopes.  A few weeks later I had one sitting on my front porch and immediately started putting it to work.

minox 50D

I soon found myself carrying the MD50 with me through shed hunting season, summer scouting, and into the next fall.  The MD50 is a well thought out and manufactured spotting scope. Especially for its low ($250-$300) price.

The MD50 is surprisingly small. At under 8 inches in length and weighing in right at 24 oz. it will almost fit in your pocket. The previously mentioned twist up eye-piece is not something that is typically featured on compact scopes. This eye-piece is very sturdy and comfortable. The focus ring is located on the body of the scope, rather than the eyepiece. I found it very easy to use, a little stiff at first, but over time it eased up a bit and worked flawlessly. The large diameter of the focus ring makes it easy to focus, and make small focus adjustments.

The MD50 features 16-30x zoom and optically was clear on all magnifications. Optical quality was good, and very good for the price. It features a waterproof body, with Nitrogen filling and coated glass.

I have now used this scope on several hunts and in varied weather and hunting conditions. It’s done more than I expected at a price point that fits almost any hunters’ budget. If you prefer a light-weight spotter, take a close look at the MD50. The MD50 is available in a straight (as pictured) and angled model.  It think you’d be hard pressed to find something as optically clear and well put together as this little scope.

Straight model available from Amazon.com: Minox MDS50 16-30x50mm Straight Spotter  – $279

Angled model available from Amazon.com: Minox MD50 16-30x50mm Angled Spotter – $259