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Digiscoping: The Best Way to Take Photos & Video through Your Optics

Whether you want to take footage of animals on your hunts, the winter range, or record videos of your long-range steel target shooting, It is easy to capture and share these moments with today’s digiscoping products. Let’s look at a couple of options, the pros and cons and compare custom fit adapters to Universal Adapters. With any of these products, you’ll be taking quality images through your spotting scope or binoculars!

Our Favorite: Phone Skope Kit with Phone Case and Optic Specific Adapter

Phone Skope Digiscoping Kit

Phone Skope is our favorite digiscoping product because it’s easy to use, affordable and very quick to deploy. While Phone skope does offer some universal adapters, I prefer the custom adapters that are made to fit my specific optics that I carry in the field. The phone skope system is composed of 2 parts – a case made for your smartphone, and an adapter that slides over the eyepiece of your optic. These pieces can be purchased separately, so if you purchase a new phone, or a new optic, you can just purchase the part you need. The case detaches from the adapter easily so you can leave your phone in the case all season.

Pros: Easy to use, Affordable, Fast Setup
Cons: Only fits one optic unless you purchase additional adapters (we still think it is worth it). 

Phone Skope on Angled Spotting Scope
Image taken from Above Image – around 150 yards

Universal Adapter:

If you run a variety of optics and don’t want to have separate pieces for all of them, there are also a number of universal adapters on the market. The most user friendly and popular among our staff members is the Tines up Phone Cam Adapter. This adapter works really well and can be fit to any phone case. Using their alignment tool, it’s very easy to attach the adhesive mount that is low profile and easy to use.

Another widely used universal adapter is the Phone Skope Universal Adapter. This adapter is available in 2 sizes to fit a large range of eyepiece diameters. 

Pros: Fits any Optic, you only need one piece of equipment for any optic.
Cons: Not as easy or quick to deploy as the Optic Specific Adapter, bulkier.

As always feel free to reach out if you have any questions about digiscoping or getting setup to take high quality photos and video through your optics!

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.
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Review: Salomon Speedcross 3 CS

The Salomon Speedcross 3 CS is an incredible shoe. I can honestly see why these shoes are getting very popular among hunters. They are very light, but maintain a rigid and strong sole which sets them apart from many of the lightweight “running” type shoes I’ve tried in the past. The speedcross also provides good traction, strong construction, and breathability. The CS (ClimaShield) boasts a “waterproof insulation” that is specific to the Speedcross CS line and was surprisingly quite waterproof.

Salomon Speedcross 3 CS Unboxing

My Experience: My family tradition hunting mid to late season hunts in Wyoming’s high country was to wear a pair of Danner Elk Hunters on every hunt. Don’t get me wrong, these were great boots that provided great stability and protection from the elements and moisture. As I started hunting more early season hunts, I found boots to be overkill and started wearing mid and low height hiking shoes to hunt, but could barely get a season out of them. Typically the toe or sidewall of the show on the outside front edge would come apart from the stress of hiking steep slopes.

I purchased these shoes over a year ago, having seen a couple of positive reviews on social media. I’d been looking or a lightweight shoe that could hold up for more than a single hunting season. I’ve wore the Speedcross 3 CS almost exclusively throughout last summer, my early fall hunts (even in shallow snow conditions), for spring shed hunting, and summer scouting this season. They might not look like your traditional hunting shoe — that’s because they aren’t. This shoe has held together better than any shoe I’ve ever worn. The soles show minimal amounts of wear, the seams are holding tight, and the still seem quite waterproof. Even through stream crossings and a pushing through knee deep snow drifts while shed hunting this spring, I’ve found that they dry extremely well and perform well when wet. The quick lace system stays snug all day through any terrain I’ve hiked. I like these shoes so much I wear them when I should probably be wearing a boot, but find the lightweight less fatiguing on very long hikes. I would recommend the Speedcross 3 CS to anyone looking for an early season, lightweight shoe. Now if it only came in camo…
Salomon-Speedcross-3-CS-Mens-sole

The only downside to the SpeedCross 3 CS is there is no ankle support, which is not expected from a trail running shoe. I’ve been so impressed with this shoe that I’d recommend looking hard at other offerings from Salomon if you’re wanting a lightweight shoe in the mid to high heights that will be lightweight and not need much break-in.

Where to buy the Salomon Speedcross 3 CS (check pricing as it changes often):

Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3 CS Trail Running Shoe @ Amazon.com

Other models I’d recommend looking into for more ankle support:

I’ve long been looking for a

FHF Gear Binocular Harness Review

This harness from FHF Gear has been making waves with western hunters and rightfully so.  This is one of the most well thought-out products I’ve seen. Sure it’s simple and holds your binoculars, but this design truly fits the western DIY spot and stalk lightweight style of hunting.  The great thing about this system is it is available in several sizes so you’ll be able to fit all any model of binocular — including larger models like the popular Vortex 15 x 56 Kaibab.  I typically carry 10 x 42mm binoculars, which fit great in the “small” size. Coming in at only 9 oz it was considerably lighter weight than similar products. The clasp lid was easy to operate with one hand, and I was easily able to close the lid with the eyepieces of my optics either in or out. This model also has a zipper pocket in the front and two mesh side pockets where I could easily carry game calls, windicator powder, a lens cloth, and similar sized items.

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The backside of the pouch that sits against your chest is made of a lightweight mesh that I found to stay cool, even in early season and scouting weather where I saw temperatures exceeding 80 degrees. The fit was excellent. There is very little stretch incorporated to the straps which I personally like. This kept the binoculars from bouncing around or hanging too low when crawling or crossing fences.

Binoculars can also be attached using straps that are conveniently sewn on the front harness straps. These are adjustable (unique to this product) so when your binos are not in the pouch they will hang right where you want them. I did find these straps to loosed over time. If I am glassing a lot, I typically don’t place the binoculars back in the pouch and let the straps support the full weight of the binos. I found that over the course of a few days doing this while antelope hunting, the straps lengthened and needed to be re-adjusted. It wasn’t a big issue and was easy to re-adjust. The ability to adjust the length of these straps far outweighs having to fix the length every now and then.

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Check out this video from FHF gear on how to adjust the Bino Harness, along with video showing the features of the product.

FHF Gear makes the Binocular Harness sytem in Multicam (As pictured), Kryptek Highlander and a solid Foliage Green/Tan. Sizes vary from small (6″ tall) to XL (8.5″ tall). Prices start at $85 for the small version up to $100 for the large version.

The harness also is available in two sizes to fit different body types — which is a great idea that I haven’t seen elsewhere. I

Overall I was very impressed with the simplicity, functionality and thought that went into this harness and pouch system. I feel this is the perfect system for someone who wants a durable, lightweight solution that doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a full pack on your chest while still providing full protection to your optics. Even with the mesh and open sides of the pouch, I found that it protected the lenses from excessive dust and water in normal hunting situations.

bradglass
FHF (Fish, Hunt, Fight) Gear is a relatively small company who make tactical and hunting gear centered on function, utility, and durability out of Bozeman MT. This product can be ordered from their online store and is available in a very select few retail locations. For more information, or to order visit: FHFGear.com

Best Backpack for Hunting – under $250

Western hunting often demands long hikes, especially when day hunting. For hunts where leaving camp well before light and arriving back after the sun has set, you may want to look for a backpack that could work as a daypack, carrying  essential,s plus enough to stay overnight if need be, and also had the capability to carry a first load of meat if an animal is harvested. You’ll want a pack that is lightweight, small, and has the ability to carry heavy loads.

There are many great backpack companies who cater specifically to hunters. I found specifically what I was looking for in three packs, all from different manufacturers. I would consider the three packs listed below to be the best in their price range for their ability to carry heavy loads without being over-sized for day to day hunts:

Badlands 2200

The badlands 2200 is a do it all pack. At around 2200 cubic inches, it fits the bill of being a large day pack with the ability to pack heavy loads. I’ve had the opportunity to harvest several mule deer with this pack in tow. One of which was in a nasty timber basin. I was grateful to have a pack that could take out a load on the first hike back to camp. Between two of us, we boned out the buck, threw the meat in the packs along with all of our gear and had the whole deer packed home in one relatively easy trip. I’ve done this on several occasions since.

The Badlands 2200 has a fold out wing design, which is nice and makes the pack quite expandable. Badlands shoulder straps have always been very comfortable, and one feature that I really like about this particular pack is a zipper on the back of the pack (rests against your back) allowing you to get into your gear by either swinging the pack around while still wearing the waist belt, or accessing items in your pack when you have a load strapped on the other side. The 2200 also has the capability to be carry a rifle or a bow.

The Badlands 2200 was re-designed in 2014 and is the most expensive of the listed packs (the new price is actually more than $250). The 2200 is a very popular pack among western hunters and has been reliable with a great warranty.

For more information about the Badlands 2200 CLICK HERE

Eberlestock X2

The Eberlestock X2 is one of my favorites because it’s compact size. It is the smallest of the packs featured on this article, coming in at 1800 cubic inches. Don’t let the size fool you, this pack is solid. The only reason I would hesitate to throw a elk quarter in this pack and hike for miles, is because I’d wear out long before the pack ever did.  It’s compactness is what really sets it apart from it’s counterparts.  It has a lightweight aluminum  frame, with great organization pockets for your spotting scope, water, calls, and other items you might need quick access to. Most Eberlestock packs are compatible with a rifle scabbard, and the X2 is no exception. Or, if you’re an archery hunter who likes carrying your bow on your pack, it has the ability to do that as well with the added “ButtBucket.”

As far as size, design, and functionality goes, this pack is one of my favorite and is high on my personal wish list.

For more information about the Eberlestock X2 CLICK HERE

Links for Purchase: (View these links as prices change often)
Eberlestock X2 Pack @ Amazon.com: $189
Eberlestock X2 Pack @ Cabelas.com: $189

Horn Hunter Main Beam

I’ve personally been using the Main Beam as my day pack for the past 3 or 4 seasons. While I’d love to have all of these packs and truly believe any of them would fit the bill perfectly — I chose the Horn Hunter for a couple of reasons. First, cost was a bit lower than the other two, and I was on a budget when choosing this pack. Second, I liked the design of this pack a lot. It has a wing type design, (smaller wings than the 2200) which allows me to access my spotter, tripod, bugle or any somewhat larger item quickly, without a zipper — while still protecting it from getting beat up as I hike. The Main Beam also has over 20 different storage pockets, so I can keep all of my gear organized. It has a fold out orange meat carrier that tucks away in a pocket on the bottom of the bag which is great for packing out a cape and antlers or stuffing your extra clothing, sleeping bag, or whatever else you may be carrying.

The Main beam is listed at 2800 cubic inches, but when carrying it alongside the badlands 2200, it actually  seems a bit smaller. It has more straps for compressing loads than either of the other packs listed in this article, which may be why. Regardless, the pack feels much smaller than the advertised size.

I’ve used my Main beam to pack out a lot of critters over the past few years and have been able to depend on this pack in every situation I’ve been in. I never really weigh my packs when loaded, but it has carried everything I could ever fit in it and has been a great pack for my needs.

For more information about the Horn Hunter “Main Beam,” CLICK HERE

Links for Purchase: (View these links as prices change often)
Horn Hunter “Main Beam” @ Amazon.com: $147 – $179 (price varies)

If you’re looking for the best packs for the DIY hunter for under $250 and are wanting the ability to hunt light and still be able to carry out a heavy load, then take a closer look at the Badlands “2200,” the Eberlestock “X2”, and the Horn Hunter “Main beam.” I highly recommend all of them – each company has fantastic warranties, and they are all durable, dependable, and made especially for hunters.

Other packs you might want to check out that are under $250 include the Badlands Diablo, Eberlestock X1, and the Tenzing TZ 2200.

A few packs to check out that cost more than $250: NEW Eberlestock War Hammer, Horn Hunter Full Curl System, Horn Hunter Curl ComboBadlands Sacrifice, Eberlestock Just One (J34), Mystery Ranch Crew Cab, NEW Mystery Ranch Metcalf.

Product Review: Lumenok

In anticipation of an Archery Elk hunt this year, I had a chance to test out the “Burt Coyote Lumenok.” I was not planning on hunting with them because I didn’t want to adjust my bow with only a few days to go until the hunt started. I was already dialed in and didn’t want to take any chances. However, those plans went out the window one evening as I was practicing as the sun was going down. I was shooting 30 yards and under and decided to put a Lumenok on to see how it worked. Needles to say I had them in my quiver while I chased bugling bulls a few days later. Here’s what I found: (Ratings are based out of 10 possible points)


Lumenok

Overall Rating: 9/10

Function: 9. The Lumenoks were easy to use. I was shooting Gold Tip Hunter XT 5575 arrows. Installation was as simple as removing my other knock and pushing the Lumenok into place until the knock lit. Then gently pulling the knock back to where the light turned off. I shot the Lumenoks several dozen times in the limited amount of practice time I had using them and never had a failure. They were especially fun to shoot as the evening light was fading. The arrow path could easily be seen, and it was easy to see where I hit from upwards of 60 yards away.

Design: 10. Lumenoks come in red, green, and a new man favorite; hot pink. They are made in different models ranging from 24 – 30.6 grains in weight. They do not require any special tools, or even any glue to install. They will fit most arrows without any modification. These knocks are designed to also help with arrow and game retrieval depending whether the arrow passes through, or stays with an animal.

Their innovative design uses the conductive qualities of the arrow to close a circuit, causing the light to turn on. Store your arrows with the knocks pulled pack, just far enough that the small wires don’t make contact with the arrow itself. When you are ready to shoot, put the arrow on your string, pull back, and release. Upon release the knock is forced forward – closing the circuit and turning the light on as the arrow flies towards your target. This design is very cool, and they are more fun to shoot than I thought they would be.

Quality: 10. As far as knocks are concerned these seemed great. Battery life is boasted at 40 hours. And they should be re-usable as long as they don’t break on impact. In dozens of test fires, I had zero failures – and the knock stayed lit in the target until I removed the arrow and turned off the light by sliding the knock back until the small wires were not touching the arrow. I did not shoot any errant arrows that struck hard objects and would be interested to see the results.

Price: 7. I wish they were a bit less expensive. While these are an innovative item: they do run close to $10 per knock. That is more than my arrows and broadheads. However, they do have electronic parts and batteries included which do increase manufacturing costs. There are other lighted knocks on the market, but their prices are very similar. Luckily these knocks shoot groups with my other knocks and I will have a couple in the quiver for shots in low light.

For more information visit: www.lumenok.net, or follow them on facebook.