Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hunting Gear For Sale!

Gear for sale! Trying to make some room. Most of this stuff is brand new or near new in condition. Email or text me if interested.

Rutwear Fleece-Lined Waterproof Coat - Size 2XL - Realtree MAX-1 (very warm and comfortable. I have worn it once.) - $45

Camo Sweatshirt - Realtree Advantage Timber - Size XL - $5

Brand New Hunter's Specialties Ground Blind in Realtree MAX-1 - $15

TrophyLine Knee Pads - (used two times) - $20

Remington 700 BDL Synthetic Rifle Stock - Long action - (This came off my 300 WM) - $60

I'll entertain reasonable offers, too. Local Buyers preferred, as none of these prices include shipping, but I will ship provided the buyer pays.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bass Pro Shops Fall Classic Seminars and More!

August is always the Fall Classic at Bass Pro Shops and it's a great time to get information, talk to experienced hunters, and just have a good time. I was out there last Sunday helping out in the archery department and met some new bowhunters, experienced ones, and some people interested in just target archery. I love to talk archery and bowhunting, so this was great for me to be able to share what I know and to also learn from others. It was great meeting everyone and for those who bought bows, congrats and good luck! I'd love to see some pictures of you hunting or just target shooting.

The Fall Classic also has numerous beneficial free seminars on the main stage. This weekend is Local Pro Hunting Tips - Local pro weekend.  FREE seminars on archery, scent control, hunting/hiking boots and cutlery.  Presented by the local Red Head hunting pro staffers. There is also a Women’s Hunting Workshop on Saturday, August 20 at 3:00 pm.  Free giveaways! I'll be giving a Boots 101 seminar this Sunday, August 21 at 11:00 AM and then at 1 or 2. I'll cover everything from fit and function to what you should buy. I'll also be around to help answer hunting questions, archery questions, or simply get to know you guys. Don't hesitate to stop me and ask questions. I'll be wandering around in the archery department most of the day.

Cancelled: On Sunday, August 28, I'll be giving a Field to Prep seminar (time TBD) on caring for your wild game in the field and getting it to your table. I'll be covering everything from what you should do right after the kill, to meat prep in the field, and then what to do when you are ready to process your meat. I'll be covering big game only. I've had many requests to do a seminar like this, so I will be sure to cover everything I know in a half hour. Bring questions! This is also Next Generation Weekend designed around kids and their parents...crafts, archery range, giveaways, photos downloads - all FREE.

I hope all of you have a great week and I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Product Review: Paleo Meals To Go

As a person who spends a lot of time outdoors and loves to eat, I like good food in the backcountry. When you are in the backcountry and working hard, you need to replenish your calories. Paleo Meals To Go has created a variety of one serving, dehydrated meal choices that are gluten free, clean eating and low in sodium (which is a big plus in my book). I was given the opportunity to try a variety and these are in the order I ate them, but there is no particular reason why I ate them this way. I used the recommended amount of hot water with each meal. It is stated that you can use cold water, but I preferred to use hot. 

NOTE: On each of the meals, the narrow opening at the top was detrimental in getting the oxygen packet out. Many times I had to fish for it.

Summit Savory Chicken - 300 calories per serving

This meal was delicious and had a ‘clean’ taste to it. The lack of salt made the meal a bit bland at first, but I welcomed it. If you really wanted to add salt, it was provided on the outside of the pouch. I am over the high sodium meals. The meal was very filling, but not over the top where you feel like you have to take a nap. The deep pouch was a pain to get my hands in. I really didn’t care for the smaller opening and deep pouch.

Cliffside Coconut Berry - 640 calories per serving

This was excellent and would make a great breakfast meal to get you going. No added sugar, so no crash after eating it. It doesn’t seem like a lot in the pouch, but trust me, it is filling. I definitely needed a longer spoon to really mix this up. (I ordered one right after eating this one.) This tasted great! The fat content is high, but it does help fuel you. The pecans and walnuts are whole, so that was a bit much. Don’t get me wrong, they tasted great, but I would have preferred them to be cut up a bit or chopped. I hate walnuts, but this blend worked nicely.

Mountain Beef Stew - 390 calories per serving

Flavorful and the veggies tasted great! I am very impressed with this one. The veggies were actually crunchy and made for an enjoyable meal. The meat tasted great and this did have a bit more sodium than others. (There was a salt packet provided on the inside of the pouch. I left the package closed an extra five minutes, but some of the meat wasn’t fully rehydrated again. I didn’t totally mind the crunch, but you could tell. There was plenty of beef in this meal to make it a great stew. I would actually drop the mushrooms from this meal, as they seem to get lost.

Apex Fruit Snacks - 170 calories per serving

My recommendation is to drink plenty of water before eating this and bring dental floss. This was one of my least favorite pouches to try. The small particles of fruit were like dust at the bottom. Not a fan. I didn’t taste much in the way of a particular fruit, it was just sweet to me. I ate half the package and felt full. Be careful not to eat too much as I feel it’ll give you a belly ache. You can add water to it, but I was afraid it would get much. Might be good to add to oatmeal.

Caldera Chicken Curry - 310 calories per serving

This was my least favorite one of all. In fact, I really disliked the flavor and consistency of this meal. The texture was way off and I felt like I had to choke it down. It needed more seasoning and the flavors of the soft chicken and crunchy pineapple grossed me out. This one is not for me and I would not order this one. Very bland and mushy.

Palisade Pineapple Mango - 640 calories, 50g of fat per serving

A hearty breakfast or a great meal after packing out of the backcountry, due to the high fat content. I did have issues with the packaging as when I added the required water the pouch leaked all over. There was a hole at the ‘V’ at the bottom of the pouch. I felt like there was still plenty of water to hydrate the meal, so I gave it an extra 8 minutes to rehydrate. Unfortunately, there were still some rubbery pieces of fruit after 20 minutes. The label states pineapple mango, but I got mostly bananas in mine. There was a powerful flavor of bananas, coconut, and flax. To be honest, I didn’t mind the flavor at all.

Bedrock Beef Chili - 360 calories per serving

Again, more issues with the packaging when I added the required hot water. It began leaking right away. Fortunately, I anticipated this and had a plate underneath. That wouldn’t be the case in the backcountry. In fact, I’d probably end up with it on my clothing, making me bear bait. I was still able to have a good amount of water and seal the package. 20 minutes later some of the potatoes were still tough, but tasted really good. Much of the actual spice was on the very bottom of the pouch. I stirred the meal and still wound up with the spices on the bottom of the pouch. My recommendation is to shake the bag well before adding water (which I did) and then also tip it back and forth, upside down when the water has been added. With the leaky pouch, I could not do this. I would say this - bring a small amount of rice with you to add to the chili. I felt like this needed some texture and carbohydrate.

Butte Cacao Banana - 570 calories, 35g of fat per serving 

It was hard to mix this all up, due to the small opening. It is recommended you add the hot water and let it sit for 10-12 minutes. I let it sit for 11 minutes and then cut the bag in half so i could get at the contents. I stirred it up and there was still dry mix at the bottom. I stirred it up again and let it sit another 2 minutes. It was absolutely delicious! It was nice having the smaller nuts in this meal, but the full size almonds were a bit much. I would have preferred some chopped, but the flavor was excellent and this would be great to eat after a long day when your body is craving fat.

Canyon Chicken Chili - 310 calories per serving

Low sodium, low fat, and super high protein - excellent! This has 40g of protein per pouch and that is awesome. There were no major issues with the bag, other than it being too small to get your hand in. The meal tasted great, but the sweet potatoes look nothing like a sweet potato I would eat. These were white and didn’t taste like sweet potato. They added great texture though. The spices were on the bottom again and I had to cut the bag in half to really stir it up. This meal was very tasty and had just he right amount of spice from the peppers. I really like that! The only issue I really had with this one is that it tasted really dry at the end due to lots of shredded chicken. That part of it wasn’t too appetizing, but it still tasted great. I might add a single-serving packet of olive oil and maybe some hot sauce at the end.

Overall, the Paleo Meals To Go team have come up with some excellent dehydrated, gluten free meals! I cannot tell you how nice it was to eat a meal with less sodium and feel great after. Well done, Ty and Dawn! In the end, I do think the pouches could be wider and shorter to allow for better access. I am concerned about the packaging not being able to withstand abuse on the trail, but hopefully that is cleared up soon. The paper-like pouches are very quiet and that was a bonus in my book. When you are packing meals, it’s nice to have something quiet in the way of packaging. The meals are around 3-4 ounces each, which is excellent for those who count each ounce in their pack. The price point on these is going to be higher because of smaller volume and I can see that being an issue with many hunters who are on a budget. Many of the meals are $9.99 each, On the flip side, for those of who was less sodium, great flavor, and a single serving, these will be great to have with us! You can buy your own in the Paleo Meals To Go store. The meals are good for a little over a year, which is great for us hunters. I would give these a 4 out of 5 stars on flavor, 5 out of 5 for clean tasting and eating, and a 3.5 out of 5 for the packaging. You can bet that I'll be buying a variety of these for my hunts this year. 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a variety of meals from Paleo Meals To Go in consideration for a product review. The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.  All content © The SoCal Bowhunter. No reproduction, in any form, w/o explicit written permission. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Southern California Challenges from Fire and Government

A few years back, I talked about the 2009 Station Fire and how it affected hunting for me. For those who don't know or remember, the Station Fire burned 160, 477 acres, which equates to roughly 251 square miles. That was one of many wildfires that year. It took homes, people, and destroyed habitat. Due to the devastation and closures, I had to find new land to hunt. After finding some new hunting buddies and much scouting, we found a few areas to hunt. That changed with the major wildfires like the 2015 Lake Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest that burned 31,359 acres and the 2016 Sand Fire that has currently eaten over 38,000 acres. These fires have been intense and incredibly destructive. It's a tough pill to swallow seeing your hunting spots go up in smoke, but you have to deal with it.

While many of the areas opened back up from the Station Fire, there are still many key access points blocked. Access points that would allow hunters to utilize their tags. I said this four years ago and I'll repeat it now:

The deer population is going down and hunter numbers are increasing. Land being developed for human use is on the rise and finding public land to hunt is tougher than ever. How long before we are all having to travel out of state to hunt deer because we just can't catch a break in SoCal? Unfortunately, I see that in our near future. More and more hunters are going elsewhere to hunt because of the strict laws, lowered population of game to hunt and places to go.

I hunt out of state, from time to time, for many reasons. I have family and friends out of state, but that gets very expensive and can be a marriage hazard. We are in a drought and it's not safe to hunt in many areas. Many are going elsewhere due to the insane gun and ammunition laws passed by the California government. They are muddying up fact with opinion and it's a mudslide right into the crapper for legal firearm owners and hunters. We already face the strictest gun laws in the country, but they can't seem to see that taking away guns will help what is going on. That's a post or series of posts for another time and to be honest, my mind has become tired of the BS in our state government.

Back to the fire issues, Brett and I had found some excellent spots that held deer. We set trail cameras, scouted, and had found deer in the past couple years. I don't remember which one of us said it first, but we knew it was only a matter of time before the area we were hunting would succumb to wildfire. It was primed and we had little to no rain. Sure enough, when news of the Sand Fire hit the airwaves I knew it was only a matter if time before it rapidly spread. It didn't take long for the areas we had spent so much time scouting and researching to go up in smoke. Am I a bit dejected? Sure. I'm human and much time and effort went into finding these spots. Yet, I find myself deeply saddened for the people who lost homes, loved ones, and pets. I am saddened for the animals who couldn't make it out of the fire. I also find myself extremely grateful for the hard working firefighters busting their humps in this incredible heat and risking their lives to put a stop to the fires. Thank you to everyone out there fighting the fires! You guys rock!

So now we are back at square one...well, two. We know areas to go to and that we can scout, so we have that advantage. We will have to drive a bit further, hike much deeper, and camp out longer in more areas. It's tough to do for sure when you have a family, career, and people relying on you at home. It is a struggle many of us face, but we will persevere and we will hunt.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gear Review: SunJack 14W+8000mAh Solar Charger & Battery

Folded up, the portable SunJack 14W+8000mAh Battery attaches to a backpack with ease.

Harnessing energy is awesome! The power of the sun gave strength to Superman, so why not use solar energy for our own transportable power in the backcountry? For years I have used my cell phone, GPS unit, and other electronics in the field and have needed to rely on battery power alone. More than once, I ran out of juice and it was tiresome. I needed a reliable source of power, and that is where SunJack comes in. I was given the opportunity to field test the SunJack 14W+8000mAh Battery for the past few weeks and living in an area with the sun shining all day long, I figured it was one I could not pass up. This is a solar charger and it comes with a rechargeable battery.

Unfolding the SunJack 14W is simple.

The SunJack zippered compartment holds the battery, carabiners and a little room left over.

Here is what came in the box:

  •     SUNJACK Portable Solar Charger with USB output port
  •     SUNJACK Fast-Charge Battery Pack
  •     SUNJACK Fast-Charge Cable
  •     SUNJACK Carabiners (2)
  •     Quickstart Guide
The website description states: Every SunJack provides wall outlet charging speeds in direct sun, and can charge a smartphone in just 90 minutes.

14W + 8000mAh Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 Battery - Ideal for the typical phone or tablet user. Fully charges SunJack battery in five hours of direct sun and holds enough juice for 4 smartphones or 1 tablet.
One of the things that intrigued me about the SunJack was the battery pack that comes with it. I found that the SunJack was actually more efficient that the website claims. That's a good thing! In fact, the first time I set the solar panels out, it was cloudy. The battery pack charged in nearly 6 hours. On a cloudy day in SoCal (there are a few), the battery charged and that was a good thing. We don't usually see many cloudy days, but they do come around from time to time. In full, direct sunlight the battery pack charges in just under five hours.

Usually, when I am hunting, I don't need to charge my phone until later in the day or evening after my hunt. When I charged the battery full a second time, I disconnected the battery and it sat for a few hours as I wanted to be sure it wouldn't lose the charge. It held a full charge for hours and then I plugged in my nearly dead iPhone. I was able to charge my phone and my wife's phone on one battery charge with plenty of power to spare. What impressed me even more was how quickly they charged up. The phones charged in just over an hour. That's from being near fully drained of power. Impressive!

There is also a built-in flashlight that works very well in a pinch. I didn't use it that often, but it's a great little added feature that can come in handy in the woods.

Here I charged the SunJack battery and my Action Cam at the same time.

There are two different USB ports that you can use at the same time. I attempted to charge up my Action Cam and the SunJack battery at the same time. I loved being able to charge two things at once, but that was short-lived. The issue with this is that you MUST keep the solar panels facing directly into the sun at all times, and it works much better when the sun is strongest. One of my tests was to try and charge the battery and my Action Cam in the evening. The sun was strong, so I connected both units and left them out for two hours. The battery charged some and the Action Cam only charged a quarter battery life. At first I was disappointed, but I figured out that at that time of day, you may not get a full charge. Plus, once I connected the battery to the Action Cam, it charged to full in less than 45 minutes with plenty of charge power left. The battery is where it's at! You can also charge up other battery units with the SunJack, which is another plus.

The claims for charging four smart phones or one tablet are pretty much right on. I charged four smart phones on one battery charge and still had a bit of power left over. I also charged up my daughter's Kindle from 10% to 100%, all while she was still using it, and I still had a quarter of the power left in the battery. I used that to charge my phone to full. Again, charging up the battery is the key, in my opinion.

Unfolded SunJack attached to my pack.
The SunJack takes up some real estate, but soaks up solar energy quite well.

The physical size and weight is not going to be for the ultralight backpacker, but for a hunter it should be no problem. The entire set up weighs nearly two pounds, but if you are planning on being in the backcountry for more than a day, it would be well worth packing to have power. Unfolded, it is REALLY long (31"), and while you can keep it on your backpack while hiking, I am not sure I would do that regularly because of the movement and also the need for direct sunlight. I would be afraid of sun glare for the folks behind you, or the solar panels being damaged. I am going to test out folding the panels in half, from four to two, and see if that works to charge the battery while I am hiking.

The unit is very rugged and took a beating. I dropped it, tossed it, and stood up to the torture. Everything is built well, too. The case and all is structurally sound and the zipper pocket works great.

I also wanted to mention that SunJack has a Full 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, which means if for any reason you are not satisfied, contact them and they'll take care of you.

Overall, I was pleased with the performance and usefulness of the entire kit. Would I recommend it to my fellow outdoorsmen and women? Not only would I recommend it, I highly encourage you to pick one up. The SunJack 14W+8000mAh Solar Charger and Battery retails for $150.00 and that's a reasonable price for what you get and how well it functions. I am considering an extra battery, too. The extra battery is $30 and would give my just a bit more power. That way I can have one fully charged BEFORE I hunt, just in case there isn't much sun on any given day. These are great for hunting, fishing, camping, and any other excursion outdoors where you need battery power. As always, if you have any questions, please leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Want to buy?SunJack has offered my readers a 15% discount on anything in their online store
Just use the code " SoCalBowhunter " at check out! 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the SunJack 14W+8000mAh Battery for free from SunJack in consideration for a gear review. The reviews on The SoCal Bowhunter are solely my honest opinions. I receive no monetary compensation in exchange for these reviews.  All content © The SoCal Bowhunter. No reproduction, in any form, w/o explicit written permission.