I’m not talking hard-core hunts in foul weather for trophy class animals, where freezing temperatures and extreme terrain prevail. I’m referring to fun hunts to share where game abounds, the weather is mild, the action fast-paced, the terrain is easily managed and the days aﬁeld not overly long. Of course, you need to set aside time for some relaxed sightseeing and romantic dinners, which may come over a campﬁre, but if you’re together, it’s just that much more special.
Throughout our 26 years of marriage, living in Alaska and overseas, my wife, Tiffany, and I have been fortunate to hunt many places together. Here’s a list of some of the most memorable hunting experiences we have enjoyed together. I believe you will enjoy them as well.
1. BEAR BOUND
Spring is one of the most productive times to hunt black bear in North America. Be it over bait in the states that allow it, or spot-and-stalk-style hunting in the lush, grassy meadows of the Paciﬁc Northwest, there’s no shortage of great bear hunting opportunities.
Idaho allows bear hunting over bait, and color phase bears run high in some areas. Sleeping in and hunting the evening hours will make it feel more like a vacation than a hunt. Spotand-stalk hunts can be had in multiple Canadian provinces, too, where bear densities are mind boggling and the terrain is easy to negotiate. Just be sure to bring mosquito repellent.
Bear meat is some of the best eating wild game out there. Get the hide off fast; remove the fat from the muscle and get the meat quickly cooling, and you’ll be enjoying it for months to come.
2. TURKEY TIME
There’s nothing quite like being in the spring turkey woods: warm days, wild ﬂowers blooming, birds singing and lovesick toms gobbling like crazy. Turkeys can be hunted in every state but Alaska.
One epic turkey hunt for you and your sweetheart is in Hawaii, where the birds thrive. Florida is another wonderful option for a couples hunt. Texas, South Dakota and western Oregon are also great places to hunt turkeys, and see some beautiful sights along the way.
Wherever you go, make sure to hit the state or states where multiple tags are available. If you have the time, driving to and hunting different states can be easy to do, and may offer great side attractions in the form of museums, historical points of interest and, of course, restaurants. Don’t overlook fall turkey hunting, which can be exciting, especially with a dog!
3. HOG HEAVEN
Ask my wife what her most memorable hunt was, and she’ll likely reply hunting hogs in Florida. Our whole family was along on this unforgettable trip, and atop a monster truck-like swamp buggy, we pounded bacon with ARs, shotguns and riﬂes. It was a thrilling way to hunt, and an effective way to put a dent in the overpopulation of pigs on the land we hunted. It also yielded a couple coolers full of some of our favorite wild game to eat.
Texas has high pig populations, and baiting and spot-and-stalk approaches can be employed there. Sitting in a blind over bait offers a level of addicting anticipation that needs to be experienced to be appreciated.
California has great, year-round hunting for wild hogs. Spring and fall are favorite times, as the pigs are actively feeding and the weather is very comfortable. Of course, California swine often resides near vineyards, making it easy to ﬁnd something to do in the evening together as well.
4. QUACK ATTACK
Be it an early-season teal hunt, a midseason outing for local birds or a late-season adventure for migratory fowl, spending time in the duck blind together is relaxing. Of course, the earlier it is in the season, the more comfortable the weather will be. Then again, late-season, high-volume hunts in the cold can offer unmatched shooting action that can keep you warm.
With a dozen decoys, a call and some basic gear, getting equipped for hunting waterfowl is easy.
If you don’t have access to good public lands, gaining permission to hunt on private property is much easier than getting the green light to hunt deer or elk. Don’t overlook your goose hunting options either, for these can offer great action around the country, be it for Canadas or snows.
5. PRONGHORN HITS
The perfect couples hunt for big game has to be pronghorn. The weather is nice, animals are plentiful, you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to start the day, and if you blow an opportunity on a buck, you’ll soon be commencing a stalk on another.
While some states only offer pronghorn tags through a lottery system, others have over-the-counter options. Parts of Wyoming offer overthe-counter tags for nonresidents, for both buck and doe, making it the top state for such a hunt. Consider putting a bipod on the riﬂe, or at the very least, use shooting sticks, and practice out to 300 yards, as shots can be long in this open country of the West. These hunts are big hits among couples and families.
6. VARMINT MASTER
Varmint hunting offers high-volume, fast-paced shooting action to couples eager to head aﬁeld. Be it prairie dogs in the spring, summer, early fall, or ground squirrels farther West, there is a lot of great shooting to be had.
Prairie dogs occupy many of the Rocky Mountain states and open plains, and the fact they do so much property damage means ﬁnding a place to hunt isn’t that difficult. The last prairie dog town my wife and I hunted in Montana, stretched for more than 7 miles and was over a mile wide. Needless to say, we experienced a lot of shooting.
In eastern Oregon and northern California, Belding’s ground squirrels abound, and ﬁring more than a thousand rounds per person, per day, is common in some of the alfalfa ﬁelds overrun by these varmints.
7. PLEASANT PHEASANT
While the season for wild pheasants has come to a close, there are numerous bird preserves that offer outstanding hunting opportunities around the country, even in Alaska. In most states, preserves are open through March, and reopen again in August or September.
Not only are these high-percentage hunts, but the accommodations can be as fancy as you want to get, which can be appealing to couples. Then again, you can ﬁnd affordable operations, allowing more bangs for your bucks in the form of pheasant, chukar, quail and occasionally more exotic species.
8. DOVE LOVE
My wife and I gone dove hunting together for nearly two decades. Early in the September season, when the weather is hot, we enjoy ﬂoating rivers and hunting birds off gravel bars. Later in the season, we move to ﬁelds and travel routes connecting feeding and roosting areas.
While early-season hunts are warm and comfortable, many states have extended their seasons into October, and the shooting for migratory doves in large ﬂocks can be exceptional. These are some of the best eating birds out there.
9. WHITETAIL QUEST
One of the country’s best deer hunts to experience with your sweetheart is for whitetails. Blacktail deer hunting is physically demanding, often taking place in wet, brushy country. Mule deer habitat can be rugged and the weather less than hospitable. But when it comes to whitetails, North America’s most hunted big game animal, the options are many.
Since whitetails occupy so much river bottom and farmland habitats, the terrain is easy to negotiate. They can be hunted from late summer into winter, and with high densities, seeing deer is almost guaranteed and the chances of punching a tag are high. Whitetails can often be hunted from ground blinds, making it comfortable for both of you when temperatures drop. If looking to put meat in the freezer, there are some good over-the-counter options, and easy-to-draw tags in many states.
10. ADVENTURES ABROAD
Don’t overlook the joy of traveling abroad to hunt with your loved one. This is also a great opportunity to combine a hunt with a vacation.
New Zealand is tops when it comes to hunting prized red stag, and more, and the people and the country are simply wonderful. Australia also offers some good deer hunting in its southern and western states.
Africa is a place that offers a lot, both in terms of species to hunt and sites to see. Plains game hunts are affordable, with kudu and gemsbok topping the wish list of many hunters.
This Valentine’s Day, consider giving your spouse a hunt as a way to say “I love you!” With this gift you’ll both be able to spend time in the ﬁeld together, and travel through some great parts of North America, even the world. ASJ
Editor’s note: Scott Haugen is a fulltime freelance writer of 20 years. He recently began a booking service geared to help others enjoy hunting and ﬁshing adventures around the world. Learn more at scotthaugen.com.
He wasn’t the biggest buck I’d ever seen, but he had eight points and a big body, and at that stage of the season he was a shooter. Head down, searching side to side, neck swollen, he cruised along giving the does’ scent the utmost attention.
At 90 yards, he stopped and gave me a quartering-toward shot, and I placed the crosshairs of the 6.5-284 Norma just inside his foreleg, gently breaking the trigger. At the shot, the buck ﬂipped backward onto his back, legs in the air, and stayed in that position. The 156-grain Oryx had taken him through the heart and lungs, and proceeded to exit just behind the offside ribs, killing him instantly.
THE ORYX IS A PREMIUM BULLET, designed for a perfect blend of expansion – to create a large wound channel – and penetration – to ensure that the wound channel reaches the vital organs. Usually designed in a semispitzer proﬁle, the bullet’s copper jacket is engineered to be thinner at the nose, to initiate expansion, yet gets thicker toward the ﬂat base of the bullet.
In addition to getting thicker, the rear portion of the jacket is chemically bonded to the lead core to make sure that things stay together. Chemical bonding, resulting in what we call a “bonded core” bullet, prevents bullet breakup, and slows the expansion process down to allow the bullet to penetrate deeply. It is one of several methods used to resist overexpansion, a problem common to standard cup-and-core bullets at high-impact velocities, and the Norma Oryx does this well.
Being a semispitzer, the Oryx may not possess the high ballistic coefficient (BC) ﬁgures that some of the sleek, polymer-tipped hunting bullets may have, but at normal hunting distances that doesn’t pose a huge problem. Inside of 400 yards, shots can be made with a bullet in this conformation, and the additional terminal performance can make a big difference when it really counts; should tough shoulder bones, thick hide, or gristle plates need to be penetrated, the Oryx will deﬁnitely hold together for you.
Norma loads the Oryx in their factory ammunition, in calibers from .224 inches all the way up to .375 inches. The smallest are a good choice for those who wish to use a .22 centerﬁre on deer and other similar game. The standard big game calibers, say from 6.5mm up to 8mm, can be used with an additional level of conﬁdence, should the shot angle be less than desirable.
The heavier calibers, from .338 inches up to the .375 inches, will take full advantage of the Oryx’s stature, as these calibers are often used to pursue the largest animals that can be effectively hunted with a soft-point bullet. Norma offers the Oryx in mid- to heavyweight projectiles for caliber, at standard muzzle velocities. Retained weight is often high – above 90 percent in most instances – with expansion usually doubling the original diameter.
THE ORYX IS AVAILABLE IN MOST of the popular calibers, such as the .270 Winchester, .30-06 Springﬁeld, .308 Winchester, .375 Holland & Holland and .300 Winchester Magnum, but also has embraced some of the rarities, like the .308 and .358 Norma Magnums, as well as the Weatherby and Blaser Magnums. Hailing from Sweden, Norma loads many of the metric calibers, like the classic 7×57 Mauser, 9.3x63mm, 8×57 and 9.3x74R, as well as some of those lesser-known calibers here in the States like the 7×64 Brenneke and the 7x65R.
Norma also offers the Oryx as a component bullet for the handloader, so for those of you who like to hunt with your own ammunition, the Oryx remains a viable option.
In the ﬁeld, I like the Oryx for any situation where a difficult shot angle may be the only shot you get, or in an instance where stopping an animal may be necessary. The Oryx would make a very good choice for a hunter who wanted to use his or her .270 Winchester for elk; at 150 grains, the heavy-for-caliber bonded core slug will deﬁnitely hold together well enough to reach the vitals. I also like the Oryx for many of the African species, as well as for our North American bears. Thinking lion and leopard, as well as eland and wildebeest, the Oryx – in a suitable caliber – will provide enough expansion to shred the vital organs, yet will break those tough shoulder bones that guard the vitals.
I also think that a .338 Winchester Magnum or .375 H&H Magnum, loaded with a heavy-for-caliber Oryx, would make an excellent brown bear combination, and would certainly handle any black bear that ever walked. For a hunter who wants to pursue bears with his standard deer riﬂe, the Oryx will handle the shoulder bones and put that bear down quickly. For those who hunt deer with the popular .243 Winchester, the Oryx will surely get the job done, at just about any angle.
Is it accurate? My 6.5-284 Norma will print three of those 156-grain Oryx bullets into ½ MOA groups, as will my .300 Winchester Magnum with 180-grainers. My .375 H&H puts three 300-grain Oryx bullets into exactly 1 inch at 100 yards. For a trio of hunting riﬂes that will handle most all of the big game scenarios across the globe, that’s more than enough accuracy. ASJ
On all the hunts I’ve been fortunate to embark upon around the world, I almost always take only one knife aﬁeld. This knife has to be able to withstand punishment and perform to my liking, and it’s also got to be lightweight. When scaling granite peaks for mountain goats and sheep, ounces can feel like pounds after a few days.
MANY KNIVES ARE DESIGNED for speciﬁc purposes, but for hunting, I don’t feel as if I need multiple knives. On a recent hunt, I met up with a buddy in Alaska. It was his ﬁrst trip to the Last Frontier, so he wasn’t sure what to fully expect. He cracked open his gun case and inside were six knives, including one with a heavy, 12-inch-long blade and a ball compass on top. I laughed. He didn’t. “What are you doing?” I quizzed. “I didn’t know what knife to bring, so I brought a bunch,” he smirked.
We were going on a grizzly and black bear hunt across open tundra. About the only thing we needed a knife for was carrying out routine tasks, and to skin and butcher any bear we killed. In my opinion, a person needs only one knife for those tasks.
As with all ﬂy-in hunts to remote drop camps, weight is a concern with bush plane pilots. With strict weight limitations, and given the fact we were going to be gone for over a week, I wanted to take all the weight we could in food, clothes and essential gear, not knives we’d never use. When my buddy asked what knives I was taking, I held up one, a 3-inch-bladed Kershaw knife, speciﬁcally their Skyline model. “No, really, what knives are you bringing?” he asked again.
“Oh, I forgot this,” I smiled, holding up a compact sharpening steel. I explained how all skinning, ﬁeld dressing, caping and deboning can be done with one knife, and that it doesn’t have to be big. I’ve broken down numerous deer, elk, bear and African game with a 2-inch blade, and many with a 3-inch blade. Using bigger blades than that is ﬁne, if that’s what you’re comfortable with, but if you’re just embarking upon the world of hunting, big, bulky knives aren’t necessary.
This year marks my 40th year of big game hunting, and I’ve always kept things simple with my knife choices. You look for a knife that ﬁts your hand, keeps an edge, and is constructed with a handle that won’t slip when covered in blood, fat or water.
I know many hunters who take their personal-carry knives aﬁeld, and that’s great if that’s what they like. Some folks prefer ﬁxed blades over folding knives, and vice versa. Personally, I like a ﬁxed-blade knife with a handle that’s easy to clean of dried blood and gut content.
A VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR when choosing a hunting knife is getting one with quality steel that’s easy to attain an edge on. While softer blades may dull more easily than hard steel, they are easier to regain an edge on when in the ﬁeld. Knowing the anatomy of the animal you’re breaking down, and using the knife to cut, not saw or force through bones, will help in maintaining an edge on your knife. All cuts are easy to make and should not be forced, especially through joints and cartilage.
Animal fat can quickly dull a knife, which is why it’s critical to have a quality steel to easily hone that knife. At the same time, cutting through cartilage, tendons and ligaments can be tough on knives, making quality steel even more important. Having a blade you can hone in the ﬁeld – one that reacts to a good steel – is important in regaining that edge in order to continue safely and efficiently breaking down an animal.
While it’s occasionally unavoidable, try to refrain from cutting through hair and into dirt. Sometimes big animals like elk, moose and bear are impossible to move around by yourself, meaning a cut may slice through skin and hit dirt, which dulls a knife. When cutting the hide, do so from the skin side, not down through the hair. To do this, make a small hole where the cut will begin, then get the blade inside the skin, cutting upwards through the hide. This will help keep an edge and should allow you to get through multiple animals before having to sharpen your knife again.
When your knife does become dull in the ﬁeld, sharpen it right away, for a dull knife leads to bad cutting techniques, and that’s how accidents happen. When hunting, I rely on two simple yet very effective sharpeners. In my daypack, I’ll take one sharpening steel aﬁeld to touch up the knife while breaking down animals. My favorite is Kershaw’s Ultra-Tek blade sharpener, a 600-grit oval steel that’s very lightweight and works wonderfully in quickly regaining an edge. When back in camp, if I need to further sharpen the knife, I’ll use a whetstone or a Work Sharp guided ﬁeld sharpener.
Rarely do I take a compact folding saw aﬁeld when deer hunting, for a deer’s skull – the only part of an animal I use a saw on – isn’t so heavy that it needs to be split, like moose, caribou and elk do. When quartering big game in the ﬁeld, I don’t use a saw to split the pelvis or remove the legs, neck or ribs – that’s all done with a knife.
ONE WORD OF CAUTION when embarking on a big game hunt where you’ll be breaking down an animal in the ﬁeld, and that’s to be aware of the state’s recovery laws. Most states require a proof of sex to accompany the meat from the ﬁeld to camp or home. This is usually best retained by keeping the genitals attached to one hindquarter, and/or bringing the head of the animal out. When bringing the head out, if sawing off the antlers to cut down on weight you’re packing out, cuts are often required to be made below the eyes, so the eyes are intact. Some states require the meat to stay attached to leg bones, too, meaning complete boning out of meat while in the ﬁeld may not be legal.
If you will be transporting game heads across state lines, know that multiple states require the brain to be removed from the skull. This means you’ll need a saw to cut through the brain cavity, so be prepared. Prior to heading aﬁeld, make sure you know the meat recovery and transport laws of the state you’ll be hunting in.
Find a knife that works for you and familiarize yourself with how it handles. Practice at home, rubbing fat and blood on the handle and getting it wet to see how it performs. Once you know what a knife is capable of, as well as the anatomy of an animal and how to disarticulate its joints and muscles, you’ll see why a simple blade is all that’s really necessary. ASJ
Editor’s note: For copies of Scott Haugen’s comprehensive DVD, Field Dressing, Skinning & Caping Big Game, send a check for $20.00 (free S&H) to Haugen Enterprises, P.O. Box 275, Walterville, OR 97489. This, along with his many books, can be ordered online at scotthaugen.com.
An interview with Sam Kolb of Bullpacs hunting packs.
By Steve Joseph
Steve Joseph How did Bull Pacs get its start?
Sam Kolb About 20 years ago, some elk hunters out of Lewiston, Idaho, packed out an elk on some rickety old aluminum pack frames and swore there had to be better equipment out there for the job. Their search left them empty-handed, and since they ran a machine shop they decided they’d make their own. After several years and countless hours, they finally fine-tuned a frame that was super strong, pretty lightweight and much more comfortable for those long packs out of the mountains loaded with elk.
Though they weren’t really interested in making that part of their machine shop production, they had the production aspect all figured out. Their mother, Janice, moved back to Lewiston and was looking for work when the business idea was born; the shop would manufacture Bull Pacs and Janice began sewing the components, assembling packs and shipping orders. In 2014, Janice decided she wanted to retire from pack production, and after months of training and passing of the baton, our family moved Bull Pacs to Vancouver, Wash., where we have continued with pack production and started working on new accessories and ideas to go with the Bull Pacs.
SJ What sets Bull Pacs apart from the other packs?
SK We’ve always had a passion for good, solid hunting gear. When I first laid eyes on the Bull Pacs, the solid design and workmanship definitely stood out. Once I tried it on, I loved the way it fit and was convinced it could comfortably handle any load I was able to shoulder. I couldn’t wait until the next season to try it out with a load of elk meat! That was 14 years ago and I have packed thousands of pounds of game on my original Bull Pac, with very few signs of wear and tear. I was actually surprised at just how tough and comfortable Bull Pacs really were, whether packing out elk quarters or just hiking the backcountry in pursuit of the next big adventure!
SJ What about accessories that are available?
SK We have started producing a number of new accessories to outfit new or old packs. Our most popular addition is the rifle mount, which mounts securely to the Bull Pac frame and provides hands-free use when hiking or packing meat, but still allows quick access to ones rifle without removing the pack. We have also developed a decoy extension that allows a person to securely strap on super-tall loads that are otherwise unwieldy to haul around. We have started carrying RAM Mount accessories to facilitate attachment/use of flashlights, Go Pro cameras, spotting scopes and cameras or other similarly threaded electronic equipment. We have a couple different sizes of game bags for bone-in quarters or boned-out meat. We also have Bull Pac Straps for quickly cinching download on the pack frame for hauling meat and/or gear. And we are just finishing up an axe mount similar to the rifle mount to facilitate safe axe hauling. We have several other ideas we are working on, with things to come in the future.
SJ Speaking of, where do you see Bull Pacs heading in the future?
SK We are excited to continue the company’s legacy that’s built on quality, durability and personal customer service that Bull Pacs has provided to the outdoor community for years. While we love the Bull Pac, we are also working on a number of accessories and other innovative adaptations that will make your Bull Pac useful in a number of different applications. We hope to continue to grow as a grass roots pack company that represents solid, no-nonsense gear that gets the job done and doesn’t let you down, for the everyday hunter.
SJ You have a lifetime warranty. How important is that for your customers?
SK We do our best to produce products that will provide decades of worry-free use. What good is a warranty if it craps out on you in the bottom of the canyon? However, as we all know, anything mechanical can break. If you have something break, slip and land on a rock and bust a weld or have something you don’t think held up as it should have, we will happily take care of it and make it right! We pride ourselves on customer service that’s second to none. We treat our customers how we’d want to be treated and don’t make excuses if an issue arises. More people like a company that stands behind their product, and we make sure our customers feel appreciated and are well taken care of!
Hunting season is just around the corner, have you been out shooting to polish your skills? Stationary targets or moving targets? Shooting at something that’s moving is challenging. However, a proficient shooter can make it look simple like this hunter here in the video below. This hunter dropped 4 hogs in a row within a minute with no time to spare, hope this gets you inspired for the upcoming hunting season, enjoy!
Source: I Love Hunting Facebook
A knife is a tool, and you must choose the correct one for each speciﬁc job. While you can dig a hole with a spoon, a shovel works a lot better, and the same goes with knives.
Also, I don’t jump out of helicopters with a tactical knife clenched in my teeth to cut oﬀ the heads of the bad guys. I just like to hunt and ﬁsh, and gut, skin and cut up what I kill, so my advice comes from that perspective.
LET’S DISPEL A MYTH. Just because you skinned your ﬁrst bear with a certain knife doesn’t automatically mean that it is the best skinning knife. In fact, it may not even be a good skinning knife. It just means that it has some sentimental value.
Years ago, the Idaho Press Tribune ran a photo of a 12-year-old boy who had just shot his ﬁrst deer with an old Winchester .30-30. Beside him in the photo were his dad and granddad, who’d shot their ﬁrst deer with the same riﬂe. Do you think you could ever convince that kid that a .30-30 isn’t the best deer riﬂe? I wouldn’t even try.
So if your favorite uncle – the one who taught you how to hunt – entrusted you with his knife on his deathbed, then carry it and be happy. Who cares what I say? Just don’t try to tell me that it is the best design for every task.
Hunters can justify carrying four diﬀerent knives. These are: a clip point to cut the pattern (the initial cut when skinning), a drop-point knife to skin, a caping knife to skin around the eyes, ears and lips, as well as the feet of bears, and a boning knife to bone out your game.
Do I always carry all four? No. When I’m hunting hard in the mountains, I usually only carry two: a knife to skin my animal and a boning knife. I’ve skinned more than a hundred deer with a clip-point knife, because it’s a versatile choice. However, if you want to keep the hide or mount the head, it’s best if you use a drop point.
Let’s brieﬂy review each style of blade, and why they are best for a speciﬁc task.
The tip of this design sweeps upward and comes to a deﬁnite point, which allows you to stab into the hide and cut a pattern. The pattern is the initial cut you make down each leg, around the hocks and up the belly before you start removing the skin. You can skin your animal with a clip-point knife, but due to the shape of the blade, they have more of a tendency to cut holes in the hide while skinning. If you’re just skinning your deer so you can cut it up, then it doesn’t matter if you skin it with your clip point knife.
If I could only carry one knife, this would be it.
A drop-point knife is less likely to cut through the hide, and you can skin faster without being as careful. You’ll notice on a drop-point knife that the tip doesn’t sweep upwards like a clippoint knife. Although I can’t explain the mechanics of why, you’ll simply cut through the hide less often while skinning with a drop-point knife than with a clip-point knife.
If you plan to mount the animal head, you’ll want to carry a caping knife. A caping knife has a shorter, thinner blade with a deﬁnite point. This allows you to make intricate cuts around the eyes and lips of your trophy, as well as when skinning the feet on bears.
When I was a kid, we’d use a hunting knife for this job, but while working in beef production plants, I discovered what a real boning knife could do. I took what I learned there and applied it in my outdoor world.
To get a clean bone (which means to remove all the meat) you’ll want a semi-ﬂexible knife. You don’t want it too ﬂimsy or you won’t be able to control the blade while working. I favor a 6-inch boning knife, but have buddies who favor a 5-inch blade. I favor a semiﬂex, but some people prefer a superﬂex blade. It’s a matter of preference.
A SOFTER METAL BLADE is easier to sharpen, but it doesn’t stay sharp as long. A harder knife is more diﬃcult to sharpen but will keep an edge longer. Again, it’s not a matter of right or wrong, just personal preference.
If you’ve hiked in 7 miles and shoot an elk, it’s nice to have a knife that will hold an edge long enough to skin him so you don’t have to carry a sharpening stone. For that reason, I favor a knife that is hard and will keep an edge but that is not insanely hard. Something of the hardness of a Knives of Alaska knife is perfect.
What about straight blade versus fold-ups? Again, it’s a matter of preference. I like both, and sometimes interchange at the drop of a hat. However, if you choose a folder, make sure it has a locking blade so it doesn’t close on your hand while working, although nearly all folders are lock blades now.
There are several good manufacturers on the market. Choose which brand you prefer, and then pick one with the task-speciﬁc designs that I’ve listed above. And after you’ve made your selection, happy hunting! ASJ
Editor’s note: For more on this and other knife-related topics, see the author’s e-article “Knife Sharpening” (available on Amazon Kindle), and check out the YouTube videos on RonSpomerOutdoors.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY BRAD FITZPATRICKIt’s hard to pick up a shooting magazine or wander through a large gun store without coming face to face with one of the myriad of popular 6.5 cartridges. Some, like the 6.5 Grendel, 26 Nosler and 6.5 Creedmoor
I won’t take anything away from the 6.5s. They’re versatile cartridges that are accurate out to long range. But the king of the metric mountain is and will be (at least in the foreseeable future) the 7mms, and here’s why.
Modern smokeless 7mm cartridges have been around for more than a century. The ﬁrst truly successful sporting and military 7mm across the Atlantic was the 7mm Mauser, and at the Battle of San Juan Hill, Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders realized that the fast, accurate, ﬂat-shooting Mauser 93s in 7mm Mauser were far superior to their .45-70 Springﬁelds. That battle prompted a change in American cartridge design that continues to this day.
Shortly after the Second Boer War ended, WDM “Karamojo” Bell, the Scottish adventurer, soldier and hunter, began hunting ivory professionally in Africa using a 7mm Mauser riﬂe. Also known as the 7×57, Bell’s riﬂe accounted for a number of big tusker trophies across the Dark Continent, most of them taken with precarious brain shots.
Why was the 7mm so eﬀective?
In that particular case, Bell used a 173-grain bullet with a sectional density of .306, higher than a .375 H&H Magnum with a 300-grain bullet. Long, heavy-for-caliber bullets penetrate well, battle the wind and carry energy over long distances. But despite its power, the mild little 7mm Mauser was (and is) very comfortable to shoot.
Today, the round faces competition from the 7mm-08, another mild 7 formed by necking down the .308 Winchester.
But while the 7mm Mauser and 7mm-08 remain excellent options, 170-plus-grain bullets are no longer the norm. Modern factory loads have bullets from 120 to 140 grains, which oﬀer ample knockdown power for nearly all North American game at moderate ranges. These two mild 7s are great for just about any game, and that includes elk and moose, though there are better, more specialized options outlined below.
IN THE 1950S AND 1960S, there was an arms race of sorts going on in the United States. Big, belted magnums that shot ﬂat and hit hard were en vogue, and no person symbolized that line of thought more than Roy Weatherby. Weatherby had recently designed his ultrasafe Mark V riﬂe, and that led to a jump in the popularity of his cartridges.
Weatherby already oﬀered a 7mm Weatherby Magnum design, but the caliber took oﬀ in the Mark V with Western hunters who wanted to kill elk, mule deer, whitetail and just about anything else across wide canyons. The ﬂatshooting 7mm Weatherby, with its large case and Venturi shoulder, had the capacity to burn lots of powder. And with better bullets on the market, the 7mm Weatherby became a star.
Remington seized on the 7mm’s success in 1963 with the production of the 7mm Remington Magnum, an eﬀort that happened to coincide with the release of the budget-priced but accurate Model 700. The years that followed saw an unprecedented jump in the 7mm Remington Magnum’s success, and it remains one of the most popular American hunting cartridges today.
Although these two 7mm magnums were at the top of the class in speed and power in the ’60s, they have since been eclipsed. But each remains an extraordinarily versatile round that blends suﬃcient game-killing energy, ﬂat trajectories, and tolerable recoil. In fact, both the 7mm Remington Magnum and 7mm Weatherby Magnum beat .30-06 velocities by more than 300 feet per second with the same or slightly higher recoil.
The midmagnum 7s are perfect for everything from antelope and whitetails to elk and moose, and both have great reputations among African professional hunters. If you are sheep hunting, these are your rounds as well.
The 7mm Remington Magnum is more widely available, and ammo and guns for it are less expensive, but don’t overlook the Weatherby. If you are a fan of the Mark V or are looking to have a custom riﬂe built, it’s a great option. Bullet weights for these cartridges pick up where the mild 7s leave oﬀ; expect to ﬁnd what you need ranging from 139 to 175 grains. There are precious few things that these 7mms won’t do, and I’d be at a loss without one midpower 7mm in the gun rack.
THE 7MM FAMILY continues to grow, which is a testament to how great this bullet diameter really is. The ﬁrst is the .280 Ackley Improved (.284 is the diameter in inches of the 7mms). It isn’t exactly new – developer P.O. Ackley used the .280 Remington case as its base – but Ackley gave the case a steeper shoulder slant (40 degrees), and in 2008, this wildcat cartridge became SAAMI recognized.
Since then, the hunting world has adopted this cartridge with gusto; Nosler loads a variety of ammo for it, and really good factory riﬂes are available from Kimber, Nosler, Montana Riﬂe Company and others. The .280 AI, as it’s called, can ﬁre .280 Remington ammo (and the resulting case is ﬁre-formed to .280 AI afterwards), yet it is capable of nearly matching 7mm Remington Magnum velocities with less powder and muzzle blast from lighter riﬂes. Plus, it’s known for accuracy. While the .280 isn’t as widely available as the 7mm Remington Magnum it’s a great option that gives you – pardon the pun– the most bang for your buck.
Another new 7mm is the impressive 28 Nosler. Based on the 26 Nosler case (which, a few generations back, came to us from the .404 Jeﬀrey), the 28 Nosler uses a lot of slow-burning powder. The 160-grain factory loads leave the muzzle at 3,300 feet per second and, when sighted in at 200 yards, the bullet is only 14.9 inches low at 400 yards. That’s ﬂat-shooting!
The 28 Nosler is winning fans quickly, especially among sheep and elk hunters who want plenty of power and range without getting thumped at the back end by a .300 magnum. The ﬂat trajectory simpliﬁes long shots, and this cartridge will kill anything reliably with the exception of the largest and most dangerous game. Nosler has begun to make riﬂes chambered for this cartridge, and they promise sub-minute-of-angle accuracy. The Model 48 Liberty riﬂe I tested from Nosler beat that ﬁgure considerably.
It appears that the next generation of great, fast 7mms has arrived, so whether you are hunting big game or clanking targets from long range, this versatile caliber – from the wild and mild to a host of newer cartridges – will help you achieve your goals. ASJ
But some things are too important to not prepare for. Depending on what and where you hunt with your scattergun, your season is either coming up fast, or is already here. September is often the last call for getting shotguns and other paraphernalia ready, so let’s talk about what you need to do to get out there and sling some lead or steel.
First, pull those scatterguns out of the gun safe and look ’em over. I’m sure that you would never put a shotgun away at the end of the season without a thorough cleaning, but if somehow this did happen, now is the time to rectify it.
Open the action and make sure everything seems to function properly – action, trigger, safety, etc. If there are any problems, you may (yes, I wrote “may”) have time to get it to your gunsmith for repair. But if there are any questions with functioning or the safety, do not take
the shotgun to the ﬁeld.
Most of the time, the only prep our guns need is some old-fashioned cleaning. Pump guns and semiautos need a little more TLC when it comes to this, but don’t neglect the actions on your side-by-side and over-and-under shotguns just because they’re easier to clean. It is, however, easy to be intimidated when it comes taking pump and semiauto guns apart, so if you feel as if you are getting in over your head, don’t do it.
Not that long ago, I needed to disassemble a Browning BPS, and when it came to taking the bolt assembly apart I was unsure about getting it back together. Fortunately, there are multiple internet videos about putting this gun – and many others – back together.
While you are making sure that your guns are ready to roll, here are a few items that will help improve your experience in the ﬁeld.
ONE GUN PROTECTION PRODUCT I’ve recently come to use is Hopper Spit by Birchwood Casey. The name is derived from – and I am not making this up – the product’s dark brownish-green color. If you caught grasshoppers for ﬁsh bait as a kid (as I did), you know what color their spit is.
Hopper Spit is an extreme rust and corrosion preventative for the metal on ﬁrearms. It will protect ferrous and nonferrous metals, and withstand the harshest conditions, including salt spray. This is a good protective spray for long-term storage of your guns (so you’ll be all ready for next season), or before a hard day in the ﬁeld or the range. The suggested retail price is under $15, so you really can’t aﬀord to not test it out.
For more, see birchwoodcasey.com.
ANOTHER TYPE OF protection that we often neglect in the ﬁeld is for our hearing. For some reason, we wear it religiously when we go to the trap, skeet or sporting clay range, but we think that banging away in the dove ﬁeld all day is somehow diﬀerent. Some of us (like me) have already experienced some hearing loss from years of unprotected shooting, but it’s never too soon, or too late, to protect the hearing you have left.
Any hearing protection, including the simple “jam it in your ear” soft foam type, is better than nothing, but I think the in-ear electronic models work best. They eﬀectively reduce shotgun blast noise while letting us hear what is going around us, and this increased awareness can be very important while on the range or in the ﬁeld.
Etymotic Research’s Gunsport PRO electronic ear plugs are an excellent option for this need. GSP 15 electronic earplugs allow natural hearing when no background noise is present, and gradually protect from loud continuous noise from vehicles, machinery or gunﬁre from nearby shooters. At the ﬂip of a switch, sound is ampliﬁed, improving distance detection up to ﬁve times for enhanced awareness.
I’ve used the GunSport 15 model ear plugs in the ﬁeld and in a shotgun class at Gunsite Academy, and found them to be comfortable, eﬀective and easy to use. The suggested retail for these ear plugs is $299.00, but if you do much shooting (or go to NASCAR races, etc.), they are worth every penny.
For more, go to etymotic.com.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING as too much ammo. Can I get an “amen?” We shotgunners tend to go through a lot of ammunition, and that is a good thing. No matter how many shotgun shells you may have stored at your ranch, you are probably always in the market for more. I know I am.
Before you head oﬀ to the dove ﬁeld for your ﬁrst hunting expedition, you should put in at least a couple sessions shooting trap, skeet or sporting clays – anything to get you out there shooting.
Maybe you’ve heard that Browning has entered the ammunition world, and here are a couple oﬀerings for you to consider.
For the range, Browning oﬀers Browning Performance Target (BPT) Shotshells. A combination of hard shot and a smooth hull make this an excellent choice. Most of you know that round shot will ﬂy truer and hold a better pattern, and the harder or denser the shot, the more it holds its shape and doesn’t become deformed during ﬂight. Harder shot also breaks targets better.
Browning wanted to come in somewhere in the middle on the price point on this ammo, and accomplished this on their BPT line with a brass-plated steel shell head. The brass plating allows for smooth feeding, but the steel head makes it diﬃcult to reload, so Browning does not recommend it. MSRP for a box of 25 is $9.99, but you may see them on shelves anywhere from $7.99 up.
Browning has also introduced the BXD line of hunting shotshells. Along with nickel-plated shot for tighter downrange patterns, the main feature of these shells is speed. The 12-gauge 2¾-inch shell with a 13/8-ounce shot load delivers a muzzle velocity of 1,485 feet per second, and that, my friends, is a screamer. This type of speed should allow for less lead when drawing on that rooster pheasant that ﬂushed a bit too far out.
For more, see browningammo.com.
THIS ONLY SCRATCHES the surface of all the things you need to attend to before you hit the woods or the dove ﬁeld, but the editors would not give me the 20 pages I asked for to cover this topic adequately. Go ﬁgure.
As always, my advice to you is to just go. There will never be a perfect or even a good time to do it. Go to the range, go to where the doves are flying, or go see if the teal are in yet. No matter what you want to go after, just go! ASJ
A few years back, Tim Thompson was helping to ﬁnd a nice bull for Mike Schmid and the Intrepid Outdoors team. Mike and Tim are friends from Big Piney and LaBarge, Wyo., and both are avid outdoorsmen. On this occasion, Mike killed a great Shiras moose with his bow. But sometime during the trip, Tim mentioned that he was building preference points for sheep, and would be looking me up when he drew.
Fast forward seven years. While viewing the list of successful applicants for Wyoming sheep, I saw Tim Thompson listed as “successful” for Area 5. I knew my phone would be ringing soon, and around the middle of August, it did. Tim was on the other end of the line asking, “You ready to go sheep hunting?”
Unfortunately, my September was slammed with a moose hunt in Alaska and bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts in Colorado. To complicate matters, we were ﬁlming each hunt for The Best of the West show, so Tim’s once-in-alifetime bighorn hunt was put on hold until early October.
I ACTUALLY PREFER HUNTING at this time of the season. There is less pressure, and the mature rams have darker, fuller capes later in the year. I’d hoped to explore some country that I’d been on the fringe of, but not in its core, but the ridgeline trail accessing this area quickly becomes impassable with a few inches of snow and a good wind.
The weather held, so we drove to the trailhead, and in about an hour had the horses and mules loaded and began the steep ascent into uncharted country. We arrived at an excellent location for glassing a lot of country, and quickly set up camp and began peering into the rocky ridgelines, alpine basins and the timbered pockets that rams seek for protection. Out ﬁrst evening was ﬁlled with several elk sightings, including some mature bulls.
The next morning, we began the same ritual that all sheep hunters know: glass, glass and glass some more. Again, we spotted elk in most drainages and ridges, but shortly after his second cup of coffee, Tim exclaimed, “I think I got rams.”
This band of bighorns consisted of two half-curls, a young three-quarter curl and two old mountain monarchs. The two old boys looked to be about the same age (“ancient”), but had completely different horn conﬁgurations. One looked very massive, with a close tight curl, and the other had great mass throughout his length, with a much more open curl. Both were simply magniﬁcent as they grazed on the south-facing ridge.
I felt we should watch the rams and let them dictate our next move. There was just one small problem; the rams had made it into a steep timbered drainage before our intercept. I found the tracks of both big rams crossing a windblown cornice directly below our ridgeline lookout. We continued glassing into the timbered pocket below and across from us. I didn’t have much faith in our present location.
We headed back to our spike camp, stopping periodically to let our stock eat snow. We got back to camp and continued glassing. Way up high and a four-hour ride by horseback, I spotted two rams feeding on an easterly facing cirque. One of the rams was fully mature, with broomed full curls. We now had a backup plan if our ﬁrst group of rams had left the country. We continued watching the weather and glassing until darkness enveloped the mountain basins.
The next morning brought high expectations as the weather held, and soon we spotted the band of ﬁve rams to the north of camp. We quickly saddled up and were picking our way to their location as the sun began to rise. Our ﬁnal approach was from the north, over a barren slope which dropped directly into their primary bedding area of steep slopes and dense evergreen pockets. We crawled into position and began scanning the slope for rams. I spotted two on the edge of a timber ﬁnger protruding from the volcanic outcrops prevalent in the area. We had the three-quarter curl and the tight full curl feeding broadside at 450 yards!
TIM QUICKLY MANEUVERED into a stable prone position, and I had the video camera positioned and set to capture the moment. We continued glassing the tree line for the big open-curl ram. He was very distinct in that he had recently knocked a chunk of horn out of his left curl at the ﬁrst quarter.
In short order, our ram ﬁltered out of the trees and was feeding, unaware of our presence. The downhill angle was accounted for with a “shoot to” distance of 425 yards. Tim dialed the Huskemaw turret to 425 on his The Best of the West Signature Series riﬂe and prepared to break the shot.
At the report, our ram dropped to the turf and rolled 6 feet and settled against a fallen pine. The other rams were momentarily confused, but soon followed the old tight-curl ram over the spine and down into the jumbled canyon. I ﬁnished the video shots needed for a future episode, and we hiked to where our stock were tied securely on the other side of the ridge, and then slowly picked our way down the rotten volcanic spine directly above the fallen ram.
We bailed off our mules and followed an elk/sheep trail down the ﬁnal distance. Tim was fully enjoying the moment, and ﬂoated around the steep hillside like he was 20-something again! The moment Tim swung the ram’s head around, I stated, “I think you shot a Booner.”
This ram was one of those rare trophies that continued to get bigger the more we looked at him. Many hunters know exactly what I’m talking about, and I hope many others will experience this in their hunting careers.
We had gone into this hunt totally unguided, explored country neither of us had ever been in, and came out with an exceptional animal – 177 4/8 Boone and Crockett points and 14 years old, for those of you who like the stats. Fortunately, Tim was using the complete Best of the West Shooting System, which made taking a difficult shot look easy. But the bottom line was this: We thoroughly enjoyed the hunt on public land, and in addition to using the proper equipment, we were successful in taking the animal because of our combined years of knowledge and hard work.
But the story doesn’t end there.
In 2015, I had the needed preference points to draw a Shiras moose tag near the area Mike had killed his bull. Since Tim’s ranch is located in the same general area, one phone call to my friend was all that was needed to plan an October hunt.
By chance, Jon Bloom, another good friend, called and informed me his daughter had drawn the same moose tag. Brennae Bloom currently serves in the United States Army
as a human resources specialist, and had only a brief window to hunt. One more phone call to Tim and his wife Jody, and Brennae was also teed up for a memorable hunt.
AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, Brennae was up ﬁrst, and Tim had a speciﬁc bull moose in mind for her.
I’d explained to Tim that Jon had been in a terrible accident resulting in extensive neck surgery, and Tim and Jody were all in, along with their son RJ and daughter Amanda. On opening morning, the Bloom family trio of Jon, Brennae and her brother Skyler were ready to go. Brennae was long range-capable with her dad’s riﬂe topped with a 5-20X50 Huskemaw. This scope was critical, because their established lookout point provided a great view of a willow bottom, with distances ranging from 200 to more than 1,000 yards, all from an elevated position.
About midmorning, the giant made his appearance. Brennae was ready, having already established a very stable prone position. The bull was ranged at 550 yards, and was in eminent danger. The shot broke the morning stillness, and soon, Brennae was kneeling next to a magniﬁcent Shiras sporting a 57-inch spread. The bull was ﬁeld dressed in short order and hauled to the barn, courtesy of the Thompson Ranch front-end loader.
Later that October, I hunted with Tim and his family, and harvested a very nice 40-inch bull of my own at 680 yards, although I did ﬁre a “warning shot” before settling down and placing a bullet through his heart.
To top it off, my wife Lynn also had a moose tag in another unit, and she made a great one-shot kill on her moose at 350 yards. Our family and friends have enjoyed many meals with moose being served as the main course. And along the way, I was able to enjoy the fall season with good friends in spectacular western Wyoming.
From a moose hunt to a sheep hunt, then back for three more moose hunts, our story had ﬁnally come full circle.
TRUE HUNTERS UNDERSTAND that hunting is much more than just killing an animal. For many of us, it is our escape from the pressures of everyday life, and is an integral part of who we are. But it is far more rewarding, in my eyes at least, to make sure that we are always giving back to the sport we love. Of course, I always advocate for hunters to become more educated and proﬁcient in their choice and use of weapons, but there is more we can do beyond ourselves.
To me, the act of helping other hunters is much more satisfying than simply (and selﬁshly) putting another head on the wall. Find a way to use your knowledge and resources to make another hunter’s dream come true. Become a mentor for a youth, invite a senior for a day in the ﬁeld, or make yourself available to a new acquaintance. The experience will reward you with great memories that last a lifetime.
And if you take the time to mentor another hunter and bask in their success, it will become your success as well. ASJ
For more information about The Best of the West and Huskemaw Optics, visit thebestofthewest.net.
It’s diﬃcult to imagine two more diﬀerent environments than the UFC Octagon and the Sierra Nevada mountain range in autumn. It may be harder to imagine that anyone could feel equally at home in both places.
Everything in and surrounding the ring – the bright lights, screaming crowds, intrusive cameras and Octagon Girls – can dazzle and distract, yet none of it merits a moment of Chad “Money” Mendes’ attention when he circles an opponent. Inside the cage, a moment’s distraction is all that is required for the top ﬁghters in the world to take you down.
Compare that frenzied environment with the giant old-growth forests of northern California, where the silence can be as overwhelming as the Octagon’s noise.
Two diﬀerent worlds, worlds apart. And Mendes belongs to both.
To truly understand this perplexing puzzle, you must focus on what the ring and the woods have in common, not what makes them diﬀerent. In both the Octagon and the backcountry, your senses are honed to a ﬁne edge. That’s part of what it takes to survive in these respective environments. Fighting and hunting also oﬀer physical challenges, and if you disagree, you’re probably not hunting like Chad Mendes, who prides himself on ﬁnding big bucks and big bulls that others can’t because he goes places others won’t.
BUT PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT thread connecting the wilderness and the Octagon, for Mendes at least, is that both sturdy strands tie directly back to his father, Alvin. For Mendes’ two great loves—wrestling and the outdoors – were shared with his father from a very young age.
“At ﬁve years old, my father made us bows from the ﬁberglass poles that mount on ATVs,” Mendes recalls, laughing a little at the thought. “He made arrows, and we shot targets in the backyard. Later, it was BB guns, shooting cans oﬀ hay bales.”
Mendes remembers going to school and waiting impatiently to get back home so he could shoot until darkness forced him indoors, where he would go to sleep anticipating the next day … and the next shot.
Something else entered Mendes’ life at age ﬁve, and that was wrestling. He brought that same focus and dedication to the sport that he brought to shooting and hunting, and once again, his father was right beside him.
“My father coached me in wrestling from the age of ﬁve through high school,” Mendes says. Apparently, the elder Mendes did a pretty good job, as Chad went on to become one of the best high school wrestlers to ever hail from central California. (He was raised in the small town of Hanford.) At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he earned two PAC-10 championships and was named a two-time D-1 All-American.
While still in high school, Mendes met fellow wrestler Urijah Faber, and during his summers home from college he helped Faber conduct wrestling clinics. After ﬁnishing up at Cal Poly, Mendes traveled to Sacramento to train with Faber full-time as part of Team Alpha Male.
Throughout his college and UFC career, Mendes has been known for an intense physical training regimen that helps the 31-year-old stay in top condition. But when he isn’t training, Mendes is often in the woods, and it has been that way since he was a boy.
HE BEGAN BY FOLLOWING HIS FATHER through the forest, learning to move silently and to watch for game. Soon, Mendes’ woods training began to progress. He took his hunter safety course and began chasing blacktails in the Sierras with a bow and a riﬂe. And although he’s hunted all over the world for a variety of game, the diminutive blacktail still holds a place in his heart.
“Some people ask me why I hunt them,” Mendes says. “They’re small, but I enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed hunting blacktails. There are big bucks out there, but they’re a challenge to ﬁnd.”
If you imagine that Mendes’ other passion – the one that puts him in the crosshairs of some of the most dangerous men on the planet – has hardened him to the killing of game, you’re wrong. He doesn’t hunt for the kill, and he respects the game. His father taught him that, and if you haven’t ﬁgured out by now, Chad Mendes listens to what his father says. It’s served him well so far.
“He has been in my corner for about the last ten ﬁghts, and that’s been great.” But on a recent elk hunt in Utah the roles were reversed, and Chad suddenly found himself as the corner man for his father.
“This big bull came in, maybe 355 or 360 [points]. A six-by-seven,” Mendes says with a laugh. “Dad was getting ready to shoot and I was videoing. I had to calm him down, tell him to relax. It was great.”
As previously mentioned, the challenge of being in peak physical condition has served Mendes well as a professional athlete. But it’s also served him as a hunter, and that same drive to compete – primarily against himself – compels Mendes to hunt harder and to travel on foot into more remote country.
Today, instead of following at his dad’s heels, Mendes blazes trails into country where few hunters are willing to go, and that’s where Mendes ﬁnds some outstanding trophies. He’s had great success with both blacktails and big Ohio whitetails, and he counts elk among his favorite species to hunt with both a bow and a riﬂe. Northern California is also home to some excellent game country, and there Mendes chases turkeys and wild hogs. He’s also been to New Zealand, where he’s hunted fallow deer and red stags.
HIS UFC TRAINING DOESN’T ALLOW Much free time, but Mendes devotes a portion of each day to some hunting- or ﬁshing-related activity.
“If I’m not hunting, I’m shooting or I’m out scouting,” he says. That same drive that has compelled him to become one of the most watched ﬁghters is the same passion that drives him to hunt where there are no crowds, no reporters and no cameras. Well, sometimes there are no cameras; Mendes is a regular on outdoor television shows, and he’s also a member of Team Weatherby.
Mendes has been lucky – blessed, in his words – to have had the opportunity to turn his passion for wrestling into a proﬁtable career, and for someone who has received many honors, he’s remained humble. But ﬁghting for a living does not make for a long career. Each bout takes a physical toll, and there are always new, younger ﬁghters coming up.
Although he is currently sidelined because of a rules infraction for taking a banned substance, Mendes has made it clear to his fans and the world that the substance wasn’t a steroid but rather a peptide found in, oddly enough, medication for plaque psoriasis.
Mendes will surely ﬁght again, but for how long, even he doesn’t know.
“There’s no retirement system for ﬁghters,” he says. For that reason it’s critical to make wise investments for the future, and Mendes is doing just that. He’s started Finz and Featherz Outﬁtters (ﬁnzandfeatherz.com), which oﬀers hunters and anglers a rare opportunity to go on a hunting or ﬁshing trip with a celebrity. Several of Mendes’ fellow MMA ﬁghters go on these trips, including Faber, T.J. Dillashaw and Paige Van Zant, as do other professional athletes and celebrities from outside the Octagon.
For hunters and anglers, Finz and Featherz provides a once-in-a-lifetime chance to pursue big ﬁsh and big game while rubbing elbows with some of their heroes. For Mendes, it’s an opportunity to launch a second career, one that will make him that rare guy who is able to earn a livelihood from not just one, but from two great passions.
But Mendes won’t brag about it. He’ll just smile, and say that he’s blessed. ASJ
Solar chargers and gadgets that run on solar can be found all over the place, and like many I have tried almost all of them disappoint. Some never fully charge, lose their charge too quickly, fall apart, short out if they get wet or any number of things that render it useless after just a couple tries. These are all the reasons I fell in love with Sunjack.
First: The basic specs for the 14-watt version (also comes in 20-watt)
– Four solar panels that come in an easy-to-carry and pack case
– Fast-charge battery pack
– Fast charge cable
– One-year warranty
Second: The dimensions
– Folded 9″ x 6.5″ x 1.75″ (23cm x 16.5cm x 4.5cm)
– Fully unfolded 9″ x 31″ x 1″ (23cm x 79cm x 2.5cm)
– Weight 1.75 lbs (0.8 kg)
My first impression of the Sunjack after taking it out of the package was wow! The quality of the case, stitching and construction was exceptional – good sign. Then I expanded the case and was impressed to find four full solar panels. Surprising for such a thin case, but the test was yet to come, and test it I would.
The Sunjack was clearly designed by those who need and use these devices. It comes with a carabiner and multiple attachment points around the case, so that you can hang, attach, suspend and clip onto almost anything and any angle. Nice touch.
On the back of the case – non solar-panel side – there is a mesh compartment which neatly stores the Sunjack portable battery (more on that in a minute) and cable as well as the solar plug-in with dual USB ports. This is actually attached to the case, so you cannot lose it. I would lose it.
Some solar chargers only offer the ability to either charge a portable battery or charge directly to a device – not both. Sunjack offers both.
Let the testing begin – Mwahahhahaa!
I can be pretty tough on things, so I expect my gear to take a beating. I put the Sunjack through some pretty impressive paces to include purposely leaving it out in the rain, dropping it and the battery pack numerous times and basically using it as it was intended – to provide power for the earth-wandering explorer/survivor. Almost to my dismay, it continued to work flawlessly.
Using my iPhone 6 Plus, I ran down my battery to just five percent and plugged it directly into the solar charger. It took about three hours to fully charge my phone. It also charged my Ipad in about 3.2 hours from a 10 percent starting point.
Charging the battery pack that was included with the kit took about two full hours. Not a bad rate of charge considering the time it took to charge a phone and tablet.
This is where this little device excels. Charging directly from the already charged battery pack, I was able to charge my iPhone from eight percent to fully charged in 32 minutes … twice! On a single battery pack. This means that if I left my house with a fully charged Iphone and battery pack, I could get three full iPhone-battery cycles without plugging into a wall – SOLD!
No other solar charger or solar battery pack has ever provided this kind of speed, and the battery pack is tiny – about the size of a standard iPhone.
Another great feature is the battery-pack charging port. Because the port is not one of the two USBs on the pack, you can charge the battery pack and an iPhone simultaneously.
I love this little device, and am happy someone in the solar world finally got it right. Thanks, Sunjack.
This article originally appeared on SailingwithJODA
STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGENFor those who’ve attended or read about the SHOT Show for the past 15 years, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that the American military has had an increasing positive effect on the shooting sports, especially hunting. This welcome development is nothing short of phenomenal, and it becomes more evident with each passing year.
I make my living as a hunter, TV host, writer and speaker, so it’s been intriguing and inspiring to watch the inﬂuence of our country’s armed forces transition into every facet of the world I love so much. Take equipment, for example. Many hunters took their ﬁrst deer with a government-issued .30-caliber riﬂe, one that may have been their dad’s or granddad’s. Today, the hunting riﬂe and optics world is dominated by military representation, and Trijicon scopes are a testimony to this.
It’s been more than 10 years since Trijicon entered the hunting world, and a television show I hosted was the ﬁrst one they sponsored. I later went on to host and produce Trijicon’s The Hunt, which currently airs on Amazon Prime and in more than 40 countries. Even though Trijicon has become well known to hunters, not everyone is aware that the company had made quality riﬂescopes and sights for military and law enforcement use for more than 15 years.
Guns are another example. Some old school hunters didn’t like it when ARs entered the hunting world, but as people became more educated on what ARs were, the literal translation of what an AR platform riﬂe is and how they worked, they quickly gained traction. First, predator, varmint and hog hunters used them, now they’re popular with many deer hunters.
Accessories that go with guns and hunting have also evolved, having been deeply rooted in America’s military history. Knives, ﬂashlights, survival kits, boots, packs, navigation devices, even clothes, have stemmed from our military. Not long ago I was in Alaska’s Arctic with my son. For lunch one day we broke out some MREs, and although any current or former member of the military would know these as a ﬁeld ration or “Meal, Ready to Eat,” it was something he’d never had. He’s 14 years old and loved it, and was intrigued when I shared stories of how this is what many military men and women survived on. MREs have come a long way, or so I’m told, but it’s just one more example of our military having an inﬂuence on hunting and the outdoors.
The very ﬁrst riﬂe sling I had was one given to me from my grandfather, from when he served our country. It was an old leather sling with multiple holes for length adjustment. The sling was an inch wide and tough as nails, and it is still one of my favorites.
Not only has military-designed gear had a visible impact on hunting, but on shooting form as well. For decades hunters went aﬁeld with their riﬂes, maybe a pack, but that was it. When it came time to take a shot, it was usually done standing, off-hand. If a tree was close, the hunter might try to lean on it to get steady. Or, if the grass wasn’t too high, the hunter might lay down in order to attain a stable shot.
Then bipods, shooting sticks and shooting bags made their way into the hunting world, thanks again to our military. Attaching a bipod to a riﬂe was something I’d never heard of or seen while growing up hunting in the 1960s and ’70s. Like all things “new,” they came
into the hunting world, but many hunters from previous generations wouldn’t use these shooting aids, which is unfortunate.
Last fall I was in deer camp in Wyoming. It was public ground and the sagebrush-studded hills were full of hunters. What amazed me was not the number of shots I heard during the ﬁrst two days of the season, but how many people I talked to headed back to camp, transporting deer that had been shot in the leg, face, guts and everywhere bullets shouldn’t hit. None of them had used shooting aids.
One hunter in our camp, an older, retired man, missed nine shots at three different bucks. When I asked him why he doesn’t use a bipod or shooting stick, he replied, “Never have, don’t need one.” “No, obviously you do!” I insisted. I took him aside, showed him how to work my Bog Pod tripod shooting stick, and told him to take it. He killed a buck with his next shot.
Many of our armed forces pride themselves on shooting accuracy, and more and more hunters are starting to do the same. We owe it to ourselves, our fellow hunters and the animals we pursue to deliver quick, clean shots.
For people like me who make a living hunting, we can’t afford misses. Every miss costs time and money for everyone involved on the hunt, from myself to camera crews, outﬁtters, producers, editors and even networks. There’s pressure to hit the mark, which is why, for the past several years, all of my shots have come off a shooting stick, a bipod mounted to my gun, or shooting bags.
A couple seasons ago I took my ﬁrst buck with a longrange riﬂe, what my dad and his friends, in their late 70s and 80s, refer to as a “sniper riﬂe.” Now, the gun wasn’t really a sniper riﬂe, but the $4,000 scope I had atop it was designed for snipers, and the sturdy bipod and shooting bags I relied on were used primarily by tactical shooters. I devoted many hours of practice to shooting that riﬂe from a prone position, learning about everything related to long-range shooting. I was able to connect on a nice buck at 960 yards while ﬁlming for a TV show.
Today, we see more hunters shooting from prone positions using shooting aids on television, in magazines, and on the Internet. Why? Because it’s more accurate, that’s why. Think about it. We wait all year for hunting season, then spend days, even weeks aﬁeld, and yet our success or failure often comes down to a single shot. It only makes sense to make that one shot as accurate as possible.
Many hunters who spend time in the dense deer woods, stalking with shotguns and open-sight riﬂes are now carrying their guns differently, thanks to the inﬂuence of the military and armed forces. Gone are the days when hunters trudged through thick brush, gun slung over their shoulder, and then quickly forcing it into a shaky shooting position when a buck pops up.
These days, guns are more frequently carried in a semi-shooting position, butt held above the shoulder, one hand on the stock, the other on the forestock. This allows a shot to be taken in a fraction of the time of the other hold, something that’s not only applicable in some deer hunting situations but when tracking dangerous game or wounded animals anywhere in the world.
Last but not least, the discipline and hard work that our special forces are built on has entered the hunting world. Physical training and dedicated shooting practice has never been so prevalent, and our military is largely to thank.
I’ve never served in the military, but have many relatives and friends who have. My great uncle was a paratrooper who jumped on the beaches at Normandy and served on the front lines. I couldn’t get enough of his stories while growing up.
To the men and women who’ve served our country over the years, and continue to serve, I thank you. You help keep America free, and great. Your efforts and dedication
have prevailed in upholding our Constitution and Second Amendment rights, and for that, all hunters in the United States should thank you. Keep up the great work, and may God bless you and your families. ASJ
Editor’s note: Scott Haugen has been a full-time writer for 15 years. To see instructional videos on shooting, hunting and more, visit his new website, OutdoorsNow.com.
Recently, we had a conversation with Legendary Arms Works’ sales and marketing executive Walter Hasser, who ﬁlled us in on the Reinholds, Pa.-based (717335-8555; legendaryarmsworks.com) company’s back story and its exciting future plans.
American Shooting Journal How did cofounders Mark Bansner and David Dunn team up to get LAW started?
Walter Hasser David and Mark go back a few years, as Mark worked on a few of David’s guns when he was operating Bansner’s Ultimate Riﬂes. After David had been operating a ﬁrearms retail store and indoor range in Pennsylvania for a couple of years, he began noticing the trend of American-manufactured ﬁrearms decreasing in quality and sending products oﬀshore to be produced. He wanted very badly to do something about it and believed, as we all believe today, that a ﬁrearm is something greater than the sum of its parts and deserving of the attention of craftsmen.
Furthermore, a larger portion of the American shooting population should have access to a higher level of quality versus just a handful who can aﬀord a full custom riﬂe. David’s ﬁrst step in realizing his dream was purchasing the M704 design and rights to manufacture from Ed Brown. His second was to form a partnership with the best custom gun builder and share his vision with the country.
ASJ How much did Mark’s passion for hunting inspire him to have his own ﬁrearms company?
WH Mark is an extremely passionate hunter and the type of guy you want in your camp. His ideals and character set him apart, both aﬁeld and in the shop. He likes getting his hands dirty, solving problems, working with people, growing and aﬀecting those around him. And he holds a deep respect for the sport and the industry as a whole. Mark understands the emotional and spiritual experience of hunting big game. As an artisan he holds a heightened sense of how that experience is ampliﬁed when undertaken with a ﬁne instrument. I believe he takes great pride in contributing to that experience for our customers.
WH Our M704 Action design is completely unique. A true controlled round-feed system that also has the luxury of single feeding without ﬁrst depressing a round on the magazine follower is a great advantage in many scenarios. The ﬁxed ejector blade is ruggedly simple and eliminates the common user error of “short stroking” during the cycle of operation, as the spent case will not eject until the bolt is fully cycled. The action is the perfect foundation for the perfect hunting riﬂe – not to mention the precision CNC machining quality and one-piece bolt.
ASJ What is your favorite LAW model and why?
WH “The Professional” is our ﬂagship riﬂe and best seller, and it’s easy to see why once you have it in your hands. The balance is perfect and craftsmanship is unlike any other product in its price bracket. You have the luxury of a fully custom mountain riﬂe in a package for one-third of the price.
ASJ How has LAW evolved over the years and what plans do you have for the future?
WH A very signiﬁcant development you’ll see from us this year is stepping into the realm of tactical and longrange precision riﬂes. To date our product line has been based around hunting riﬂes, but we are not just a hunting riﬂe company. We are a manufacturing company – a small, veteran-owned business with a large veteran workforce committed to bringing great riﬂes and great customer service to a bigger portion of the market than before. We have some very talented folks on our product development team, with backgrounds in law enforcement and the military, along with competitive shooting. This year we’ll be bringing a chassis system to market that I think you’ll love!
ASJ Is there anything else you want to say about the LAW brand?
WH We’re very grateful for our customers and the opportunity to manufacture and sell these products into this market and this industry that we all care so deeply for. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more on Legendary Arms Works, like them at facebook.com/ LegendaryArmsWorks.
Terry Raahauge lost his battle to cancer in 2013. He was a well-liked, fair, and honest man, and his family name is known by hunting and sporting clay enthusiasts all over the State of California.
We urge everyone to attend, even if you are not a shooter.
This shoot is NSCA registered, but non- registered shooters are encouraged to come and join the fun. Bring your family and friends to support the American Cancer Society in Terry’s memory.
This event is also a great tuneup for the upcoming dove season!
Saturday: (50 Target) Prelim, Sub Gauges -$40.00 ea. (fees Included)
Sunday: (100 Target) Main Event -$85.00 and Super Sporting- $40.00
Lunch catered by Pedi, delicious all you can eat Taco Bar (“Authentic Mexican Food”).
“Outdoor Gear” Raffle, sponsored by Kittles Outdoor Sports of Colusa.
RSVP REQUESTED by calling the club at 530-724-0552 or fill out the attached application and send to Raahauge’s P.O. Box 408 Dunnigan, CA. 95937. Please make checks out to Raahauge’s.
Donations for the raffle are welcomed. Attached is a tax deductable form you can fill out and send to us if you would like to make a donation of Goods or Cash.
Your Generous Donation is tax deductable. Thank you for supporting this much needed cause for a cure for Cancer. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.
Raahauge’s Hunting and Sporting Clays
P.O. Box 408 Dunnigan, CA 95937
530-724-0552 / Fax: 530-724-0299