“The bulls bugled all night, making it practically impossible to sleep,” said Mark Sullivan, VP of marketing for The Sportsman’s Guide, a popular website for discounted hunting gear. “Several herds were moving through the high country and we could barely wait until daylight to move on them,” Sullivan said.
Like public-land elk everywhere, calling is usually a last resort, and Sullivan knew that position would be key to success. After a few wet days, the predawn sky was finally clear of rain clouds. By first light, the group had their packs and sleeping bags rolled and packed from the soggy evening’s stay in a spike camp at 10,000 feet. The herd moved from the timbered side of the mountain over a narrow ridge and began to move down the southern side, where Sullivan and company were waiting. More than a dozen cows passed their location within easy range, yet where was the bull? Suddenly, not one, but two antlered elk emerged, one stopping 30 yards from John Dumars (shown below), who passed the shot and later revealed that he had a 3×4 bull on the wall at home and wanted a bigger one. While the smaller bull should have been counting its blessings, the big herd 5×5 was not so lucky, and Sullivan ran a shaft through its ribs from 53 yards away.
Many of the products viewed in this series of Teton Tested posts are available from Sportsman’s Guide at a substantial discount from MSRP. Anyone can sell outdoor goods, yet is says much about the company that its officials are out in the wilderness testing the products they sell. Congrats to Sully on his great elk.
Carrying a crossbow in the field can be tiresome. Just like a rifle or bow, if you’re holding onto it while meandering through timber, climbing rock ledges, or navigating through the dark, your hands are occupied. Worse, they can become cramped, reducing your chances should a sudden aiming situation present itself. My recent Teton elk hunt had all of these navigational scenarios, and we were likely to encounter game at any moment. The pistol grip of the Mission MXB-320 was a huge help and allowed me to carry the bow with one hand and vary my carry positions. However, a light went off when I tucked the Limbsaver Kodiak Crossbow sling under the chest strap of my Easton backpack.
The Limbsaver Kodiak has special striations to keep the sling on your shoulder, while the chest strap of the daypack provided complete flexibility. I climbed an hour each morning and practically forgot that I was carrying a crossbow over my shoulder. When daylight arrived, I cocked the bow and put it right back on my shoulder, where it could be loaded with a moment’s notice. In steep rugged terrain, you may need one or both hands held forward for balance, for holding onto limbs and saplings, or to grasp a walking stick. The Limbsaver sling was hugely helpful.
“What’s that smell?” It’s probably a thought that runs through your head multiple times in a day, whether you’re trying to identify a certain aroma in a restaurant or are being charmed by seasonal foliage during a walk in the woods. The smell of honeysuckle during the summer or pumpkin in the fall conjures images of a season and creates lasting memories. For hunters, the human scent they leave behind while scouting or hanging trail cameras similarly leaves a telling trace — one that can hurt the chances of harvesting a deer. Robinson Outdoor Products’ Jason Herbert explains how human scent leaves a lasting impression and how you can minimize the scent you leave behind.
It is important for scent-free hunters to constantly strive to be invisible to the deer. Quite often overlooked, entrance and exit routes are important in the quest for stealth. Obviously, we do not want to make a bunch of noise accessing our stands. Too many foreign sounds may put the deer on alert, and cause them to keep to the security of their beds until well after sunset. Many hunters are now entering their morning stands AFTER first light, so they can see where they are stepping and be on the watch for moving deer. How often have we hunters carefully snuck to our stands only to hear a deer alarm blowing at us from the darkness?Along with these logical access strategies, it is important to remain scent free. Any rogue wind blowing around will carry human scent a long way downwind from the faint trail the hunter followed to his stand. The same is true after the hunt. After many hungry, frozen hours on stand the sunset is often a welcome sight, but it is important to not hurry back to the truck, but rather take a logical way out, playing the wind and keeping quiet.
Photos: California Department of Fish and Wildlife (top) Robinson Outdoor Products (above)
Elk hunting can be one of the most strenuous adventures a hunter can take. Particularly during the rut, archers may cover five to ten miles a day up and down hill. Even if you could take a shower each morning before leaving camp, your body would very likely heat up by midday. Add swirling winds in the mountains and your ability to smell like anything but a human predator becomes a challenge. Fortunately, ScentBlocker has developed a new scent elimination technology called Trinity, which outperforms anything they’ve developed to date.
Although the weather was a challenge on our Teton elk hunt, our friend Noel helped keep the days bright with her perky personality and willingness to help with our heavy packs. She put her ScentBlocker duds (with Realtree pattern) through its paces and was impressed with the results. Noel, who is about to begin Officer Candidate School with the U.S. Army showed she was an army of one as she put her ScentBlocker-odorned self through a wide variety of hunting situations. Both she and the gear performed admirably.
Product Highlights: ScentBlocker with new Trinity Technology is a milestone in human scent control that goes where no hunting apparel has gone before. New synthetic Trinity scent control is so superior it adsorbs up to 40% more odor than carbon and up to 200% more than zeolite. Its game-changing properties are so powerful, yet so thin and light, that it takes comfort and performance to a whole new level.
1.5 Performance Shirt
Designed for performance, the 1.5 series of clothing offers everything in next to nothing. The marriage of Trinity scent control technology, 4Direction stretch fabric for comfort, Micro Wick for staying cool and dry, and S3 antimicrobial treatment makes this the ultimate garment for any hunter.
Visit robinsonoutdoors.com for more information about this product.
Americans often take their fantastic public resources for granted, given the fact that we can access millions of acres of public lands that include national forests, national parks, Bureau of Land Management properties, and many smaller parcels. Aside from public recreation opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping, these lands often contain valuable natural minerals and energy potential, making them a prime target for development. Steve Kilpatrick is the executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation and makes the case for Wyoming citizens and all Americans to be alert to potential for change in public lands:
A special day is set aside nationally each year to celebrate our public lands through such volunteer efforts as planting trees and building trails. This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day. In Wyoming, appreciating the bounty and beauty of our public lands is an everyday occurrence. About half the Cowboy State is public lands and we do use them. A lot. Roughly 57 percent of Wyomingites hunt, fish, and participate in other wildlife-related outdoor activities. All outdoor recreation generates about $4.5 billion in spending that helps fill state coffers.
Our public lands also provide grazing for livestock and are the source of oil, gas, and coal that produce revenue for the state and local governments and generate jobs. They’re also home to the abundant fish and wildlife that draw sportsmen and women from around the globe and remind us what a privilege it is to call Wyoming home. From the rugged backcountry of the Wyoming Range to the stark beauty of the Red Desert, we all have our special places where we like to track deer, cast a line — or just go to recharge. These public lands — remote canyons, steep peaks, sagebrush steppe, and rolling grasslands — belong to all Americans. They have helped shaped our identity, contribute to local economies, and are crucial sources of clean air and water. This tremendous legacy made possible by farsighted political leaders, hunters, anglers, and dedicated citizens is more important than ever — and at the center of intense debate.
A recent National Wildlife Federation report, “Valuing Our Western Public Lands: Safeguarding Our Economy and Way of Life,” explores proposals by several Western state legislatures to take over the federally managed lands within their borders.
The Wyoming mountains made the perfect test track for a variety of great gear, including Gamehide’s Lost Camo HyperHide jacket and pants. The week began with pouring rain, then settled to hail, and finally turned fair for the final days of the hunt. Although not waterproof, my Game Hide duds were water-resistant, handling 95% of outdoor conditions. Hunters want performance in gear, and the striking good looks and attention to detail makes this gear standout in a crowd (but not in the woods). You won’t find any sticks or leaves in the pattern, yet deer and elk don’t use those either. If you’ve never tried this pattern affiliated with Mathews Archery, check out these features…
The totally silent bonded HyperHide fleece will not spook game. The inside of the jacket is made of a soft, warm, high-pile fleece for extreme comfort. The patented Freedom Sleeve lets you draw your bow or climb into your stand without restriction or the annoying “lift” you get from non-Freedom Sleeve garments. The Grid Lock Jacket has clean, non-bulky pocket designs on the vertical chest pockets and side handwarmer pockets. Low-profile lock down zipper tangs on the pockets eliminate noise while staying clear of your bowstring. The zippered slot on the back of the jacket is one of the Grid Lock’s best features. The slot allows you to run your safety harness through the zipper, keeping it off your neck for all day comfort. A drawcord waist allows for a custom fit while the inner wrist cuffs seal out the cold. Check it out at gamehide.com.
Boating isn’t necessarily an inexpensive venture when you factor in the cost of insurance, marina fees, storage fees, gas, and other items you need to make the most of your time on the water. Boats are valuable because of the freedom they provide to explore and the opportunities to make memories with loved ones. But as Mike Schoonveld points out in Outdoor News, boats are also valuable to thieves. He offers a few simple solutions for theft-proofing your boat.
Boats are valuable. Thieves look for valuable things to steal. They also look for easy things to steal. Don’t make your boat an easy target… Whether you put your boat behind the garage or move it to a supposedly secure storage area, make a concerted effort to make it extra secure. There are trailer locks and wheel locks available commercially. A simple chain and padlock attaching the boat to a tree or other immovable object is better than nothing. How about removing the trailer tires and storing them somewhere else? All of these are good, relatively inexpensive ideas.
Photos: Bark – Creative Commons
If you’ve ever shopped for real estate, you’ve heard that location is the most important factor in choosing where you’ll make your home. The same is true for hunters. The location you hunt can mean the difference in seeing zero deer and taking home a trophy. North American Whitetail made location — specifically public land — the first criteria in choosing the top 20 whitetail deer hunting states for 2013.
At the same time, there are general perceptions about which states are the best for whitetail hunting. If you asked the average deer hunter what the top states are, you’d probably hear a lot about Kansas, Iowa or Illinois. But the real question is, do those states live up to their mammoth reputations? Is the hunting as good as the hype?
In order to answer those questions, we examined data from all whitetail states and built a list of criteria as a filter for all that information. It’s not an exact science—even the choice of criteria is a somewhat subjective endeavor—but we’ve come as close as possible to identifying the most essential characteristics any state must possess to be considered the best.
First, we looked at the amount of public land in each state, which is a way to measure hunting opportunity. This was a crucial category to consider, especially since states like Iowa, Illinois and Kansas rank well in trophy production but have very little public land access. It’s impossible to say a state is the best for whitetail hunting when the opportunity to hunt is afforded only to a select, wealthy few.
Photos: Michigan State University (top); Robinson Outdoor Products (above)
Choosing to hunt the mountains of Wyoming in tall rubber boots more associated with turkey and deer hunting may seem crazy. However, I’ve used Irish Setter ExoFlex boots extensively and they’re so comfortable I bet on their performance even in the mountains.
After days of pouring rain, the streams were rushing and difficult to cross. Once you’ve climbed hours into the high country and encounter a torrent, the last thing you want is a U-turn. These boots have always had excellent ankle support, so that they don’t eat socks and wear like any other shoe.
Perhaps the best compliment I can make about the Rutmaster ExoFlex boots is that I forgot I was wearing them. As mountain hunts go, the weather was terrible, with water rising and slick muddy slopes that can load up regular hunting boots. Although I took the Irish Setters as a lark, they proved to be a perfect match for the hunt. Who knew?
Specs: Height: 17 inch | Insulation: non-insulated | Sizes: E 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-12, 13, 14, 15 | MSRP: $184.99 | hunt.irishsetterboots.com/
Anglers know that the weakest link between an angler and a fish is the knot holding their hook on the line. When you’re fishing, a weak knot can cost you more fish than you care to count. Who wants to return to shore with nothing but broken line and memories of hooking a fish and then losing it? To test the strongest fishing knots, Sport Fishing magazine solicited entries and awarded prizes to the top three creators of the strongest fishing knots.
All entrants received PowerPro Super 8 Slick 30-pound braid and Berkley Trilene Big Game 30-pound mono. All were instructed to tie three knots to create three doubled lines with the braid, and three again with the mono.
This year’s challenge focused on knots used to create a double line, with the primary objective of finding which knots proved strongest and how those were tied.
We tested all knots on the International Game Fish Association’s Instron 5543 tensile testing machine, which provided a mean break figure for each test of three knots in braid and three in mono.”
Photos: Adrian Gray (top); Jason Arnold (above)