Archive for category reviews

Marlin .45-70

New rifle in the house! Can’t wait to get to the range. Range report coming soon…

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Fly Fishing In New Mexico

Just got back from a much needed vacation in New Mexico and managed to go fly fishing for the first time while there. Thanks to the good wife, she booked me a quick 2 hour trip with Robert Fellows up in Red River, where we were staying.

I can’t say enough about how much fun it was! Robert is a great guide and I managed to even hook a couple of brown trout in the process. In the short 2 hours, Robert is a great instructor and was a hoot to hang out with on the Red River with. If you’re in the Red River area, look him up.

I’m hooked as well, pun intended. I’m now on the lookout for some fly fishing gear. It’s just such a fun way to fish. The Red River valley in New Mexico is truly a beautiful place. I’m really looking to getting back there soon. I’m totally in love with the place.

Many thanks for a great time Bobby! I hope to be back again next year.

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Gear Review: Mora 612 First Impressions

Being a hunter and outdoorsman, I love good knives. I only wish I had the budget for a really great field knife. There are some sweet custom knives out there I see in the magazines that I would love to own someday. But one knife that I frequently see mentioned are those made by Mora of Sweden. Swedish steel seems to have a very strong following and their fans will tell you its some of the best steel out there. But the one differentiating thing about Mora is their affordability.

But how can a good knife be so cheap?

Mora has some great reviews, but I was still skeptical. That is until I saw Cody Lundin using one on Discovery’s Dual Survivor show on an episode. OK, I’ll bite. I’ll order one and see how they are. Besides, they’re cheap. If it isn’t any good, I haven’t wasted a lot of money on the thing.

So I ordered the Morakniv Classic 612. From what I could tell, Cody had the Classic #2, but I liked the finger guard on the 612, just for a little more safety. I read through all the reviews and knew what to expect.

Upon its arrival, I immediately checked the sharpness of the blade. Not bad. I could feel a little bit of roughness like it just needed some honing, but it went through a piece of paper OK. The first thing one notices is the difference in the bevel on the blade, it’s much wider than the short bevels of most American knives, more on this in a moment. The next thing I noticed was how good the knife felt in my hand. The handle was perfect for me. It has a great feel. The only thing I was initially disappointed in is the sheath. They aren’t giving away anything there and probably why their knives are so inexpensive, there’s nothing in that sheath. It’s made of some very thin plastic. The other noticeable thing is that the top of the knife is very rough and unfinished. Most people clean that up some, from what I’ve read.

The first thing I used the knife on was the pheasant and quail from my last hunting trip. I used it to clean the birds when I got home. It did a good job, but cutting through the wing bones seemed to rough the edge up a bit more. The shape of the knife blade is perfect for cleaning up small game. I don’t think it would do well on large game like deer, as the blade feels a little light for that kind of work. But I could be wrong there, we’ll have to wait and see. If you do your own butchering, it might do well for deboning. Maybe. I’ll need to ask my buddy that does his own butchering.

After I finished with the birds, I took a stone to the blade. This is where that bevel really comes in handy. This was one of the easiest knives to sharpen. Since the bevel is so wide, it easily lays across the stone, making it a breeze to sharpen. And it really takes an edge. After a few passes on the stone, it went through a piece of paper like butter. Easy sharpening is a big plus for me there.

So that’s the first impression. There’s some good things about it. It takes a great edge and its very affordable. The sheath is flimsy and the knife blade feels a little light for any type of heavy duty field use, but I really haven’t put it through its paces there yet. I’ll post some updates as I use this more. But really, for the price, less than $20 shipped, not sure you can really go wrong with this.

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Christmas In May!

bushnell stealthview 2There’s a package waiting for me at home from Bushnell’s! Can’t wait to see what goodies they’ve sent me. Look for a gear review soon!

Update: Look out coyotes!

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Book Review: Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains, 1859-1875

As I’ve hunted in various places across the state of Kansas, I’ve often wondered what the early settlers and pioneers experienced when they came to this territory. They had to be awestruck as they left the hills, mountains and forests to see the apparent emptiness of the prairie. But still, I wondered how much different it looked to them than what I see today. Today, much of Kansas is sectioned off for agriculture with large acres of crops or cattle grazing. Roads crisscross the state, so much so that it would be nearly impossible to get lost or lose your bearing.

I finally found some of my answers from the book, Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains, 1859-1875 (American Exploration and Travel Series). It is the autobiography written by James R Mead, who later became one of the founders of Wichita, Kansas, the city I live in. Actually, Mr. Mead dictated his story to a stenographer. The tale is a fascinating look into the early days of the Kansas territory.

James Mead left his home in Iowa came to the territory in the spring of 1859 at the age of 23. He and some friends loaded up their wagons and headed west.

He ended up in the Salina area, along the Saline river hunting and camping. The first thing struck me was that he talks about how clear the streams, creeks and rivers were and how sweet the water tasted. Clear? Sweet? If you’ve spent any amount of time in Kansas and looked at the water, its anything but clear now. And I’m not about to take a taste of it. He also speaks of the abundance of trees along the rivers and streams.

The next thing is the variety and abundance of game. The vast herds of bison, elk and deer. So much so that he ignores the turkey that seem to be everywhere. Now, outside of deer, its hard to imagine the herds of bison and elk. I’ve never seen elk in the wild and have only seen bison fenced in. That would have to be an amazing site to see.

James would spend the first years out here as a contract hunter. Basically, he would shoot as much game as he could and sell the meat to the settlers and small towns that had begun to spring up. He claims to have made a great living at it during that time. But some of his descriptions of the hunts are a bit unsettling to the modern mind. The waste is shocking. To kill a bison just for the hide and tongue is shocking to the modern hunter with rules about wanton waste.

But it was a different time then, at least that’s what is said.

After a few years of hunting, James became a trader to the various Indian tribes that made the plains their home. He mentioned that he was always treated fairly and could rely on them to keep their word. The would always pay their debts according to the agreements he had made with them. Interesting how that goes against what recorded history and Hollywood has portrayed.

Mr. Mead also talks of the various historical figures he encountered through the years. Names like Jesse Chisholm, William “Buffalo Bill” Matthewson, Kit Carson, Kiowa chief Satanta and many others. The stories of these early celebrities are an interesting collection of things you don’t hear very often. James Mead then goes on to become a founder of the city of Wichita, helping to bring the railroad and cattle industries to the young town.

The end of the book brings about Jame’s looking back with some remorse to the changes that had come to the prairie. Saddened by the takeover of farms and ranches and the change they brought to the plains. The forested streams and rivers were gone, no longer clear running. The herds of bison and elk were no longer found on the prairie, having been slaughtered by the hunters, of which he was one. He did feel guilt for his role in the change and wished he could alter it. One has to wonder what the plains would look like today had the buffalo hunters of Mead’s day had a bit of foresight to see what the future held.

I thought the book an excellent view of the early history of Kansas. It is a unique look into the daily life of an early pioneer, one that we don’t often get to hear.

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Hunting Site Review: Black Powder Notebook

Black Powder NotebookOne of the things I want to do with this blog in the new year is add reviews of other hunting related web sites. Well, it’s the new year, so here’s our first review.

I was turned on to this site by my hunting buddy and co-blogger, Keith. The name of the site is Black Powder Notebook and it chronicles the adventures of Bob Spencer as he sets out to hunt and camp as our forefathers did as this country was being founded. He strives to re-enact exactly as a late 1700’s homesteader or pioneer would have hunted. He has logged many of his treks through the years and it’s very entertaining reading.

He seems to favor squirrel hunting (something I’ve never done but am curious after reading his site) .and he begins his first article reminiscing about how he came to be at that moment while hunting squirrels. He talks about how he got started in the black powder world his love of flintlocks. What I like is how he’s out to just do just more than hunt, but to experience it from a different viewpoint. I like these quotes (from various articles):

“As each new aspect of the subject opened to me, and I acquired new skills associated with it, I began to have a better understanding of our ancestors. It is impossible to know what they and their life were really like, but muzzle loading has opened a small window into the past for me, and I thoroughly enjoy the view.”

“Sitting there under that walnut tree, I realized with surety that black powder had been for me a siren song, leading me inexorably onward to more wonderful experiences. Because of it, I have become a better, more thoughtful hunter, a more involved and knowledgeable citizen, a happier and more satisfied person.”

A Siren Song

“I truly do enjoy hunting them more than killing them, and I’ll miss all those early mornings, watching the woods come alive.”

Perfect Doe Hunt

“The center seam elk skin moccasins made ala Mark Baker may be the best thing I’ve ever made. They are, I suspect, the real secret to my enjoyment of this season, because there’s something elemental about traipsing through the woods and streams with nothing between you and the good earth but a soft layer of elk hide. Contact…I can’t describe it better.”

Special Turkey Season

One of my favorite stories is Squirrel Stew, a story about an overnight trek where he describes the entire trip. It sounds so peaceful and relaxing, enough so that I envy him. I would really love to experience the outdoors in that way.

Along with his hunting stories are some black powder related articles on loads, shooting, fire making, tomahawk throwing and casting round balls over a camp fire (which is another thing I’ve been wanting to try my hand at).

This is a great site to get in the mind of a hunter and outdoorsman. It’s refreshing to read about someone who enjoys being out in nature more than just bagging a trophy buck. It’s a feeling we attempt to reach at our deer camps as well, but I think Bob has us beat, by a really long shot. Even if you’re not into black powder hunting or shooting, this site is a definite must read.

Hunting Site Review: Black Powder Notebook

One of the things I want to do with this blog in the new year is add reviews of other hunting related web sites. Well, it’s the new year, so here’s our first review.

I was turned on to this site by my hunting buddy and co-blogger, Keith. The name of the site is Black Powder Notebook (http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/) and it chronicles the adventures of Bob Spencer as he sets out to hunt and camp as our forefathers did as this country was being founded. He strives to reenact exactly as a late 1700’s homesteader or pioneer would have hunted. He has logged many of his treks through the years and it’s very entertaining reading.

He seems to favor squirrel hunting (something I’ve never done but am curious after reading his site) .and he begins his first article reminiscing (http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/song.html) about how he came to be at that moment while hunting squirrels. He talks about how he got started in the black powder world his love of flintlocks. What I like is how he’s out to just do just more than hunt, but to experience it from a different viewpoint. I like these quotes (from various articles):

As each new aspect of the subject opened to me, and I acquired new skills associated with it, I began to have a better understanding of our ancestors. It is impossible to know what they and their life were really like, but muzzle loading has opened a small window into the past for me, and I thoroughly enjoy the view.”

Sitting there under that walnut tree, I realized with surety that black powder had been for me a siren song, leading me inexorably onward to more wonderful experiences. Because of it, I have become a better, more thoughtful hunter, a more involved and knowledgeable citizen, a happier and more satisfied person.”

Siren Song – http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/song.html

I truly do enjoy hunting them more than killing them, and I’ll miss all those early mornings, watching the woods come alive.”

Perfect Doe Hunt – http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/PerfectDoeHunt.html

The center seam elk skin moccasins made ala Mark Baker may be the best thing I’ve ever made. They are, I suspect, the real secret to my enjoyment of this season, because there’s something elemental about traipsing through the woods and streams with nothing between you and the good earth but a soft layer of elk hide. Contact…I can’t describe it better.”

Special Turkey Season – http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/SpecialSeason.html

One of my favorite stories is Squirrel Stew (http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/squirrel.html), a story about an overnight trek where he describes the entire trip. It sounds so peaceful and relaxing, enough so that I envy him. I would really love to experience the outdoors in that way.

Along with his hunting stories are some black powder related articles on loads, shooting, fire making, tomahawk throwing and casting round balls over a fire (which is another thing I’ve been wanting to try my hand at) (http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/runningball.html).

So, this is a great site to get in the mind of a hunter and outdoorsman. It’s refreshing to read about someone who enjoys being out in nature more than just bagging a trophy buck. It’s a feeling we attempt to reach at our deer camps as well, but I think Bob has us beat, by a really long shot. Even if you’re not into black powder hunting or shooting, this site is a definite must read.

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