Tag Archives: GORE Optifade Open Country

Enjoying the climb

23 Aug

Looking into the abyss

It seems like I always conclude a season of hunting with introspection and thoughts of how I could have done better…followed up by oaths sworn to prepare better and train harder for “next year”. And time, with it’s ever exasperating way, reminds us that “hey, your time has come!”….and before we know it…yes, you guessed it…there is no more time left to be had. And as our years progress, time has an even more infuriating way of speeding things up  faster, still. “Life” takes a hold and ratchets it’s self in and plans that we’ve made, would like to make…or have ever thought of making, seem to never fall into place as they should. This is the story of my life!

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New Gear: Danner Gila Boot

8 Aug
I was so excited when the UPS driver dropped off my new Danner Gila boots, that I immediately tore open the package and put them on...even though I was wearing shorts...and ankle socks...!

They have arrived! I have been wanting to get my hands on the new Danner Gila boots ever since I started seeing them advertised earlier this year. So far they seem legit and I’m excited to put them to the test!


I’ve been on the hunt for a lighter weight boot to wear during the early seasons and may have just found the solution: the new Danner Gila.  I’ve always been a fan of Danner boots, but until recently their designs were pretty limited and hadn’t offered anything along these lines. Last year I decided that I needed a  lightweight and nimble boot, that was a bit “cooler” on the feet. Most full grain leather boots, regardless of being uninsulated or not, end up baking my feet during the warmer months. I’ve always shied away from boots that utilized mesh, or “synthetic” uppers and wondered if they would have enough support for technical terrain and be able to withstand the abuse that their full-leather counterparts can.

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Cold Steel knife giveaway!

28 Jul
In an effort to rend every usable portion of this meat, I used my Cold Steel Pendleton Mini Hunter to the Spruce Grouse

In an effort to glean every usable portion of this meat, I used my Cold Steel Pendleton Mini Hunter to process the Spruce Grouse.

It’s getting close to hunting season and we were looking to boost awareness of the facebook page, so we figured…why not give away some gear?!

We have been lifetime fans of Cold Steel Knives and have tremendously enjoyed working with them over the past few years. I’ve carried a Cold Steel knife in my pocket, strapped to my belt and in my backpack for as long as I can remember. One of their models that I am very partial to, is their Pendleton Hunter. So, that’s what we are giving away! All you have to do to be entered, is “Like” our facebook page, “Like” the post that’s pinned to the top and tag a friend on the post. That’s it, plain and simple! Once the page reaches 1,500 hundred “Likes”, we will be giving the Pendelton Hunter away. Oh, but wait….we will be giving away a couple more Cold Steel knives in the meantime. So stay tuned to the facebook page for opportunities to win.

Follow the instructions from this facebook post for a chance an awesome knife for this hunting season!

Follow the instructions from this facebook post for a chance to win an awesome knife for this hunting season!

Thank you for the support and have a great season Everyone!

A Lion Will Do

9 Jul

Originally published on the Sitka Gear Insight blog: https://www.sitkagear.com/insight/a-lion-will-do


This past hunting season was pretty rough. Just to put it bluntly. At one point during the opening weekend of the September Elk season…I wanted to call it quits. I took the first shot opportunity that I had on a spike bull and ended up with a high-single lung hit. It gave me a blood trail that a blind man could follow and then ended in a bed of frothy, pink blood…but no bull. After two days of searching with everything that I had, I came up empty…and that’s how I felt. I went through the motions for almost a week before I finally started to get it together. The month of September came and went and I moved on to focus my efforts on filling my deer tag.

Looking on in disbelief at a blood-filled bed at the end of a heavy blood trail...but no elk to be found.

Looking on in disbelief at a blood-filled bed at the end of a heavy blood trail…but no elk to be found.

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The joys and pains of opening day.

2 Sep

The sun sets on another opening day.

Day 1.

Today at work, I couldn’t sit still…couldn’t concentrate. Everyone kept asking me if I’d “had too much sugar”…”had too much coffee”… “why are you so hyper?” At first I really didn’t have an answer for them, but as the day drew on and I couldn’t sit still in my seat…it started to become very clear why I was so amped…today was opening day! Yep, a quick glance on the calendar followed up by letting my cursor hover over the clock on my computer monitor confirmed it: September 1st! This was no time to be stuck behind a computer and a desk!

My preparation had started months in advance; with intense workouts, running to work, making gear lists, confirming plans, making scouting trips…shooting my bows, shooting my Glock 20. And now all of the anticipation, the anxiousness and preparation collided with the hard wall of reality. It was game day!

Gear check roll call: Sitka Gear Merino Core Zip-T and Shooter glove. Bowtech Destroyer 340. Trophy Taker Smackdown rest. HHA Optimizer Lite sight. Carbon Express Mayhem Hunter 350; Blazer Vanes and for broadheads Magnus Stinger-Buzzcut 100 gr. 4-blade. This all equals a deadly combo.

I hurried after getting off of work as much as I could. I had to jet home and get my gear together, change my clothes and buy my Deer and Elk tags…yes I left that to the very last, possible minute…!By the time I had tags in hand and was heading to my area; it was getting down to last couple hours of light. Once I arrived at the gated road marking the acres of Timber Company land I planned to hunt; I saw that someone had beat me there. Normally this may have soured things for me; especially getting such a late start. But today, all I could think about was “this was it!” After all, the area is plenty big enough to share and I doubted few people knew it  quite like I did. I wasn’t more than 100 hundred yards from my truck when true excitement began to set in. I was greeted by a small troupe of Hen Turkeys; with their odd popping noises once they realized I might not belong to their group. Almost simultaneously I spotted fresh Elk tracks and caught a whiff of the harsh, musky scent…yes, the unmistakable smell of rutting ELk urine! you would have thought it was some sort of designer perfume worn by a super model, by the effect it instantly had on me. I quickly snapped out of my elk-stupor once the reality of elk season not being open for five more days was remembered. Getting  back to the task at hand, I was in the middle of an internal debate on what I “would and wouldn’t shoot on opening day”; when a sudden, backhand of reality hit me with a sharp pulling sensation, reminding me a little like packing tape being ripped off a package…but inside my lower, right leg. I had just renewed an injury that I had sustained a couple of weeks prior, while running.

THIS CANNOT be happening! Not now! I screamed inside my head; as I caught my balance with a painful jolt. I couldn’t belive it! Last year it was a major sinus infection and Vertigo that kept me from my backcountry hunt over Labor Day weekend…and now just days before Elk season I go and do THIS! I quickly decided to not let this ruin my evening. And chose to take the low road…which conseqently was probably the route chosen by the owner of the jeep, that was parked almost touching the gate.

After wincing my way back down the mountain; I arrived at the old logging road I had opted to still hunt. I slowly worked my way along, pausing often to listen; hoping that maybe I would hear the challenging, shrill bugle of a love-sick bull. That is always the cherry on any outdoor outing for me.It wasn’t long, when I came around a bend in the road and caught a glimpse of an older Gentleman, with a scoped rifle in the crook of his arm. Something else that would send me into instant irritation on a different date; didn’t affect me more than to make me a little quizzical. I stopped an waited for him; when he was within hearing distance of low tones I whispered: “Bear hunting?” He nodded the affirmative. This is one little anomaly of the Washington hunting seasons; you will often encounter a camo clad, rifle touting bear hunter…during archery season! The old guy turned out to be all right and he seemed content to chat about his hunting exploits and what he’d seen on his jaunt through the woods on this day. Listening to his accent; I judged him to have originated somewhere near Arkansas and he displayed the easy-going way of someone originating possibly from “down south”. After a time; I shook his hand and we parted ways. I finished the afternoon with a spectacular sunset and the spooking of a doe. Well, this opening day wasn’t a total bust, I thought to myself as I limped back to my truck. Now to suffer through another day of work tomorrow…!

Glock-ing for Bears! My first season chasing Black Bear with my Glock 20.

27 Aug

Bear Medicine: My film dipped, Lone Wolf built, Glock 20SF 10MM. If you are planning on doing a similar build up using components from Lone Wolf Distributors; be sure to use promo code:” backtrail” when you order! Just trying to hook my Back Trail fans up!

As every year comes and goes, a lot of changes may take place….but one thing stays the same: I dream about the month of September all year long. Usually this time of year, all I can think about is chasing rutting, Bull Elk with my bow and everything else that goes along with the preparation. But this year is slightly different.A couple of months ago, I was at work discussing some marketing campaigns and strategies with our Marketing guy, Zack. I work for Lone Wolf Distributors; which most would consider the “King of the hill” when it comes to anything having to do with the Glock pistol. It’s been in my mind for a while now, to help push us into the Hunting/outdoor market, instead of just catering to the competition/Law Enforcement venue that we’re known for. After all, according to the CEO of the company, JR Shepard…that was the whole reason Lone Wolf was founded: to fuel his passion for hunting and fishing! So why not? One model of Glock in particular; the Glock 20, chambered in 10MM has long been regarded in some circles as an ample hunting sidearm. I’ve been a long fan of the 10MM cartridge and know good and well what it is capable of. I’m never found very far away from my G20 and Lone Wolf offers quite a few performance upgrades that turn it into a hunting beast. So…an idea was hatched. I had already made claim to be the one with the first known kill, using our 9G AR carbine (now called the “G9” http://www.lonewolfdist.com/Products.aspx?CAT=3682) last year while in Texas, when I took a very nice hawg from the ground. But that was not enough! I wanted to whack something with my Glock 20 and I wanted to very badly.

So, what could I set out after, hunting with my Glock?….The first thing that came to mind, was a picture a customer of mine sent me last year. It was of a huge Alaskan Black Bear that he had leveled with his Glock 20, which (of course)  had been pimped with our long slide and 6″ barrel. Plenty of bear medicine!

I always have a bear tag in my pocket; however I’ve never just set out after bear as a species. Bear have always been a secondary to the Elk and Deer I love to chase during the archery seasons. I gave up rifle hunting almost 10 years ago and it was hard to leave my bows at home; but I knew what I had to do. This is my last year hunting as a WA resident; but luckily the unit only minutes from home, opened to bear just a couple of weeks ago. I knew going into the month of August, that I’d have only a couple of weeks to dedicate to bear hunting, before the madness of September set in. Since then, I’ve already been out a few times; but so far not so much as a decent look at a bear.

The mild winter and relatively short summer has left the woods around here still very lush and green. The berry patches are six-foot tall and very abundant; this leads to a food situation akin to an “all you can eat buffet” for  bears! The trick is finding “the right berry patch” and being at the right place at the right time. I’ll be out until the end of the month, busting brush and Glock-ing for bears! Expect to see more of my bear season…hopefully the next title will be: “Bear down!” Some info on my setup:Glock 20SF: film dipped in Mothwing Woodland Mimicry 1.0, Long slide and 6″ barrel by Lone Wolf Distributors, trigger job (3.5# connector, 6# trigger spring, skeletonized striker and polish job.) LWD stainless steel guide rod and 20# ISMI recoil spring. Ameriglo “Hackathorne” sights.http://www.lonewolfdist.com/Default.aspx?PAGE=Main

Ammo: Double Tap Ammo: 180 gr. CXHP http://www.doubletapammo.com/php/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21_25&products_id=122 and 200 gr. FMJ. http://www.doubletapammo.com/php/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21_25&products_id=39

*Make sure to read “Glocking For Bears: part II“…I finally am able to put my Glock 20 to the test.


***If you are thinking of building up your Glock pistol to become a more effective hunting tool, for competition or just for defensive purposes; you Can’t miss this: EXCLUSIVE TO WATCHING THE BACK TRAIL FANS: go to www.lonewolfdist.com and use discount code: “backtrail12” to receive 10% off  your purchase of Glock parts and accessories!***


Get in a pre-season shakedown for a more sucessful hunting season.

21 Aug

Sheyk-doun; verb

A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to last for a much longer, and more importantly, predictable life-span.

Getting in a vigorous, full gear shakedown session while scouting for Bear season

I was greeted by the early morning song of birds as I slid from my truck and took a big pull of the fresh, mountain air. The air smelled sweet and new, as only it does in mid spring after the woods have renewed itself from the dormancy of winter. I paused for a moment to listen to the sounds as the birds and squirrels greeted the sun, starting it’s daily journey over the eastern ridges. My little hiking partner “Saxton” whined eagerly as I unhinged the door to his kennel, letting him escape with an anxious bound. Hefting My MR Crew Cab off of the truck seat, it felt like it weighed a ton as I shrugged it into place. With a soft click, I snapped it’s buckles closed and tightened the straps before setting off up the trail with bow in hand. Falling into step, the bottom of my Cat Quiver softly banged a cadence against the butt of my pistol, as my pack voiced it’s displeasure with light creaks and groans. “LEFT…RIGHT….LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT…” a Drill Instructor’s voice called out in my head, setting the pace as I marched up the mountain side. After I passed the first mile mark, I paused briefly to make some final adjustments to my pack straps and swap my bow to my other hand.

With every step my destination became a little closer as the distance behind me became a little greater. Every increase in incline swelled my legs with blood as my heart rate increased, causing my lungs to work a little harder. Eventually my left arm started to tire and become numb from carrying my bow, which only brought a smile to my face. I reflected on the up coming month of September, which marked the start of my most favorite outdoor activity: Bowhunting for Elk. This definitely brought a smile to my face.

No, this was not a hunting foray into the backcountry; but only a practice run, a “Shakedown” if you will. My pack tipped the scale at just less than 48 lbs, which really put the hurting to my legs and feet. I didn’t need to pack so heavy and I didn’t need to carry my bow with me, either. But like I said before, this was a shakedown, the first of many in preparation for the upcoming hunting seasons, which would put my body and mind to the test.

As I neared the four mile mark, my old hip injury was starting to talk to me and I could already tell that I had worn the wrong socks which led to quarter sized blisters later on. Judging by the way I felt at just a little over the half way mark in my predetermined 12 mile journey, I begrudgingly decided to make another half mile before turning back to the truck. Yes I was disappointed with my performance this day, but that was the exact reason I was out there enduring the pain. I knew that with consistent, self-inflicted pain and punishment over the upcoming weeks, would only lead to a more enjoyable and more successful time in the field when it really counted. Cameron Hanes always says “Train hard to hunt easy” and while I don’t even consider myself close to Cam Hanes caliber, his philosophy has always made sense to me. It’s like an athlete training for game day; he usually puts himself through much more physical stress than he ever would experience on the day of the big game. But all of the extra preparation, pain and pushing himself to the limit allows the athlete to focus on the task at hand (which ultimately is winning) and garners himself more of an edge over the competition.

I myself view the mountain and the animals I chase, as the competition and success in the field as my victory. Success in the field can be viewed very differently by every individual outdoorsman and my view of success does not always hinge on the notching of a tag. This may be apparent by the lack of numerous shoulder mounts, or other “trophies” gracing my Man-room wall. I know for a fact that if you rub a generous amount of Johnny’s seasoning or use a nice Worcestershire marinade; an un-notched tag doesn’t taste half bad!

Game day! This was me, leaving the truck on my first ever multi-day solo hunt in the back country. Due to improper planning; unbeknownst to me, I faced a near seven mile hike in…to the trail head! I was very glad I had several 6+ mile shakedowns under my belt in the weeks prior.

Seriously though, I have always felt that “it is not about the destination, but about the journey” and to me the journey is everything. This is why pre-season preparation is of the utmost importance. Case in point: my quarter sized blisters I suffered on this day. Just by wearing the correct socks would have averted this from happening and may have allowed me to squeeze out a couple of extra miles. This was the first time I had experienced blisters on my feet in at least six years of backpacking and mountain hunting; but I wore a pair of “hiking socks” that I had not worn before. It was better to find out now, pre-season instead of finding out that “hey, these socks suck…” on the first day of elk season.

Notice that I was carrying my bow along, as well. Four pounds doesn’t seem like much while you are working yourself around the 3D range; but pack it around all day long while carrying a pack and it can seem like you’re packing a boat anchor! If you are a rifle hunter this may ring even truer, since the average big game rifle may weigh close to double that of a bow. Whether I’m shooting my Traditional bows or my compound, I like to take several “bow hikes” during the summer. Not only does this help your muscles get acquainted to the weight of the bow in your hand for extended periods of time, but it can be a lot of fun too. Roving around the woods stump shooting or varmint hunting is all part of the experience and is training for the real deal. Once again, rifle hunters can get in on this action. I own a custom-built, Ruger 10/22 that I love to rove around and whack Prairie dogs or even targets like rocks and small sticks that might be laying about (always keeping safety in mind). Not only is this type of “training” fun but helps to develop your hand-eye coordination which will pay big dividends when it counts.

whether your hunting high altitudes like on my 2009 trip, or just chasing game a mile or two from the trailhead; when it comes time to pack out that load of meat or chase that herd of elk…the more pre season preparation you have beforehand the better.

The big game seasons of the fall will be upon us before we know it and it’s never too late to squeeze in some pre-season conditioning. So do yourself a favor and plan a shakedown before it’s too late. Not only will this help make your season go smoother for you by increasing your conditioning, but you may be surprised as you work the kinks out of your gear system. You may just find that ”chink in your armor” before it’s too late and spare yourself some heartache that could force you to pack it up early. Like I mentioned before; I would much rather suffer those quarter sized blisters now and not be wincing with every step later on, while trying to conclude a stalk on that monster bull waiting for me out in the timber.


For additional pre season conditioning that would most definitely aid in a successful season; check out www.traintohunt.com. This hunt oriented training system draws off of current Cross Fit methodology but is tailored specifically to “making you a better predator” during the hunting seasons.

Also see: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), I’ve found this method of training to be highly effective, especially when applied to your cardio routines.

*As always, please consult your Doctor or Physician before entering in any kind of conditioning routine or engaging in high stress activities.

Train like you hunt! Suiting up with your full kit and putting down some boot leather will pay huge dividends come hunting season.

I definitely was packing a full load here! My trip was only supposed to be for three days; but me being me, I had around five days worth of gear and food.

Is that a modern-day Sasquatch?! Nope, just me running to work with a 40# pack. While maybe not a smart way to train for extended periods of time; a few miles a few times a week will definitely pay off during hunting season and is a good way of ramping up your intensity preseason.

Hunting so-called “open” country definitely has its share of rugged terrain and can be very challenging.

Backcountry like whats found in the Bob Marshall definitely requires some preseason prep time; not only for your body and mind, but for your gear as well.

While hunting last year in NE Texas; I discovered a terrain completely alien to me. Constantly wadding through knee-deep water, busting through very thick brush and dealing with boot-sucking mud, presented its own challenges.