I'm excited to announce that my husband, Troy, will be contributing posts here on FromtheDraw. It will add a nice addition, so that you can hear about our experiences out in the field, from both of us. Now you will not only get my side of the story, but also his side.
He has written the below article on social hunting ... not the social media aspects that we now often relate to the word "social", but rather good old fashion, face-to-face friendly social hunting, and how it can have a positive impact on your hunting experience.
In the early weeks of August 2013, I packed up the camper and prepared to leave for the mountains. I was excited to be back up in the pines and aspens where the elk and deer make their home. This is a place where I go to shed the year of mental anguish of all the stuff I endured and experienced at the fire house. I love my job, but things seen on duty can really take a toll on you, from a fatal car accident to a structure fire where the family loses everything. You feel so sad for them, and yes, the calls involving kids seem to tug the hardest on your heart. Come September, I'm ready for the stress-relief of living in the mountains for a while where the only 'call' heard is from a bugling elk in the distance.
Back to my topic: Meeting new friends!
You see, I'm a social hunter. At least I think of myself as one and some people in my camp don't necessarily dig that I am. I spend 32-35 days in the mountains of Colorado hunting elk and part of this time I'm by myself. I think of the other folks in the mountains as my neighbors and I like to make sure that if my neighbors ever need something, they can call on me to help. And this year was no different. Upon arriving in the mountains on Wednesday night the 28th of August at 5:00 P.M., the area we always set up camp was still open. I began to set up our camp and settle in for the month.
The next morning, I woke up and started my usual routine of visiting abandoned summer camps, picking up the left-over fire wood. On the way back, I noticed a couple of archery hunters that moved in just above us and they had a motor home pulling three four wheelers. I, being a "Social Hunter," stopped in to welcome them. I had never seen these guys in the area and I always like to know my hunting neighbors. So, I pulled in and introduced myself. They said their names were Darwin and Mark from Michigan and offered me a beer. While talking, they stated there would be a third hunter, Jeff, joining them during the third week of the season.
That morning, we sat talking of seasons past, and figured out the reason I hadn't met them before. They had hunted the area in 2003 when we didn't draw that unit. After our talk, I let them know if they needed anything to come on over. They returned the same offer and I went back to finish getting camp set up for my fellow hunters that were scheduled to arrive on Friday, the day before opening day.
I have met some great people while elk hunting and would encourage other hunters to be friendly to your 'neighbors' while hunting. It doesn't take a lot of effort, but it is worth it for several reasons. A friendship could develop, especially if you hunt the same unit year after year. Or it could be that you simply end up helping each other out ... a flat tire in mountains, tips on the area, etc. (I'm not suggesting that you give away all of your honey-holes, but even coordinating where you're planning on hunting the next morning so you aren't "stepping on toes" - is a good thing.)
Jeff and his cow elk - taken during Archery season in Colorado
Here's a good example of what I'm taking about ... It turned out that I helped Jeff fill his tag by showing him an area to hunt and helping him know how to use his elk calls. I explained the importance of not just using the same call over and over. Elk calls need to be used to mimic talking like elk. Think about it... calling the same way continuously is as annoying as someone yelling to you, "Come here. Come here. Come here." I'd ignore that too. It is important to know when to call, how often, and to vary the calls used.
After our elk calling lesson 101, we made our way to an area not far from camp, but where we've frequently seen elk come through. After a sequence of calling, several cows and a really nice bull showed themselves to us. However, a shot wasn't presented for Jeff. The next morning, Jeff made his way back to the same area by himself, while I headed to town to wash some camouflage badly in need of becoming scent-free once again. When I returned, Jeff was in camp waving his arms up and down. He had shot a cow and was waiting for Mark and Darwin to get back to help him with the meat. Not knowing when they would return, I quickly told him, "Let's go get your elk!" We ended up packing it off the mountain before his buddies returned to camp.
I loved helping out my new friend, because I knew he paid a lot of money for an out-of-state tag in Colorado. I was thrilled to see him take some meat home! He only had one week to get it done during the archery season, and he did just that. I was glad I got to play a small part. If I can help one guy put an elk on the ground it's worth it to me!
This is what hunting is all about. Meeting great people, enjoying the country that God has given us to hunt, and feeding our families. Congratulations, Jeff!
After Jeff headed home, Mark (one of the other Michigan hunters) harvested his biggest mule deer ever. We were in camp that afternoon, when he came by with his Muley strapped to the front of his 4 wheeler. He was taking his time, one hand on the antlers and the other steering, making sure his buck would make it safely back. We saw him coming and all ran out to congratulate him.
I have a 50-yard picture of this very buck in full velvet from the year prior (pic below). Of course, we didn't have a deer tag that year, so we shot him with the camera. He truly is an amazing buck and we were thrilled to share in Mark's joy of arrowing this trophy. Congratulations, Mark, on dropping the hammer on this guy.
In looking back over the years, we've made some great friends out in the woods. I'd encourage you to do the same. Enjoy the hunt, be social and have a positive impact on fellow hunters in the field. I'm looking forward to getting back out there in nine months, to get some stress relief, catch up with friends and have a chance at re-stocking some freezers!
I'm going to let you in on a little secret of mine ---->> I have been using liquid smoke as one of my secret ingredients in wild game (elk, venison, etc) burgers for a while now. It adds a nice little kick to burgers, and I've recently started incorporating it in some of my other recipes also. Recently I threw away an old bottle of a non-natural version of smoke in my fridge because I was given the chance to try Wright's Liquid Smoke, which is the only all-natural liquid smoke brand on the market.
Oh. My. Goodness. It is deliciousness in a bottle.
Finding an all natural Liquid Smoke made me a happy gal! Wright's Liquid Smoke flavoring is truly natural liquid smoke in a bottle. It is made from hickory, applewood or mesquite wood that is burned in chamber. When the smoke rises it is captured in a condenser and it cools. Then the cooled smoke in the form of condensation is collected and filtered. How cool is that? And the extra boost you get when adding this flavor to your favorite recipes ~ let me just say now ... your welcome.
While adapting a venison meatball recipe that my friend in Kansas recently shared with me, I came up with the below Venison Meatloaf smothered in homemade smoky BBQ Sauce. It is to die for!
Venison Meatloaf Ingredients:
Smoky BBQ Sauce:
Mix sauce ingredients well and drizzle over uncooked meatloaf.
Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until meat is cooked thoroughly. Enjoy!
This November I arrowed my biggest whitetail to date. I had a blast hanging out with my husband, Troy, in Kansas for this hunt. I am blessed that he puts up with me in the tree stand, and is willing to follow me around with a camera to capture our hunts on film. Although just between you and me, I think he is trying to catch all those moments he is familiar with... the times I fall in holes, trip in the dark, and almost shock myself on electric fences. It's bound to happen! Filming is a new endeavor for us, and we are enjoying the challenge. He caught the kill on film and I'm thrilled to have it documented, so I can relive the moment over and over.
But before you watch this hunt, let me tell you the story briefly ...
Originally I had the 3rd week of November scheduled for my whitetail hunt in Kansas. Troy had gone out the last week of October to finish setting stands, check trail cameras, scout and do a little hunting. After seeing the deer movement and witnessing indications of pre-rut activity. Troy and Evan convinced me to move up my vacation time to get out there while the bucks were cruising through the area. They had seen some nice shooter bucks and it was definitely time to get in the stand. So on November 2nd I found myself sitting in a tree stand, and was excited for a week long of hunting.
After several days of hunting in crazy wind and rain, on Thursday morning we settled into our stands, and it didn't take long for the bucks to emerge from the woods. Troy worked a rattling sequence, and the first buck came running over the top of the hill straight towards us. We had the full attention of a little curious fellow, who looked around perplexed when the fighting bucks were no where to be seen. He began feeding below us. A few Muley Does then arrived and I watched as they leaped the fence-line 20 yards from our stand. Momma jumped over and her yearling, acting unsure of the springs in her legs, nosed the fence line and then ducked underneath. Perched twenty feet up in a huge cottonwood tree, I was enjoying spying on the deer below me. Better than a dollar movie on a Friday night with a bowl full of popcorn, I had a front row seat to my kind of entertainment!
It didn't take long for a few more bucks to make an appearance. A young 8 point that we had named "Movie Star" showed up and began feeding towards our tree. Another year or two, and he will be a buck worthy of his name. I'm not big on naming deer, but we couldn't resist ... because he loaded up our trail camera with not dozens, but hundreds of photos of himself. He had it coming. If you are going to be that much of a diva, then I'm calling you Movie Star. A pic from this angle, then the other ~ front, side, rear. We had it all. Camera hog!
As I sat watching Movie Star, I initially had a little debate in my head ... should I shoot him? Or let him walk? I knew I should let him walk, but he kept hanging around and tempting me. I quickly convinced myself that he needed a chance to grow up, so I quietly sat there just watching him. If he stayed any longer, I might as well grab a bowl of popcorn.
While Movie Star had my attention, there was something else going on in the field behind me, from Troy's view. He was hanging out on the opposite side of the tree, filming the buck I was about to shoot ... I just didn't know it yet. Due to the size of the tree, and not wanting to spook the buck heading my way, he was caught and couldn't reach around to give me a heads up. Instead he whispered... "don't shoot Movie Star, big buck coming." Yah... I never heard that. But it all worked out. He couldn't see me, so he didn't know I was at full draw .. until I let my arrow fly.
Grab a cup of coffee and watch how it plays out...
The first time I looked through a set of Hawke Sport Optics was during my 2013 Elk hunt. Rudy with Huntography.com let me use his set while we scanned the mountain side for elk movement. I was impressed!
I need to first tell you, that while I understand the importance of having a good set of binoculars out in the field, especially for scanning the mountain-side to figure out where the animals are located, I'm usually the one who either opts to forgo bringing them along, or has them buried at the bottom of my pack. My old binos are heavy and clunky. I hate having the extra weight around my neck and feel like there is something in the way when drawing my bow back. This means that when everyone is scanning the next ridge and oohing and awing over the elk they spotted, I'm left waiting my turn for a peek through my husband's lenses. He'll then have to unclasp his binos just so I can have a look. I usually get "the look" followed up by, "where's your binos, Emily?"
When recently given the opportunity to review a set of Hawke binoculars, I jumped on it. I already knew after using Rudy's optics that Hawke is a quality product. I was excited to have my own set that I could be proud of, put to good use, and also quit bugging my husband to "borrow" his.
I opted for the Endurance Phase Corrected (PC) 10x42. While I'm confident that you'd love any of the versions Hawke offers, here are the factors that helped me in choosing the Endurance PC.
The first thing I looked for is which versions are waterproof. A few Hawke optics are available in water-resistant versions, which are fine for some, but I'm tough on my equipment and knew that I needed something completely waterproof. I didn't want to have to worry about dropping them in the snow, or keeping safe during unexpected mountain thunderstorms.
Size and Weight
Weighing in at 25 oz, the Endurance 10x42 aren't the lightest binos Hawke offers, but they aren't the heaviest either.
I knew that the Frontier ED weighing in at 26.2 was probably a bit much for me ~ while that is light for the size and quality offered, I didn't need that much of a binocular. Rudy let us borrow his set of Frontier ED binos, and they are AMAZING, but I wanted something a little smaller.
Some of the lighter side binos that Hawke offers includes Frontier Compact and the new Endurance Compact (available soon - watch for it in 2014!), but they were a little too compact for me. I wanted something that I could easily hold and balance in my hand, but yet wouldn't weigh me down. It was beginning to look like the Endurance was more and more the binos made just for me.
Endurance PC: features fully multi-coated lenses providing crisp, clear
and bright viewing with high light transmission, ideal in low light conditions.
Exit Pupil Factor - 10x32 vs 10x42
Now that I decided on the Endurance, I needed to decide between model 10x32 or 10x42. I was leaning towards the 10x32 simply because it was slightly lighter and more compact. Both have a Field of View (FOV) ft. @ 100 yards of 340, so there couldn't be that much of a difference, right? I was curious what exactly was the difference, so I figured it would be best to ask the experts...
Trent with Hawke Optics explained the advantages of the 10x42 and urged me to consider exit pupil & low light performance, especially if hunting at first light and last light were important to me.
When choosing between a 32 and a 42, there are two major factors that work against each other ~ size vs. optical performance. The image quality or clarity won't vary greatly (within the same bino family) since they are built with the same optical system; however, as your objective diameter shrinks (e.g., smaller bino size), your exit pupil shrinks as well. If low light performance is important when choosing a binocular set, then you MUST consider exit pupil. All the extra things like coatings, glass, etc., is a distant second if you don't give yourself adequate exit pupil size, which then means low light performance will suffer. Here is a breakdown of how it works..
Exit pupil is determined by dividing your objective lens (32 vs 42) by your magnification (10). So, the 10x32 will be 3.2 mm exit pupil, while the 10x42 will be 4.2 mm. While this doesn't seem like much of a difference, Trent explained to me that keeping your exit pupil above 4 mm is the general threshold for low light performance. Depending on your vision, you may be able to go lower, but generally 4 mm is the goal. Keep in mind this really only is a factor if you plan on doing a lot of glassing at first and last light. If you plan on glassing during hours where there is more available light, then the 10x32 might be a better fit.
That was a good enough explanation for me. Since I would often be hunting in low light conditions, I opted for the 10x42.
Extras - Grip, Lens Covers, etc.
Here are some of the extra features the Endurance 10x42 includes...
Phase Corrected Optics - Helps with impressive image resolution
Fully Multi-Coated Lenses - This feature helps provide crisp, clear and bright viewing, with excellent light transmission
Textured 'high grip' - I LOVE this feature because it makes my binos very comfortable to hold!
Close Focus - I'm going to be honest with you ~ I have a hard time finding my subject when trying to use a set of binos. Using the focus feature has always been a struggle for me. However, I was able to easily adjust the focus to bring things into view. Often, I'm the last one looking at a subject on the opposite side of a ridge, but this time I found myself pointing things out to everyone else. That was fun! Plus, if you are wanting to bring something into view, that is up close and personal... no problem! I had my binos in my tree stand last month and enjoyed watching the woods awaken around me through the lens of my Endurance binoculars.
Padded Neck Strap - Awww! I was in heaven. I really like the strap that comes with the binos. Now, I know there a lot of options available these days for after-market bino straps / holders, but I honestly struggle with some of these. Yes, there are convenient for carrying around your binoculars and help with keeping the weight off your neck, but when it comes down to trying to raise your binos up to your field of view, I always struggle. I like the option of being able to sling my binos across my off-shoulder and having a little more range of motion. Having the padded strap was an extra bonus for me.
Stay-On Lens Covers - When they say, "stay-on" they aren't lying. I loose things ~ a lot. I never had a problem, hiking all over the mountains, in and out of a tree stand. My lens covers never went missing. Often, I'd find the lens cover hanging open when I forgot to tap it on tightly, but the rubber loop attaching it to the lens held it on safely. I was impressed!
Nitrogen Purged Fog Proofing - While fog proof doesn't prevent the physics reality of external lenses collecting condensation during temperature changes, or even breathing directly on the lens; however, the internal portion of the binos are nitrogen purged which prevents the condensation from occurring on the inside of the lens. It works ~ because I never had an issue with moisture / fog building up on the inside of my binos.
As mentioned previously, I was fortunate to have my Endurance binoculars up in the tree stand this Fall during my Kansas whitetail hunt. They played an important role in my hunt and I'm happy to say that I arrowed my biggest whitetail to date.
If you are in the market for a new set of optics, I would highly recommend Hawke Sport Optics. Visit their website, www.HawkeOptics.com or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. I know they would be happy to answer any questions you have on their products. They are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.
Thanks, Hawke Optics!
Disclaimer: The reviews on FromtheDraw.com are solely the honest opinions of Troy & Emily. The Endurance PC binoculars reviewed were provided by Hawke Optics for the purpose of this review. FromtheDraw.com received no monetary compensation in exchange for this review.
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.