Author Archives: Chris Neff

Mystery Ranch 2018 Rundown

We know that keeping up with gear can be a little cumbersome and finding out what’s the latest and greatest year over year can be a little tricky. Today I wanted to go over everything Mystery Ranch for 2018 including the additions, what’s going away, and why you need to pack out with a Mystery Ranch this season!

Let’s start with what’s discontinued. Starting as of this year (2018) Mystery Ranch is going away from the Multicam pattern. While it might be an awesome pattern, Mystery Ranch is eliminating it from the Hunting lineup and is keeping the pattern focused on the Military side. They are also going to be fading out some of their small day packs like the Crest.


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Darn Tough – Quality Socks – Made in the Heart of Vermont

When it comes to footwear and choosing your gear for the upcoming season the single most overlooked pieces of gear is your socks. What the average person doesn’t understand is that most hunting socks are built with a specific purpose. Some are made to be light and quick, some are meant to provide more cushion in your boot. One of the leading brands out there in our industry is Darn Tough, and they are the prime example of what makes a good sock. It’s a story of survival, a story of hard work, a story of never giving up, and all of those things make their socks “DARN TOUGH”.

Below is a film that Darn Tough put together last year that dives into the history and what makes a good sock. Definitely give it a watch when you have some free time. With that being said let’s dive into how and why to choose the right sock for you.

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BlackOvis Custom Arrow ID – Why and How?

BlackOvis Custom Arrow ID Logo

Let’s face it you guys, factory fletchings is a thing of the past. Grabbing a dozen arrows off the shelf that are already pre-fletched is great and easy to grab last minute, but what if we told you that you could create a dozen custom arrows, see a preview of what they’d actually look like, and have them built and shipped within 48 hours…

Welcome to the BlackOvis Arrow ID…

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Crispi Briksdal GTX – Product Gear Review

Crispi Briksdal GTX Review Banner

The Briksdal GTX was one of the new additions that Crispi US made to the lineup this year. Reason being is that they would give hunters the option of getting into a stiffer boot than the Nevada’s but not quite to the extreme as let’s say..a Scarpa.  That way you maintain that comfort level that Crispi is well known for. This boot was really designed to fill the need for those hunting at extreme elevation where they need a bit of Insulation (200 g), a stiffer board last, and a boot that will take a beating in the extreme terrain without getting into a pure mountaineering pack boot.

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AccuBow | Pre – During – Post Archery Training

What is it?

AccuBow has been purging the world of social media since around late 2015 and has been peaking the interest of every and any bowhunter ever since.  What it is, is an Archery Training Device that is simple, easy and extremely effective if used right.  It really is a revolution in archery training because it can be used virtually anywhere!  We were fortunate to get our hands on one to play with for a couple days thanks to Matt over there at AccuBow and being the Archery Expert/Bow Tech here at BlackOvis, I had to see if this was worth it and what all the fuss was about.  Before I dive into my experience with using the AccuBow let me just explain my situation since it will obliviously differ from most.

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1st Time Archery Elk Hunt | The Growth of Unsuccess

1st Time Archery Elk Hunt | The Growth of Unsuccess

By: Chris Neff

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   A couple weeks back I had the chance to go on a fully guided archery elk hunt up in Colorado with our warehouse manager Jason Stein.  Jason actually had quite a bit of experience hunting elk and I was able to learn a lot by watching him on this hunt but the coolest part is that Jason is hearing impaired. Let me just start by saying that Jason is a hunting idol of mine now.  Picture hunting without being able to hear a single sound. How and where would you know where to hunt besides what you see?  Every year he gets it done and he can even bugle way better than I can.  Try making a sound that you have never heard before and can’t even hear yourself producing… It’s pretty insane.  At first I was a little worried about how we were going to communicate but luckily we had an eight and a half hour car ride and he was able to teach me a bit of ASL and let’s face it, when you’re hunting there is little talking anyways and a lot of hand signs.  I was taught countless tips and techniques for hunting elk from both Jason and our guide Kyle and quickly realized that it was a completely different ball park then hunting mule deer, which I knew but I decided to keep a journal and record the events every day to share that with all of you.  Pardon the novice writing skills but feel free to kill some time and dive into my experience and how our hunt unfolded in Taylor Park, Colorado!  **For the sake of the Outfitters Privacy and Respect, I have changed the names of all the areas that we hunted**

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Alaska Guide Creations (AGC) Bino Bivys Explained

Alaska Guide Creations binocular harnesses are possibly the most sought after binocular carrying systems on the planet.  There are a million and one reasons why the Alaska Guide Creations is the top dog in the industry and we strongly believe the biggest reason why is that there are different options for your own hunting style and that each and every pack is sewn together here in the USA! Most manufactures only have one are very few Bino Harnesses, but AGC has four different harnesses: the K.I.S.S, C.U.B., Classic & Denali and then we also had them design one specifically for us called the Hybrid. Four of them also come with the option to add a max (basement) pocket to the bottom of the harness. The beauty of it all is that we sell them all!  Let’s start at with basics.

Kodiak K.I.S.S. – (Keep It Simple Secured) – Available in Standard & Max

Kodiak C.U.B. – (Compact Utility Bag) – Available in Standard & Max

Hybrid – (BlackOvis Custom Design) – Available in Standard & Max

Alaska Classic – The “Original” – Available in Standard & Max

Stalker Hydration Pack – adding Versatility to your A.G.C. – Available Here

 

AGC Community Comparison

One of the biggest things Alaska Guide Creations(AGC) has been known for is having so many different options and versions, with that being said, it might be a little confusing of what “WE” carry.  What we did here at BlackOvis was picked the best and had them all made the way “WE” wanted!  To start off, We offer the B.T (Bino Tether) on each and every pack that we sell.  We work it into the price instead of having you purchase it as an “add-on”.  If you’ve already purchased an Alaksa Guide Creation from someone else or just happen to be one of the “lucky ones” who have more than one pair of bino’s and want to be able to easily switch back and forth then we also sell the Bino Tethers Seperately Here . Out West, it’s also all about stealth, so every AGC pack that we have also uses the H.B.S. (Hook and Bungee System), which allows quick and easy one-handed opening and is completely silent.  A great feature about AGC that is commonly overlooked on other harnesses in the industry are the shoulder straps.  All of Alaska Guide bino packs utilize an extremely breathable mesh that utilizes no foam, no padding, and allows you to wear your harness comfortably with backpacks. Since it’s so thin, the pack pretty much vanishes so you won’t be messing with your straps as you hike.  Be sure to test this out when you pick up your own and you will immediately notice the difference compared to other harnesses.

Binocular Fitting Guide

The best way to figure out what optics fit best in each pack is to think of the following:

K.I.S.S. | C.U.B. | Hybrid – 8X42/10X42 (Some 12X50) 

Classic – 12X50

Denali – 15X56

For the most part, you can use this as a reference for what fits best but also keep in mind if you have wider bino’s w/ built in rangefinders, it’s suggested to order the next size up.

Suggested Packs depending on style of hunting:

K.I.S.S.

The K.I.S.S. is the lightweight, minimalist answer for wanting to carry your bino’s while keeping them protected from the elements. This pack is the only harness that has elastic/mesh side pockets. These pockets are great for open reed calls and wind-checkers.  This is the lightest, simplest and cheapest of the packs available.

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 6.5” x 6” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

C.U.B.

The C.U.B is the exact same size as the K.I.S.S. but features an added pocket out front, which is great for Rangefinders.  This is a must have for any Archer no matter if you’re a hunter or 3D fanatic.  The AGC CUB pack is will fit up to 10X binos with ease and is a great choice for the average hunter on a budget. The C.U.B. also uses zipped pockets on the sides instead of the mesh/elastic featured in the K.I.S.S., which keeps anything you put in them concealed and protected.

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 6.5” x 6” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

Hybrid

The Hybrid fits the exact same size of optics as the K.I.S.S. and the C.U.B. but give you the option of having side mesh pockets over the standard Zipper Side Pockets. This was a design that we worked directly with Alaska Guide Creations to create for us. Besides the Mesh Pockets it’s everything you still know and love about all the other bino packs made by A.G.C.

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 6.5” x 6” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

Classic

The Classic is the “Original” bino pack and the first pack that Jaret produced.  This pack looks exactly like the C.U.B. but is a little taller and wider which makes this pack a great choice for anyone rocking up to 12X binos.  The Classic is the ultimate all around pack that is great for all sorts of Big Game.  The side pockets are a little bigger and also feature a bigger MAX pocket (on the MAX version), which can hold even more gear.

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 6.75” x 6.5” x 3.5” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

Denali

The Denali is named after the highest mountain peak in North America.  This is the harness that was built for the “big boy” optics and is the ONLY bino harness in the industry that is capable of holding 15X binos.  This pack is the dream harness for Sheep Hunters and will give your optics the protection they need no matter what altitude. This pack does not come in a MAX pocket version.  

Binocular Compartment Measurement: 7.75” x 7” x 4” (Tall x Wide x Deep)

Stalker Hydration Pack

The Stalker Hydration pack is a second alternative for the standard Shoulder Straps that are included on your Alaska Guide Bino Harness.  This pack snaps into the pre-existing buckles on your AGC and give you a small day pack which is a great choice for early season scouting or when setting up Trail Cameras where you need just a little more room but don’t want the bulk of taking a huge pack. The Main Compartment has a drawstring to hand your bladder of choice and a couple of outer pockets to store your gear, snacks, or more. If you’re a serious gear head, be sure to check this addition out!  **Please keep in mind, this does not come with an Alaska Guide Creation pack and is just an “Add-on”.  You still need to purchase a Bino Pack**

What is MAX?

The MAX versions of the packs utilize an extra pocket on the bottom of the pack, also known as the “Basement” which is great for knives, tools or any other gear that you’d rather have in reach instead of in your pack.  You can also utilize the MAX pocket for bigger items such as the Rangefinders, GPS’s, your wallet and other bigger items.

MAX Pocket Sizing:

  • K.I.S.S. MAX – 2” x 5” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Depth)
  • C.U.B. MAX – 2” x 5” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Depth)
  • Hybrid. MAX – 2” x 5” x 3” (Tall x Wide x Depth)
  • Classic MAX – 2.125” x 5.125” x 3.125” (Tall x Wide x Depth)

 

Be sure to check out all of the packs that we offer and feel free to contact any of our Gear Experts for fitting questions and we would be more than welcome to test out the fitting before we ship your pack!  Choose your bino harness, select your color, and experience the protection and fit that a bino harness is supposed to feel like.

Brand Highlight – Kryptek

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The unique thing about Kryptek is unlike other camo companies, their concepts and ideas were all forged overseas in the mountains of Afghanistan to the scorching deserts in Iraq.  The Combat Forces that tested and beat this gear into a pulp are the foundation that churned the brand in to the hunting company that it is today.  If there is one type person who is harder on their gear than a hunter, it’s a marine! Kryptek camo is truly military-grade!

The principals of Kryptek have an overwhelming desire to do what no other organization has done before –
  1. Provide customized and performance based apparel that is specifically tailored to the environment.
  2. Meet or exceed the performance expectations of the user, and consistently deliver required comfort, function, and durability.

Through extensive field testing and customer feedback, Kryptek continually adapts and integrates product features that will exceed our customers’ needs for overall performance. The Kryptek Outdoor Group founders retain connections to the military to fuse their combat experience with their love for the outdoors and believe that combat technology should not be limited to the battlefield.

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I actually had the chance to get a complete head-to-toe setup from Kryptek to truly put it to the test and make sure it’s Solid.HUNTING.Gear, and what I can say in the simplest and shortest answer is “by far”.  Not only does the gear fit well but it feels great as you walk and hike miles throughout the day.  My hunt was for Archery Mule Deer in Southern Utah and I needed clothing that would keep me warm in the 20° mornings but would also not cook me alive as the sun came out. Summer’s in Southern Utah can get easily reach the 100’s in a hurry. The beauty about Kryptek is that they have so many pieces tailored to where/what you’re going to hunt. In my case, it was early season so I selected my setup for light and fast, and in layers.  Here’s my set -up to give you an idea:

Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 165 lbs
Kryptek Hoplite 1/4 Zip Top (M) – Great Merino Base Layer that kept me warm and scent controlled
Kryptek Hybrid Borealis Jacket (M) (by far most favorite piece) – This jacket functioned for everything that I need and was my outer layer for most of my hunt.  Packed up tight in my pack also.
Krypek Valhalla Pant (32R) – Lightweight but extremely durable.  From crawling to hiking miles these performed awesome!
Kryptek Helios 1/4 Zip (M) – This shirt gave me the little bit of extra warmth that I needed on those cold mornings or afternoons without needing a jacket.
Kryptek Hoplite Merino Wool Bottoms (M) – Great to use for cold mornings but breathed exceptionally well as the day got warmer, keeping me comfortable all day.

Kryptek Trident Boxer (M) – I won’t go into details but trust me… you want these.

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When Highlander camo first came out, I had some mixed feelings but as I researched the pattern, I grew to love it more and more.  Coming from a Max-1 family, I was definitely into trying something else and more technical.  The most eye opening parts about my hunt were also some of my biggest struggles.  On multiple occasions when I was being spotted by a buddy as I attempted to approach a group of stud 120″ class Muley’s (which was my dream buck), I ended up blowing multiple stalks.  Not because I was seen, as hilarious as it sounds it was the complete opposite.  My hunting partner, who has the most beautiful Swarovski Spotter and an eye like a hawk, kept loosing me on every spot.  “Where did you go!” , “I can’t find you!” , “I’m having a REAL love/hate relationship with you right now!”.  I had never experienced anything like that before.  I ended up having a chance on a stellar buck and just couldn’t get a clear shot.  It was on a super-steep incline and the face I was on had a couple humps and I couldn’t tell where his other pals were and unfortunately MY pal couldn’t find me.  I ended up eating Tag Soup at the end of the hunt because as many of us do, I got picky and tried chasing them the rest of the week but never had another chance.

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Before this hunt, I was always pinned, I stood out like a sore thumb, and was never able to get closer than 60 yards to a buck.  This year…  I disappeared. I had multiple opportunities on smaller bucks that came in at about 12-13 yards and I could tell that using Technical Clothing allowed me to hike further, hunt harder, and made my heart pump in ways that I never knew it even could.  Kryptek has a solid line with just about every piece for Western Hunters.  If you’re a whitetail machine, then Kryptek might not be the choice for you, but then again, their “niche” is Western style hunting.  Kryptek’s multi-directional camo design works, and sometimes works a little too well.

Be sure to check out any and all the Kryptek products that we sell on BlackOvis.com and keep an eye out early this summer as their 2016 line arrives!  There are some really exciting pieces coming out for 2016 and you know we’ll have it all!

Verdict:  Kryptek “IS” Solid.HUNTING.Gear

Chris – Staff Picks

Check out the Solid.HUNTING.Gear that the staff here at BlackOvis uses and are familiar with. Thinking of buying a product but not sure how it performs? Check out if any of us use it and give us a call!

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Details

Hunting Style: Archery
Favorite Species: Mule Deer
Dream Hunt: Desert Bighorn
Next Gear Purchase: Big Agnes Sleep System
Other Pursuits: Bow Technician, Hiking/Camping, Backpacking, Family

Weapon Setup

Bow: Xpedition Xcentric SD, Draw Length: 26.5″, Poundage: 68 lbs
Strings: Pro-Line Bowstrings
Sight: Spot Hogg Fast Eddie XL Adjustable Sight
Rest: Hamskea Archery Hybrid Hunter Pro Rest
Release: Scott Backspin (Levi Edition), Scott Sigma Thumb Release
Stabilizer: Stokerized Stasis 15″ (w/Quick Disconnect)
Arrows (and weight): GoldTip Kinetic Kaos (400)
Quiver: Tight Spot 3 Arrow
Broadhead: Kudu Point, Epek Headhunter, Wac’em 4 Blade

Clothing Setup

Body Type: Slim, average
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 175 lbs

Jacket: First Lite Halstead (M),Under Armour Early Season 03 Jacket (M) Kryptek Borealis (M)
Insulation: Kryptek Kratos II Jacket (M) First Lite Cirrus Puffy Jacket (M)
Pant(s): First Lite Kanab 2.0 Pants (M), Kryptek Valhalla Pant (M) Under Armour Early Season  03 Pants (M)
Base Layer Top: First Lite Minaret Long Sleeve (M) Kryptek Merino QZ (M)
Base Layer Bottom: First Lite Allegheny Bottoms (M) Kryptek Merino Bottom (M)
Gloves: 46Rail Precision Gloves (M), First Lite Merino Glove (M), Kryptek Gunslinger (M) Under Armour Infrared Speed Freek Glove (M)
Rain Jacket: First Lite Boundary Stormtight Jacket
Rain Pant: Coming Soon
Footwear: Solomon Speedcross CS (8), Under Armour Fat Tire Low GTX  (8) Crispi Nevada GTX Hunting Boot (8.5)
Socks: Darn Tough Micro Crew
Other: BlackOvis Anchor Point Belt (M)

Essential Gear

Binos: Vortex Talon HD 10X42
Spotting Scope: [NEW] Vortex Razor HD 85mm – Angled
Knife: Outdoor Edge Razor-Lite
Game Bag: Caribou Gear, Ovis Sacks
Pack: Badlands Diablo, Easton Bowhunter, Slumberjack Snare Pack
Trekking Poles: Easton Hike Carbon 3
Tent: Coming Soon
Sleeping Bag: Coming Soon
Stove: jetboil Flash Lite Stove
Rangefinder: Vortex Ranger 1000
Bino Harness: Alaska Guide Creations C.U.B. Bino Harness

NEW – Stokerized Stabilizers

There are so many different brands of stabilizers out there in the market today, so what makes Stokerized so different? For starters the company is 100% Made in the USA with its facility based in Annville, PA, not only is it made here on our shores but every single stabilizer is hand-made and looked over multiple time for quality and defects before it leaves the door which means this company has the quality that our customers are looking for, hence why we decided to dive further into Stokerized.

When I called the company to get our account up and running, I actually ended up talking with one of the big shots over there Shawn Lutz, which turned out to be an hour long phone call about the company, what they stand for, and how they stand out from the crowd. Stokerized is a company with plenty of innovative and practical solutions to common misconceptions about how FORCE, TORQUE, MASS AND WEIGHT affect a bow’s dynamic stability. They believe in having sound scientific data behind the products they engineer; which is why they utilize proven physics concepts related to vibration and balance in their stabilizer designs. All of their technologies are extremely effective in eliminating both static and dynamic torque on a bow while providing excellent balance, stability, and vibration reduction. When utilizing Stokerized’s proven stabilizing systems you can be confident that you will hold and aim your bow like never before.

I have been shooting Stokerized stabilizers for the past 4 years personally and never know that there was so much thought, technology, and background data into their product, I honestly first choose them because I could get it in whatever color I wanted. Being able to pick what color the sleeve and the acrylic were was a huge deciding factor when I was first checking these guys out because when it comes to my Bow Set-up I want everything to match. Since this was a huge factor to myself we wanted to give our customers that same capability so when you hop onto our product page you can click on any of our custom products that we list where it will show the colors of the sleeves and acrylics that they use so you can pick and choose, resulting in a fully custom stabilizer for your set-up. With the custom option, Stokerized will be drop shipping then right to your door so please keep in mind if you do select this option if might take an extra 3-4 days for them to build it and get it to you.

Stokerized picture

This year I decided to go with their brand new for 2015 Stokerized Stasis 15”. They also make a 19” which would be great for 3D season but so far I have been beyond amazed with the shootability and the functionality to be able to place my stabilizer where “I” want to, resulting in a bow that is level the second I set into my anchor point. A lot of people overlook the value of shooting with a stabilizer but by being able to draw back my bow and have my bubble level the second I rest into my anchor point, give me the ability to get my shot off quicker and enables me to take one more error out of the equation and it has definitely made me a better shot both on the field and at home.

We’re so glad to have them on board with us here at BlackOvis.com and if you’re looking for one of the highest quality stabilizers on the market for an affordable price, release your creativity and shoot a Stokerized.