Category Archives: Field Tips & Tricks

How to Select the Right Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag that helps you sleep well can be a game-changer while spending time in the outdoors. If you don’t get some quality sack time at night, not only will you not be at peak performance the next day, you could end up pretty miserable. But not just any old sleeping bag will fit the bill; you need the right sleeping bag for you based on how you sleep and the conditions you plan to encounter (climate, weather, available shelter, etc.). It’s not a one-size-fits-all formula for selecting one of your most important pieces of gear; there’s several factors that you should take in to account as you look for the right bag for you. Often times, finding the right sleeping bag can be a trial and error process. I can tell you from experience that it is worth the time, effort and money spent finding the right bag that lets you sleep your best at night in the mountains.

There are several styles of sleeping bags: rectangular, mummy, quilt, hybrid, etc. And within each of those categories, you can usually get down or synthetic in most models, left or right side zippers, extra length and/or width, wide vs narrow foot boxes, hood styles, and the list of options goes on and on. While I do own and use a very plush and roomy rectangular style bag that gets paired with a cot and foam pad when the occasion allows, the bag weighs something like 14 pounds and only gets used if I’m sleeping in a trailer or driving right to where I make camp. Since these situations are very uncommon for back country hunters, this article will be geared more towards how to pick the right sleeping bag based on backpack hunting/back country intended use where weight and size are at a premium.

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How to Choose the Right Trail Camera in the West

Stealth Cam Header

There are many different models of trail cameras these days, all with different specs and megapixels that may make it confusing when trying to choose. It’s hard to know which one is right for you and your situation. You might be new to trail cameras and just want to get something going to see what’s in your area, or you might be a seasoned pro looking to upgrade your cameras cameras for higher quality images.

Typically you want the most megapixels and the most LED bulbs for the best price. On all Stealth Cam models, the number in the model name represents how many LED bulbs are in the camera. If it says “NG”, it stands for No Glo bulbs which eliminates the flash at night so it doesn’t spook the animals. No Glo LED bulbs are great for security cameras as well.

Stealth Cam Utah Moose

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Sleeping Bags – 101

Synthetic VS Down

This is a topic that has been covered extensively and there are a million write ups explaining the differences and pros and cons of different types of insulation. For the purpose of this write up I will give a broad overview of Down and Synthetic insulation.

Synthetic insulation is generally heavier and will not compress as small as down. It also tends to pack down over time and lose loft. Loft equals warmth. On the plus side, synthetic insulation is generally cheaper than down and will hold loft and provide some warmth when wet. It also tends to dry faster than down. Down insulation is lighter and will compress extremely small. The downside is it is more expensive and will not insulate when it gets wet. It also takes longer to dry out. Marmot uses Hydrophobic down or synthetic insulation in most of their bags with a couple of models using both synthetic and Down. Hydrophobic treatment is a method of covering down with a waterproofing agent that helps it repel water. This along with mixing in a small amount of synthetic insulation gives users the best of both worlds in one bag.

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5 Things to do Before Your Archery Hunt

1 – Get Familiar With your Bow

Getting familiar with your bow is the number one most important step when you’re getting ready for your hunt. From learning to make adjustments on your bow to knowing what components work best with your set up.

When you’re learning to make adjustments to your bow, some great things to know how to do include: changing the draw weight, adjusting the draw length, and adjusting your sight and rest. If you are out hunting and an accident happens that moves your sight or rest loose, knowing how to adjust both is going to save your whole hunt.

Another part of getting to know your bow would be knowing what arrows and broadheads work the best with your set up. A great option for finding the perfect arrows is the BlackOvis.com Custom Arrow ID. This allows you to completely build your arrows from top to bottom making them the perfect match for you and your bow.

BlackOvis Arrow ID

2 – Practice, practice, practice

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Badlands Magnetic Binocular Pouch Review

I take my binoculars anywhere and everywhere outdoors every time I go. It doesn’t matter if I’m scouting, hunting, shed hunting, driving through the canyon, or even on a walk with my family in the foothills, I’ve always got my binoculars handy because you never know what Mother Nature has in store for you! When I started out hunting, I used/borrowed a pair of $50 binoculars that my dad kept in his closet but seldom used. I did my best to take care of them, but looking back I think I was actually pretty careless. I’d carry them around my neck on a strap with nothing more to protect them than a set of flip-off covers for the objective lenses and nothing covering the ocular lenses. Those binoculars took a beating, bouncing around on my chest all day and suffering whatever the elements had in store from sun, wind and dust, to rain and snow.

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When I decided it was time to get serious about my optics and that I needed an upgrade in the binocular department, I knew that before I ever purchased a high end set of binoculars, I needed to figure out a good carry system for them. I had to have the carrying system selected and purchased before I purchased the new binoculars or else I’d be too tempted to take them out and use them just once or twice or maybe twenty times before I got around to purchasing the carrying system. I had made up my mind to not let that happen. One reason I was so adamant about having the carry system before buying the binoculars was that I’d had a friend who bought new binoculars and took them out into the field before getting a carrying case. Long story short, he ended up dropping them while coming down a wet hillside when he fell and actually cracked one of the lenses. I did not want to chance ending up in that situation!

When I first began researching the options available for binocular carrying cases, I was a little naïve in my selection process. I knew I wanted 10×42 binoculars, a pouch that rode on my chest, and something that offered complete protection when shut. That was about the extent of my criteria. I looked up different options online and read about them, but what eventually helped sway my decision was some input from close friends to get the Badlands Magnetic Binocular Pouch.

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Scouting for High Country Mule Deer

Scouting season is upon us and the opening season is just around the corner. It is time to dust off those trail cams and make sure they still work, and stock up on batteries (more than you expect!)

When scouting for a big mature mule deer you need time, patience, focus, and a good set of glass.

Let’s face it, trail cameras are just another fun hobby.  I look forward to putting out trail cameras every year but I am not convinced that they will help you kill a mature buck. There are plenty of great trail cameras out there on the market. Honestly, I personally can’t choose one brand. Unless you are hunting private ground, my opinion is buy a camera that you can get a smoking deal on, that way when you place your camera on public ground you won’t be stressing about your $400 trail camera you just put on a heavily used trail. Remember, when putting out trail cams, you alway risk getting your cameras messed with, broken, or even worse, stolen. For me, I can’t beat the value of  Stealth Cam, Bushnell trail cameras, or even the Wildgame Innovations and Cuddeback Trail cameras. If you are in the market for a higher end camera make sure to check out Spypoint and Covert trail cams. They definitely help on finding bucks and what size of bucks that are in the area. Unless you have the same buck on the same trail or same water hole consistently than it’s all just a crap shoot. Now personally, if I do find a good buck on one of my cameras I will than pull cameras from other areas that are not doing so good and flood the area with the good buck to try and find the bucks favorite path.

IM000413Alright, so you have placed your cameras and been able to pattern a few really nice mature bucks, now it is time for homework.You really have to do your homework on when you get the pictures back from your cameras. It will seem as if you are enrolled in law school for deer hunting. Check how often he is coming in and what times of day. Checking the times of day is so crucial, make sure you plan your hunt accordingly to when he is using what trails/watering holes. If legal in your state try and use a salt lick if you can in your state. I prefer the Trophy Rock brand. This will slow the buck down so you can get some good pictures of him, and also get him to keep using the same trail more frequently instead of using a trail that’s 20ft up or 20ft downhill from the trail you put your camera on.

This is so important! DO NOT check your trail cameras too often, or else you can leave so much human scent the bucks will vacate the area completely. Give the area at least 2 weeks (3 weeks is better) before you check on it. I know it’s really hard to wait, but if you can’t wait, than get a few more and spread them out in different areas at different days of the week so you are constantly checking different cameras to keep tabs on your deer. My beautiful picture

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Hunting Essentials – Your Camping Gear

65 Days 11 Hours and 41 Minutes.  That is the time we have left until archery season begins here in Utah. As I gear up for this years deer and elk hunt I have been looking a lot into the gear I use and how I can better prepare myself for the hunt that is quickly approaching.

The purpose of this blog post is to better familiarize you with some of the camping gear that we carry here at BlackOvis.com, but also to share experiences with you so that you can learn from my mistakes. I also have a killer gear list to help you on this year’s hunt, whether you will be backpack hunting in Alaska or spot and stalk hunting in Sonora.

“Last year while on the archery deer hunt in Central Utah, we got rained on pretty much every single day. Not just a little sprinkle here or there, but we are talking about torrential downpour each time we were in the field (make sure to get some rain gear!) This lead to one thing… discouragement. It did not matter how much I practiced, how hard I trained, how many bow-hunting movies I watched to get pumped up. I was discouraged. Now I had 1 saving grace, 1 thing that helped me to keep going. My Jetboil stove. A warm meal can really turn your spirits in an instance. With my Jetboil, I was able to get a warm meal at least twice a day. With hot oatmeal in the morning and a hot Mountain House meal in the field, it is what saved my hunt. Although I was not able to fill my tag, I did learn many valuable lessons along the way. 1 of which was the importance of my Jetboil stove, but most importantly that I needed to upgrade almost all of my camping gear for next year’s (now this year’s) hunt.”

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The Key to a good hunt – Good Food! Mountain House and a Jetboil, you can’t go wrong with that.

 

CAMPING GEAR LIST

If you are ready to get serious about hunting, camping and backpacking here is a list I made of all of my favorite camping gear:

 

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