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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why Camouflage Is Important

Hunting can be as complex or simple as you want to make it. Most of us love gear and trying out new things, but the fact is you only need a few things to hunt. The best and most experienced hunters I know carry very little with them into the woods. In fact, a great way to tell if a person is a good hunter is to look in their hunting pack. The smaller it is, the more likely it is that they are a good hunter.

There are a few things you absolutely must have. You absolutely need a gun or bow, a knife, and your license. After that things become optional depending on what and how you are hunting. On the top of that list for me is camouflage.



You may not realize it, but the use of camouflage is controversial in some circles. A surprising amount of people do not believe it works or is necessary. Many states require you to wear blaze orange, and if you can still be successful with that, why not just wear blue jeans and a flannel shirt? It is not a bad point.  I will agree that it is not necessary for all quarry and types of hunting. Squirrel and rabbit hunting does not require it. Neither does hunting from a blind or tent (although it is a good idea). However, it is my opinion that camouflage can only help you, and it never hurts you.

To understand why, you must know how camouflage works. There are two basic things camouflage does. It matches your pattern with the background and breaks up your outline.




Blending in with the background is more complex than it sounds. To do this your camo needs to match the foliage (or lack thereof) that you are surrounded by. For instance, a marsh pattern would not work in a tree stand. In fact, that would make you stand out. This is why you may need several sets of camo, even if you only hunt in one area. The green camo you use in early fall will not blend well in the grey of winter. When the snow falls, you need some snow camo. Remember when I said it is a good idea to wear camo in a blind or tent? A simple all black outfit can be perfect for that situation. To find the best hunting jackets available right now, check out that link!

For the same reason all of your camo should match. A woodland set of pants and a marshland jacket will make you stand out, not blend in. Also, don’t forget your gun and pack. If they are shiny or look unnatural then your camo outfit will be wasted.

Blending in is especially important when bird hunting. Birds can see in color and have good eyesight.  Mammals, like deer, coyotes, and bear, are not quite as picky about the pattern. For them the most important aspect of camouflage is its ability to break up your outline.



Most mammals cannot see color like we can. It is a myth that animals see only in black and white. They do see color, but not quite as many as we do. Deer see blues, greens and yellows the best. They cannot see red well at all. To them, red looks very similar to green. They also cannot tell the difference between shades very well. Camo that is a bunch of different shades green and brown just look like a green blob to them.


So with that in mind, when deer hunting you should prioritize camo that breaks up your outline. The color does not matter as much. Things like wide belts, backpack straps, hat brims, rifle scopes, and boots all emphasize your outline and steps should be taken to minimize and camouflage these areas.
Deer have amazing peripheral vision and notice movement very easily. Keep this in mind when planning your camo. What do you move the most? Your hands, feet, head, and gun (or bow). Make sure you have good camo on these areas, especially your hands!

 While you are looking into the best camo pattern and type for your next adventure, check out Under The Open Sky. It has some excellent reviews!




Monday, August 7, 2017

A Flashlight: The Most Important Piece of Outdoor Gear

I have two things I carry with me at all times, well five actually. My phone, wallet, and keys are always with me, but everyone has those! The other two "optional" things I always have with me is a good pocket knife (I personally carry a Swiss Army Champ) and a tactical flashlight.

If I had to choose between the pocket knife and the flashlight...... I don't know. Day to day, I'd probably choose the knife, I use it dozens or times a day at work. But if I am going out into the woods or on the water, it would be the flash light 100% of the time. It is without a doubt the most useful tool I own and the most critical safety device I carry.

Flashlights are not what they used to be when I was growing up. This is what I used for the first 15 years I spent outdoors:



I still keep it by my desk. Mostly for nostalgia. I have upgraded it with an LED bulb, but I never use it. It is simply inferior in every way to modern flashlights.

Like many things related to the outdoors, modern tactical flashlights were first designed for military use. Don't believe me? Check out this Wikipedia article. It is pretty fascinating.

Thankfully outdoorsmen can now greatly benefit from these advances in technology. Modern flashlights are tougher, more efficient, and much, much brighter than those common just ten years ago.

I have two main flashlights that I use often. My older one is a Mag-light LED.



I carried it everyday for several years. I liked it because it is small, light, and uses AA batteries. It is not the brightest light available, but it gets the job done.

About a year ago, I retired the Mag-light to my trucks center console in exchange for this bad boy:


It is a Slyde 6267. This thing is amazing! It is about 250 lumens, which is enough to blind something at night and illuminate shadows in the day and takes AAA batteries (I don't like buying special batteries for my flashlights). It is made super tough and is weather proof.

 The cool part is that it slides open to reveal a worklight!



 Its base has a super strong rare earth magnet, which is also extremely handy. The only down side is that it is quite heavy at 10.6 OZ with batteries (I just weighed it!)

 It stays on my hip in a Night-Eyez sheath. You can pick these up a Lowe's. They fit just about any flashlight out there.



 Everyone has different needs from their flashlight. I'm not going to go over all of them out there because I don't have to! Thankfully There is a great gear review website that did this for us. If you are looking for an outdoor flashlight check out Rangermade! That link will take you directly to their flashlight review page!

 Wow! I got off subject! Why do I think a flashlight is the most important tool for an outdoorsman?

 Simple.

 You have to see to do most things outdoors. You cannot see without light. Can you find your deer stand a 4:00 in the morning without a flashlight at least occasionally helping you? I can't. Can you find a blood trail at dusk without one? Me neither. Can you tie on a fly predawn without a flashlight? Unload a boat in the morning?  Find a dropped lure in the dark? Find your truck after the sun goes down? Make a fire at the campsite at night after a long day hiking? I need a flashlight to do these things and I bet you do too. 

The fact is, most of our prep work for a fun outdoors day is done in the dark. Almost everything we enjoy is done in the early morning or late evening. That requires getting up and ready before the sun does. Without a good flashlight we can't do these things.

There is also the safety side of things. Aside from your PFD, a flashlight is the most important safety device you own. It prevents accidents by lighting your way and gets you out of tight spots by showing you the way. Once the sun goes down and you are on the water or in the woods without a flashlight, you are in trouble. 

If for some reason you do get in trouble and cannot make it out, a flashlight is the perfect signalling tool. It can be seen for miles in the dark and, aside from a cell phone or radio, is your best best for getting help. 

The thought of being in the woods at night without a light terrifies me! So much that I always have at least three lights with me when I am hunting. My standard flashlight, a headlamp, and a tiny emergency flashlight in my kit.

What flashlight do you use? Why did you choose it? let me know in the comments!

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