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FEATURE ARTICLES

 

Problem Vision? Hope on the Horizon

Innovative product combinations restore shot confidence!

(Published: Whitetails Unlimited Magazine - Fall, 2013)

By Kevin Reese

 

Snap! My heart raced as I eased my head ever so slowly to the left. Through the thicket, into an opening that had once been an old food plot, I caught the rake of a hoof at the base of a hardy oak tree. Soon after, a teasing glimpse of tines through tangled vines and branches suggested he might be a good buck. It took a minute to settle down as I watched and listened. My stand was in the right spot; if he stayed his course the old trail would lead him to the field’s edge just 15 yards from my position.  

 

After a short wait he closed the distance to 10 yards then stopped and stood motionless until “the coast was clear”. He was a great buck, perhaps my largest to date if he were to offer a shot. He did offer and I was happy to accept. I came to full draw and took aim but he refused to give me a clean shot, walking directly away from me until he finally turned broadside at 30 yards. That’s when it happened. The colored pins of my multi-pin sight melded together into a sunburst that obscured my target to the extent that I had to let down.

 

Years ago, I was diagnosed with Keratoconus in both eyes; a progressive disease that misshapes and thins the corneas; sufferers suggest it’s like an astigmatism on steroids; I agree; however, in recent years, the disease had progressed compromise my hunting and shooting activities. Last year, I began to wonder if I would still be able to hunt or shoot, whether with a rifle, shotgun, handgun or bow. Shooting was less of a challenge using magnified optics but mil-dots and holding over had established limitations that, like my archery shooting, severely compromised my confidence level. I began to question whether or not hunting was something I could continue; after all, taking an animal’s life is something I take seriously and if I can’t take ethical shots they should never be taken. The thought of something so inherently ingrained in my genetic makeup disappearing before my eyes (no pun intended) made for countless sleepless nights.

 

Switching to a single-pin archery sights helped a great deal and I finally found great results with HHA’s 5519 Optimizer sight. I played with a couple of different pin sizes and settled on a .019 pin with a rheostat sight light. I could see well enough without light but even better with the sight light dimly illuminating the pin. The lower the light, especially when night hunting, keeping the light at its dimmest allowed me to see the pin without creating the halo and sunbursting effects that ruined an epic deer hunt.

 

A few months ago, although I had been shooting well, I also installed HHA’s 2-powered magnification lens. They also have a 4-powered lens but the 2-powered worked best for me. To the rear, I added a Specialty Archery, L.L.C. peep sight with a clarifying lens. An already stunning HHA sight picture became ultra-crisp. Now, I’m back to splitting X’s and filling my freezer.

 

As of last week, a new HHA product has changed the face of my rifle shooting game. The HHA Optimizer Horizon was developed with simplistic, reliable target acquisition, an essential element of marksmanship for anyone, especially those of us with compromised vision! Like its cousin, the HHA Optimizer for crossbows, the Optimizer Horizon is a top-mounted rail and wheel-adjustment system. Operators install the Optimizer Horizon on the top of the rifle and then install the scope on system’s picatinny rail. Keeping your crosshairs on the target, a shooter only turns the dial to the appropriate range and squeezed the trigger.

 

So, what’s the takeaway must-have for those of us with challenged vision? The launch of HHA’s Optimizer Horizon means the end of hold-over and mil-dots, a longer range complication that significantly impacts accuracy and confidence in shooting, especially in hunting situations. Rotating the Optimizer Horizon’s wheel adjusts the elevation instantly. The reality is that everyone can benefit from just putting crosshairs and squeezing the trigger, even beyond working around poor vision.

 

If you’re a recreational or competitive shooter, or just a guy like me who enjoys the thrill of a good hunt, but you’re confidence has been shot full of holes, take heart in the hope that innovative products are bringing to our industry, our heritage and our lifestyle. Where once I thought my road would end, I’ve discovered a path that knows no end. Combinations of single-pin sights, magnification lenses, sight lights, peep sight verifying and clarifying lenses, illuminated reticles and products like HHA’s Optimizer Horizon ensure that somewhere in that list of products is a recipe that puts hunting and shooting back in focus for scores of outdoor enthusiasts!

Learn more about HHA Sports products at www.HHASports.com

Learn more about Specialty Archery, L.L.C. at www.specialtyarch.com

 

 

 

 

Living and Leaving

It’s all about a Legacy

(Published: Remington Outdoor Foundation, OutdoorRoadmap.com) 

By Kevin Reese 

 

Revelation

 

The heat from his little body radiated into mine as beads of sweat raced down his cheeks, mixing with the stream of tears carving their course for the tip of his tiny chin. “Hold me tight, Daddy!  Hold me tight! Please, hold me tight!” His pleas filled the room as he continued to sink into me, pulling my arms ever tighter around his chest. Finally, the nurse had her sample; with a little luck we would have our answer within a week. After all, how long should a father have to wait to find out if his son has Leukemia? 

 

That day I realized there is no lifetime guarantee on tomorrow, what we do today must outlast us. Building my legacy, and helping him begin his own, has become more than just a sappy dad’s goal; it has become the very fabric of our bond.

 

Just a few nights after receiving the miraculous news our son had tested negative, I tucked my son in with a kiss and headed toward his doorway.

 

 “Daddy?” I watched him search his bedroom wall for the right words. “When I get older, can I have your truck?”

 

I smiled, “Why do you want daddy’s truck?”

 

Still searching the wall, he responded with an answer that took my breath away, “So I can take you hunting.”

 

It never dawned on me, what he was taking from our trips to the woods was something he wanted to give back to me; our trips were really something special to him. I hadn’t realized the most precious aspects of my legacy were being formed in the woods. If you’ve ever wondered what your purpose is, keep reading! 

 

Why on Earth are we here?

Introspection and outdoor observations revealed opportunities as obvious as the blood-trail of a heart-shot hog. Appreciation for life – including wildlife, love, family, freedom, heritage, stewardship, ethics, integrity, conservation, preservation and yes, even death, all play out here upon the majestic stage of our great outdoors.

 

The first time my son sat with me in a blind on a hog hunt, we watched several does walk across the field with two fawns in tow. “Which one would you shoot, Daddy?”

 

                “The big doe in front, son.”

 

                “Why that one?”

 

                “Because the other two are younger and the one in back has those two fawns to look after.”

 

“Why don’t you shoot it then?”

 

“It’s not deer season. We have to wait until the season opens.”

 

In 30 seconds of conversation, he Iearned I genuinely love both wildlife and the outdoors. It was a lesson in both ethics and stewardship. He also learned about integrity; he’s heard me many times, “What you do when no one’s looking is what really matters. That’s the stuff character is made of.” He saw my words in action and they stuck like glue.

 

Jacob was with me when I caught the biggest bass of my life. You should have seen the look on his face when I pulled the fish from the water. He touched it repeatedly before finally petting it down its slick side. I reveled in his nervous excitement as he watched my entire fist disappear into the fish’s mouth. His excitement quickly turned to doom and gloom when I told him to say goodbye as I lowered the bruiser back into the water.  “Maybe someone else will get to catch their biggest fish now.”  He smiled, “Maybe me?” 

 

“Maybe so, he’s in there waiting for you to catch him.”

 

Purple, gold and scarlet hues of a sleepy sun gave way to silver light dancing on the water as we finished cleaning our fish and stowed our gear. Great memories and another lesson were born; my son understood what giving back to our outdoor heritage is all about. 

 

The opportunities to teach our children the core values our country was founded upon are endless when you search for them outdoors. Whether you are fishing, hunting, camping or hiking, never lose an opportunity to teach your children lessons, they shape the men and women our children become.

 

An Ounce of Reflection

To this day, Jacob’s pleas to hold him tight still haunt me; recalling those few minutes still invokes emotions that are tough to swallow back. Yet, my darkest hour gave way to my greatest awakening; realizing I am not promised another day with my son shattered my someday-soon attitude and replaced it with the hope that my legacy will add to a mosaic of memories and actions serving to build his legacy for what I hope is many, many years to come.

 

My son once told me I was his hero. It wasn’t long ago my words echoed his as we sat in a blind together watching lessons unfold for both of us. Remington Country has a special place for us – just me, my little hero and our legacies growing together.

 

 

 

 

HOW-TO ARTICLES

Sighting-In: Keep It Simple

(Published: GlobalOutfitters.com, Dakota Hunting and Fishing Guide Magazine) 

By Kevin Reese 

When considering hunter ethics, the most important element beyond the scope of wildlife conservation and habitat preservation is shot placement. Good bowhunters understand this critical ingredient and practice year round to ensure their prey receive nothing short of best efforts from confident, ethical integrity-minded sportsmen.

 

As a matter of shot placement, accuracy and consistency are key. Many say practice is the only answer to consistently accurate shot placement; while this is true, it's not the entire formula; well tuned equipment is also vital to your accuracy. Confidence in your equipment is as important as competence in your shooting abilities. Archers of all ages struggle with shot placement at some level whether dealing with target panic, buck fever, improper form or a bow in need of proper tuning; they key to mistake-proofing is using the process of elimination.

 

Ensure your bow is well tuned, including timing, tiller, center shot, etc. and that your shooting equipment matches your needs, i.e. correctly spined arrows. Once you are sure of your equipment, ensure your shooting is consistent and accurate; at this point, accuracy doesn't necessarily mean you're making great shots, it simply means you are grouping your arrows and establishing a pattern. Now it's time to sight in your bow.

 

Here's a simple to tip to make sighting-in a bit easier. Consider a cross, or crosshairs - a cross pattern is made of both a vertical and horizontal line; the point at which those lines meet is the bullseye. The problem most archers have when sighting in is that they focus on the bullseye as a point of aim instead of one line at a time.

 

Pick a side of your target specifically used for sighting-in and tape or spray paint a cross that spans the entire target. Decide which line you would like to aim at first; I like to aim at the horizontal line so we'll begin there. Aim at only at that horizontal line and shoot well to the left of the vertical line. Move your aiming point to the right a couple of inches and put your pin on that horizontal line again, shoot, then move your aim to the right a few inches and shoot again; continue shooting at the horizontal line, moving from left to right, until you establish a consistent vertical distance above or below that horizontal line. If you consistently shoot below the horizontal line, adjust your pin or sight elevation down. Conversely, if you're shooting above the horizontal line, adjust your pin or sight elevation up. ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR ARROW WHEN ADJUSTING YOUR SIGHT!

 

Now, follow the same method for adjusting your windage (left to right adjustments). From the top and moving down every few inches between shots, aim only at the vertical line and shoot enough arrows to consistently show a pattern of hitting either to the left or right of that line. If you are hitting to the left of the line, adjust your sight to the left; if you are hitting to the right, adjust your sight to the right. Again, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR ARROW WHEN ADJUSTING YOUR SIGHT!

 

Many people understand how to sight-in a bow; however, many struggle with the process because they concentrate on hitting both lines at the same time. Sighting-in on one line at a time simplifies the process by concentrating your focus on one broad focal point - just try to hit the line, period. When you adjust to hit one line and then the next, your next shot will be exactly where you need it - in the vitals.

 


Hunt hard, hunt often.

 

 

 

 

  

PRODUCT REVIEWS

 

Crosman’s Benjamin Rogue .357 Air Rifle

Wild, Wooly and Ready for Hogs, Deer and More!

(Published: NRA Blog, AmmoLand.com)

By Kevin Reese

 

Is an air rifle enough to stop that next bruiser boar or buck of a lifetime? A quick trip back to the Lewis and Clark expedition would answer that question through proven results; in fact, their single Girandoni air rifle is considered by many to be the REAL gun that won the west. The .46-caliber Girandoni fired up to 40 shots on a single charge and the tube magazine held up to 22 rounds that could be emptied in less than 30 seconds.  

 

August 30, 1803 - “Left Pittsburgh this day at 11 ock with a party of 11 hands 7 of which are soldiers, a pilot and three young men on trial they having proposed to go with me throughout the voyage. Arrived at Bruno’s Island 3 miles below halted a few minutes. Went on shore and being invited on by some of the gentlemen present to try my airgun which I had purchased brought it on shore charged it and fired myself seven times fifty-five yards with pretty good success.” (Lewis and Clark Journals, Volume 1)

 

Lewis and Clark’s journals, comprised of 13 volumes and more than a million words, refer to the Girandoni air rifle 39 times. While they also had 22 muzzleloaders it was the Girandoni air rifle they turned to repeatedly to demonstrate superior fire power to Native Americans, a move more than anything to protect the contents of their keel vessel.

 

While the expedition only had one Girandoni, tribe leaders could and did assume the keel vessel was loaded down with them and the thought of 38 men firing 22 .46-caliber balls accurately in less than 30 seconds was quite intimidating. 

 

The rifle was also used effectively for big game hunting and was the perfect answer for repeatable fire without compromising powder supplies needed for the 22 muzzleloaders. Merriweather Lewis’ use of the Girandoni rifle nearly single handedly assured safe passage and charting of the west for future expansion and certainly proved its worth in hunting. Check out this informative video about the Girandoni’s Air Rifle’s rich history from NRA-History at http://tinyurl.com/l2wl7hw.

 

Today, people continue to depend on air rifles and other firearms to provide for their families’ sustenance, including big game. The good news, however, is that unlike the 1,500 pumping repetitions required to hand-fill the Girandoni, today’s charging systems aren’t nearly as arduous.

 

While smaller caliber air rifles may operate off of factory sealed disposable tanks or age-old hand-pumps, high-powered, big-game-oriented rifles like my personal favorite, Crosman’s Benjamin Rogue .357-caliber Precision Air Rifle, are easily charged up to 3,000-psi with a 3,000- to 3,500-psi scuba-style air tank.

 

The Benjamin Rogue also does not look anything like Lewis’ Girandoni. While both are considered PCP systems, the Rogue’s patent-pending ePCP™ technologyePCP™ technologyePCP™ technologyePCP™ technology means more versatility and increased power while the patent-pending eVALVE system makes for more efficient use of the air charge via precision, user-selected distribution options. Shooters not only have some great ammunition choices to make, including round-nosed, flat-nosed and Nosler’s eXTREME ballistic tip bullets, they can even use their own cast .357-caliber pellets.

 

The Rogue’s EPiC™ LED display and selection buttons allow configuration of key ballistic elements including medium-high foot-pounds of energy/velocity options and bullet weights of medium (up to 145 grains) and high (over 145 grains). The rifle even includes manual mode setting. In manual mode, the shooter can calibrate air pressure and valve-release delay to experiment with ballistics and achieve optimum performance from their favorite heart-stopping pellet!

 

While the Benjamin Rogue can make for a tough carrier over long distances, Crosman’s Center-Point 4-16x44mm riflescope does shave that walk down a tad and a picatinny rail system allows for added accessories to increase fit, form and function according to individual needs.

 

On the Benjamin Rogue air rifle I worked with, I used the picatinny rail to mount interchangeable sitting and kneeling bipods and a Hawglite Sabre high-intensity red LED tactical lighting system that gets me out to well over 100 yards; however, I try to keep larger animals like coyotes, deer and hogs within 75 yards.

 

Nearly all states allow hunting with air guns in some form or another; check your state regulations for game specific applications, especially before chasing larger animals like deer, hogs, bear and other traditionally recognized big game animals normally taken with firearms or archery equipment. Here in Texas, the Benjamin Rogue .357 is tough enough to take down the biggest boars in the woods and often quiet enough to anchor more than one of those pesky, yet tasty eating bruisers! That means deer also are easy prey for the Rogue – pick your poison!

 

Imagine the buzz circulating deer camp this fall when you drop the hammer on your next success story with an air rifle! The Benjamin Rogue .357 Air Rifle is more than enough to get the job done for you and is by far my favorite air rifle offering to date.

 

ALMOST All the Right Stuff – What I wasn’t so excited about…

Part of field testing some amazing products is really isolating opportunities for improvement. While I feel Crosman really has something special in the Benjamin Rogue, again, it’s my current favorite, hands down, there are two areas of improvement worth mentioning.

 

First, loading the magazine with pellets and subsequently loading that magazine into the rifle’s action took quite a bit of practice. While loading the magazine with pellets I dropped my fair share (In Crosman’s defense the instruction manual warned me to cover the opposite opening with my finger).

 

Second, while there is a picatinny rail located at the bottom of the handguard more rails on the sides of the handguard would be a great addition. The lower rail could be used for a bipod while side rails could accommodate systems like the Hawglite Goblin or Crimson Trace CMR-201 Rail Master laser; product reviews for another day. With one rail accessories are either stacked or not added. This may be a great opportunity to offer an array of handguards.

 

Final Thoughts

Part of my fascination with air rifles is simply nostalgia. Time on an air rifle reminds me of time spent shooting with my dad… and even my mother; she’s a heck of a shot, too! With my son, that air rifle legacy continues. His aversion to loud noises, a product of sensory integration, means that shooting air rifles even offers some therapeutic benefits in that he gets to enjoy shooting while avoiding the report of larger firearms, bothersome to him even with hearing protection. At some point, conditioning should resolve his aversion but we choose to eat sensory integration as we would an elephant. Whether shooting a .17-caliber or my wild and wooly Benjamin Rogue .357, Jacob is ready to go.

 

Hunt hard, hunt often and consider taking the Crosman Benjamin Rogue .357 Air Rifle on your next hunting adventure!

 

Learn more about Lewis and Clark’s incredible expedition at www.archives.gov/education/lessons/lewis-clark

Learn more about the Girandoni Air Rifle visit home.NRA.org/history and type Girandoni Air Rifle in the search field.

Visit www.Crosman.com, www.Brownells.com, www.Hawglite.com and www.CrimsonTrace.com to learn more about the Benjamin Rogue .357 and other great shooting and hunting accessories.

  

   

SPYPOINT’S LIVE 3G: TOP DOG IN TRAIL CAMERA EVOLUTION

 Improving scouting and odds of criminal prosecution one photo at a time…

(Published: NRA Blog, AmmoLand.com)  

By Kevin Reese

 

Much of my writing over the years has revolved around scouting and preparation as key elements of successful and ethical hunting. While trap, game or trail cameras have been around for over 100 years, the past 15 years have demonstrated the single most aggressive swing in trail camera use for scouting and preparation. And, while trail cameras do significantly improve our ability to scout, plan and hunt, cameras are steadily evolving to include security. Over the past five years I’ve followed the security aspect of trail camera use quite closely and have enjoyed watching advances applied to one model after another. One company I’ve watched carefully over the past several years is SpyPoint. 

 

From the IR-B in 2008, through the game changing technology built into the Tiny-W cameras, to the 2013 SpyPoint Live 3G, I’ve watched SpyPoint consistently walk the leading edge of trail camera technology. More importantly, they do so with such dedication to the protection and security of their clients there is little need to look elsewhere for multitasking products that not only track your wildlife, but give you a fighting chance to catch thugs in the act! And, as you’ll learn, the Live 3G, SpyPoint’s latest high-tech offering, has an added surprise sure to take accountability to new heights.    

 

Live 3G - Finally, Affordable Cell Service!

 

While the rest of the trail camera marketplace focuses on cost-prohibitive cellular servicing, ridiculously high resolution that most hunters really don’t care much about and adding sound to video clips, SpyPoint has already been there, done that. Sure the SpyPoint Pro-X is a great at 12MP and the use of high resolution photos resonates with wildlife photographers, we don’t necessarily need that much resolution, or that much storage eaten up, to scout or catch a bad guy.  

 

Today’s SpyPoint cameras focus on offering the best combination of scouting and security currently available. While SpyPoint still offers high resolution cameras for discerning wildlife photographers, the latest SpyPoint homeruns, the Tiny W-2 and Live 3G offer 8MP resolution to capture detail those important details without needlessly filling up your SD card. Want Black LED’s, video sound, wifi, cellular, resolution, simple interface and integrated viewers? SpyPoint has all of them! But, there’s more… and that “more” is going to do more than shock you… it will rock the world of criminals everywhere!

 

Hunter’s Best Friend, Punks Worst NIGHTMARE! 

Imagine someone at the top listening to your whims, wishes, moans and groans then actually addressing them! Now imagine a company listening to the wish lists and gripes of people using other manufacturers’ trail cameras? What don’t they like? What can we do to help them? Let’s be honest, what’s on your trail camera wish list? Let me drop a boot by sharing what I would like to see in a trail camera: 

  • Decent resolution but not over the top
  • Video with sound, if that turns my rotors
  • Faster trigger times – I mean, down to zero!
  • Multiple detection zones – see trigger time… not a back leg!
  • Affordable cellular service – I’m on a budget
  • Integrated viewing and configuration window, controls
  • Multi-Shot capabilities
  • Reduced, or increased, shot intervals – depending on my mood
  • Most Important – I want to catch the trash who stole my camera
  • I want to drive to his house and get my camera back! 

 

 

Now, let me drop the other boot… IT’S HERE!

I recently setup my new SpyPoint Live 3G and found out some great things along the way! The Live 3G can be used as a stand-alone or cellular based trail camera. The cellular service knocked me for a loop; I was a bit scared of the cost factor; I had played with others and paid dearly for it. To my surprise, the cost is incredibly affordable. SpyPoint Live 3G allows you to use your current AT&T account or a pay as you go Truphone account.

 

The first step in my Live 3G experience was to create a MySpyPoint.com account. MySpyPoint.com hosts webpages I use to manage my camera settings and manage my images. In MySpyPoint.com, I dictate image intervals, camera modes and other camera settings. Part of settings is the type of image I would like to transmit. Since I elected to keep my data at 100mb per month (no more than $15 monthly), I chose to transmit thumbnails with the option to download full size images with the click of a button. After thumbnail transmission, the thumbnails appear on my content management page. Along with image transmissions, I used MySpyPoint.com configuration settings to receive text and email messages whenever images are transmitted.

 

The camera comes with a Truphone sim card; however, again, you can elect to use your AT&T sim card. I chose Truphone to minimize my costs. Once the sim card is activated and the camera is registered with MySpyPoint.com, your camera in ready to communicate. 

 

Full-sized images are taken at intervals you select, down to every 10 seconds and resolution is set at 8MP. Five (5) zones of detection mean a blistering fast trigger speed, down to zero seconds. IR technology has improved dramatically over the years. The Live 3G utilizes 48 LED lights to capture images out to at least 50 feet on the darkest of nights. My personal SpyPoint Live 3G is capturing every bit of 50 feet… and a few feet more with exceptional clarity. 

 

The security features are where this camera trumps everything else on the market! Not only do you capture images of perpetrators, those photos are transmitted for download. The camera also sends messages to your cell phone that your camera is being moved. You can even report the camera stolen in MySpyPoint.com. Reporting the Live 3G stolen locks the camera up (until you retrieve it) and provides you with GPS coordinates for your camera every 10 minutes! That’s right, the Live 3G has a tracking device! Imagine the punk’s surprise when you show up at his door, perhaps with the local authorities, and demand your camera back. To help you on your search, you’ve likely already captured images of the perpetrator! Security at its finest – If you want peace of mine, you need SpyPoint Live 3G! 

 

What’s this world coming to, you ask? It’s coming to a place where honest people reclaim the upper hand. Much like video cameras record the good, bad and ugly of daily life, SpyPoint captures the good, bad and ugly of our outdoor lifestyle. Since the late 1800s, trail cameras have been used to answer questions. Today’s cameras, like the SpyPoint Live 3G, answers many more questions than some people bargain for. 

 

So, What’s NOT to Like?

“Not like” is such a strong term. It’s not a dislike inasmuch as it’s a “wish I had”.  After all, the Live 3G is, by far, my favorite of SpyPoint’s entire lineup… and I’ve used a number of different models over the years.  So, here is what I wish I had in the Live 3G. I would love to be able to synchronize on demand. It may already exist; however, if it does then my gripe would be that the instructions, from what I read, did not reveal how I might activate that function. If I could push a button and automatically synchronize that would take my trail cameras desires right over the top!

 

A second improvement would be to add an outdoor booster to improve cellular signal and transmission. This is NOT a fault of the camera but I would love to see a battery powered external cellular signal booster to reach even further off the beaten path. 

 

Final Thoughts

Even considering the cons that, frankly, I really had to search high and low for, the Live 3G is by far my favorite of not just SpyPoint’s offerings, but all trail camera offerings. As I mentioned earlier, the innovation, details and dedication to quality evident in this model assures me that SpyPoint cares about more than just my scouting, they care about protecting my best interests. Even better, they give me recourse that NO OTHER trail camera to date offers. The SpyPoint Live 3G has been such a mind-blowing joy ride, I can’t imagine what they’ll come up with next! 

 

For more information about SpyPoint’s incredible line of trail cameras and their latest ultra-cool product, The Xcel HD Action Camera (Watch for that review soon!), visit www.SpyPoint.com.

 

 

 

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