Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

In April, I ordered a Etekcity backpacker sized stove with self-ignition in the hopes that I could use it to make a hot beverage or heat water to use with a dehydrated meal on the trail sometime during the year.  I didn’t end up hiking as much as I wanted to (my work schedule was changed multiple times, making it difficult to tie in with my wife’s days off, so when our days off coincided we would use the time to catch up on housework etc.) so I hadn’t used it.


Etekcity Ultralight Portable stove with piezo ignition – this image is from

Recently, I watched quite a few bushcraft videos, mostly Joe Robinet and McQ Bushcraft, and remembered that I’d bought this tiny stove, but hadn’t used or tested it yet.

The stove takes butane-propane mix canisters, so on a recent shopping trip, I picked one up at REI for under $5 to test the stove out.  Be careful when buying this kind of stuff, my first stop for most gear is Amazon, but always, always double check prices with other sites and/or physical stores.  REI doesn’t even list this item on their website, and Amazon has it listed for $18.99, but it was $4.95 at the REI near Kennesaw, GA.  (In the past, I’ve found quite a few items listed by third party sellers that was outrageously priced.  One item was $8 per can at Academy Sports, and $49.00 from a third party seller on Amazon.)


To test this, I used a tin cup I picked up in Afghanistan about ten years ago, two cups of cold tap water, and put the stove on the railing of my back porch.  I wanted to see how long it would take to bring the water to a rolling boil.  According to our outdoor thermometer, it was 34′ outside,  and shows a 10-15 mph NW wind.  I don’t have a lid for the cup, and for the first seven minutes of the test, I didn’t block the wind.

The little stove heated the water very quickly, but it wouldn’t come to a boil until I stood blocking the wind, at which point roughly one minute later I had a rolling boil.  If I had a lid for the cup, and had blocked the wind from the beginning, I have no doubt that this tiny stove would have had the water boiling quite fast.


The water started to steam in the cold air in under a minute

I really like it – the package lists the output as 6,666 BTU, which I think is really good for something under $12 that can fit in a shirt pocket.  I don’t know if I would rely on this kind of thing for long-term survival, but as a short term, light weight option for camping trips and backpacking trips, it would certainly be much faster than cutting firewood and starting a full campfire when all you want is to re-hydrate a meal and have a cup of tea before moving on. It cools down very quickly, by the time you have the meal ready to eat, it should be cool enough to put back in the carrying case.

The stove comes with an orange plastic two piece carrying case.


This shows the stove when out of the case, in the case, and when the case is closed – Image is from


About two weeks ago, I received a text from a friend ‘Call me as soon as you get a chance!’  I thought something was wrong, somebody was seriously ill or worse.

No, he just wanted to tell me about a spot I could hunt less than ten miles from my house, which was a surprise.

Two days later, I was in the woods at that location, and I have to say, it LOOKS fantastic, however I’ve only seen two does so far, and while there is a lot of deer sign on the ground, it’s very chaotic, no real ‘this is the main trail’ or ‘this is the bottleneck between bedding and feeding areas.  It looks, to me, like the deer are wandering in from all directions when they want a few acorns.

I’ll keep at it though, lots of good looking trees to climb in my Summit.

I’ve also decided to start using a bicycle phone mount in the stand – that’s the red-and-black device on the rail in the photo below – the four corners are built-in rubber bands that go over the corners of the phone, much better for control and not having to figure out where to put it if a deer shows up while I’m reading something, because it’ll already be in the mount. (There are lots of different versions of these, I think this one was $10 on Amazon.)


A few months ago, I sold my Savage M110 30-06 to somebody who loves building rifles, he wanted a long-action Savage receiver to start a new project, and I wanted a .308.  After reading dozens of reviews and customer comments on various models of rifle, I decided to take a chance on the new Mossberg Patriot .308.

Being something of a geek, I just HAD to get it in Kryptek Highlander Camo, because I very rarely buy a new rifle, and this one was going to be my go-to big game gun for deer, bear and boar for a long time.


Whenever I think about new firearms, I check prices using the Gun Genie at Gallery of Guns, it’s fast, and has inventory levels so I can really see if something is in stock or not without calling fifteen places. It’s also nice that when you purchase a firearm using this service, it’s shipped to the store you picked off of the list, where you finish paying for the firearm and fill out the BATF paperwork just like any other firearm purchase.

Of course, I’m a Gables Sporting Goods staff shooter, so last year when I noticed that Gables wasn’t showing up on a search for my zip code, I asked at the shop, and they called Davidsons and figured out what the problem was, so when it was time to order my Mossberg, that’s the shop I chose to ship to.  Ordering was fairly easy, though the shopping cart system could be improved a bit on the Gallery page, and my shipment arrived in about a week. (I ordered a Taurus PT111 G2 9mm as well, and I have to say, for an economy compact 9mm, it’s very accurate and reliable so far.)

After the rifle arrived, I unpacked it at the shop and the nice folks there mounted my Zeiss Conquest 3-9 x 50mm scope on the rifle. A few people snickered, but I’d rather have a six hundred dollar scope on a three hundred dollar rifle than the other way around.  Because you can have a two THOUSAND dollar rifle, but if you can’t see what your shooting at, you aren’t going to shoot very well.

The one issue I had with the rifle out of the box was the camouflage.  It didn’t look very good, almost like it was dipped/applied by somebody who hadn’t had a good day. I called Mossberg and explained that while I know this is a budget rifle, I paid a bit extra for the Kryptek camouflage, and wanted to know if what I got was normal. They emailed me a prepaid FedEx label and said ‘ship it back, we’ll take care of it.’  And they did, too, about two weeks later I got the rifle back, and they must have searched for the best looking stock they had in the warehouse, because it couldn’t be any better looking.

At that point, with the holidays around the corner, I mounted the scope back on the rifle and stuck it in the safe for a month and a half. Yesterday, we tried to take it to Johns Mountain, but the range was packed, so we skedaddled.

Today, I ran up to Buford, GA, to the Georgia Gun Club.  I’ve never been there before, but they have a 100 yard indoor rifle range, so I thought I’d head that way and sight in the .308 and my .243.


Now, I’ve been to indoor rifle ranges in several states, but I’ve never been in one as nice as this. I was somewhat expecting an old warehouse that had been re-purposed as a range. I was in one like that in Ohio once that was so run down and  gnarly, I’m surprised there wasn’t a secret password to get in the door. *Psssst! Swordfish!*

Georgia_gun_club_insideThis was a VERY nice building, with plenty of parking.  The interior was very clean and open, with room to walk around and a nice lounge area for people waiting on a lane to open up. The web site had mentioned that waiting on lanes was normal, so I took my tablet with me, since that’s my portable patience generator, and signed in.  The process is simple for a first-time customer. You fill out a waiver with general safety and legal statements (not unusual, you have to do that at archery shoots anymore once per year as well), then watch a National Shooting Sports Foundation seven or eight minute long Range Safety video and initial that you’ve watched it, and then you wait.

I wish I took more photos – I forgot my camera, and once you’re in the range, you are on the clock for however many hours you purchased, and I wasn’t thinking about writing this post, I wanted to get the rifles sighted in.  The range was good – easy to use electronic target controls, range master in the room with you. The only thing I could complain about is my own fault – I took two rifle cases and my range bag, so navigating all of the doors was hectic, since I had zero hands to use getting through the place.

The staff were fantastic.  I will be going back, soon, even though it’s about an hour and fifteen minutes from the house.

The rifles I had with me were the Mossberg Patriot .308, and a Winchester Model 70 Ultimate Shadow Extreme Weather .243.  I love the Winchester, though I wish it was in 7mm-08 (I got it in a trade), and was curious to see how the Mossberg stacked up against a firearm that is almost three times more expensive.


Image Property of Shooting Illustrated

The Mossberg kicked butt.  The trigger is CRISP. As in ‘activate the Lightning Bolt Action, and start to put pressure on the trigger BOOM’ crisp.  For folks familiar with the Savage Accu-Trigger, the Lightning Bolt Action is similar – a light metal safety in the center of the actual trigger, the rifle cannot fire until the LBA is depressed first.  After nine shots with the Mossberg, I felt like I had to work to get the Winchester to fire, where before, I thought the Winchester had the best trigger of all of my long guns.

I shot Federal Fusion 150 grain, Hornady American Whitetail 165 grain, and Winchester Hog Special 150 grain ammunition out of the Mossberg. I find it interesting that I can’t find a link to the Hog Special ammunition on Winchester’s web site, making me wonder if they still make it.  I fired three rounds of each, with a few minutes between groups to let the barrel cool down, and honestly, the Winchester group was small enough at 25 yards for me to cover with a single target cover dot – but I’m NOT a professional shooter when it comes to rifles, and as far as I can tell, that could have been because I shot the Winchester ammunition last and had finally gotten used to the rifle.

I finally moved the target to 100 yards and adjusted the sights – the Hog ammunition was about an inch high with a nice group – the Fusion ammunition was about three inches high (higher listed velocity), so I readjusted for the Fusion ammunition and shot a great group, wrapping up my sight in for the day.

I can’t wait to go back to Georgia Gun Club – if I lived half an hour closer, I’d buy a membership in a heartbeat.

With both Redneck Archery Club and Bad to the Bone shutting down this year (if I hear any change I’ll post an update), it looks like the only shoots within an hour of my house are River Bottom Outdoors and Sweetwater Archery.  I’m not certain about the Bowden Bowhunter’s Supply shoot, I’ve never driven out to their location since their shoots were almost always on top of our 323 Archery shoots, but according to Google Maps the center of Bowden is 56 miles away from me.


River Bottom Outdoors – December 2015

I’ll be doing more posts this year – last year was a very light ‘outdoors’ year for me, other than the bear hunt and three archery shoots, I didn’t really do much. The bear hunt was fantastic, but flying to Maine forced me to really, really go minimal on gear and clothing, and I would have liked to explore North Maine Woods more than I did the last two trips.

This year will be much, much different. I’m getting outside more often and ranging further than ever.  To start with, my wife bought me a gift certificate to hunt with Hog Wild USA – I’ll be contacting the outfitter shortly to figure out the details of the hunt.  I still don’t know if I am going to hunt with my bow or rifle, I have a new Mossberg Patriot .308 that I’m itching to use, but part of me wants the quiet intensity of using my PSE Freak SP instead.

1919172_1243314879017110_5098565386199790728_nAnyone who has a request or comment can visit the 323 Archery FaceBook page – if you want photos of your outdoor activities uploaded to the site (or the Gable Fishing website) just let me know through FaceBook and I’ll get right on it.

In the meantime, I’ll be practicing with my PSE Xpression and enjoying every minute I can get out in the woods.

Good luck and be safe in your outdoor activities in 2016!

It’s sad, but fun at the same time – I always forget SOMETHING.  Usually something amazingly goofy, but not actually a deal breaker.  Once it was my sleeping bag (which I don’t need on this trip), another time I got 20 minutes from the house and realized that my tree stand was still sitting in the garage.

I’ve done this so many times that it’s now a game. I make a list about a month out, edit it and add or take things off, then when I pack, I usually see something that HAS to go with me, or realize “Oh, crap, I never put my camera gear on the list!” and have to find room for a camera bag and whatnot. Sometime’s there’s a facepalm moment of ‘Oh CRAP!’  other times, I only realize that I should have brought something when, at the end of the trip, I realize how much easier the trip would have been if only I had brought that ONE THING!

Oh well, this is a guided hunt from an established base camp,PB Guide Service, so most of the list boils down to street clothes, hunting clothes, rifles, ammunition, and camera gear. (…and CPAP, and over the counter medicine such as Immodium and ibuprofen, etc.)

I’ll upload photos when I get back – there isn’t really much in the way of cell service up there.

As a side note, the oak trees at my place just west of Atlanta are LOADED with acorns already, so this should be a good year to hunt over acorns. (Or, as Danny says, ‘a’KERNS.’ He also calls a scrape a ‘pawled spot,’ like he combined pawed and bald spot into one word.  I try to keep him away from sugar…)

Hips Archery Targets has a new website: stop by and take a look! (Click the image to go to the website)


You can buy Hips Archery Targets at Gable Sporting Goods, we have them in stock now!


From the NRA Hunter’s Rights YouTube channel.


Click to view my Twitter profile

Click to view my Twitter profile

I spend a lot of time lurking on Twitter and FaceBook.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m almost always doing other things too, I just keep the feed running and try to spot photos and key words that I’m interested in. (For me, that’s anything related to: hunting, fishing, archery, firearms, physics, climatology, astronomy, history, the film industry, books, and cooking. Yeah, I stay busy.)  One of the repeated themes I’ve seen, year after year, is the ‘countdown to hunting season!’  I even have a widget here on the page that I sometimes use to count down to the next shoot, or Turkey season, Deer season, etc.

It occurred to me the other day that this isn’t really the right mindset.  I was reading something  Mark posted over at Wired to Hunt , and shortly after that I saw somebody post how many days until the start of season, and I thought ‘wait, that isn’t right, we’ve got so much to do between now and then to get ready for season, it’s like season never ends.’   That’s when I decided I was going to make a list of things that needed done, by month, to get ready for the HARVEST season.  You see, we can scout, plant food plots or keep feeders full, place and move trail cameras, etc. all year long (depending on your state, or your location in the state, some places feeders are illegal, etc. CHECK YOUR LOCAL REGULATIONS) so we’ve moved from being seasonal hunters to a more farm-like mindset.  End of season scouting tells us how the ‘livestock’ have fared, collecting sheds gives us an idea of the local population of bucks, planting food plots or feeding through the winter helps the herd survive, practicing our shooting skills through the spring with 3D shoots, etc.

So, while not finished, here are my monthly thoughts on ‘what to do through the year.’  Keep in mind I don’t HAVE a piece of property to put a food plot on, at this point I am hunting on public land almost entirely.  Also keep in mind that I shoot 3D both as a pro-staffer for Hips Archery Targets and as a Gable Sporting Goods staff shooter, so nine months of the year, ‘shoot 3D tournaments’ is on the list.  Also, this isn’t a comprehensive list, I thought of this yesterday, and literally made decisions on what goes on the list as I sit here in front of my computer.  I’m sure I’ve left things off, and keep in mind that this is MY list. If you have hunting property, you’ll need to add in working on food plots, or moving stands, etc.  I don’t have a need for those items, because I have to pull my stand out every night on public land.


  • End of season, look at trails and consider needs for the coming year in terms of gear and property.
  • Look at the gear I have, make repairs and decisions on replace or discard various damaged pieces of equipment.
  • Watch for clearance gear from various sources (including social media.)
  • Reset bow for 3D tournaments, shoot 3D tournaments


  • Archery 3D season picks up, practice form and shot sequence, continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Scout local Wildlife Management Areas while small game hunting. (DID NOT DO, meant to, just didn’t get out and do it.)
  • Shed hunt local Wildlife Management Areas.


  • Continue to shed hunt
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Talk to various people regarding finding hog, turkey, and deer hunting opportunities
  • Turkey season starts, note down deer and hog sign while turkey hunting


  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Evaluate my firearms – are there any that I can sell or trade, do I need to purchase more ammunition
  • Be aware of deer and/or hog sign while turkey hunting*
  • Continue to look for property
  • Fishing for stripers on Lake Allatoona
  • Continue to hunt turkey and make notes


  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • More fishing
  • Continue to look for property
  • Plan trail cam use for summer, write down a plan
  • Turkey season ends, check notes for possible trail cam locations


  • Scout local Wildlife Management Areas and check turkey hunting notes for likely trail cam use
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments
  • Place trail cam (I am very leery of this on a WMA, I have ONE trail cam, and I don’t want to have it stolen.)
  • Double check climbing harness and climbing stand for damage.
  • Make tentative plans for using vacation in the fall
  • Apply for quota hunts with the Georgia DNR
  • Make a calendar of important dates for various seasons and hunts on public land


  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Continue to shoot 3D tournaments, shoot the state championship
  • Scout more Wildlife Management Areas, talk to rangers if possible.
  • Continue to look for hunting property
  • Check firearms for accuracy, sight in again if needed, double check ammunition
  • Discuss hunting trips with my hunting friends


  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Small game season starts, leverage small game hunting to scout for big game
  • Make plans for the opening of archery season
  • Firm up vacation plans for hunting season
  • Check supply of scent free products
  • Set up hunting bow, shoot season-prep tournaments


  • Archery season starts
  • Continue to scout for firearm season while hunting
  • Continue to look for property
  • Re-examine gear to determine if any changes are needed
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted
  • Note acorn development, discuss with other hunters


  • Continue to bowhunt
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted
  • Take notes of any hog sign
  • Take notes of rub lines or long distance deer sightings


  • Check notes so far for the year, try to develop doe patterns for the rut
  • Check trail cam, move if warranted.
  • Take notes on movement, look for the beginning of the rut.
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Hunt the rut.


  • Hunt the end of the rut and post-rut
  • Check trail cam, pull it after the last day of hunting
  • Note down any turkey sign or encounters for spring turkey season
  • Examine notes and list from the year, make changes if needed for the next year.


This also isn’t meant to be some obsessive/compulsive “Oh, DARN, I forgot to do X!” list, it just breaks down what I would (or should) do for the months.  For example, EVERY YEAR I say I’m going to small game hunt through February, to scout, shed hunt, and put some squirrels in the freezer.  I never do. Ever.  Because 3D season is in full swing, and if I’m not at a 3D shoot, I’m planning to run one, practicing for the next one, or saying ‘Screw it, it’s raining, I’m going to watch The Avengers again!’  I’m just glad nobody’s grading me on it. 🙂

This squirrel approves

This squirrel approves



Article by Slaton L. White. Uploaded on November 27, 2013

Click to go to the reviews

Click to go to the reviews

Photos by Cliff Gardiner and John Keller (Blinds). Illustrations by Jason Lee

Portable ground blinds are more popular than ever—for good reason. They appeal to older hunters who no longer want to climb trees and to parents looking to share the outdoors with a child while keeping everyone’s feet on terra firma. Ground blinds have utterly transformed turkey hunting for bowhunters, and for the rest of us they simply go where treestands can’t. Hub-style blinds—which stuff into a bag and have an integrated frame for fast setup and takedown—are the favorites in this category. We had four hunters test four models during turkey and deer seasons to see which offered the best portability, concealment, and utility.

Alex Buecking, 26
• Home Hunting Area: Montana
• Days Hunted Per Year: 15

Eric D. Greene, 40
• Home Hunting Area: Texas
• Days Hunted Per Year: 10

Tim James, 35
• Home Hunting Area: Indiana
• Days Hunted Per Year: 10

Bill Kramer, 40
• Home Hunting Area: Pennsylvania
• Days Hunted Per Year: 40

★ Piece of Sheet
★ ★ Plastic Tarp
★ ★ ★ Hunt House
★ ★ ★ ★ Secret Lair
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Invisibility Cloak

Red the four reviews at Field & Stream