Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Hunting- Mid season review....Winners and Losers

Well, hunting season has been in full swing for several weeks now and while I've got several interesting hunts to write up and little time to do it in, here's a brief review of this season's winners and losers including a few new products I've tried.

Arctic Oven Pipeline Tent- Winner. My new favorite home away from home on vehicle supported hunts. I've used this tent about 30 days so far and it's wonderful. By mountaineering standards this is like a 6 man tent, but I'm not some spooning mountaineer. You could easily do four. I've used it for three without over crowding and it's a great tent for two guys and a LOT of gear. I used it solo for four days with the wood stove installed and it's the best of field shelters. Slept dry and snug through a few bouts of torrential rain and howling wind. Two enormous vestibules provide additional storage and there's enough tie outs to ensure it only comes off the earth via explosives.

Havalon Piranta- Winner. A tiny little knife that holds an autopsy scalpel blade. Wickedly sharp to the point of scary. It goes through critters like a light saber. I skinned an entire caribou on a single blade...when it's dull, simply discard and snap on a new one. It rankles the traditionalist in me, but this thing is sharper than any knife you'll own. A couple words of wisdom here- it's not REALLY a knife, it's a scalpel. DO NOT USE EXCESSIVE PRESSURE OR TWIST THE BLADE. It's not meant for that so leave popping ball joints to another knife. For the hunter not being a ham fisted fool, this thing is the bee's knees for it's meager price tag. You must keep your wits about you because you will cut yourself to the bone before you know it (second hand knowledge, thank God).

Badlands Bino Bivy- Winner. A chest harness that keeps your binoculars dry and secure. I've used mine about 45 days so far. It's a little bit heavy and a whole lot expensive, but it works well with a pack or by itself. It has an expandable pocket on the back that fits a rain jacket, extra layer or a water bottle. It has some interior pockets that work great for storing tags, ammunition, a fire starter, a Leatherman, etc.

Zippo 4-in-1- Winner. A unique multitool that features a small axe, a saw, a hammer head and a tent stake puller. I normally shun such things as being a collection of unsatisfactory compromises but this one is ok. Don't get me wrong I wouldn't want to cut a cord of wood with it, but for busting some kindling, sawing some limbs, or driving some tent stakes its a good deal. Mine lives in my tent bag and has perform great so far. It's strictly light duty but used in that role, it's good.

Now for the "Not so Good"...

My Back- Loser. I injured myself on opening day portaging a 90lb whitewater raft over a goat path of a trail around a waterfall. Only trip I'm glad to have not shot anything on. A boat load of doctor visits, pills, X-rays and a MRI. "Degenerative Disk Disease"...a misnomer that doesn't do it justice. Ouch.

Alaska Communications- Loser. Sort of. Expansions in infrastructure now mean I have cell service in a lot of my hunting area. I can no longer vanish into the wild and not be expected to stay in touch. Ugh. A bright side, I've been updated some Facebook stuff in real time. Slightly enjoyable in that regard.

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