No matter which way you decide to elk hunt, habitat will remain king. The adage that “elk are where you find them” always rings true. If the habitat doesn’t hold elk, then hunting it is a waste of time. The obvious question then is “How do you narrow down an entire unit into a few spots when a lot of the country looks the same?”Read More
After the backpack, the most critical items that will make or break your ability to keep a low pack weight are found in your sleep system. The sleep system to me is broken into three parts. The Shelter. The Sleeping Bag. The Pad. All three are critical and are the main components of a backpacking system that vary between overnight stays and day hunts. Most all of the other gear after the sleep system could as easily be found in a day pack as it could in a backpacking setup.Read More
The backpack to me is the foundation and the backbone of a hunting gear system. It holds almost everything other piece of gear, as well as enables the ability for incredible things. As a backcountry hunter, I essentially live and die by my backpack. If there is place that money is well spent on gear, a pack is without a question in my top 2-3.Read More
The skill set and fieldcraft can often be tough to describe, because many of the things I have learned along the way feel more like instinct than they do conscious thought, however there are a few general guiding principles that I can point you towards as you start on this journey.Read More
If more people are outside watching wildlife and fishing, and yet we’re still losing hunters constantly, maybe we the hunters are responsible for at least some portion of this. Surely the team dividing has an effect when a new hunter gets interested and looks into the sport. Surely the guys that are too “hardcore” and dedicated to hunt with a new hunter also play a part.Read More
2019 is the first year that mechanical broadheads are legal in my home state of Oregon. Naturally, I am curious to explore the realm of mechanical broadheads, especially as someone who obsesses over accuracy with my compound equipment. The SEVR broadhead was the first mechanical I purchased after the 2018 season, and after having them since January, I'm quite happy with the purchase.
There is a bit of background to why I became interested in a mechanical broadhead in the first place. At one point in time, I swore I wouldn't shoot them even if they were someday legalized. However, after seeing close friends around the country have great success with them, and then also identifying the short comings of fixed blade broadheads in some major ways, my mind has opened up to the use of them a bit. This is by no way me making a claim for mechanical broadheads over fixed blades, in fact Ill be the first to admit that I haven't even hunted with the SEVR yet. I do however think they hold a lot of potential as a broadhead.
No broadhead is perfect in all scenarios. If you hit shoulder, and you'll want a strong fixed blade head. If you hit too far back toward the stomach, you might wish you had a mechanical. Steep downhill angles with bad footing... the mechanical will win again, where as a close range frontal shot is probably better with a fixed blade. Either way, they both have merit, but this post is about the SEVR specifically, and I will defer the broadhead debate until a later day.
SEVR Deep 6 100 Grain on Easton Arrow
Right out the package, the broadheads feel stout, especially for a mechanical. The titanium ferrule is strong and stiff, and the blades feel as durable as and fixed blade that has replaceable blades. Consistency is also very good across the 7 that I have.
Mine all weigh in within 3/10ths of a grain of each other on a powder scale, which is quite accurate. I tested my field points for a reference, and they weighed in at 100.0 exactly. My SEVR heads weigh in between 98.6 and 98.9 grains right out of the box. The machining tolerances appear to be very tight, and it appears that the .3 difference in weight variation may actually be coming from the O-rings supplied to hold the blades. I haven't tested that quite enough though to say so definitively. It is important to note for reference that I have the 100 grain Deep-six model.
SEVR Deep 6 Broadhead Weight of 98.6 Grains
Easton Deep 6 100 Grain Field Point
From the package it doesn't seem to matter which arrow and broadhead I screw together, they all spin like a dream. I have long been a stickler for making sure my arrows are prepped and squared properly when I build them, but either way these heads spin as well as anything I have bought before. I have not found any issues whatsoever in regards to straightness or run out in the set I have.
Sharpness is probably the largest downfall I've seen to the SEVR broadhead so far. While the heads aren't miserably dull, they just don't feel hair popping sharp either. The grind on the blades is fairly rough, and isn't honed to a fine edge like I'd like. It's definitely possible to hone the blades upon receiving them, which is what I will most likely do, but it'd be nice to need to.
SEVR Broadhead Open
Blade angle I suppose is a lot of the give and take relationship of a mechanical head. While the 2.1" cutting diameter does punch a big hole, it does so by a fairly aggressive blade angle, which doesn't do penetration any favors. For me, this is less of an issue as I shoot an 80# bow, and a relatively heavy at arrow. Even with the blade angle and loss of energy to open the head, my bow should easily drive this setup through anything up through elk, as long as the arrow hits where I want it to and doesn't encounter any significant bone.
The blade angle though, like I had mentioned, is a give and take. By having a more aggressive angle, the blades and ferrule are reduced in overall length, which helps increase durability and straightness.
SEVR makes a pretty big deal about this feature, as did the Ulmer edge. Personally I don't think its a bad thing. I like how the blades lock into the open position, but still fold forward some so that the broadhead isn't considered barbed. I suppose in just the right scenario the pivoting blades could help as the head grazes by a bone and narrowly avoids it, but I doubt this scenario is really all that much of an issue most of the time. From what I have seen with major bone contact, the entire arrow is dead centered into bone when problems occur.
The ability to practice with the exact broadhead is a huge selling point for me on the SEVR broadhead. A set screw and a couple extra O-rings are provided with each broadhead. By placing the set screw into the ferrule, the blades are locked shut, and can be shot without opening. This provides exact testing specific to each arrow-broadhead combination before heading to the field with it in your quiver. Two things sold me on the SEVR broadhead and this was one of them. Shooting them this way has lived up exactly how I expected it to.
For me this was it. Accuracy was the very first and primary reason that I bought some SEVR broadheads to try. I can happily say that they have lived up to every bit of my expectations in this department.
Fixed blade broadheads, no matter how well they're tuned, always have an issue when it comes to very steep shots at severe angles, and especially when bad footing is present. Anyone who is honest with themselves and knows enough about technical archery knows that your bow is effectively detuned when your shooting position and form are compromised. Unfortunately for those of us that hunt in the mountains, that is quite often on every shot.
This is the first broadhead I have ever been able to shoot on a bare shaft without fletches. To me, this is an incredible feat. Every mechanical broadhead I've ever tried this with (out of a compound) end up planning off in some direction, and typically snaps the arrow in half as the broadhead buries into the ground at a poor angle. The SEVR has repeatedly shot right with fletched field tip arrows out to 60 yards with no difference in group size. It flies incredibly well.
A large part of this with the SEVR is its design that leaves almost no blade surface exposed when folded up. This makes it incredibly arrow dynamic, and combined with its tight tolerances, makes it a dream to shoot.
SEVR Broadhead in Package
So far I'll give this broadhead an 8.5/10. Its a really solid broadhead, and its only downside to me is the lack of sharpness, and possibly the blade angle. I think a 1.75" version of similar size with an improved angle (and sharper blades) would make this broadhead perfect in my eyes. That being said, I'm not sure if you could find one that's more accurate to shoot. At the end of the day, an arrow flying straight and hitting the right spot will have all the penetration it needs.
April 28th found me leaving the house at 4am to make the nearly 600 mile drive to Idaho. It was a little last minute as I hadn't planned to hunt bears until a bit later in May, but I had a couple slow days at work coming up, and it was my birthday. It was a good excuse to talk my wife into the idea, and I took off solo that morning to cross the state. I pulled into the trailhead at about 3PM and started to put my pack together.Read More
So by now I've spent over 60 nights in the Cabela's Alaknak since last October when I bought it, and I honestly don't have anything bad to say about it that I can think of. Its s synthetic tent, but its still burly, weighing in at well over 60 lbs.Read More
The Hilleberg Akto was intoruduced in 1995, and has since become one of the most renowned single person shelters. After more than two decades of use, it has stood the test of time for good reason.
Brilliant would sum up my opinion of it. By utilizing a tunnel tent design, the Hilleberg Akto needs only one pole to achieve its great strength. This one pole combined with its six guylines and four additional staking points makes the tent feel as stout as bunker when correctly pitched.
By also utilizing the built in square framing on the ends, this tent achieves a great two layer design, with full separation between the layers of fabric. Doing so provides for great ventilation and air movement when the 3 vents on the tent are utilized.
With the additional internal vestibule, and side entry, getting in and out of this tent is simple and easy.
The vestibule provides ample space for an entire kit of solo backpacking gear. It also makes a dry area to get your boots on and off without dragging them into the tent, or leaving them out in the weather.
After all, it is a Hilleberg. Not much more needs to be said than that alone.
The Kerlon 1200 fabric and 9mm DAC aluminum pole are fantastic. Combine this with quality craftsman ship, and this tent will easily last for decades of use outdoors.
This is my favorite part of the Hilleberg Akto. It’s incredibly robust in all conditions. Wind, snow, rain... none of them seem to phase it in my experience.
With true four season capabilities, the Hilleberg Akto has suited me very well in all seasons of mountain hunting over the past 7 years. When I purchased it originally, I was more attracted by how lightweight it was, but over time its strength has impressed me.
The Akto falls into Hilleberg’s Red Label line of tents, which provide four season strength at the lightest possible weight.
Several times I’ve had this tent in sustained winds over 50 mph, and it’s come out the other side without a sign of wear. I have enjoyed many comfortable nights, despite horrendous storms in this tent.
There are lighter tents around, but most of them would be stretching the imagination to even classify as three season capable.
Mine packed with a full set of titanium stakes and Dyneema guyline weighs in right at three lbs. Heavier than some lighter duty tents, but for a true four season shelter, I haven’t found a design that can match it.
For fair weather trips I often lean towards a hilleberg tarp, but when the weather is questionable to poor, I always reach for the Akto. Knowing that this small three pound package has my back no matter what is a nice peace of mind.
Ease of Use
As someone who moves camp most days while hunting, I like a tent that is easy and fast to setup and take down.
I can easily set up or take down this tent in just a couple of minutes by myself. With the single pole design, there isn’t much more to do than remove the stakes and fold the pole. An oversized stuff bag helps for quick take down as well, and within minutes I can have camp broken down and be on my way.
I have found this speed and ease of set-up/tear-down to be very important for me while hunting. It makes for less wasted time and energy each morning when I need to get on my way before daylight.
From sea level, to mountaineering trips, to backcountry hunting, I have carried the Akto all over the NW United States. While it’s one downside could be that it’s not a freestanding design, I have always found a way to get the tent pitched in every situation.
While it is strong enough for late season snow storms, it has also proved to have adequate ventilation for spring and summer use.
The Akto is easily my favorite shelter of the 5 or so that I own. Sure there are times where I cut some weight and take a good tarp, but nothing feels as much like home as this tent. The Hilleberg Hotel is always a welcomed sight at the end of the day.
Compound bow tuning. Frustrating to some, a favorite hobby of others. Over the years, tuning and archery tech have become the most enjoyable part of archery to me throughout the winter months after the previous season has passed. Over time, as I have learned more each year, I have developed a systematic tuning approach to make sure that my equipment is properly set up for the upcoming season.
I’m not the guy who buys a new bow every year. Instead I prefer to shoot a bow for about 5 years. This allows me to learn the bow, how it works, and how to best tune it. My current bow for sake of my process below, is a 2017 Hoyt Pro Defiant 34. It has the 2.1 cams set at 28” of draw length, and it is pulling 80.6# according to my scale. My current arrow setup is a 4mm Easton carbon injexion cut to 27” and with 100 grain deep six points. This yields an arrow a little over 450 grains that shoots through the chrono at 291 FPS.
Why Tune Your Bow Yourself?
Before I walk you through how I tune, I want to address a couple things. First, why should you tune your bow yourself? After all there are a lot of pro shops that can tune very well, better than me in cases I’m sure. However, unless they are tuning that bow while it is shot from your hand, the bow most likely won’t shoot the same for you. If you’re dropping a bow off to get tuned and Picking it up later, it most likey won’t shoot perfect when you pick it up.
Secondly, the attention to detail. At best most shops will paper tune your bow. As I will describe below, paper tuning is my rough starting point. It lets me know that I’m close. However, you can make a lot of adjustments without a paper tear changing on a fletched shaft.
For these two reasons I have found it both more practical and more effective to do my own bow setup and tuning. I take a lot of pride in knowing that no one else has been responsible for touching any part of my bow. I also feel that since I began doing this tuning process myself, I have gotten much better results in terms of down range accuracy.
The biggest downside to doing your own work on a compound bow is the investment in the equipment. There is no way to do this well and in a safe manner for the bow without a quality bowpress. In addition to that an arrow saw, bow vise, serving, pliers, levels, etc are all things that are necessary or very close to mandatory.
The big one for most people I’m assuming will be the bow press. For me personally, it has been one of the best investments I’ve made, and it has allowed my shooting and accuracy to move to an entirely different level. So, if you are serious about getting your archery equipment absolutely perfect, I can’t help but to recommend buying a good quality bow press.
Make sure to check and see which bow presses are approved by the manufacturer of your bow. Many of the good ones work almost universally with various bows, but some times there may be an extra adapter or bracket to ensure that you don’t do damage to your bow limbs.
This where everything starts for me. A bad string is a bad foundation to build everything else. A great bowstring is an absolute must for consistency. Personally I will take stability and consistency any day over speed from a string.
When it comes to a string there are a few things to decide on. First being the string material, second being the serving material. After that I suppose colors come into play. While no one wants an ugly looking string, the looks are far behind the importance of the first two factors I mentioned.
Once I have my string and cable set picked out and in hand, I go ahead and install it, and get the timing roughly set on the cams. I don’t care if it’s perfect, I just want it to be somewhat even so I can shoot 40-60 arrows through the bow.
Typically I do this at 5 yards or so and just pound them into a target. It can be a good time to work on some form with a hinge release, or you can just power through the process. The point here is to get the string settled in to where it will stay on the bow for the rest of its life.
I’m going to leave the setup out of this post for now, and possibly address it later. However, after my string is installed this is where I would tie in my peep at the correct height, serve my mocking points, tie my d-loop and level the 2nd and 3rd axis of my sight. There are several great videos on YouTube if you need to learn how to tie any of these setups into place on a string.
Timing and Center Shot
After the string is settled I go back to the press first and set the timing of the cams. This just means that I am making sure that the draw stops on my bow hit the cables at the exact same time. This is done with either a draw board or a hanging hook, and then drawing the bow back and watching for when the draw stops contact in comparison to each other.
While doing this I will also check the poundage of the bow. If it is under peak weight spec, I will add twists to the cables to bring the weight up, and if it is over, I will take twists out of my cables as I adjust the timing. If the poundage is close I may choose to add twists to make adjustments or add from one end and take from the other.
Being careful to only make full twists in the cable ends helps avoid serving separation. Never make a half twist in a cable the attaches to the cam of the bow, as it will force the memory the serving is holding into the opposite direction. This will often cause your served ends to separate and fall apart.
After I have set my timing, I will then set my rest using the arrow that I will be shooting. I set the rest to hold the arrow perfectly level, and exactly at the centershot that the manufacturer recommends. This is my zero point, and ideally exactly where I want the rest to remain if possible.
Paper Tuning: Coarse Adjustment
Now I will grab a couple arrows and something that will allow me to shoot through paper. There are a lot of ways to build something to paper tune with, but if you’re in a pinch just cut a square hole out of a cardboard box and tape some paper over it. This works just fine.
I try to keep the front of my bow about 6 feet from the target while paper tuning. I will then shoot two or three arrows through the paper and analyze the tear. There are great pieces of literature on what each paper tear means, so instead of me re-inventing the wheel, you can do some more digging to figure out how to correct tears with your bow.
Depending on your paper tear, and what type of bow you have will dictate where you go from here. This step alone is why I am also not much of a fan of certain bow brands. Not because they don’t work, but rather because I don’t like to tune them. With a hoyt, I will fix my paper tear by yolk tuning.
I will take 1/2 twist out of one side of the split cable, and add 1/2 twist into the other. For a right handed shooter, if the tear is nock left, I add 1/2 twist to the left cable and remove from the right. For a nock right tear, I would do the opposite. Adding and removing equal twists will keep the cam timing relatively unchanged during this process.
After I have done that on the bowpress, I shoot again.
If after an adjustment the tear goes from one side to the other, say nock left to later nock right, then the adjustment has gone too far. If the adjustment was only 1/2 a twist in total, then I will go back to the previous adjustment, and then instead microadjust the rest a slight amount.
Lastly, if I have nock high or low tears during this, I will only address them before my left/right tear is corrected. If there is a problem, which there usually isn't if the arrow is set level, then I will adjust the height of the rest by 1/32” at a time either up for a nock low, or down for a nock high.
Bareshaft Tuning: Fine Adjustment
Now that I have a good paper tear with fletches, I move on to a bareshaft. To do this I start at 20 yards with 1 bareshaft and 1 fletched shaft. I will shoot them both and note the impact points. I will repeat this about 3 times.
The bareshaft will not correct itself after leaving the bow, so the goal here is to have the arrows as close together as possible. For me, I like to see them touching at 20 yards, or at least under 1” apart.
It is worth noting here though that if you can’t shoot 1” groups consistently at 20 yards with two fletched shafts, that you probably don’t have the form needed to bareshaft tune.
If the arrow impact a bit apart, I will now use the rest to fix these differences. With a good paper tune, the difference at 20 yards to start with shouldn’t be much more than a couple inches. Starting again with horizontal spread, I will move the rest to the right if the bareshaft impacts left, and opposite if it impacts right.
For vertical spreads I will also move the rest in the direction I want the bareshaft to move. So if the bareshaft is low I will move the rest up and vice versa if it is high in comparison to the fletched arrow.
These adjustments are very small, and also why I would suggest that anyone buying a new rest should get one that is micro-adjustable. Being able to make a 1/64th inch adjustment here in a planned direction is very nice. Repeat this process until the shafts contact less than an inch apart for several groups in a row.
Lastly to finalize my bareshaft tuning, I will go back to the paper and shoot a bareshaft through it at 6’. The hole should be perfect if the rest of the bareshaft tuning was done correctly. If it isn’t perfect, I will typically go back to shooting at 20 yards, or maybe extend to 30 yards to refine what I’m looking at a bit more. It is difficult for me to tell the nock end from the point end on a bareshaft paper tear, so I prefer to do it by shooting groups as described above.
Once this is done, my bow is fully tuned and now just needs sighted in. I’ve played with this in the past, and if my bareshafts will shoot a bullet hole through paper, they will also group with a fletched shaft out to 80+ yards.
Tuning a bow isn't nearly as hard or complicated as it is made out to be. With the right tools, and a little bit of practice you can have confidence to perform any task your bow may need.
Are you looking to improve what foods you carry with you on backpacking trips? In this article I describe some of the factors I consider when picking backpacking foods, as well as go through my favorites and usual choices.Read More
In the past I struggled with finding a shelter that was condensation free, because I hated rubbing my shoulders against the water coated walls of my shelter in the morning. Or in a worse scenario, being awoken in the middle of the night by water droplets raining down on me from sort of micro weather inside my shelter or tent. Shelter design does play a role in the equation, but the other factors at play seem to rarely get mentioned, so I hope that I can shed some light on things to think about when you’re setting up a camp.First though, I want to talk a little bit about the basic premise of what’s going on. Simply put, condensation is water from below the canopy of your shelter collecting on the non breathable layer of fabric as the air temperature cools and is unable to carry as much water vapor. It’s the same thing that occurs inside of rain gear from our bodies while it is in use. Breathable rain gear seeks to address the issue by allowing water vapor to escape, but while it helps, the rate at which it escapes is usually too slow to keep up with the amount of moisture being put off by our bodies especially under high exertion.Typically shelters are not made with breathable fabrics, with the exception of bivy sacks. Bivy sacks usually suffer from the same problem as rain gear where the fabric is unable to breathe enough to allow the water vapor from either your breath, body or the combination of the two, to escape. Tents and tarps however, are not made from breathable fabrics, so the way which they deal with water buildup is through ventilation.Tarps will naturally have the least condensation, as airflow is pretty much unimpeded in most situations and can keep any buildup to a minimum. Having enough condensation on the belly of a tarp to cause dripping is rare except in very wet circumstances.Tents ventilate to a much lesser degree typically, but get around the problem with what I consider a band aid in some ways. By using a double layer construction the keep a layer of fabric between you and the outer non breathable fabric so that you don’t contact the wet surface of the outer wall. This makes life more comfortable, but it doesn’t keep the outer wall of the tent any drier, but rather just covers it up. The part or a tent that can help with condensation over a tarp or a single wall shelter is the waterproof floor. The floor will keep the water on the ground from entering the shelter.Single walled floorless shelters don’t breathe any less than a double walled shelter with equal ventilation, but they cut weight by removing the inner fabric, and can have more condensation at times due to the ground and any moisture it holds not being covered up by a floor. The introduction of a wood burning stove can dry condensation inside a shelter as well, but remember that much of the water will be absorbed into the warmer air, and will reform as condensation when the fire is out and the air temperature cools again.Tents intended for warmer weather and 3 season use often have much more ventilation in the form of large mesh panels which allow air to flow more freely. When possible, setting up a shelter with as much ventilation as you can will minimize condensation.The following are a couple ways that I have learned to pick camp locations that have helped me minimize condensation issues in all types of shelters.
Find Dry Ground
Simple but not always easy would sum this one up for me. If the weather has been wet, it sometimes becomes a case of picking the spot that is the least bad. If you look around though you’ll find dry spots, especially near or under trees in heavy forest canopy, or in open rocky areas with soil that drains water very rapidly. These areas hold much less water that will come from the ground under your shelter during the course of the night.
Plants hold a lot water, and some of that water will end up on the walls of your shelter. I look for areas clear of all grasses and forbes. Once again, sometimes this is a matter of finding the best site available if an ideal one isn’t present.
Keep Wet Gear Outside
This isn’t always the most practical in bad weather, but if you can find a dry spot to stash gear, or the weather has broke and your gear is still wet, keeping it outside will minimize the amount of water present inside the shelter.All 3 of these concepts will help to minimize the condensation that will form at night, but that doesn’t mean they are a cure all. The trick to a dry shelter is much like that of staying dry inside rain gear. There must be equal or more ventilation and airflow to overcome the amount of moisture present. Water vapor produced by your body and by breathing will always be present in the equation. However minimizing all the other introduced water when possible will keep things drier.It also doesn’t always take a lot to make a drastic difference. In one of my favorite hunting spots there are two old camp locations about 50 yards apart in a valley bottom. The first one will have so much condensation that it will rain under a shelter even in very dry weather. The second on is often bone dry inside a shelter even in prolonged rain. This was one of the first clear illustrations that taught me how much a little bit of difference in site selection can make.One last extra tip I have is to keep something to wipe the inner walls of your shelter off with in the morning. Doing so will help prevent mildew, will get your shelter to air dry faster during the day, and will avoid packing excess water weight in your pack when you load it back up. A small pack towel, or half of a sponge work well for this and they can be wrung almost completely dry and they weigh very little.