Friday, November 30, 2012

Kryptek Hunting Apparel

Last summer was a long summer with extra shifts I picked up because of the lack of firefighters hired at that time. I decided that with the money saved from working extra shifts this last summer I wanted some of the NEW gear that I had seen on the web. It's called Kryptek! 

Kryptek was founded by two Military combat vets! If you visit the Kryptek site you can read more about Josh Cleghom and Butch Whiting. I had the pleasure of talking to Josh several times while in the process of buying my new camo and man what a great person he is. I don't mind saying that I like the idea of supporting a company started by two vets. As a veteran of Desert Storm, I am very proud to be the fifth generation of combat vets in my family. I am also as proud to be a part of the brotherhood of Firefighters and believe deeply that I was put on this earth by God to serve in the capacity I have. 

So I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all the Service Men, Woman, Police officer, Firefighter and Emergency Medical Personal for the work they do in our communities and world wide. 

So on to the task at hand: My review of the Krytek hunting apparel. I bought everything I could afford... hat, pants, jacket, vest, etc., all in the Highlander pattern.

First impression: Mail was delivered at the front door and the box was rather heavy. I excitedly tore open the box to find my excitement was not over reaction. The camo I ordered felt as good as it looked!

The Cadog Soft Shell is a medium-weight, fleece lined jacket with numerous pockets and the corresponding pants have knee pads built right into them! The Sherpa shirt is a base Layer with a light weight fleece lining, which features a 3/4 zip neck. The vest is made from the same material as the pants and jacket and has elastic rubber style chest pockets built into it. I also bought the Alaios pants for antelope hunting.  And finally, to complete the system I bought the Face mask or hood and the hat to match it all. 

I'll start by saying the material performed really well in the woods.  It is a quiet material which is ideal for a bowhunter trying to remain completely silent.  I honestly was a bit skeptical because of the slight sheen of the materiel, but as you will see in the below picture, I shot my elk at only 12 yards!

My 2012 Bull died @ 25 yards
The places that I hunted elk this year provided a nice easy hike in and out, so no real hard hiking, but if you are going to hike in several miles (like we did last year) you probably don't want to wear the fleece lined pants into your hunting area cause you will be really hot. 

The pants I found to be great because they don't get in the way and make you feel like you just put on a Michelin man costume. Starting down low, Velcro straps are put in place around the ankles to keep pant legs down.  In addition, a rubber strap is sewn on the inside to keep them from ridding up. (Thanks for the fore thought on that one guys!)  One piece of advice... Don't forget to adjust the Velcro prior to hunting because it may cause you grief if it has to be pulled apart on a stalk to adjust it.  

Bravo on adding zippers on all the pockets!  There are two pockets on the outside of calves, which I use to put my licenses and wallet in, then two additional pockets on the outside of thighs. I have seen some pants where the pockets are located on top of the thighs, which to me is uncomfortable (like MOP suits - Military will understand that one!).  Of course, the normal style front and rear pockets are included.  

Some additional features on the pants I like... knee pads and Velcro at the waist.  There are built in knee pockets and a strap to keep the knee pads in place, which works great!  The knee pads come in a thin light weight pad or a thicker heavier weight pad. The waist band also has non-slip rubber around the inside, and Velcro so you can go with or without a belt.

The Jacket is just as well built and as thought through as the pants. Being built by two Vets, you can see some of the ideas for the gear came from flight suits and military BDU's (battle dress uniform), e.g, the ankle pockets on the pants and bicep pockets on the jackets. The bicep pocket is another nice pocket to have for little extras.  In addition to the bicep pocket, two chest pockets and an inside pocket are included. So there are lots of pockets!  

I still like to show my patriotism, and since there are Velcro shoulder patches I can easily attach my American flag patch. I also like the high collar on the jacket with zipper fold at top to keep my beard from being caught in the zipper! Otherwise... Ouch!!

The Sherpa shirt was a welcome addition on the cool mornings with and after taking off the jacket to place the vest over the shirt it was the perfect combination for late morning and early evenings. 

i also mentioned that I had bought the Alaios Pants for Antelope hunting. The Alaios pants heave all the same great attributes the cadog pants have and are nice and light weight for the hot summer days. the only one down fall I found with these pants is that they faded severely after only a handful of washes. 

Let me break it down for you...

  • Cost:  A little expensive, but all good camouflage is now days. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and buy a good set!
  • Build:  I have had a couple of stitches pop in the crotch area, but haven't talked with Kryptek yet to try and have them fixed.  Other than that, it is a well built camo line.
  • Design:  Well designed with numerous pockets, Velcro and non-slip rubber.
  • Comfort and Usability:  I give it a solid B+ maybe an A-  (as we all know - there is always room to improve)   
For the price paid, I feel I received a GREAT set of hunting apparel and would definitely buy it again.

I hope you liked my Kryptek review.  Please share with me your thoughts and opinions on this camo line.  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A City on Fire: Part I

       As many of my friends know I'm a Firefighter, but what most don't know is that my department also has two stations designated specifically as Wildland firefighting stations due to our larger urban interface. You see, Colorado Springs is where we call home and we have one of the largest urban interfaces in the United States.  This past couple of weeks it proved to be a great asset to have this versatility in our department. With the temperatures being so high and the moisture being so low, our Fire department (CSFD) implemented a Wildland Severity Patrol. This is a patrol in the treed and mountainous regions, or as most firefighters know it, the "urban interface" where some of our community have built their homes. On Saturday the 23st of July, this patrol proved to be an asset for our department because of a fire that started in the United States Forest Service (USFS) property and ended up threatening structures in a subdivision that was right up against the USFS boundaries. We were sitting down to lunch at around noon on Saturday when we were toned out for a wildfire west of Colorado springs which was growing rapidly.
The chiefs on duty set a large group of apparatus in the direction of the community that was first to be threatened. Upon arrival, we started doing what we were trained to do in the wildland arena. The first priority pointed out to us was to mitigate around the communication tower and water tank on the hill above the Cedar Heights subdivision. The reason for this was very clear. The communication tower is how the utility controlled the turning on and off of the pumps for the water tanks, and in addition to that, the tower was what we needed to communicate on our radios. So we headed up to this location to start cutting down trees and cutting brush around this critical assets. When we arrived, we were met by climbers and hikers. We immediately gave them directions to evacuate the mountain as we were pulling off chain saws to go to work. We had been cutting for maybe five minutes when the utility wildland groups chief showed up stating we need to clear the mountain because they were getting ready to paint the mountainside we were working on. Now when they say "paint the mountain," that means the heavy air tankers were getting ready to drop a slurry on the trees in front of the fire to try and stop the fire's progress. As we packed the saws up, the engine boss quickly took a couple of pictures of the fire as it topped the hill on the other side of the valley heading our way.  Now this is the biggest wildfire I have been on to date, and this actually gave me a true pucker factor!

        After returning to our safe zone (a place away from the fire where we could go for safety if the fire were to get to close), we were assigned to go down to Glen Eyrie to prepare it in case the fire were to reach Queens Canyon and make a run down to the castle. Once Glen Eyrie was prepped and ready, my unit was sent back to Cedar Heights above Glen Eyrie for structural protection. As the night progressed, we continued to triage the homes close to the fire front. As we prepped and triaged the homes, we watched as the fire start setting spot fires a mile ahead of the flame front! Spot fire are from embers and other burning debris floating through the air, landing in the dry brush and causing small fires that could grow into larger fires which then creates a bigger problem. As the night went by the breeze grew less and less. With winds becoming calmer, this allowed for my crew and a hand crew from the forest service, to go in and put the spot fires out before they became a threat to the Subdivision of homes. Along with the firefighters fighting the blaze, it would be hard to stop the forward progression of the fire without the dozer operators from city utilities cutting a fire break to put a break in the fuels (trees and scrub oak) and the unburned fuels close to the homes. As the night came to a close and daylight beginning to make an appearance, my crew and I decide to catch a little shut eye.  So with a designated lookout watching the fire, we laid back in the uncomfortable seats to try and sleep. This became a task in itself due to our feet, knees and legs aching so bad!  So with all this on the first night of the fire, we were finally relieved of our post at 11:00 A.M. the next day nearly 24 hours into the fight and many more days to come for a City On Fire!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

DIY Hunts - Western Style

Wow! It has been a long time since I last posted and a lot has happened in my world! I won't get into it, but here's a brief recap on my fall hunting season... 

Thank the Lord for such a wonderful year in the mountains of Colorado. I spent the complete month of September hiking around in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. So much time that it took the last month to heal my blood blistered feet. Yes, that's a lot of hiking, and yes, it was well worth it.  As you can see I was blessed with another Colorado 5x5 bull elk. That's four bulls and one cow in the past six years. Now granted these are not the bulls you see on DVD's bought at your local sporting goods store, but they mean as much to me as any guided private property big bull. See my wife and I don't have the funds ($) to go on big guided hunts shown on TV, so everything we do is DIY and trust me when you DO IT YOURSELF it means a lot more to you. The truth is that most people only get an elk once every five to eight years when not being guide by a professional guide, but if you do your homework, the game and fish websites give up a lot of good information on the population of animals in each area and the bull to cow ratios in the areas.

     You don't get a 12,000 foot view like this sitting at home wishing you could go hunting in the Rocky Mountains.  Ya know, I hate to think that I could have been up looking over God's creation and instead I'm sitting on my butt at home. For DIY hunting most anyone can afford it if they really want to do it, it just takes a lot of computer time and a little extra money to do it. Think about it, if you spent as much time studying hunting areas as you do watching TV and save as much money as you spend on stuff you don't really need, e.g., soda, candy, cigarettes, snuff or whatever else you might buy, then you could afford to go hunting out west. My Dad always told me "where there is a will there is a way." I know this because I went on my first whitetail hunt in Kansas and my wife's tag and mine cost me as much as an out-of-state elk tag. So, I had to give a lot to get these tags and I know it can be done. There is a lot of great hunting not only in Colorado, but Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. So why not head up your buddies and spear head a DIY hunt next fall.  It's just about time to apply for tags in the Western states.  Maybe we will see YOU in the backcountry next year! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Hunting Season - Wish List

 While shed hunting up in the mountains this weekend, I realized my 2011 hunting season is just around the corner and I still have a list of goodies on my equipment list that need to be checked off:

  • Nikon SLR camera
  • Nikon Spotting scope
  • Hoyt Carbon Matrix PLUS
  • Russell's APX Hunting system

The first item on my list is a new Nikon SLR camera (actually it's for my wife but it attaches to the second item on my list so it's a win-win.)  The second item on my list - a new spotting scope from Nikon.  This system will allow me and my lovely wife to view and take pictures of the beautiful wildlife above timberline here in the Rocky Mtns.  For example, this buck posed for a picture a couple years back.  (He posed at about 30 yards.  This new camera set-up would have allowed us to have nice close up pics!)
Next on the list...  Hoyt Carbon Matrix PLUS!

I sold my 2010 Hoyt Carbon Matrix and put the money down on the new Hoyt Carbon Matrix PLUS. While at my local bow shop, I had the chance to shoot the 2011 and immediately liked what I was feeling upon releasing the string. The Matrix Plus has a good back wall and felt tight in my hand with no vibration upon releasing the arrow. This bow was one of the pro-staffer's bow at the shop (not even set up for me) and shot groups that would please any hunter. So hopefully the new Hoyt Carbon Matrix in Max-1 camo will arrive soon. Honestly, I didn't absolutely need a new Hoyt, but I did want the Max-1 camo pattern on my bow.  

Last but not least - I'm looking to get base layers for my Russell's APX hunting apparel.  This fleece layer will help with that little extra warmth in the morning hours before sun up while I'm awaiting the bucks to start feeding at timberline.  Even during the warm Sept days during archery season, the mornings can get a bit chilly in the mountains.  So it will be nice to have the extra layer!

That's my list for the Extreme season ahead! How about you, what's on your wish list for 2011 season?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

BadLands pack continued..

      I had my Badlands Ox backpack for the first time this last year and noticed a couple of minor changes I think would make the backpack a more hunter friendly pack. For example, I really like the pack itself but would like to see a minor change in the pack bladder system. I used the frame to haul out my elk this year and separated the pack from the frame to do so; however, when I did the bladder was left with the pack. There is no place to put your bladder for water while hauling out your meat. Now, this to me could pose a problem if a hunter is 3-5 miles in and hauling out his or her trophy.

The only other thing I would change on the pack is what I call "the Butt Bucket" that holds the butt of your rifle or lower limb of your bow. For the rifle it works fine, but the parallel limb bows do not quite fit in the removable pocket. Luckily my wife is handy with a sewing machine, so she cut an upside down "T" in it and is going to put a snap or strap at the top to secure the limbs from falling out.

So, my hope is that someone from Badlands sees this post and possibly looks into a few minor changes: 1) attach the bladder to the frame so its always with you and 2) builds a butt bucket that accommodates parallel limb bows.

Otherwise I love My Badlands OX!!!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Part 1: Elk Hunt from behind the Hoyt Carbon Matrix

  After a less than stellar 2010 high altitude deer season, I was looking forward to my elk season with a new Carbon matrix by Hoyt. I had been shooting an older AR34 that, well, had it's time in the limelight and had harvested some fine animals, but I really liked the new look of the Matrix. After spending a lot of time and money setting this bow up, I wanted to harvest an animal with it. Elk season is always a great time for me to put something on the ground. I say this because I have been very blessed (as my hunting partner Alan would say) to have harvested four elk in the last five years.

So here is how my 2010 elk season unfolded...

It started out almost at a snails pace with high temperatures, little to no moisture, and a full moon which all contributed to non-existent elk. We finally caught a break with some rain on a Tuesday night and a cloud covered moon. After the light rain, the next morning started out with a "BANG."

We arrived to our hunting spot just before sun up. I jumped out of the truck and said, "I'm going to let out a cow call and see if I get a response." (Um a little pointer, don't do this unless you are ready for what might come!) Ten seconds later a small satellite bull came running and bugling to within 30 yards of the truck. WOW! we were not ready for that. So we gathered our equipment and dropped off the top of the mountain to our hunting area.

A short time later with the sun up, we set three hunters up front about 65 yards away from the caller. With my wife Emily, friends Todd and Jim all set up, I dropped back to start my calling sequence and almost immediately got a response. After about five minutes of calling I heard the sound of a bow release. Hoping that it was my wife's bow, I started calling to slow down the elk that hopefully had been hit and if not hit to keep it close for a second shot.

   I moved closer to the hunters and found out Todd had shot a bull at 23 yards. Unfortunately as happens all too many times the bull was shot back from the vitals and so we called to try to keep the bull calm and in the area. While calling, several other bulls were responding to us and one decided to come in. With the approaching bull, Todd dropped back to call while I set up for a shot. Now to keep the bull coming your caller has to be able to read the incoming elk. Unfortunately Todd is a little challenged in reading animals. So when the bull came in I had to do some of my own calling, causing the bull to stay back further than I like to shoot. But with the weather the way it was I knew I could make a longer shot. The bull came in and turned to run when he winded me, but with mouth call in place I let out a cow call and stopped him. It was a quartering away up hill shot. I set my pin behind his shoulder and released the arrow. The arrow flew true and straight and hit the bull in the lower front leg. GRRR! Anyone that knows anything about elk, knows that elk have hard, hard bones and even though it went through the leg into the chest cavity it might have only hit one lung. The truth be told it went under the close side lung and through the other. After sitting for thirty minutes I moved up to find my arrow and found a piece about 12" long of the 29 1/2" arrow.

  OK, so I'm writing this on Super Bowl Sunday.  Therefore, I'm going to watch the Super Bowl! Sorry, I'll finish with part II in the next week or so. Also in upcoming blog posts I'll be blogging about my own fitness challenge that will hopefully put me in a local firefighter calender and help me with my upcoming hunting season.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

High Altitude Experience

 I'm calling this an experience because I was not able to connect with the big velvet buck that I had hoped to get this year with my bow and yet we had a great time trying. Emily, Alan, Todd and myself left the road at 11:00 AM for the hike into the area we would be camping. We were headed to  approximately 12000 ft just above timberline. This is an area that I had watched some phenomenal mule deer bucks feeding in drainages the year prior and this year was no exception!

Don't think that I didn't have a chance at a buck this year, because I absolutely did. In fact I put several stocks on multiple nice velvet bucks, and a couple of them would have met the 160 class qualification I set for myself this year. Yet I was not able to seal the deal.  I set a qualification standard for my mule deer because I believe that if we want to keep quality mule deer in the mountains like whitetail hunters want to keep quality whitetails on the plains, I and other hunters need to set a standard for our trophy animals also.

I had watched these bucks several times and yet could not figure out what was causing me to not be able to seal the deal. I now realize I have to figure out my tactics and get my act together for next year since I will have very little time in the mountains for deer or elk.  The reason for little time this next season? I am planning on riding my Harley out to New York City for the ten year anniversary of 9-11. So hope I can get some time in next summer practicing my spot and stock tactics which will make my short time in the field more effective.

So, stay tuned!  I'll make sure to share things I learn about spot and stalk while scouting this spring for the upcoming hunting season.
2008 street Glide

See you soon. G2G