Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lucky Shot USA Review - 20MM Bottle Opener and 30MM Shot Glass

 Recently, I had the opportunity to review a 20MM Vulcan Bullet Bottle Opener as well as a 30mm A-10 Shell Shot Glass from Lucky Shot USA.  Just to give you a little bit of info on this company, Lucky Shot is a family owned and operated company who is dedicated to keep the military history alive through providing bottle openers, shot glasses, and many other products.  They make 12 gauge brass magnets, bullet casing tire valve covers, pens, and many other awesome items to help preserve the military heritage and way of life!  All of their products are built out of refinished/repurposed military munition which carry a significant meaning when using the product in a different setting.

With the 20MM Vulcan Bullet Bottle Opener, you get a card certifying it's authenticity which states: "This brass shell casing is authentic, fired by an procured from the US Military." The shell has been refinished, polished, and has had a expertly milled aluminum tip resembling the projectile for this round.  In case you were wondering what type of gun shoots a 20MM Vulcan round, this is the cannon style Gatling gun mounted on a F-16 Fighter jet.  If that doesn't impress you then I'm not sure what will...

The bottle opener is 3 times the size of a 50 cal. and measures out at just over 6 1/2 inches long.  This is definitely not a bottle opener you are going to lose or have a hard time finding when needed.  Needless to say, the product works well and opens bottles.  This review isn't necessarily to tell you how well it works, but more rather, to tell you how I feel this is a bottle opener with a purpose as well as a story behind it.  You can personally design your bottle openers with custom engravings or even choose one of their colored shell casings to create your own style of bottle opener.  Each bottle opener comes in a slick looking black bag with a drawstring top to protect it when storing it in a cupboard or drawer.  With the manliness behind using a 20MM Vulcan shell as a bottle opener as well as being able to personalize it with a custom engraving, I feel that this is a great gift idea for the military personnel or gun enthusiast in your life.  The 20MM bottle opener costs $24.99 without any engraving.

The 30MM shot glass is made out of a shell casing from a A-10 Warthog's (Thunderbolt II) GAU-8/A  Avenger seven barrel Gatling-type cannon.  The shot glass hold up to 2.25 ounces.  The only down side to the shot glass is that it is no dishwasher safe, just to avoid losing the vibrant color which has been put on the shell casing.  Other than that, it is completely safe to drink out of and is another item that can be personalized with engraving as well as one of their multiple color options.  They also have pre-made shot glasses with "Don't Treat on Me", "'Merica Est. 1776" and other patriotic/military friendly slogans.  The 30MM shot glass runs $14.99 without engraving and carries with it, a piece of history.

Both of these items are great conversation starters, gifts, keepsakes, as well as functional manly style house hold items.  Who wants a simple bottle opener when you can rock a 20MM Vulcan Bullet Bottle Opener! Without fail, every time I pull out my new bottle opener when we have guests over, everyone asks to see it and asks me what it is.  I am not huge into the military culture nor do I know a lot about the ammunition they use in the military, but I do appreciate the history and culture these products and company stands behind.   If you are looking for a good gift idea, a new addition to your man cave, or just curious about their other products, be sure to check out

Friday, October 23, 2015

Modern Day Hunting Slogans

Blair Lake Montana
View from the boarder of Idaho looking into Montana
This year has been one of the hardest seasons for me for many different reasons.  At the same time, I have had some great experiences that have helped me from becoming so discouraged that I throw in the towel.  Through these high's and low's, there have been quite a few different thoughts cross my mind that I felt I would share with you to see if I am the only one who feels this way.

Public Land "Slogans"
My hike in
This year has by far been my most disappointing hunting season in regards to my interaction with other hunters.  There have been at least 5 specific situations where another hunter has spooked the game I was after as I was making a stalk or calling one in.  Not only have I had this happen, but I was also flipped off, yelled at, and cursed at even though I was the hunter stalking the animal first or set up prior to the other hunter even showing up.  I spent plenty of time hiking "further and longer" than the typical hunter yet as well as "going in early and staying late".  With that said, I will say that even though you hear that you need to go in earlier, stay later, hike further, and stay longer than other hunters... some times those slogans are nothing more than words.  Don't get me wrong, the message in these saying have a place and are true to an extent, while realizing that you are not nor ever will be the only hunter who has the same mentality or game plan.  The truth is, you hunt where the animals are.  The reality is that when you hunt public land, you are never going to be the only one who hunts an area or is moving in on a elk that is bugling.  There have been plenty of hunting trips that I have gone on where I have been so high in the back country that I start to think to myself that I may be the only one within miles... just to look down and find a beer can, a candy wrapper, or even look down the ridge with my spotting scope just to see a group of hunters following my exact same path.  We live in the time where the "high country" is as much of a status as it is an adventure.  I have even had many non-residence contact me asking where they should hunt while making the point that their main motive is to be on a "backpacking high country elk/deer hunt".  I have talked to a few of them about where they may be able to find a mature buck or bull and if it's not in the "high country" they aren't that interested.   Soo to conclude this point, as long as it is "cool" to backpack into the high country and chase screaming bulls or big mule deer, then you will never be alone on public land.

Idaho Pano shot
Solo hunting experience
Learning to Hunt Solo...
This is one struggle I have had for a couple years now... I recently saw a post that said, "Good hunting buddies are hard to find so keep the ones you've got".  This post hit home for me because I have struggled recently to find someone to go hunting with me.  My wife has naturally been my best hunting buddy while having kids, and her being a working mother, it has been hard for her to find time or justify leaving her other responsibilities to come hunting with me.  My other hunting buddies either have moved, demanding work schedules, or other friends they would rather hunt with which has left me with the option of hunting alone most of the time.  When you have spent most of your time hunting in a group of 2-4 people, it is quite an adjustment to learn how to hunt alone.  Spotting and stalking can be done easier when you are a solo hunter, but when you try to set up and call in an elk, it is nice to have someone behind you calling while you set up for the shot.  Another adjustment for me (which makes me sound like a softy) is being "okay" with experiencing some of the most amazing views, some of the most unique experiences, or some of the most rare moments in the wild yet not being able to share that moment with someone else.  Don't get me wrong, I could spend days on end alone in the mountains and be as happy as could be, but sharing these moments with someone else creates a bond that can't be adequately expressed in words.   No matter how good I am at explaining an awesome experience to someone, it never seems to do it justice.

"Hunters need to support one another"
illegal structure
Permanent structure I found some hunters building
Sorry for starting this section so bluntly, but... SCREW THAT!!!! As I mentioned earlier, this year has been one of the most disappointing years I have ever had while hunting.  I have been flat out embarrassed by some of the other hunter's conduct.  From seeing illegal behavior to unruly treatment toward other hunters, it has been hard to follow the slogan or saying that "hunters need to stick together" or "We're on the same team". From what I have been experiencing this year, as well as previous years only in smaller amounts, is that not all hunters are built the same way... The truth of the matter is that there are some hunters that are great, respectable, and considerate even if this involves them allowing another hunter to pursue or tag an animal they were after.  On the other hand, there are some hunters that are selfish, greedy, entitled, and down right rude when interacting with other hunters.  Don't get me wrong, I'm protective of my hunting areas and wish that I was the only one who hunted it, but when this reality sets in I will ALWAYS have some interaction with other hunters as long as I'm hunting on public land.  It's been hard for me to cope with the reality of how rude and inconsiderate some hunters can be, but I have had to remind myself that the more I let them bother me and upset me, the less I enjoy my passion of being in the outdoors.  One concept that is shared often in my profession is to not allow certain people to have control or influence over your life.  I have had to force myself to let things roll off my shoulder and not hold on to the conflicts I have encountered this year.  I can let go of all the drama without supporting or endorsing their behavior.  I actively stand up for the rights of hunters as well as the ethical and legal treatment of our land and animals.  Often those who are confrontational and arrogant are doing something they shouldn't be which is one more reason to avoid them and do your own thing.  I have reported illegal activity as I have seen it, and feel better when I let some hunters be how they are while I do my own thing... Never will I "be on the same side" or "be on the same team" as someone who treats others with such little respect or treats the land/animals as disrespectful as they do...
baiting elk
Under the permanent structure they were dumping feed, baiting in the elk
In essence, even though there are a lot of popular slogans and saying for hunting on social media, remember that this is all stuff that is said on the internet.  There is truth to many of these slogans and sayings but in reality we are all different, hunt differently, have different goals, and have different motives.  You can hunt as hard, far, and long as you want but in most cases you still won't completely avoid other hunters as long as you are on public land.  Yes there are more people in certain areas than others and you can choose to hunt in an area with less pressure, but just know that its just a matter of time before another hunter has the same ideas as you.  Hunt the way you like, we are not on the same team, but you don't have to be rude and inconsiderate toward others.  You can do your thing and let others do theirs without being confrontational.  When all is said and done I enjoy chatting with other hunters but if we let other people, slogans, sayings, social media, or other popular memes govern our experience we won't experience anything other than disappointment.  They can inspire us, influence us, or even discourage us, but when push comes to shove hunt the way you want and treat others with respect and you'll enjoy your experiences much more.  
grand teton sunrise
Moments I "hunt" for :)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

3 Year Journy Ends With Unique Buck

It all started 3 years ago when I decided I needed to head down on the river bottoms south of the desert to look for sheds.  While walking on a game trail I ended up jumping a small white tail spike that took off immediately.  Shortly after it took off I heard a loud crash, sticks breaking, and then the sound of the young buck running off.  Seems how there was snow on the ground I followed the tracks to see what all the commotion was about.  Based on my assumption from the tracks I was following, I assumed that the deer attempted to jump over some fallen logs, landed in between two smaller snow covered branches and crashed... I continued to follow the tracks where the buck had hoped back up and continued to run away... This is when my heart sank and I automatically had a deep emotional connection with this animal...
When I began to follow the tracks after the spot where the deer crashed, I noticed that about every so often there would be a couple drops of blood in the snow on the left side of the trail.  I slowly tracked this buck for about 15 minutes attempting to catch a glimpse of him to make sure he was okay, at that point I decided to back out and just hope that the little guy would be okay.  As any hunter knows, even though we take the life of an animal, we all hate to see the animals suffer.  All I could think about for the next couple of days is how this area was know to have quite a few coyotes and other predators who loved to prey off weak wintering animals... I felt responsible for this buck and hoped that I would see it come next fall to see if it was alright.
Throughout that summer and into the first part of fall I was unable to get a picture of a buck that I thought was the deer I encountered that winter.  Then, luckily, I was able to catch a photo on my trail camera of a buck who was growing a odd antler on it's right side.  I had heard that if a deer or elk happened to break a bone on one side of their body, the opposite antler growth is affected.  I had always thought that was a myth, but when I caught this guy on camera I couldn't help but be convinced that this was my deer!
Sure enough, I was able to get another picture of it which confirmed my thoughts, while at the same time, made my heart sink more.  When I looked at this pic, I saw this deer's left foot completely busted, pointing in the wrong direction, and a huge bone growth cluster at the bottom of his leg... I could tell this buck had a rough life seeing how bad his leg was,  I told myself I wouldn't hesitate using my tag on this buck if I saw it during the season, but unfortunately these two pictures were the only evidence/sign I had that this buck was even still alive.  All season long, I looked for this buck with no avail.  I assumed that some other hunter had taken the buck, and I hoped that the hunter was smart enough to realize it was a broken leg rather than some random growth or tumor.  I was afraid that if another hunter took this animal they would leave the animal rather than pack it out because they were afraid to eat it due to the abnormality on his back leg as well as the odd set of antlers on this deer.
After the 2014 season I will admit, I didn't think about this buck much and pretty much called it off as dead or gone.  I spent the summer getting ready for the 2015 season as normal, and was even able to play a part in getting my cousin who is 23 years old into hunting.  This was a great experience for me as I was able to answer a lot of questions, coach/mentor him while practicing his archery skills, and just spend some quality time with him.  Of course, as any hunter would do, all summer long I was hoping more that my cousin would have success than I even hoped that I would have success.  I wanted this first time hunter to be hooked, and experience the amazing moments that hunting provides.  As the season got closer, my younger brother and I set out 5 different cameras looking to locate a few certain bucks in anticipation for hunting season.  The very first week we pulled the cards, I was not only impressed with how many deer we had on our cameras, but I was thrilled to see that my buck with the broken leg was back in the area!   This year,  the buck's leg was almost twice the size it was the previous year and the antler growth was looking a lot more effected by the broken leg.  The left antler grew decent yet was not a typical white tail antler, while the right side was more of a failed attempt at any shape at all..
For the next few weeks, we kept pulling our cards and getting more and more pictures of deer.  We were all getting excited for the season and felt that we would have a decent shot at a few of the bucks we were getting on camera.  As the season was about to start, like always, the deer started to become a lot more nocturnal and the number of pictures started to decrease.  Luckily, the frequency of "The Hoove" had stayed about the same.  We were even able to get a few early morning or early evening pictures before the dark set it.  Even though there were numerous other bucks with larger antlers in the area, I told every, I was seeking out to take that buck this year.

When the season started, I did what I typically do, and took off to chase elk the first few days of the season and then later that week decided to go after deer.  On September 5th, my cousin who I had helped throughout the summer decided to go back down where my younger brother and I had taken him a few days prior while looking for deer.  That night he was sitting in one clearing while his other cousin was sitting in a different clearing waiting for the deer to move around right before night fall.  Sure enough, at 7:48 P.M. my phone range... On the other end, my cousin Jeff was whispering to me how he had just arrowed his first deer at 28 yards away! The excitement in his voice and the adrenaline I heard running through his body was the moment I had anticipated all summer long when shooting bows with him in my backyard!
I hurried home from the errands I was running and headed down to help take care of the deer.  Jeff and my other cousin had waited until I showed up before they tracked it just to be safe.  I had Jeff be the one to lead the way and follow the blood trail.  By this time night had set in and we were using our lights to follow the trail.  In less than 40 yards from where this deer was first hit, there it lay taking a dirt nap!  When we first found the deer, Jeff was needless to say, overwhelmed with emotions, not knowing what to do or how to feel other than the surge of adrenaline and assurance that he had just successfully tagged his first deer!  As I looked a the deer, I realized that the deer he had just tagged was "The Hoove" who I was set on taking this year! I was ecstatic that Jeff not only got his first deer, but also his first bow kill, as well as tagged a very unique buck!
Without going into all the lengthy details of the pack out and taking care of the animal, I will just say that numerous times Jeff would say that now he knew why people say that hunting is addicting.  He stated over and over again how he couldn't remember the last time he felt this good!  He had work hard for quite some time practicing, learning, taking his hunter's education courses, and spending time getting ready for this moment.  All of his preparation came down to one moment and he was able to seal the deal on the buck I had been following for three years.   My emotional connection with this buck did not end after I was assured that he was tagged, instead, my respect and connection with this buck deepened as I could see just how strong and resilient this warrior truly was!