Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hawke Vantage 3-9X50 Rifle Scope Review

Many of us reflect on our past hunting season as ways to evaluate what gear is working and which gear is not.  We also try to find the items that we want to change--either behaviors or gear--before the next hunting season to hopefully bring more success in the coming season.   One of the things I have unfortunately neglected was my wife's hunting gear...  I had taken my wife on a few hunts and noticed she had struggled over and over again to hit the target or animals she was shooting at.  There would be many times I would point out an animal to her, but she could never find it through her scope.  I attributed it all to the fact that she was still fairly new to hunting and it was just a skill that she would acquire over time.  As much as I told myself that she just needed to practice more, or that she was flinching when she pulled the trigger, I failed to check her gear like I would have done with my own equipment.   After an emotional hunt where she filled her deer tag but was disappointed in other missed deer, poor shot placement, and having to shoot the animal more than once, I decided I would grab her rifle and give it a shot... (pun intended)

My wife with her 2017 deer before her new scope
It didn't take me long to realize that I also struggled shooting her rifle with the scope that was currently on it.   I told my wife that I would check into scopes and see what I could get her to help her have more success.  She was disappointed in herself, and didn't even want to explore the option of switching scopes, as she had convinced herself that she was the problem.  Below is her take on the scope, I will let you hear my wife's take on this rifle scope first, and then I'll add my input.

I love my 30-30, but I have always seemed to struggle being successful with it. Last year, I had a particularly rough hunting season. Any time I saw what I was going for, I’d quickly lift my rifle to aim and take a shot....but I was not quick enough. I couldn’t ever seem to get the deer in my scope soon enough. This happened time and time again. I was hard on myself and got easily frustrated with my lack of success. How hard could it be to aim and get the animal in site? I blamed myself for not practicing enough...or not being focused enough. I had a list of reasons as to why it was my fault for not being successful.

It took a lot for me to finally get a deer to add to our freezer last season. I didn’t want a trophy deer, but I did want a healthy full-grown deer that would provide a decent amount of meals. It is essential to have game meat for my children, as they have health needs. I had missed many opportunities to get full-grown deer because of not being quick enough. On the last day of the season, I saw a small deer, and was able to take it....finally. But even then, it was still quite a struggle to harvest it. I’m grateful for even that small amount of meat, but it hasn’t been enough to last us this year.

I started feeling like maybe I wasn’t cut out for hunting like I used to be with my other guns. I felt like I couldn’t trust myself to be out in the field. The pressure to practice shooting more that I already was really weighed on me; I’m already busy with raising a family, working, etc. I started to think that maybe I’d take a few years off from hunting until I could take more time to practice shooting.

Kevin encouraged me to try out the Hawke Vantage 3-9X50 Rifle Scope. I kept laughing to myself, as I thought there was no way a scope would make that much of a difference for me. To me, a scope is a scope. I was willing to try, but was not proactive about it. I put it off because I didn’t want to experience the feelings of failure again. I finally got the courage to appease Kevin, and we headed up to the mountains. 

Kevin gave me a target to aim for. I pulled the gun up, and I shot it. 


I pulled the gun up....AND SHOT! Quickly! I didn’t have to frantically look for my target. No! I simply pulled up my 30-30, saw the target, and shot. My target was right there in my line of site. BOLD AS CAN BE. No questions asked.

I had never experienced that solid and secure feeling before. When we realized I had hit the target spot on every time, I was shocked. The confidence I had to shoot took over. My plans to take time off from hunting disseminated, and I found myself craving being out there again.

I admit that I was originally reluctant to believe that a scope makes that much of a difference. I knew it had to be me or even the 30-30, as I seemed fine with my other guns. I drug my feet when Kevin asked me to try out the Hawke Vantage 3-9X50. But now, I cannot express enough how important it is to have a good quality scope. Being able to aim quicker is EVERYTHING. I do not want my children to experience the feelings I did when I had my old scope. I don’t want a low-quality scope to taint their memories toward such a great opportunity to learn about life through hunting. My children will use a Hawke Optics scope! They need to feel success…not just for the result of meat in the freezer, but also for their own confidence in themselves!

I have to say, watching my wife shoot consistently was not only impressive considering our previous experiences, but it was also reassuring to see her enjoy shooting again.  To give you an idea of her shooting, I had her shoot at a small aspen tree which was less that 3 inches wide at 60 yards away.  She shot three shots within 30 seconds and hit the tree with each shot! I don't know if I could have done that. :) Her confidence skyrocketed when she realized she could hit her target again!
I had to hold the tree up to get a picture to show where she hit it. 
Less than 3" wide

Now that you have heard her experience and can see what a difference the Hawke Vantage scope made for my wife, I'll share my take on it as well.

First off, this is a great quality scope for the price.  The Vantage 3-9x50 will cost you under $120.  As my wife mentioned, the clarity and quality are outstanding.  The warranty on all of the Hawke rife scopes gives you the assurance that if the quality and clarity are not up to par, you will be taken care of! When I got the scope, I got it in the 30/30 duplex reticle so that it fit our 30/30.  You can also get this scope in their Mil Dot Reticle.
30/30 Duplex Reticle
Mil Dot Reticle

I shot this rifle every other week for about 6 months while working on this review, and I have to say the Vantage 3-9x50 is undoubtedly consistent. Once it's mounted on the rifle and sighted in, I have not had to touch it or adjust it since.  It is light weight, simple, and effective.  The specs of the scope are shown below (be sure to enlarge the picture or visit the website if the font is difficult to read).
To sum up our experiences, switching to the Vantage 3-9x50 scope made a world of a difference.  It was unfortunate that I put my wife through a few years of poor quality scopes which tainted her hunting experience and made her question her abilities before I realized we needed to make the switch.  The most frustrating part for me was that the Hawke Vantage 3-9x50 was only $30 more than the cheaper and less effective scope that was on our 30/30.  I wish I would have gone with the Hawke Vantage 3-9x50 when I first got my wife into hunting, rather than waiting until now.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Hawke Laser Range Finder Hunter 600 Review

Hawke Optics Range Finder

As I get things ready for spring bear, turkey season, and all of my other spring hunting prep, I always evaluate my gear and determine if what I have works or if I need to make an upgrade... Well this year was the year I decided it was time to upgrade my range finder.  As I have been happy with all of my Hawke Optics products I thought I would give their new Laser Range Finder a shot to see how I liked it.

I picked up the LRF Hunter 600 which ranges out to 600 meters or around 650 yards.  Hawke has two models (Hunter and Professional) which come in a few different options/ranges.  The Hunter comes in either a 400 meter or 600 meter version, while the Professional model comes in 400, 600, or 900 meter version.  The Hunter, which is a smaller model, measures out at 3 inches tall, 1.65 inches wide, and 3.8 inches long.  Below is a graph with the details on the size and features of the Hunter LRF: 
Hawke Optics Range Finder

Hawke Optics Range Finder

I have been testing/using this rangefinder for 6 months now and have been very satisfied with it!  When using the LRF Hunter 600, I have loved how fast it recognizes and display's the distance.  A quick response is essential to me in a hunting situation as we all know a hunt can be determined in a mater of seconds.  One feature that I truly loved while using the LRF Hunter 600 is the Hunt mode which measures the distance between you and the target while ignoring interference with long grass or brush.  This is huge for us hunters as we know many of our targets are not standing in a clearing when a shot is presented.  This is great as I have had a lot of trouble with previous range finders (Leupold, Nikon, and Bushnell) with picking up various readings when my target is near brush or tall grass.  I am looking forward to this year's antelope hunt as I missed an opportunity last year because I couldn't get an accurate reading on a bedded antelope.
Hawke Optics Range Finder
The display also has a feature I want to explain which helps show the quality of the LRF Hunter 600.  The icon that looks like a wine glass is the Target Quality Indicator.  This shows you how certain the reading you are getting is accurate.  I have loved this as I have usually gotten in a habit of taking two or three readings to make sure my range finder was accurate.  Now with this indicator, I can trust the reading displayed and move forward.  

I created a survey on social media and asked many hunters what features they looked for when purchasing a rangefinder.  One of the items that came up often was a red display for low light situations.  With the LRF Hunter 600, as well as all of the other Hawke rangefinders, the display is a black digital display.  I must not have had as much problem as some hunters in regards to needing a red display, yet I can see how the red display could make it easier in those low light situations.  I have found a easy solution if you can't read your display which some may find dumb yet it works for me.  After I ranged my target, I flip my range finder around and breath softly on the front glass.  Once I look back to the display after doing that, the reading is displayed against a foggy screen and is as clear as black writing on white paper... I know that is not the best solution, yet it has worked for me. 
Hawke Optics Range Finder

I tested the LRF Hunter 600 in lots of environments, against various targets, and in many different weather conditions and have never had any issues with it.   For the six months that I have been using the LRF Hunter 600, it has been extremely consistent in its readings and has been very reliable.  I like having a range finder that I can use both while archery hunting in close yardage, which needs to be consistent and accurate, as well as in rifle hunting and shooting to reach out to the 600 yard range.  For me that is more than long enough with my rifle so if my rangefinder won't pick it up, then I know it is WAY out of my range for a shot.  

If I were to give this rangefinder a score out of 1-10, 10 being perfect, I would give it a 9 out of 10.  In the survey I previously mentioned, many hunters brought up items such as size, feel, consistency, price, weight, and warranty which I feel the Hawke LRF 600 would get a 10/10 on.  I like it's design, feel, consistency, magnification, clarity (which is consistent with all of my other Hawke products), size, weight, and the display.  The only change I would make, would be a red display for low light conditions, yet for me that is not even that big of a factor.  With the LRF Hunter 600 coming in at $189.99, Hawke has once again come in on the lower end of the pricing for their products of similar logistics, while providing such a product with exceptional quality! As I said earlier, I chose this range finder because I have been a fan of Hawke Optics products, and as expected, this one has once again met and exceeded my expectations.  If you are in the market for a rangefinder, be sure to check out Hawke Optics and give them a consideration! Whether you choose the LRF Hunter, or the LRF Professional, the quality of their optics is great, and their two year warranty on their range finder is amazing!
Hawke Optics Range Finder
Hawke Optics Range Finder

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Promoting Hunting, Not Yourself....

Everywhere you turn on social media you get bombarded with gear promotions.  People telling other people what camo to wear, what weapon to shoot, what caliber is the best, bla bla bla... Regardless of how helpful this information may be, the consistent feeling of being stuck in a commercial on the Outdoor Channel gets pretty old pretty fast.

Now we are seeing lots of pages, social media accounts, and even outdoor industry TV show producers putting out content condemning, mocking, or even humiliating people who promote hunting related products.  The semi-recent trend even addresses the culture of the "hunting industry" for belittling hunters who do not shoot big deer, who don't have the fancy gear, and the gym rat hunter phenomenon that has seemed to take over many of our social media feeds.  Topics such as these are being addressed and combated as being detrimental to the purpose and focus of what hunting truly is.  

In efforts to protecting "what hunting truly is" unfortunately many of these advocates are being hostile, confrontational, and belittling those who are doing a lot of good.  Now anyone who promotes any product is a "product pusher" or "part of the problem".  It is beginning to create a culture where if someone doesn't like something then automatically they are put down and talked bad about in attempts to establish a more elite group of hunters who all agree on the same thing 100% of the time.  If you don't agree with them or if you feel the product they promote is useless in your eyes then they are pathetic and shouldn't even be allowed on the internet!  haha come on people, how old are we? 

Hunting needs spokesmen and women... As much as we would love to hope and believe that Hunting is going to be around for ever just because it has always been part of our history, we have to accept the reality that Hunting is under attack and politicized for good and bad... Hunting celebrities play an important roll in advocating for hunting.  As much as you and I love it and depend on it for food, admit it...these hunting celebrities literally make a living, their whole career, through hunting.  I'm not talking about the few bad apples in the "hunting industry" who break hunting laws to shoot certain animals to get more views/likes/sponsors/etc. I'm talking about those who put their money where their mouth is.  They fight (in a professional way) with the anti-hunters, the politicians, the animal rights activists, and all of the other groups and people who are trying to take public land, gun rights, and hunting away from us.  So do you really think they are evil for having a commercial on an outdoor channel promoting a product they use? Yeah that person probably has a sponsorship... they get paid to use that products and say what that company wants them to say... but how else do you expect the hunting celebrities to create the status and career they need to advocate for the hunting community.

Now let me be clear here, there are A LOT of the hunting celebrities who have gotten into the habit of promoting themselves more than they are promoting hunting.  That is what Michael Waddell talks about on his social media rant he has posted.  This is the focus of my post... There is a HUGE difference between promoting a product and promoting yourself.  If the focus is to get likes, views, followers, or to push your views/standards onto someone else (such as size/age of the animal etc.) then it would be falling under the category of promoting yourself.  If the focus is to share a cool product, share information, share items that promote and support the hunting life style, then that would be the promotions that are conducive to the hunting community.  Check out Michael's video bellow:

Lets get a few things straight, if you promote a product and present it as it is the absolute best there is and EVERY OTHER PRODUCT SUCKS.... then what kind of standard/culture is being created?  I love my Game Gear camo but will be the first to admit it is what I choose to wear and use, but it isn't right for everyone.  As a hunting community we need to support, or at least tolerate, the fact that we are all different, we all have different needs and standards, as well as we all live differently.  I will never be able to afford SITKA gear nor do I have any desire to wear it.  Does that mean everyone who wears SITKA gear is stuck up, rich snob, egocentric d-bag? NO!!!! But this is what is happening on social media! To play the devils advocate, if you act like a stuck up, rich snob, or a egocentric d-bag, then people are going to be put off by you and how you act.  There are two sides to every situation and we have seen multiple examples of hunting celebrities who have let their ego get in the way of whats important.  Lets no pretend that everything is roses... Lets admit there are hunting celebrities and people on social media who are using certain products to promote themselves rather than promoting for the hunting community.  There are also ruthless keyboard warriors who belittle others who they don't agree with.

The facts are, you and I can't change what the hunting celebrities do or how they act.  What we do have control over is what you and I do on social media.  So, if your focus is to promote yourself, use products/companies to get YOUR name out there, or if you belittle others in attempts to make yourself look superior/better/or in some way better than the person you are making fun, then just know YOU are the one that is being a detriment in the hunting community.  It's not just one side or the other... It is both of you... You can promote gear without promoting yourself.  Yes you may gain followers through these promotional posts, but if it is your primary focus on social media to gain followers no matter the cost, then don't get upset when others call you out on it.  This includes the insta-famous accounts AND the meme pages... It is ALL for attention and regardless of how many followers you have on your side of the situation to back up your point, you know what you post and why you post it... Grow up, OWN YOUR ACTIONS past and present, and stop being so negative...