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Article of the Month: June 2009
Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Asking Permission
By Ted Arndt

The wind was light and there was a slight overcast.  A fine mist held in the cold morning air. Conditions were perfect for tracking, so when I heard  Boots, my ten-year-old beagle, baying from about  two hundred yards down the hedgerow, I knew we were about to close the deal. I could tell he was getting closer and closer. Then about eighty yards out, I saw him jump out of, and then back into the leafless brush.  His jerky manner and intermittent baying let me know he was hot, so I shouldered my double- twenty and waited for the inevitable brown flash as the rabbit tried to get by.  Just as I did so, a cotton-tail leapt from the brush about fifteen yards from where I stood and I took him with the lower barrel.  But the sound of that first shot was still ringing when another brown-back flashed under my feet and continued up the hedge.  I quickly wheeled and gave him the second barrel; an easy shot at a straight-away hare.

The hunting grounds where I nabbed those two bunnies are some of the best I’ve seen.  I hunt there about twice a year and my team inevitably comes away with five or six rabbits.  I cherish my opportunity to hunt on that farm and take pains to insure the owner of the property knows how I feel.  That farmer is in fact now a friend and has invited me in for lunch on more than one occasion.

In a time when people are growing less and less trusting of others and it seems everyone’s getting sued for even the most trivial issues, it becomes ever more difficult to persuade property owners to allow us to hunt on lands like those described above.  Therefore, when we go out to ask for such permission, it is of critical importance that we do so in a way that, regardless of result, portrays us as sincere and responsible people. So how can we put our best foot forward?  Here are some ideas to think about as you try to land yourself some of the great private hunting lands available in your area.

First things first: know when to go.  Common sense tells us to ask well in advance of the actual hunting trip:  we don’t want to appear impulsive and rushed when we’re asking to use guns in someone else’s back-yard.  But there’s a lot more to it than that. Every region has different agricultural seasons, depending primarily on the severity of winter and kinds of crops grown there.  In Up-State New York, the primary crop is corn.  In my area, farmers are very busy come mid-May plowing, disking and planting.  Similarly, in the fall you can see tractors and combines churning away as farmers bring in their crops.  These are not good times to ask a farmer for permission to hunt.  Waving a farmer down off his Deere to ask to hunt is the same as stopping a banker on the thruway on his way to work. Yes, he may say yes, but more likely he’ll be exasperated that you have the nerve to ask to go have a ball while he’s out, sun-up to sun-down working the fields. It is a far better idea to ask during the summer or winter.  I prefer the winter, because I usually bring a pie or some muffins and a warm treat at that time of year is always welcome.

You must also consider the time of day when you go to ask for permission to hunt.  In dairy country, mid-morning is good, because milking is likely over.  In the evening, say six o’clock, is also good, because many farmers are in for dinner and ready for a conversation.  Regardless of your region, It’s best to be aware of the operations of the farm so you’re as unintrusive as is possible.

What you wear also matters.  My philosophy is to look like a farmer.  Look clean, but not afraid to get dirty.  Look confident but unassuming.  Don’t wear your opinions on your sleeve.  A “Kill’em ALL; let GOD sort ‘em Out!” shirt will surely send you packing, but worse; it will reinforce the idea in the farmer’s mind that many hunters are opinionated SOB’s.  When I go, I usually wear older jeans and a denim jacket.  I also wear boots that have been through it a bit.  No sense wearing nice shoes and conveying the idea that you’re afraid of a day’s work.  Don’t forget the hat either.  And NOT cocked to the side like some gang-banger.  A slightly used John Deere or Cat Power Diesel will work fine.  Don’t go for any foreign brands, as most farmers are a very patriotic and conservative bunch.  That farmer may also take offense if you’re sporting some PETA cap or have Greenpeace across the back of your shirt.  Think about who you want to represent, but don’t wear your opinions on your sleeve.  One possible exception to this rule is an NRA hat.  That farmer you’re facing is likely already a member and if he isn’t he has friends who are.

Now you’re outfitted and have thought about when to go out and ask for permission to hunt.  What are you gonna say once the big moment comes?  First off, be nice.  A sincere “Hi” is worth a thousand fake “hello’s”.  Say what feels comfortable and remember to smile.  After the “hi’s” are over, I usually share a little bit about myself; “I’m a teacher from Fort Plain and I’m also a turkey hunter.  You’ve got some wonderful land here and I’d like to ask for permission to hunt here.”  If I get an “I’m sorry, but we don’t let anyone hunt here” that’s good enough for me.  I say thanks and politely leave.  If I’ve brought a pie or something, that stays, regardless of outcome.  That little gesture has made all the difference on more than one occasion and even if it doesn’t, it shows my character to someone I may meet again one day.

When you go to ask permission to hunt, a farmer may try to strike up a conversation with you.  He could want more information about you and your family or he could just be trying to size you up.  Sometimes, the man just wants to talk.  Farmers can live fairly isolated lives by some standards and many just want someone besides the livestock to talk to.  It would be a grave mistake, and I believe just plain impolite for you to nip this small talk in the bud and go on your way.  If you spend some time with the man you’re asking a favor of it can only help.  Even better, if you’re prepared to offer a day or two in the Hay mow, it might win you some points.  Besides, the farmer knows better than anyone where the game is on his land.  A little small talk might just lead to a slammer buck!

Finally, remember, you represent all of us conscientious hunters when you go out looking for new land to hunt and the people you’re asking a favor of are under no obligation to help you out.  Most of us rely on the kindness of some very hard-working folks and we must be respectful of their property and their ways or our opportunity to enjoy the great American tradition of hunting will surely end.

Rut Buster Pack by Timber Hawk
Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Review of Rut Buster Back Pack by Timber Hawk

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Today’s Hunting Packs come in a variety of sizes and features. Depending on your style of hunting and what you’ll be using the pack for, the choices are endless. Dan and I had the pleasure of Field Testing packs by Timber Hawk during our 2008 Deer Season and we are very impressed with the overall quality of the product. When it comes to packs, we’re mostly concerned with how the product will hold up to the day-in / day-out abuse we’ll put it through.  Let’s see how the Timber Hawk Rut Buster holds up…..

Specs of the Rut Buster Pack:
-1750 Cubic Inches
-Hawk-Eye Bino System
-2 liter anti-microbial hydration bladder
-Bow holder
-Drop down panel for additional storage
-Hideaway hip belt pockets
-High-viz ergo zipper pulls
-Top lofted necessity pocket
-Fully padded chamber air back panel
-Dual side mesh waist belt pockets
-Multiple lashing points for attaching additional gear
-Multiple Internal zippered pockets and organizing panels for small gear
-Shoulder mounted GPS pocket and 2-way radio pocket
-Multiple compression straps and adjustment points for          
-maximum comfort
-Key Clip

 Features: The Rut Buster is plenty big enough for any day hunting trip providing enough room for a water bladder if need be.  There are even mesh side pockets located on the hip belt making it easy to find things that you stash in there. With the Rut Buster you can choose to keep your optics in your pack or attach them to the new “Hawk-Eye” system on the front of the pack straps. 

Probably the thing we liked most about the Rut Buster is the variety of compression straps all over the outside of the pack.  These straps allowed us to attach our outwear (jackets / sweaters) onto the outside of the pack so we didn’t get overheated walking to our stand.  You can even strap your bow to the pack in the same manner if so desired. 

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All zippers come with a “high viz” rubber coated pull string which allows you to easily find the zipper and open each section of the pack.  This is a nice feature especially when you’re reaching for your binocs or grunt tube in the tree and don’t relish fumbling with zipper tags. 

Pockets: The Rut Buster has both larger pockets and smaller pockets for gear organization.  In fact, the thing has so many, we often forgot where we put what!

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Comfort: The Rut Buster is one of the better packs we’ve tried in the comfort department.  The straps are padded, as is the back of the pack (air chamber padding) making this pack much less noticeable on all day hikes.  The shoulder straps even have a pocket for your GPS or 2-way radio. 

Other Features: As with many packs on the market today, the sides of the Rut Buster feature mesh pockets with bungee cords to sinch the contents.  The pockets were deep enough for us to carry our scent elimination spray and with the bungee cord, we didn’t have to worry about it falling out. 

Durability: We used this pack each and every time we went hunting from October to December (That’s plenty of trips into the timber, just ask our wives!) and we had zero problems with this pack.   Now the true test of durability for a pack comes with years of use and abuse but we don’t forsee the Rut Buster caving in under the pressure!

Here’s a closer look at the Rut Buster from Timber Hawk:

Our Marks on this Product:

Function: 5 out of 5
This pack is the perfect day pack.  Plenty of room and compression straps.  If you’re looking for a larger pack, check out the KillShot Pack by Timber Hawk

Comfort: 5 out of 5
The combination of air chamber padding and proper weight distribution will have you toting the Rut Buster all day without issue.

Overall Value: 4.5 out of 5
The Rut Buster pack comes in at $105 which isn’t cheap, but isn’t too bad considering what good packs cost today.  This is a high end pack for an average price.  This pack is ultra durable and you won’t have to worry about replacing it any time soon!  If you adhere to the adage “You get what you pay for“, check one out today at TimberHawkGear.com

Command Post Blind by Covert Hunting Blinds
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Review of Command Post Blind by Covert Hunting Blinds

Let me start off this review by stating that most of our experience comes hunting from an elevated perch. However, with the advent of portable blinds that are actually “portable” enough to bother messing with these days, Dan and I have gotten rather accustomed to ground hunting as well. Covert Hunting blinds is a company that is relatively new to the ground blind market. They are a company however that we feel is going to make quite a splash with the combination of features and price of their blinds.

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First Impressions: The first thing we noticed upon opening the box that these blinds come in was the fact that it comes inside a backpack type carrying bag that is actually big enough to put the blind back into when you take it down! Many blinds that we have tried, come with some sort of fabric case to store the blind in but you have to be an engineer to figure out how they neatly fit back into the bag. In addition to the appropriate size of the bag the Covert Blind carrying pack comes with 2 straps for easy transport on your back rather than one.
We also noticed that the fabric was thicker than other blinds we have used. Upon further inspection, we realized that the fabric is 600 denier fabric with waterproofing ability. This blind is a “Hub-style” blind with means you simply pull on a nylon strap on each side of the blind and the entire wall of the blind pops out for easy set-up. Hub style blinds are becoming increasingly popular because of this and Covert has found a way to offer these at an affordable price!

Specs of the Command Post Blind by Covert Blinds:
– 60″ square x 67″ tall
– 18 pounds
– 12 zippered windows
– Hub syle frame
– 600D Oxford fabric with UV Protection
– 9mm Fiberglass string with metal connector

Some noteworthy features:

Back Pack Style carrying case: As previously mentioned we like this feature of the 18 pound blind. Instead of having a drawstring opening at the top of the bag like many styles, this pack has a zipper that runs the length of the bag for easy storage of all components of the blind. Think of the pack like a large duffle bag with 2 long straps. The Command Post blind also comes with a pouch to store your stakes in.

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Set-up and Frame: Set-up of this blind took us about 5 minutes the first time we used it. This includes pop-up time, the tying of the cords, the stakes in the ground and some branches weaved into the fabric strips sewn on the outside of the blind. Once we realized that we probably weren’t going to have too much hunting action in my backyard, we collapsed the blind, threw all the components in the bag and headed out to one of our hunting spots. The second attempt, at our hunting area, only took us about 2 minutes from pop-up (which is very quick once you do it once) to brushing in. Now granted, we were rushing to see how fast we could do this, but the bottom line with this blind is that the set-up time will not be an issue. The blind has a collapsible Hub-style frame that opens by pulling on nylon straps from the outside or pushing on those same areas from the outside. In other words, once you have the blind in an upright position you simply walk around the perimeter and pull / push the hubs to open or collapse the blind. In the case of Turkey hunting, we didn’t need to bother tying this blind down, which cut set-up time to under a minute. For Whitetails however, we were leaving the blind up for a period of time so we needed to tie it down with the provided stakes and brush it in to better blend in to the living room of our prey. The hub style frame also gives you a little added room inside the blind. Because the hub frame bows out, you get some extra knee and shoulder room when seated. Another nice thing about this blind is that we didn’t need any other tools for set-up. Unzip the bag and git-r-done!

Openings: The Command Post Blind has 12 zippered side windows and a large top view window opening directly out of the top of the blind (Duck Hunting anyone?). You can easily control how much light you have coming in the blind as well as your total viewing area. The zippers are very quiet and we had no problem with them malfunctioning (A question of ours when we first got the blind).
The layout of these windows is something that Covert Blinds calls V2 Technology, which stands for “Vital Vision”. Not only does the layout provide a complete 360 degrees of vision if desired, we found the height of the windows to be perfect for all of our seating choices (which is usually everything from buckets to folding chairs)

As is pretty much standard with most blinds on the market, you have the option of covering the windows with “shoot-through” camouflage mesh if desired. The mesh attaches from within the blind with a velcro backing. Since we were shooting the mechanical “Crimson Cuda” Broadheads from Crimson Talon we had to be careful of how many windows we had open and our backlighting situation. Inside the blind is black shadow interior but you still need to be careful of placing yourself between two open windows. Using the mesh would definitely help in camouflaging the outline of your head and torso and would allow you to have more windows open for better visibility. In fact, a better choice of broadhead for this blind would probably be the Crimson XT fixed blade head, allowing you to use and “shoot through” the mesh if needed.

Price: This feature is where the Command Post blind truly shines. We think you’ll be hard pressed to find a blind on the market that provides this much quality with so much room for so little of a price. The Command Post Blind sells for $149.99 directly from the Covert Hunting Blinds website
With the current economy of today, Covert Hunting Blinds might just be your choice for a quality hunting blind!

Camouflage: Covert has revamped it’s camo pattern for 2009. The new pattern sports more green tones which makes it a winner for Spring Turkeys in our opinion.

Our Marks on Covert Hunting Blinds

Quality: 5 out of 5
High quality waterproof fabric and strong fiberglass connectors in a total concealment package

Design: 4.5 out of 5
We would always like more room but the size and features of this blind rivals those of $300 and $400 blinds.

Overall Value: 5 out of 5
If you want a blind that is easy to set-up / take down, is easy to store with features that are very comparable to other blinds on the market for literally half the price You’ll want to check out the Command Post from Covert Hunting Blinds. Tell ‘em The Heritage Hunters sent ya!

Here are some more FAQ on Covert Hunting Blinds

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