State of the Union – An Explanation & A Thank You

It has been a little over 3 years since I started Sole Adventure. What was a simple way to catalog and share my hunting experiences has turned into something that I could have never imagined. My favorite thing about doing this site is that it gives me an opportunity to document things that I am interested in, while at the same time connecting with other passionate hunters from around the country – and even around the world.

2013 was my most ambitious year ever. As you likely know, I published dozens and dozens of articles that outlined how I prepared for my first elk hunts. That project was a labor of love; and laborious it was! I will continue to publish articles about elk hunting, deer hunting, turkey hunting, other outdoor adventures, and archery information, tips, and tactics. Basically, nothing’s changing!

Okay, one thing has changed.

I have grown as a writer, which has opened up numerous opportunities for me to write elsewhere. These opportunities are great, and I am thankful for them, but they compete with the time that I have available to continue to contribute here, at Sole Adventure.

Turning Sole Adventure into a “successful” or profitable website has never been my goal, nor is it an aspiration that I have now. But, given the economics of time and money, something had to change. I have limited time to write and numerous paid opportunities to write outside of Sole Adventure. So to make it worth my while to continue devoting so much time into this site, I had to be able to “pay myself” something.

That’s why you see some ads on the site now. But these aren’t just any ads. I’m not taking money from anyone that willing to give it. These ads are from carefully selected (by me) partners that I know and trust. The guys at Exo Mountain Gear, First Lite, Extreme Elk, and the Elk101 Store, offer products that I know, use, trust, and would recommend to my closest of friends. I am happy to have their support, and I hope that you would consider supporting them when possible.

It’s odd, maybe even silly, to explain all of this. Many of you have probably seen the ads and didn’t think anything of it. After all, ads are everywhere these days. But this wasn’t a decision that I made lightly, and I wanted to clarify why it’s happening. In terms of my content, my passions, and my direction for this site – nothing is changing.

Check back for another giveaway later this week, and then next week we’re diving into a multi-part series on bow setup and tuning. I’m going to take you with me, step by step, as I setup my elk hunting bow for this year – an Elite Archery Energy 35.

Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting, and emailing.

~Mark

Hiking with Cameron

“September Calls” Giveaway & Interview with Promont Outdoors

It’s time for another giveaway!  Check out this interview with Weston Paul, founder of Promont Outdoors, and be sure to enter the giveaway for a “September Calls” shirt.  The entry form is at the bottom of the article…

September Calls T-Shirt

What drove you to start Promont Outdoors?

I started Promont Outdoors after a 7 year stint in the science/biotech industry and after getting laid off for the third time, I knew I had to pursue something on my own. No longer was I willing to sit back and be a by product of a poorly run business. Turns out that I had gained enough experience in those seven years to realize that the outdoor industry was where I wanted to make an impact.

My upbringing and the presence of my parents throughout my childhood are at the roots of my company’s message. They were always there for my sister and I, and I want to encourage everyone in the outdoor industry to strive for this type of presence in the lives of their families and friends as well.

“Our children are not going to remember us for the number of fish we caught or the size of our trophies on the wall. They will remember us for our presence in their lives.”

Hazen with Shed Antler

What does the name mean?

The name Promont has a couple of meanings. It is short for promontory which is where I’ve learned the elk like to hang out. I’ve spooked plenty of game while trying to make it to those great vantage points! It also stands for Pro (Mont)ana. I truly believe everyone is a Pro in their own respect. This isn’t to tout our hunting successes, this is simply a way of looking at our own lives. For example, I’m a Pro at being a husband and a dad. No one is better at this than me and I am constantly striving to become better.

Your brand reaches hunters and fishermen.  Do you see a lot of cohesion between these two groups?

Hunters and fisherman have a lot in common. We love adventure and conservation and gear! What I truly appreciate about these two groups is that it is so easy to incorporate our families into our way of life. My wife and I learned this after having some of our very good friends set an example for us with their children. Floating the river, camping, scouting, and hunting were all activities that we incorporate a child into. Our friends took their kids everywhere with them, and this was a huge encouragement to us. Hopefully, Promont will be an encouragement to other hunters and anglers to do, or continue doing, the same.

I really love the whole lifestyle apparel design and production process. As an avid fly-fisherman and bowhunter, I mostly just create items that I would wear. When people put on something from Promont I hope that it invokes a little bit of that same sort of feeling you get when you open up a letter containing a fresh hunting or fishing license. We all know the excitement that brings!

What’s your most memorable hunt?

I’m a fairly new hunter so I feel that each year my hunts get better and better. This year I did go on my most memorable hunt to date. It was with my brother in law and he was able to harvest his first bull elk. The look on his face was priceless. He is a very accomplished hunter and guide and to see the joy in his eyes after taking a mountain bull, well it’s hard to describe. I’ve never felt so good after packing meat out of the mountains. To share that with him was truly a blessing.

Rich with Big Rub Rich Smiling

What can “everyday” hunters and fishermen do to protect the future of their pursuit?

Pass the love onto our children. If you don’t have children, volunteer for an organization such as Fathers in the Field. Also, be ethical and respectful. Follow the rules; they are there for a reason, and I cringe when I see them getting broken because I know that that person is potentially ruining it for the rest of us.

Hazen in Treestand

As a relative newcomer, what has surprised you most about working in the outdoor industry?

I was blown away by how helpful and supportive people are. A few years ago I was fortunate to shoot archery league with David Brinker and Jeff Sposito from Sitka Gear. They were humble, approachable, and truly genuine, and it changed how I thought the hunting industry operated. I’ve continued to meet individuals just like them, and that is why I am so excited to be a part of the hunting world. Of course, there are always exceptions and people with heads so big I don’t know how they navigate the downed timber of a north facing slope. But that dynamic is changing, and I feel that there is a growing camaraderie amongst my generation. It isn’t a competition out there. It’s a “Sole Adventure”.

The Giveaway

I have to give props to Weston for taking the time to answer these questions for us.  I know that I’m inspired, as I’m sure you are, too.  Weston wants to hook one of you guys up with a September Calls shirt, and here’s your chance to claim the prize…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Anchor Your Way to Archery Accuracy

Every bowhunter strives to shoot with consistency and accuracy.  Their objective – whether practicing on a target, or shooting at an animal – is to do everything they possibly can to ensure that the arrow finds its mark.  But minor deviations in form or alignment can have disastrous effects on accuracy.  Any degree of inconsistency is magnified as the arrow travels down range, moving further and further off of its intended course with every passing yard.

The “anchor point”, or more properly – anchor points –are reference marks that can increase consistency (and therefore accuracy) for every shot.  Without proper anchor points, the release hand is free to “float” while at full draw, which will cause the arrow to deviate in a myriad of directions.

Anchor Points at Full-Draw

Using anchor points do not ensure that the bowhunter is setup with proper shooting form or alignment; they simply ensure a consistent position is used for every shot.  And in the end, consistency is king.

An archer with a 100% consistent, yet imperfect form, is more effective than an archer that uses picture-perfect form some of the time.

Identifying Anchor Points

Anchor points can vary from archer to archer, but there are three general criteria that bowhunters should use when identifying and selecting their anchor points…

Anchor points must be…

  • Identifiable
  • Repeatable
  • Comfortable

These three aspects of good anchor points are inextricably connected.  After all, an anchor point cannot be repeated if it is not able to be easily identified, nor comfortable to maintain.  If the bowhunter has to twist, turn, or contort themselves to achieve proper anchor points, then they are either practicing incorrect form, are not fitted to their bow properly, or they are simply attempting to use incorrect anchor points.

An Overview of Common Anchor Points

Common Anchor Points

A simplified understanding of an anchor point has historically been identifying where the archer’s hand meets their face while at full draw.  In traditional archery, this has often meant that the shooter’s index or middle finger rests somewhere near the corner of their mouth.  Hand-to-face contact is a great starting point – but remember that the average bowhunter (shooting a compound bow with a sight, and using a release aid) should strive for multiple anchor points.  Here are some of the common anchor points that are used…

Release-Hand Contact

This is arguably the most important anchor point for the bowhunter.  Depending on the type of release aid that they use, the hand may contact the shooter’s face in a variety of ways.  The goal with this anchor point is to be very specific and identify the exact part of the hand that contacts a specific spot on the face, jaw, or neck.

Bowhunters that use a release with an index-finger trigger will often have the last knuckle of the index-finger somewhere back near the bottom of their ear lobe.  Some may stretch it even further and anchor with a specific portion of their hand in contact with an exact spot on their neck.  Shooters that use a handheld release, such as a thumb-trigger or back tension release will often look for a specific knuckle, or gap in-between knuckles, to rest at a specific place on their jaw line.

It is important to remember that the bow’s draw length setting, as well as the length of the release aid itself, are critical factors when determining the release-hand position.

Nose to String

An ideal anchor point to supplement release-hand contact is to have the bow’s string lightly touch the archer’s nose when at full draw.  This is anchor point is made possible when the draw length and string angle of the bow fit the archer’s form.  (How to analyze your shooting form.)

This anchor point isn’t for everyone.  In fact, striving to make nose-to-string contact can often lead to bad form, if the archer does not fit the bow’s geometry in a way that makes this anchor point easily attainable.  This is an especially difficult anchor point to achieve naturally and comfortably when an archer with a longer draw length is using a bow with a shorter axle-to-axle length – which produces a very acute string angle.

String to Mouth

This anchor point is commonly used in conjunction with a “kisser button”.  String-to-mouth contact, just like nose-to-string contact, is dependent upon the draw length and the angle of the bow’s string at full draw.  This anchor point has become less common with the current trend of shorter axle-to-axle bows, but it is still a very effective way to ensure consistent alignment at full draw.  When this anchor point is used properly the bow string should pass by the corner of the archer’s mouth, and by adding a kisser button or nock on the string, the archer can get have a physical point of contact.

Peep Alignment

Peep sight alignment isn’t a physical point-of-contact anchor point, but it should be part of the overall strategy in ensuring consistent form from shot to shot.  The goal with peep alignment is to eliminate the need of “getting into position” at full draw.  If the archer closes their eyes, comes to full draw, and ensures the rest of their anchor points are where they should be, then the peep should be properly aligned each and every time.  If the shooter’s anchor points are doing their job, there should never be a need to twist, bend, or otherwise align the neck and head to see through the peep clearly.

Finding your anchor points is a process of experimentation and may require adjustments in your bow’s draw length, peep height, release setup, and even shooting form.  Strive for anchor points that are easy to identify, natural to repeat, and comfortable to shoot with.

What anchor points do you use?

Introducing Exo Mountain Gear

About a year ago, I found out that my buddy, Steve Speck, was starting a company to introduce a new line of hunting backpacks to the market. My first thought was…

“He really is crazy.”

We already have Badlands, Tenzing, Eberlestock, Blacks Creek, Kifaru, Mystery Ranch, Stone Glacier, KUIU, Sitka, and probably a dozen others.  Another hunting backpack? Really?

Exo Mountain Gear Logo on Lid

I had similar thoughts a couple of years ago when I found out that Steve was designing a new broadhead line. “Another broadhead? Really?” As it turns out, Solid Broadheads brought something unique and worthwhile to the market.  And I know that this new pack company, Exo Mountain Gear, will do the same – and even more – for the backpack market.

Steve and his long-time hunting partner, Lenny Nelson, founded Exo Mountain Gear to design a backpack that fit their needs perfectly. There are a lot of good hunting packs on the market, but most of them excel at opposing ends of a spectrum. There are great day packs that lack the structure to haul loads well. There are great load haulers that are horrible to wear all day as you hunt. And there are some packs that do pretty well at hunting and hauling, but they’re heavy.

Lenny and Steve set out to design a pack and frame that was the ideal balance of lightweight simplicity, durability, comfort, versatility, and had the ability to carry heavy loads well.

Exo Pack - Compressed to Fully Loaded

It has been fun for me, personally, to watch them go through prototype after prototype; to see them change design aspects, features, materials, and sometimes have “robust dialogue” (aka, arguments) about the backpack’s design. To get just a small glimpse into the level of detailed testing that they’ve gone through, consider what they did to select the foam for the harness components.

After years of experience with backcountry, backpack hunting, and over a year of prototyping packs – Exo Mountain Gear if finally a reality. The quality of materials – from the titanium frame, down to the USA-made zippers – and level of detail in this pack is pretty amazing.  And because they are selling direct to the consumer, without the overhead of a large company, they were able to keep the cost down while still building the pack right here in the USA, and offering a lifetime warranty.

The Exo Frame Design

This is the pack that I will be using this year, so look for a full review to come.  I have had a few opportunities to wear this pack, and I planned on writing up a “first look” review for you guys, but their website explains the features and design so well that I will just point you there:  be sure to explore the pack features, the frame features, and watch the product videos for more information.

If are in the market for a new pack this year, consider taking advantage of a special opportunity to pre-order before March 24th and save $50 on any Exo pack.

Review & Giveaway – The University of Elk Hunting DVD with Corey Jacobsen

DVD Cover

Would you like an opportunity sit down and “pick the brain” of an immensely successful public land elk hunter that has over 25 years of experience, numerous trophy bulls to his name, and is also a 7-time World Elk Calling Champing, as well as the 2013 RMEF Elk Calling Campion of Champions?

That’s exactly what it’s like to sit down and watch The University of Elk Hunting DVD. In this two-disc set, Corey Jacobsen shares how he is consistently successful across decades of “do it yourself” public land elk hunting.

Don’t miss the GIVEAWAY below!

This DVD set isn’t a sales pitch that makes any bogus promises. Corey isn’t pretentious; despite his impressive track record, there’s no ego. He doesn’t think there is a secret formula for success. In fact, he is quick to say,

“Unfortunately you can watch all of the DVDs you want; you can read of the magazines, and all of the books. You can watch all of the hunting shows you want to. Nothing is going to take the place of ‘in the field’ experience.”

The University of Elk Hunting DVD is all about building your confidence to be more successful. The material covered will help you shorten the learning curve, give you more perspective and understanding while in the field, and help you make more informed and effective hunting decisions.

Components of Success

Preparation & Performance

The first disc addresses Preparation. Topics covered include scouting, physical conditioning, gear, and the use of elk calls.

The second disc focuses on Performance. In this disc you will learn elk hunting knowledge, how to setup on elk, calling tactics, tracking, and what to do after the shot.

Studying Maps and Satellite Imagery

These DVDs provide a high-level, “A to Z” approach to elk hunting.  But at the same time, there’s plenty of “meat” to the content, too. For example, Corey doesn’t just tell you to look at maps as a scouting source – he actually shows you how to use them, what specific things to look for in satellite imagery, and how to read terrain and cover to predict elk behavior.

One of my favorite sections is “The Setup” on Disc 2, where Corey literally draws out common elk hunting “plays” – much like a football coach would with “Xs and Os” for his team. Corey makes it easy to understand how to effectively use the wind, setup with a calling partner, and use an elk’s instincts in your favor.

Elk Hunting Setup Diagram

Despite his impressive competition calling resume, Corey sticks to teaching what works for elk hunters – the necessary calling fundamentals. He takes the time to dissect how a diaphragm call works, where you should place it in your mouth, and how things like tongue pressure and air flow affect calling sounds.  The sections on physical conditioning and what to do after you shoot an elk are equally practical and helpful.

There is over 2 hours of content in The University of Elk Hunting DVD set, and I found every bit of it worthwhile. I purchased this set after my first two elk hunts last year, and I think it is a great addition to what I had already learned in my years of study and planning.

If you’re an elk hunter, or thinking about hunting elk one day, this is a must-buy!

Giveaway!

After purchasing this DVD on my own for the purpose of a review, I decided to reach out see if Corey would be willing to give one away to you – the reader.  He was happy to do so, and here’s your chance to win this two-disc set…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Confidence = Success