Campfire

The First Lite Campfire is our spot to share with you, our customers, stories about our adventures in the field, information on our pro staff, pictures from our trophy room, the latest news and everything in between. Please check back with us as we build the First Lite community and feel free to drop us a note at [email protected] to let us know how we are doing.

  • Early Season Scouting High Country Mule Deer

    Chasing_Ridgelines_1st_Scouting_Trip_2

    If you have luck like me, you probably aren’t expecting to draw a limited quota tag for a big buck unit.  Luckily, there are plenty of over the counter options in the west that yield trophy mule deer bucks every year if you are willing to put in the work.  The earlier you figure out where you are going to hunt and start putting in the work, the better off you will be when hunting season rolls around.

    There are a lot of variables that determine when you should start scouting for that buck of a lifetime, such as when you’ll be hunting and what kind of terrain you will be hunting, (desert v. alpine).  There is a lot of work that can be done before summer fully arrives to identify an area to hunt and get out on the ground to scout the country.

    If you are itching to get a head start on your hunting season, here are a few early season mule deer hunting and scouting tips you can use to increase your odds of having opportunities on quality bucks in the mountains.

    Do Your Homework

    The best scouting starts at home.  Numbers and data are your friend if you can put just a little bit of effort in sifting through them.  Most western states publish annual harvest statistics on every unit.  There is a lot of information about size of bucks harvested, number of bucks harvested, number of hunters, etc.  There are a lot of ways to dissect the data, but I like to look at trends over the past several years for a unit.  You can learn a lot about mule deer populations and dynamics with a little bit of data analysis.

    For extra credit, you can dig even deeper into the data by researching the game population reports that most fish and wildlife management agencies put out by species for particular units, zones or portions of the state.  Buck and doe ratios, habitat quality and other limiting factors for mule populations are often published and publicly available.  State game biologists can also be a good resource if you can find one willing to share his or her knowledge with you.

    Embrace Technology

    I can’t remember my work life before the internet and email.  I’m also not sure how I ever hunted before Google Earth.  It’s not a secret tool like it once was, but it saves me untold hours of time in the field.  Aerial photography technology is a must for every hunter today, in my opinion.  Microsoft Bing also has a great aerial photo mapping software nearly identical to Google Earth, and I often use both because one will usually have a crisper image resolution for a given area than the other.

    Pick a Small Number of Places

    You’ve picked out an area, done your research and now you are wandering aimlessly on Google Earth trying to figure out where to hunt.  Your goal should be to find a handful of places that you can get out on the ground and scout.  There are many clues you can search for, but when it comes to hunting high country mule deer, one of the primary things you should look for is habitat security.  Big bucks live a mostly solitary life and don’t like to be bothered.  This usually this means getting as far away from roads and people as possible.  This is a great excuse to get into the backcountry.

    Second, look for good habitat.  This will always have to be verified on the ground, but bucks need water and food, and they have preferences for the kind of food they want.  Green, protein rich grasses and shrubs will be preferred over less nutritious and nutrient poor food.

    Scout Like You Hunt

    Finally, the fun part of this whole process: getting out in the field.  If you are going to take the time and energy to go scouting, it is worth doing it right.  I will start heading out in late June or early July depending on the snow levels.  By mid-July at the latest, you can be fairly certain that the big bucks have moved into their high country summer range, and they will stay there until weather pushes them down. The first thing I look for when I’m out on the ground is habitat.  In the early season in particular, I’m not as concerned with seeing animals as I am looking at habitat to make sure all of the key features of good habitat are present to hold big bucks. The habitat quality is as important an indicator of what is lurking around as is seeing that monster buck.  Look for the food, water sources and habitat types that bucks hang out in.  Cirque Basins with multiple escape routes, flat benches with wide views, rim rock and protein rich grasses and shrubs are all important indicators of whether or not an area will hold big game.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, you also want to look for deer.  It’s hard to find big bucks during hunting season, and it isn’t any easier during the summer.  In order to see quality bucks, you need to treat scouting like a hunting trip.  In the summer, most big game animals are only active early and late in the day and will spend most of the day in the shade.  Glassing first and last light is a must, as is being smart about not staying too long or pushing deer out by being careless about how visible you are and how much noise you make.

    Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see big bucks everywhere.  Unless you drew the tag of a lifetime, it is unlikely you will see huge bucks around every corner when you are hunting.  Scouting is no different, and particularly if you are scouting early in the summer, you are mainly looking at habitat and getting to know the country.  If all the signs of good habitat are there, don’t give up too early on an area.

    The last item I look for on scouting trips are places to bivvy.  Since I’m usually hunting in the backcountry at higher elevations, I also use my scouting time to look for bivvy spots.  We need water too, and if you don’t camp near a water source, it takes time away from hunting and adds logistic complexity.  Finding a camping spot before you head out with a heavy pack and a rifle saves a lot of time.  Find a spot to camp that is close to where you will be hunting, but preferably hidden so every deer can't see you camp from a mile away.

    Homework, Scout, Repeat

    After getting out on the ground, if I find an area that I like, I will make plans to go back and spend more time looking for deer.  If all the places I’m scouting turn out to not look good, it’s back to the drawing board and the cycle starts all over.

    Note on the author:

    Bradley Brooks and Jason Kauffmann are on an incredible quest to push themselves and find both the bucks of their dreams and some solitude in the high country of Idaho. We at First Lite have partnered with them to at least make their high country experience a little more comfortable. For more information search #chasingridgelines and give them a follow here Chasing Ridgelines.

  • A Western Rifle: One Nube’s Quest for the Ultimate Rocky Mountain Gun

    Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be an in depth or definitive discussion of which rifle caliber is most versatile for Western game. I also fully realize that, for many, this topic is about as controversial as universal healthcare, legalized marijuana or Canis lupis. Understanding this reality, I want to emphasize that I do not mean to claim that my conclusions are absolutely correct. This essay merely chronicles one novice’s attempt to find the most versatile rifle for the West. 

    I work for a hunting apparel brand and yet, until very recently, had never owned, or even shot a high caliber rifle. Growing up in southeastern Maryland, I used the same Fab Arm Gold Lion 12 gauge for doves, ducks and deer. In my pancake flat county it was illegal to hunt whitetails with a rifle. Some of the more serious deer hunters did have shotguns with rifled barrels and scopes but most folks just seemed to use their goose guns.

    Then I moved to Idaho, which, to say the least, is not so flat. After bow season, I borrowed a rifle from a coworker and set about figuring out just how the thing worked. It was more than a bit different than firing a pumpkin ball out of a twelve gauge. Even, though the bang was a hell of a lot louder than my Fab Arm, I was quickly setting up decent groups at distances that seemed absurd in comparison to those at which I was comfortable slinging an arrow or deer slug.

    When I did finally cross paths with a little four pointer the effectiveness of these weapons became apparent. One second the muley was standing about 160 yards away. The next, he was on his back with his legs splayed in the air. There was no mule kick, no running off into the gloom, no waiting or worrying. In an instant, he was piled up. And to confirm this lethality, my buddy absolutely stoned another deer with the same gun the very next day.

    With the season over and the utter awesomeness of these weapons firmly imprinted in my mind, it seemed about time to find one of my own. However, to someone who had moved from the East with little or no concept of calibers, the task was daunting. Fortunately for me, First Lite employees like nothing better than debating the merits of various rifle calibers and slowly I began to get a feel for the long-range universe. My co-workers threw out everything from a .270 to a .300 Win Mag. From there, I began to whittle down the field.

    Because I do have vague dreams of someday shooting a Shiras Moose, I edged out the .270 and the .280. Yes, I know you could likely still kill such a critter with these lighter guns if you used a hot enough round, were not taking a long shot and were extremely precise with your placement. However, after surveying both my co-workers and the dark rabbit hole that is rifle forums, I got a sense that a .270 or .280 was less than ideal for the task.

    I then scrubbed the .30-06. Though considered by many to be the quintessential versatile round, my co-workers did not bring it up. And so I moved on. Yes, I know this is not a fully logical move. Sue me.

    Next up was the .300 Win Mag. With the ability to easily down pretty much any furry critter in North America, it was the most potent of the bunch. The .300 is also an exceptionally flat shooting round and an excellent choice for long-range shots. On the flip side, it is expensive to shoot. Also, depending on who you talk with, the .300 may even be a bit too much gun for a mule deer, the species that I would probably most often pursue with my future rifle.

    To learn more about this popular caliber, I went to the range to shoot a co-worker's Tikka. Puny as it sounds, I was simply taken aback by how loud a bang the thing made. I honestly did not see myself enjoying shooting the thing repeatedly. So, fully acknowledging my status as a weeny, I took the .300 off the list.

    Ford3shooting

    And so by process of elimination, I seemed to have arrived at the humble .308. To be perfectly honest, I was already biased towards the caliber. The rifle I had borrowed for deer season had been a .308 and I was already comfortable with its handling and performance. Its ammunition is widely available and cheap. True, it is not the flattest shooting caliber under the sun. Yet, as a bow hunter and someone who enjoys the stalk, I frankly did not plan on taking many long distance shots anyhow.

    Then, when I thought I had figured it all out, a local gun nerd wandered into the office and suggested the flat-shooting 7mm might be the gun for me. Crap. I hadn’t even heard of that one. My confidence in my tentative choice wavered.

    Yet ultimately, I did not stray from the .308. Like the .300, the 7mm would pack more bang and be more expensive to shoot. However, what really sunk this caliber was even less scientific. Like the .30-06, it had simply not been brought up in conversation at the First Lite office. I felt I just didn’t know much about it. And so I stayed the course and settled with finality upon the .308.

    Ford1oldrifleonbench

    Selecting a make seemed a bit easier. Everyone I had talked with recommended Tikka and Savage as brands know for their excellent value. But which one and which model? Did I want a heavier more stable gun or a lighter rifle better for schlepping up the steep slopes of central Idaho?

    Eventually, I settled on the Savage 16-116 FCSS, basing this decision on the decidedly un-scientific argument that it was a bit heavier than the comparable Tikka T3 Lite but lighter than the tactical rifles of either brand. Plus, I liked the Savage accu-trigger (despite the vague feeling that I was a complete novice falling for a gimmick). Resolved at last and at least mildly confident in my choice, I went down to Sportsman’s warehouse in Twin Falls to pick up my new gun.

    Just about as soon as I walked up to the counter, the wise-looking old guy behind the counter destroyed my newfound resolve. “Buy the Tikka,” he said from behind wire rimmed glasses that definitely meant he knew what he was talking about. “The Savage is not even in the same class.”

    Faced with yet another decision, I stammered about this and that, trying to buy time to make a the logical choice based on all the tidbits of gun knowledge I had attempted to jam into my brain over the last couple months. What about the weight? And the trigger? And the barrel length? I just wasn’t sure. And so, ultimately, I gave up and relinquished the decision to the expert across the counter.

    “I’ll take it.”

    Ford2newrifleonbench

    Ford Van Fossan is the customer sales and pro staff coordinator at FLHQ and originally hails from Eastern Maryland.

  • Bear baiting tips by First Lite team member Nick Muche

    Binos for Bears?
    I don't think many people bring binoculars with them when they are hunting a bait site or if they do, they are underutilized and this has always struck me as odd.  My experience has been that bigger bears will hang out within a few hundred yards of a bait throughout the day.  They will come and go as they please when there isn't human presence (scent) around the bait site.  I have found that when you are sitting the bait, many bigger bears tend to investigate thoroughly prior to committing.  They will often times circle
    the bait, sit on their butts and stare, ensure they have smelled the bait area from each possible direction and all of this could take hours.  Once they feel comfortable, they typically slowly walk in.
    On a recent bear hunt in Alaska, we had set up a bait in a totally new area, only accessible by a VERY long hike or a boat.  This area is not hunted very heavily and there seem to be a good supply of mature bears.  My hunting partner and I both suspect that few of these bears have ever seen a bait and they have very little human interaction.  Even so, they can sense danger and know when something doesn't smell right in the woods.  After three days of
    the bear bait being set, a nice boar had found it.  In most cases, I
    wouldn't have the luxury of knowing this as our hunting locations are too far from home to check the site after just a few days.  To my advantage, my partner was able to check it daily and as soon as a bear showed up, I wanted to hunt him within 24 hours to ensure he'd hang out instead of moving on to salmon or head to greener pastures.
    Boar on bait AK This picture was taken the morning I shot this bear, he was on
    the bait as our boat approached, this is him staring down towards the river.
    My first sit only lasted about 4 hours, but a good majority of that was spent scanning the thick alders looking for black spots.  After a while everything begins to look like a bear...  That's when I pull out my bins and carefully glass for any inconsistencies that may show up.  To my right, there was a decent size clearing through the alders that allowed to me see a bit further than the other areas.  It also happened that the wind was blowing that way, a very likely direction most bears will enter the bait from.  There was a very black tree trunk sticking up and the first time I noticed it I thought it was a bear, it wasn't.  About 2 1/2 hours into the sit, I thought it looked a bit different, not much though, just slightly and I used my bino's to confirm.  I am glad I did.  When I put my binos on the area, I could see that it was in fact a bear.  He was sitting there, staring towards the bait with his nose in the air taking huge breaths in, obviously smelling something just a little off....most likely, me.
    AK bait As you can see in the photo, the area is very thick with Alders, being able
    to pick them apart was the key to being ready when he came in.
    Knowing that there is a bear nearby doing this is paramount.  I have found as long as you sit absolutely still and make zero noise, you usually get lucky and trick them.  That is exactly what happened.  After about an hour of him sitting there, he moved a little closer and was completely engulfed in the local alder thickets.  Had I not seem him prior, I would not have seen him sitting 40 yards away in the alders.  He sat there for about 10 mins and then eventually came right in, confident in his assessment of the area.  As soon as I saw him move from the alders, I drew my bow and waited patiently for him to commit and offer a shot.  He walked right in, faced my tree-stand, stared up at me, smelled all he could and slowly turned towards
    the bait.  That is when I shot him at a mere 7 yards. All of this happened because I was able to pick apart my surroundings with
    my binos.  Had I not known he was there, I could have easily re-adjusted my cramped legs or moved a bit in the stand to stretch, tipping him off and ruining any chance of him coming in.  Seeing him and being able to plan ahead allowed me to prepare for the first possible shot opportunity offered. I highly recommend using your binoculars to pick apart the brush and timber that surrounds your bait site.  Most bears do not make much noise when they approach, seeing them before hearing them allows you to be on top of your game.

    Want to know more about nick visit him on the team page.

  • The Larry Fischer Award

    Recently we were notified that the board at Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), had voted to award First Lite  the 1st ever Larry Fischer award. To fill everyone in, BHA is a conservation group that advocates for responsible practices on public land amongst many other things. Larry Fischer was a co founder of Traditional Bowhunter Magazine. 1st ever award, because Larry passed away last year after a long battle with cancer.

    The natural person in our company to accept the honor on behalf of First Lite is our founder Kenton Carruth. Kenton and Larry had established a connection over the years, in fact we would on occasion, hear Kenton almost whispering into the phone, in a conspiratorial type of way that would only relate to that of keeping an extra lady on the side. The person on the other end was Larry and the topic was always traditional archery, arrow weights, broad-heads, and shooting styles. We compared schedules, Long story short I, Ryan Callaghan would have to accept the honor on behalf of Kenton and First Lite.  I felt seriously that this was almost an inappropriate thing to do.

    Southwest Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer Southwest Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer
    The day of, Blake Fischer, son of Larry informs me (via giant bear hug complete with swinging me around like you would a small child) That he is going to introduce his fathers award. If you do not know Blake, he is now a Fish and Game Commissioner representing the SW Region, a public servant, call and torment him over an issue of your choice, please.
    Meridian, ID  83642 (208) 867-2703 [email protected]

    Feeling better with Blake making the intro, I dug Kenton' words out of my pocket.

    "I first met Larry via the telephone in about 2008 when inquiring about advertising in Traditional Bowhunter magazine.  About an hour and a half later he had a new advertiser and I had a new friend, albeit a new friend that made me feel pain fully inadequate for shooting a bow with wheels on it. From then on I would talk to Larry regularly and see him a few times a year at shows. Not so gradually Larry wore me down until last year I made the switch to a traditional bow, I practiced and practiced all through winter, spring, and fall eagerly anticipating hunting season. Once the season was over, for the first time in a long time…I didn’t kill a damn thing. What Larry had neglected to tell me was, that the beauty of the trad-bow is that you get to hunt so much more. Then it all started making sense to me, the reason all these trad-bow guys are so good at hunting is because they get to hunt so much more. While some guys tag out in a week or a day, trad-bow guys get the entire season to hone their craft, from the first day to the last, Learning hard fought lessons of misery , disgust and self loathing until the season ends. Then like any reasonable glutton for punishment, you sell all your compound gear, while eagerly awaiting the next season and convince yourself how great next season is going to be and, with a little bit of luck you will be wearing a path to the taxidermist. Seriously though, Larry was a larger than life individual who was deeply committed to bowhunting the outdoors and accessibility to public lands. It is a huge honor to be given an award in his name, and First lite will do the best we can to help maintain his legacy. Thanks Larry" - Kenton Carruth, Founder.

    First Lite receives 1st ever Larry Fischer award Blake Fischer presents Ryan Callaghan, 1st ever Larry Fischer award.

    Larry Fischer was among many other things a big man, he started a successful irrigation business, a magazine, and reared up some kids. Talk to most folks and they would say Larry did not mess around, he got things done. Larry also hosted a semi-invite only 3-D shoot every tuesday. During this shoot as the stories go, Larry would impart some wisdom, joke and generally mentor those around him. Kenton nor I, ever made the time to go to one of these shoots. Insert the stereotypical carpe diem of your choice when reading a story involving death.

    We truly believe  First Lite will set an example for other businesses to carry on Larry's legacy. We may have taken our opportunity to shoot with a traditional bowhunting legend for granted, but we will not make the same mistake with our commitment to public lands and wildlife. After all, we have the Larry Fischer award as a reminder that outdoor businesses have a commitment to the outdoors.

  • Late Season Elk Gear List by Ryan Callaghan

    Teepee courtesy of Seek Outside Late season elk camp Montana

    Late season elk in this part of the world can mean snow on the ground and high winds. Storm fronts in Idaho and MT are always blowing in and out this time of year.  That means your week of elk hunting can be well below freezing as the front moves in. Think hard crust, light snow, and wind. In between storm systems everything can be in melt with day time temps in the high 40's mud on your boots and everything is wet. With the winds there is always the chance of heavy snow or rain. The late season "gimme" cow hunt has turned out to be more than I bargained for on more than one occasion. Here is my gear list that has proven itself over and over. If anything makes it onto your wish list be sure to enter our big Christmas give a way for a shot at some store credit. Follow the link above sign into your account (or create one) and add what you'd like to see under your tree. Easy peasy.

    All day sit photo courtesy of Helen Cho All day sit photo courtesy of Helen Cho

    Strategy - Its meat season and believe it or not, other hunters can be helpful. If I don't locate elk in a stalkable location as soon as the sun comes up. I set up on a likely exit route out of the timber. This could be a saddle or intermediate ridge located in between a likely bedding area and feeding zone. The toughest part is being patient in wind and cold and staying in an opportune zone. Remember the part about other hunters being helpful? This is where that can come into play. If you aren't confident in tracking the herd in dark timber be confident that someone else may be doing the same. We've all heard those shots ring out at odd hours of the day when seemingly nothing is moving. Stay in that likely travel route find the spot where you can cover country with your eyes and have the right gear to keep you alert all day.

    Base and mid Layers - Late season I keep the chama hoody next to skin. Full zip for venting when it's time to sprint. The hoody fits under my ball cap and makes a huge difference. Labrador sweater and the Springer vest are essential. The full zips make layering on the go a snap, the breathability lets you get away with short sprints, and the insulation factor is incredibly comfortable. Allegheny bottoms or the Allegheny EXP's when I know I'll be sitting more than moving.

    Outerwear tops- Uncompahgre Puffy is your best friend on this type of hunt. In fact its with me on every hunt. Stormtight Shell bucks the wind and adds an extra layer of air/insulation. This jacket makes a major difference and the weight is minimal.

    Outerwear bottoms - North Branch Pants literally the best late season pant I have ever come across. Tough as nails, impervious to the elements. You can vent these bibs on the steep ascents and drop trow in the nastiest of weather and feel like you didn't really take any clothes off. Love these pants for late season.

    Accessories - lightweight merino gloves under my fingerless merino gloves make for a slick system. Brimmed beanie gets piled on under my hoods when sitting.

    Patience Paid off. Helen's first kill. Patience Paid off. Helen's first kill.

    With this system and a few jumping jacks to kick start the circulation. I can stay out all day and my pack remains relatively light. I do have a few extras like a thermos and at times even my jetboil. A chunk of closed cell foam can keep your rear toasty on the ice and your pack out of the snow.

    If you have any questions regarding this kit you can reach out right here at the blog. Or feel free to use Facebook, twitter, or give us a shout 208 806 0066 ext 1.

    Thanks,

    Ryan

  • First Lite welcomes Benji Hill

    benmtntop

    Benji has been pounding the mountains in First Lite base layers since our inception. We are incredibly happy to have Benji on board as an official First Lite Team member.

    Benji has been pursuing game in the mountains of Idaho by pushing his limits and his gear to the very edge. By using primitive equipment Benji is trying to see just how effective of predator he can become.

    "Taking a step back in time allows me to deeply connect to rituals of the hunt.  The process of taking raw materials from our surroundings and learning how to coax them into tools of the hunt is the foundation of bowhunting.  To harvest any animal with this type of gear shows a level of commitment not often seen in today's hunter." BH

    photo Benji's first self bow Orc Killer"
    As the weather teases us of Falls approach, I feel satisfied having spent many hours blindly coaxing hickory to bend.  As this is my first self-bow, the power and relative ease of the white wood proved a great start to building bows.
    To follow Benji's progress with his bow Orc Killer check him out at the team page and follow him here at the campfire.
  • What to do with those trail cams - by First Lite team member John Vaca

    Trail Cams aren’t just for trails.

    With advances in trail camera technologies, the good old trail cam is not just for the woods any more. While I’ll admit that most of the time, they are in the trees looking for antlers, I also use them quite a bit in other capacities. I’ll use new wireless trail cams to keep an eye on my camp site or vehicles while on a hunt or scouting. (I get real time photos sent to my phone) I’ll also use several trail cams in “field scan” scan mode to help me with scouting geese, so I can “watch” several fields at once. I will pull the SD cards after dark so I am not disturbing the birds, and the photos tell me what time the geese are showing up, exactly where they are using the field, and how many are using the field. This also works well for spring gobblers here in the mid-west. Don’t forget that these cameras also work well for “keeping an eye” on gates, equipment, etc., while you are not around.

    TrailCam_goose_Images Trail cams catch exact approach routes
    TrailCam_goose_Images2 pretty good idea of where the birds are
    M2E81L235-236R368B322 Trail cams eliminate the "birds should be here"

     

    To follow more of what John is up to check him out here at the team page.

  • Aim for the exit hole - By First Lite team member Ron Gaines

    shaftsnbag

    "Aim For The Exit Hole"

    If I could offer a suggestion or tip regarding shot placement on game, I would say "aim for the exit hole".  This is a practice that I use to ensure the best opportunity to make a clean, fast and humane stop.  One thing a lot of bowhunters do is practice shooting at targets on flat level ground with the target positioned perfectly broadside.  Many of us compete in 3D tournaments, which is good practice, but we are poised to focus only on the entry side of the target in order to score the maximum number of points.  As a result, we are conditioned to aim at the entry side of our targets, even when hunting.  I talk to hunters every year that say they made a perfect shot and lost their elk or deer.  I would be willing to make a small wager that the shot placement missed the major vitals in most cases.

    As an illustration, let's say you have a nice mule deer standing slightly up hill facing to your left.  The deer is standing at 35 yards and quartering at a 45 degree angle.  As an archer we want to put that arrow as close as possible through the center of the major vital area.  From a physics perspective we need to visualize where that arrow shaft will exit the deer in order to hit the major vitals.  Once you know where the arrow will exit, you will have a better understanding on exactly where to hold on your target.  If we were using a 3D target positioned with this same scenario, you could not aim at the ten ring and be successful in hitting the major vitals...you would hit too far forward.

    When I practice for hunting I use two 3D deer targets.  I position these targets at every angle possible.  My total focus is to visualize the exit hole and then aim for it.  It can be a challenge to aim away from a spot that you typically shoot for, however, in the hunting field it can and will be the difference between success and frustration.

    Good Hunting!

    Ron Gaines for more tips and tactics check out the team page here.

  • North Branch Pant Review by First Lite team member Jerod Fink

    North Branch Pants Review
    By: Jerod Fink

    Big Spring Gobbler and a dry ass First Spring Gobbler of '14

    The ground was wet, extremely wet as a matter of fact.  It was the last day I had to hunt on my first spring turkey tag of the season, and I needed to get the job done on this extremely wet and cold April morning.  Our spring turkey hunting season had been filled with many inches of snow and rain and sitting on the bare, muddy ground was a daunting prospect.  With some trepidation, I sat down and started calling.  A two hour wait later I had my first gobbler of the year, even better I had a dry ass and stayed warm.    How did this happen you ask?  Well, for the first time I was wearing a pair of pants capable of keeping out mud and water while keeping me warm in 20-30 degree temps, the North Branch pant from First Lite.

    The NB pants are built from an iron tough soft-shell material and insulated very well.  I’m amazed that a pant this thin can be this warm.  To be honest, the first time I tried on the North Branch pants my thoughts were they were too loud to be of use hunting whitetails and turkeys.  However, over two seasons of use in the turkey and whitetail woods, those fears have proven to be unfounded.  The material is also 100% water and wind proof.  They are the perfect pants for a huge range of temps and conditions.  In the last year alone I’ve comfortably worn them sitting in tree stands in below zero wind chills to 35 degrees and rain.  I’ve literally started calling days that are 35 degrees or colder “North Branch” days.

    There are many great features on the pants, some are subtle and some are glaring.  The three glaring features that any hunter will find useful are the integrated snow gaiter, full zip legs and the full zip seat.  Yes, you no longer have to lower your pants and risk crapping on your suspender straps.  Just zip the seat out and go at it.  Trust me, this is a great feature.

    If you have been looking for a bib or overall type pants that are capable of stopping wind and rain while keeping you warm, look no further than the North Branch pants.  Spend the money, you won’t regret it.

    Staying comfortable at 10 degrees and coming home with meat Meat bucks at 10 degrees

    To follow Jerod check out the team page.

  • A little elk 101 by First Lite Team member Matt Liljenquist

    Horns and cape Packing out Matt Liljenquist

    Elk season is on us and I would like to share a couple of tips that have helped me be successful.

    Tip 1: Scent- Just like majority of the animals we hunt, elk have noses and can smell us if we're not careful. Whether you're sitting water, calling or stalking, always keep the wind in your favor. This means keeping the wind blowing in your direction and not towards the elk. I promise you they will eventually smell you if you don't pay attention to the winds direction. It's good to use different scent covers, they will help if the wind changes on you when you're already committed to your position or stalk. However, when it comes to covering your scent the most important thing is to keep the wind in your favor.

    Tip 2: Figure out their pattern- If you know where the elk are coming and going, you can stand a better chance of intercepting them. If there is a water hole in between their bedding and feeding areas, it could be a great place to sit. I have seen hunters try to catch up with bulls already heading to their destination and trust me the elk are faster then the hunters. A few years back, I passed a bull and shortly after he walked by, two out of breath guys went running by me trying to catch the bull. I guarantee they never caught up with the bull. If you know where they're heading, you can cut them off in the middle somewhere. I strongly suggest not disturbing their bedding areas, because then you will have to start over again and figure out their new pattern. This could take days to accomplish.

    Good luck this season, I hope everyone has a great hunt.

    To follow Matts season check him out here at the team page.

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