EOY ‘23 - What Worked, What Didn’t?

Worked:

-Kuiu Venture Divide 3000 pack. I carry the Icon 3500 for all day hikes, but wanted a smaller pack for 1/2 day or specific short hunts. Much smaller and lighter. Like the way it holds gun. Worked great for a morning short hunt with hill climbs to go find an elk I shot
-Barns LRX Shot my deer this year with 129GR from my 6.5-300. Shot my elk with a 200 GR LRX from my .30 Nosler. Both every dead critters. Recovered the bullet from the elk. Perfect mushroom at 50yards. I used one last year at 367 yards and same perfect mushroom. I am sold on copper with working at multiple distances.
- Jet Boil. Love that thing
- Alps Commander frame pack- Second year packing out- sturdy and rides well for me
-Kenetrek Mountain Guide. 2nd year and really broke in. Over 30 miles this year no blister or feet pain ** with Superfeet insoles**

Really didn't have anything that work for me.
 
liked - (trying not to repeat others)
Schnees timberlines = perfect boot for mountain hunting
Miss September - The caller should have one of these set up. elk come in expecting to see elk.
phelps metal bugle tube - loudest bugle i've ever had. also works great for raking
phelps ez sukr - give it to the friend that has to call,but sucks at it. dummy-proof
swaro el range 8x42's - clear, quick readout, love 'em
thumb release kydex holster - i found one of these on etsy and it did a good job. would've preferred a AOT magnetic one that mounts to the bow, but they didn't have one in my style release.
Stone Glacier quick release rifle sling - works great as long as you don't need to re-sling quickly
coleman foam stadium seat - might weigh more than the thermarest z seat, but it's also wayyyyyy more comfortable for when you're taking a break or glassing.
Boot fans - i bought these cheap amazon CPU cooling fans after seeing the grakksaw version. They're not something i'd backpack in, but if you're at a basecamp, these with a little battery pack dried out my wet boots a couple times and i was pretty impressed. good way to dry them out without worrying about heat ruining your boots.
BOG Deathgrip - got this for the kids. set up easy, very stable. i was able to get it locked into position on deer and all the girls had to do was shoulder the rifle and squeeze the trigger. unfortunately, they only did the first part! oh well....


didn't like -
vortex razr hd spotter. never have liked it, its just not clear. need to find something else
MSR trailshot = trash. could not get it to work at all. Used a friends sawyer squeeze and it worked much better. wife got me a grayl geopress, but didn't get the chance to use it.
Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX. light and comfortable, but don't rub against a sharp rock/stick/antler. They'll rip.
FHF Bino Harness - I finally had it with this. used it for years, but there's too many better options out there to keep these. I take my binos in and out a lot and i hate the flap whacking me in the face, especially when its windy. The new version is better, but Trying the kuiu one next time out. Seems to be a little smaller profile, which is another thing that i'm generally starting to hate about chest harnesses. Someone should make a hip harness or something that works better.
Spartan Bipod - might be better once i get the holster for it, but i think i'm going back to one that stays on the rifle. carrying it in a pocket or homemade holster was annoying
Stone glacier water bottle holder - i might have it setup wrong, but it has a lot of play in it.

want/need -
thin, waterproof gloves
 
Worked:

1. Kudu broadheads I've always shot a fixed 3 blade and switching to these really helped my broadheads group better. It's all due to a quality manufacturing process vs. Mass produce.

2. A quality set of 15x56’s from Maven was huge. I'm not entirely on love with the B4s but the glass is supreme. Helped tremendously with glassing throughout the day vs. picking up a spotter.

3. WTF have I been doing without an outdoorsman Bino adapter. Complete with a VA-5 fluid head.

4. Last but not least. We picked up a camper this summer. It's been a complete blast and my kids are absolutely loving it. I have never camped in a camper once in my 35 years of living on this spinning rock. I've always tent camped either in a backpack tent or wall tent. This year I hunted outta my camper and let me tell you...... THAT takes things to a whole new level. I'm probably ruined forever now.

Things that didn't work great or knock my socks off.

1. I'll get slammed for this but, I came into a sweet deal on 2 outdoorsman tripods. Used but great condition..... While I do think they're very nice and are constructed extremely well. I can't fathom dropping 800 bucks on one of those let alone the gen2 for 1400 or whatever they are. Compared to the slik and sirui I have I didn't see the benefit of the outdoorsman tripods over them.

2. Worksharp sharpeners, they take out every knife point I have. I'm sure there's a fix I just haven't looked into it.

3. Expensive game bags can suck it. I'm going back to the Costco ones from Alaska Game bags company.

4. I really need to buy some quality fixed blade knives and there's a certain individual on here that sells some sexy lookin steel. I gotta quit buying cheap knives. I really want to get a nice setup skinning and boning knife. I've been using replaceable blades with the havalon and other fixed blade gerbers but I need to do something different.


Things I'm looking into for next year.

Packable sharpening stone setup
Different game bags
New knives (fixed) quality
4 season backpack tent
I'm sure there's more but that's it for now.....

Always enjoy these threads.
 
Not much to contribute since I didn’t add much new gear at all, but:

What worked: new seekins 6.5 prc with Lapua scenars. What an accurate setup. And the scenars are killers.

Outdoor edge razor pro. I love my Havalon, but this is basically as sharp and blades are much more durable.
 
Didn’t work- Sig 1800 rangefinder. I would have considered this last years failure but I only had it a couple weeks prior to my hunt last year. Weather was subzero last year and it ranged real odd I got a super close reading, one about 100 yards then maybe 150 yards the critter was further than that. This year it worked fine in archery season, but during rifle season temp was about 30. Wouldn’t range past 93 yards. Luckily we also had a back up rangefinder with as the elk was 345 yards. I think I’ll be looking for a Leica 2400 to replace the sig.

Worked- Mary Jane Farms freeze dried meals. The serving size seemed better for me and the meals seemed to sit a bit better with my stomach.
 
Worked:

1. Kudu broadheads I've always shot a fixed 3 blade and switching to these really helped my broadheads group better. It's all due to a quality manufacturing process vs. Mass produce.
I’ve found that if your bow is tuned, you can basically throw these on and hit with the field points. How do you feel the blood trails were with the kudus? Did you use the ones with the bleeders?
 
I’ve found that if your bow is tuned, you can basically throw these on and hit with the field points. How do you feel the blood trails were with the kudus? Did you use the ones with the bleeders?
Well, the bull I killed I wouldn't say bled a ton. I was actually able to somewhat watch him. He piled off a fairly steep bank and at the bottom of it there was some decent blood. He sure didn't get very far though. Yes, I had the bleeder on. I was very impressed on the penetration as I had smoked the shoulder blade.

These have been by far the most accurate fixed blade I've ever shot.


20231005_133419.jpg
 
Nope:
  1. A Fjallraven rain jacket. Luckily I only needed it 5 our of 7 days on a sheep hunt. I survived, but its now in the yard work/campfire pile of rain jackets.
  2. Hillsound trail crampons. The buckles are poorly designed, and not Kodiak tough. They didn't come off which was good, but I couldn't get them off, which wasn't so good.
Really haven't purchased much new in the last 5-6 years. I did buy a set of Schnees boots recently, looking forward to trying them out. My old Asolo boots are getting a bit bald on tread.

Big Agnes Coper Spur 3 tent is on its 12th year of hunts in AK, no idea how many nights I've slept in it, but probably in the 250 nights. I seam sealed it two seasons ago, and had the zippers replaced this summer.
 
Well, the bull I killed I wouldn't say bled a ton. I was actually able to somewhat watch him. He piled off a fairly steep bank and at the bottom of it there was some decent blood. He sure didn't get very far though. Yes, I had the bleeder on. I was very impressed on the penetration as I had smoked the shoulder blade.

These have been by far the most accurate fixed blade I've ever shot.


View attachment 302755
I’ve not really had big blood trails either, two I watched drop and one was hit a bit high and back but all three ended up dead. I have not gone through bone with mine. I’m also impressed with the edge retention on them. I feel all three were sharp enough that if in a pinch could be used again even spun well after going through elk.
 
I’ve not really had big blood trails either, two I watched drop and one was hit a bit high and back but all three ended up dead. I have not gone through bone with mine. I’m also impressed with the edge retention on them. I feel all three were sharp enough that if in a pinch could be used again even spun well after going through elk.
100 percent they're incredible on how well they hold the edge
 
Worked
T3X roughtech, I've tried a bunch of rifles in my day, I'm now a solid tikka fan. Have one in 6.5 creed, 308 and 300 win. That will cover anything I feel the need to shoot.
Hornady 165 gr CX's, excellent penetration, accuracy and wound channel. Sample size of one mule deer shows better terminal performance than I got with the eldx-s.
Zeiss v4 4-16x44 scope, best glass I've bought and worth the price in my opinion.

Didn't work
Lightweight shooting sticks, going back to an attached bipod. Once it's attached I don't need to remember to grab it if I drop my pack or just want to walk over a hill to have a look.
 
I rented one with a 115mm objective for my 3rd season hunt, as we had some glassing spots that we didn't have to carry it very far to. It was a lot fun to watch elk at 2-3 miles with.

I bet the 115 is awesome. I’ve got it paired with the 85 and carried it everywhere I went this year.
 
Worked:

Kowa 883. It’s a beast to carry on a backpacking trip but man what a spotter. Makes my old Razor seem like a kid’s toy.

Enlightened Equipment Convert 0 degree quilt/sleeping bag. This thing is light, fits me and the way I sleep perfectly, and when zipped and cinched is incredibly warm.

Fenix HM 65R headlamp. It’s not my first season with it, but it was my first backpack hunt with it and just confirmed my appreciation. It holds a charge for an insanely long time, has six different brightness settings, and can get spotlight bright when needed—which comes in really handy when navigating cliffy stuff in the dark. Both my buddies ordered one when they got home from our hunt after seeing the difference.

Hammer bullets. They shoot great and kill great, even in a lip stick wearing, extra-effeminate cartridge.

My seven year old daughter. She’s developing a real interest in hunting. Has come along three times now, kept a great attitude, and kept me laughing. Fun little hunting buddy.


Not so much:

Tricer LP tripod head. This little guy is a dream to carry and use with only binoculars, but is just not enough with a big-ass spotting scope. I’m going to keep it for backpacking and for times when I don’t carry a spotter, but I need something that can smoothly stabilize the Kowa. Need to check out a VA-5.

Big Agnes Tiger Wall 3. It’s super lightweight but still too small for two guys and gear, doesn’t have vents so is prone to condensation, and has some of the most annoying zippers I’ve ever used. Might send this one down the road.

Sawyer Squeeze water filter. It works, it’s fast, but I hate it. A big gravity-fed bag might be the ticket, but I don’t know. I think I just hate filtering water, because I’ve never found a filter that I “like.”


TBD:

MagView digiscoping system. Just bought it a couple weeks ago, used it a couple times. It’s kind of annoying lining up my phone just right on the scope, but nice that I don’t need some huge, awkward phone case to use it.
 
Nope:
  1. A Fjallraven rain jacket. Luckily I only needed it 5 our of 7 days on a sheep hunt. I survived, but its now in the yard work/campfire pile of rain jackets.
  2. Hillsound trail crampons. The buckles are poorly designed, and not Kodiak tough. They didn't come off which was good, but I couldn't get them off, which wasn't so good.
Really haven't purchased much new in the last 5-6 years. I did buy a set of Schnees boots recently, looking forward to trying them out. My old Asolo boots are getting a bit bald on tread.

Big Agnes Coper Spur 3 tent is on its 12th year of hunts in AK, no idea how many nights I've slept in it, but probably in the 250 nights. I seam sealed it two seasons ago, and had the zippers replaced this summer.
My Asolo boots made it to the garden - they are filled with dirt and flowers planted in them. Went to Vasque Breeze, the best boot I have had in 50 years of hiking/backpacking/hunting. YMMV

David
NM
 
I should go back and post this in one of those sling threads, but I have really enjoyed the slick sling. If you like the Kifaru great, but if not I think the slick sling is a better loop/release setup than the SG.

I left my SG stock butt holder attached and just switched the shoulder strap apparatus for the slick sling one and it’s about perfect IMO. Faster and more secure than the SG. I prefer the SG stock holder because it puts the weight a little more evenly on the suspension; really a combo is the best mousetrap.
 
Sitka Gear Turkey Tool Belt

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