Vortex Ranger 1000 Review

A few weeks back I began making preparations for the 2017 deer season.  As I started to organize my gear, I realized I had not seen my range finder all summer.  In fact, I could not remember having my range finder since that eventful turkey hunt I had on the second to last day of the Ohio turkey season. (link here) It turns out that besides dropping my bow in the river, I may have lost hold of my rangefinder as well.  None the less, with the Ohio deer opener rapidly approaching, a rangefinder was not an item I was willing to hit the woods without.  Alas, I am the proud owner of a brand new Vortex Ranger 1000.

It has been a few weeks now since I received my Ranger 1000 and I can honestly say I am extremely pleased with it.  Like all of the other products Vortex makes, their Ranger line of rangefinders are built with top-notch quality and they are made to endure the harsh conditions we as hunters put them through on a daily basis.  Backed by Vortex’s lifetime warranty, there is no need to take it easy with your Ranger rangefinder.  Whether you hunt in the rain or snow, you can rest assured your rangefinder will function as good as the day you got it

A few notes on the aesthetics and feel of the rangefinder, I really liked how grippy the rubber coating of this rangefinder is.  It feels very comfortable in the hand, and buttons are conveniently placed and easy to reach.  The rangefinder also comes with a belt clip which can be placed on either side of the rangefinder, and there are two lanyard connection points to allow a lanyard on whichever side suits your needs better.  Every aspect of this rangefinder speaks to the quality that Vortex has come to be known for.

But for all the talk of the looks and feel of this rangefinder, the real question is simple, how does it perform?  Seeing as I was missing my rangefinder all summer, I had previously used a reel measuring tape to mark off 20, 40, 60, and 80 yards in my back yard.  I figured that would be a good place to start my testing.  So I scanned the distance from each mark, and then I scanned them again, and again, and again.  Each time, the distance displayed to me was spot on.  It may have been sufficient to check each distance a single time, but all to often my old rangefinder gave me different measurements from the same exact spot.  Usually only a yard, but at longer distances, a single yard may make the difference in a quick ethical shot or a wounded animal.  I was not willing to take that chance.

After testing thoroughly to make sure my rangefinder was working at known distances, I began moving to random locations and shooting my bow to make sure I was still accurate.  Arrow after arrow, I hit my mark.  While this was not a scientific test by any means proving the accuracy of my Ranger 1000, it did build confidence knowing that when a distance was displayed to me, it was going to match up with my bow correctly.  After all, if I couldn’t consistently hit a target on the range, it was unlikely I could make a clean shot on an animal in the woods.

One great feature of the Ranger 1000, like many other high-end rangefinders, is its ability to display a compensated distance measurement based on angles.  In Vortex’s HCD mode (Horizontal Component Distance), the Ranger 1000 calculates the actual horizontal distance of your target as opposed to calculating a line of sight distance.  This is imperative when shooting on steep inclines or declines.  To test out this feature, I placed a target at the base of a steep hill.  I measured the line of sight distance from the target to be at 37 yards.  I disabled the HCD mode on my Ranger 1000 to confirm this distance, and then re-enabled it to scan the distance once more.  A reading of 33 yards was displayed to me, I shot a few arrows to verify the compensated distance, and each hit where I was aiming.

All told, the Ranger 1000 rangefinder from Vortex appears to be a reliable rangefinder than any bowhunter can be confident in using.  I have not personally done any testing at ranges beyond 100 yards.  But for an application of bowhunting, I am certain I won’t be disappointed with this product.  For more information on the Ranger series of rangefinders by Vortex, be sure to visit their website at http://www.vortexoptics.com.

Vortex Ranger 1000 Specifications

Range Reflective                         11-1000 yards

Range Deer                                  11-500 yards

Accuracy                                      +/- 3 yards @ 1000 yards

Max Angle Reading                   +/- 60 degrees

Magnification                               6x

Objective Lens Diameter          22mm

Linear Field of View                  315 feet @ 1000 yards

Angular Field of View               6 degrees

Eye Relief                                    17 mm

Operating Temperature           14-131 degrees F

Length                                          3.9 inches

Width                                           3 inches

Weight                                          7.7 ounces

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Firenock Titanium Bolt Kit Review

Hunting has always held a special place in my heart, and it is a big part of who I am today.  While I love hunting simply for what it is, I have to admit that a growing interest in modern gear has taken my passion for hunting to a whole new level.  I am fascinated by the technology that has so greatly changed the landscape of hunting over the past few years.  One of the products I have been most interested in over the past year, is the Titanium Bolt Upgrade Kit offered by Firenock.  When Dorge first introduced it to the market, my initial thoughts were, “what’s the point?”.  After talking to Dorge at the ATA Show this past January, I left with a better level of understanding of exactly how this kit can impact my bow.

Now I’m going to be upfront and honest with you before we go too far.  If you are expecting you can put one of Firenock’s Ti Bolt Kits on your bow and suddenly shoot a single pin out to 50 yards, increase your arrow speeds by 40 fps, and have a bow so quiet a deer couldn’t hear it at 20 yards, you need to check your expectations at the door.  This kit does provide many improvements to the performance of your bow, but they are realistic improvements.

For starters, titanium is significantly lighter than the other metals used to manufacture the bolts that come on modern compound bows.  What this means is that your bow will be lighter, and while we are not talking a huge amount, any weight savings when you are trekking up a mountain side is a plus.  To put things in perspective a single limb bolt from my stock 2016 Mathews Halon 6 weighs in at 285.8 grains.  The titanium limb bolt from Firenock’s kit weighs in at 152.8 grains, a savings of 133 grains per bolt; approximately 3/10 of an ounce.  My bow weights in right now at 7 lbs 4.1 oz compared to its old weight at 7 lbs 5.5 oz.  The difference comes out to about 1.4 ounces.  I understand that this is not a life altering change, but there is more to reduced weight that meets the eye.

By installing the Titanium Bolt Kit on your bow, you not only reduce weight, but you reduce heavy mass focus points such as your limb bolts.  What this translates into is a cleaner and more efficient transfer of energy into your arrow at the time of release.  Because these heavy mass focus points are reduced by nearly half, the overall harmonics of your bow are completely changed.  This was a hard concept for me to understand, and I don’t think I really believed it until I fired the first arrow after having my kit installed.  The bow feels…different.  It really is hard to put into words, but you can tell there is noticeably reduced vibration when you shoot.  While I did not gain much in the way of initial arrow speed, my 40 yard vertical point of impact has increased slightly.  Or in other words, my arrow drops a little less at 40 yards that it did previously.  I hope to get my hands on another stock 2016 Halon 6 to do a more side by side comparison of arrow speeds and arrow drop in order to provide hard evidence of increased performance.  Keep an eye out for this article in the near future.

Another area I noticed a definite change was in the sound of my Halon.  Whether this is good or bad, I cannot say.  However, when releasing my arrow the pitch of the sound is slightly higher to my ear.  The sound of my bow releasing is also more muted, and seems to have less of an audible twang.  Using my iPhone 7, I downloaded an application called DB Meter.  I used this app to measure how loud my bow was before and after the kit was installed.  I shot my bow from the same location, with my phone placed in the same spot, and standing approximately 18 inches away.  Prior to the installation of my Titanium Bolt Kit, my three shot measurements were 68, 68, and 69 decibels.  After the kit was installed, my three shot measurements were slightly lower at 65, 66, and 65 decibels.  I’m no acoustics expert, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know if this is enough difference to make any real impact, but again…there is a measurable change for the better.

Last but not least, the titanium bolts offer much better corrosion resistance for hunters who often have their bows out in the elements.  You can rest assured that your titanium bolts will look as good in January when deer season begins to wind down as they did in September when you first began.  Rusty limb pockets are a thing of the past with titanium bolts.

I can honestly say I am more happy with my bow since having my Titanium Bolt Kit installed.  I know there are a lot of people who can’t justify the cost to benefit ratio, but I strongly believe that any advantage we can get in the field, is an advantage worth looking into.  The slight reduction in noise, peace of mind knowing your bow will better withstand the elements, and knowing that misjudged yardage will have slightly less of a consequence all factor into increased confidence as I prepare for Ohio’s deer season to open later this month.  If you would like more information on the Firenock Titanium Bolt Kit, you can visit Firenock at www.firenock.com or feel free to reach out to the SELFILMED staff via our contact form here.

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2017 Covert Code Black 12.1 and App Review

If you have read my previous article on wireless trail cameras (Link Here), you’ll know I’m a huge advocate for them.  This year I got my hands on the 2017 version of Covert’s most popular wireless camera model, the Code Black 12.1.

From the outside, this camera looks almost exactly identical to the 2016 Code Black 12.0.  There is a slight change in the design of the anti-reflective device covering the LED panel, an increase in the number of LEDs, and the LED layout is slightly different.  Covert claims much better night-time pictures, and from my extensive field testing, the increase in the number of LEDs and the change in LED layout does help significantly in that regard.  I get much better night-time pictures at much further distance with the newer 2017 version which is very helpful for cameras setup on edges of food plots.  However, the camera does have a tendency to “blow out” or overexpose the image when an animal is too close.  This seems to be a problem with most of the other cameras on the market as well. For 2018, I’d really like to see camera manufacturers improve on this issue.

On the inside of the camera, physically nothing has changed from 2016.  The menu buttons, LCD display, battery holders all remain unchanged.  While the menu system remains the same as 2016, the Code Black 12.1 features a newer firmware/software than it’s predecessor.   I have noticed that the newer firmware in the camera, the camera is much more responsive and locks on to the AT&T network much quicker than the 2016 version.

Along with the firmware change, the camera now has the ability to download hi-res images remotely using the Covert Wireless Mobile App or the online web portal.  This is particularly helpful when you want to “blow up” an image to see exactly what kind of headgear that buck is sporting.  This feature is not (yet) available on any of the older Covert wireless camera models.

In addition to the hi-res image download capability, other improvements have been made to the Covert Wireless Mobile App including the ability to grant guest access to your account to view trail camera pictures.  If you are hunting family property, part of a hunt club, or sharing a lease, you can now share access with your fellow family and friends.  Improvements to the Mobile App and online web portal are constantly rolling out, and I’d expect to continue to see improvements in functionality and user convenience in the future.

Finally, Covert has introduced new rate plans for both their AT&T and Verizon wireless cameras.  Before now, if you had 3 wireless cameras, you had to purchase 3 different wireless plans for them.  Depending on the plan you chose, this could get expensive very quickly.  Now you can purchase a single monthly, quarterly or yearly plan (ranging from $4.99 a month to $199 a year for AT&T) and pay a minimal additional fee to add a line to the plan ($5 a month for AT&T).

The 2017 Covert Code Black 12.1 retails for $409.99 directly from Covert.  For more information on the Covert trail camera lineup, including their traditional/non-wireless models, visit them at www.covertscoutingcameras.com.

2017 Code Black 12.1 Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 5.875in x 4.5in x 2.855in
  • 52° field of view
  • .65 second trigger speed
  • 100 foot flash range
  • 12 AA batteries
  • Invisible flash technology
  • 1-10 turbo shot burst
  • Maximum silence image capture
  • Time/date/temp/moon phase stamp
  • 2” color viewer
  • Pipe through security
  • Up to 32GB SD card
  • Reinforced tripod mount
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Treestand Safety Tips

As fall quickly approaches, most, if not all of us are dreaming of killing that big buck we’ve been chasing.  Some of us will be successful, most will not.  In fact, statistics show, we are more likely to experience a fall from a treestand in our lifetime than we are to kill a Boone & Crockett caliber deer.  Yet treestand safety remains an afterthought for so many hunters.  I won’t try to tell you that I haven’t cut a few corners here and there when it comes to safety preparation in my days, but coming home safe to my family is priority number one when I hit the field, even more so than killing a big buck.

Before I go any further, let me make one thing clear; The most important piece of hunting gear you should have is a full body harness!  There are several great harnesses you can use, I personally use the Muddy Safeguard, and have used this model for several years.  I have had one fall from a stand and not only am I still alive, I experienced zero injuries.  That has been one fall over the course of almost 20 years, but that one experience alone made all the of the money I’ve spent on safety harnesses worth while.  Simply wearing your harness is not going to keep you safe.  In fact, I’ve known more than one person who fell from their treestand who had their harness on.  The process you take from the minute you step off the ground until you return makes all the difference in your overall safety.  In this article, I’m going to lay out the basic steps I use hanging a stand, as well as what I do on a normal day of hunting.

Everything I do with a treestand, whether I’m hunting or hanging, now involves a LifeLine system.  This is basically a long rope that is attached to your tree above your treestand and hangs all the way to the base of the tree.  A LifeLine is used often with lock-on tree stands, but can also be used with a climbing stand if you plan on hunting the same tree multiple times.  Best of all, a LifeLine can double as a lineman’s belt saving the need for carrying more gear with you than necessary.  For anyone who has ever used a lineman’s belt, you know they can be a little bit of a pain. However, they not only keep you from falling during the treestand hanging process, they also allow you to focus more on hanging your stand instead of preventing a fall.  The end result is a more securely hung treestand.  If you are hanging a ladder stand or individual steps for a hang-on stand, the lineman’s belt is my preferred safety mechanism.  If you are using a climbing stand, I find that simply sliding your standard safety rope up the tree as you climb is the simplest processes.  Whatever option you choose, practice and make sure you are comfortable so that you can be safe and silent in the woods.

As I mentioned previously, in place of a dedicated lineman’s belt you can use a LifeLine to assist in hanging.  When you do, you will need a second prussic knot and carabiner in order to fix the LifeLine in place.  To do this, tie a basic knot around one of the hip loops on your harness (use the bottom of the LifeLine without the loop), and then wrap the rest of the LifeLine around the tree and use the prussic/carabiner combination to clip onto the opposite hip loop on your harness.  After you get your stand hung, pull the remainder of the LifeLine up to you and wrap the other end of the rope around the tree.  Reach through the loop at the end and grab the rope pulling it through.  Next, you will attach the second prussic/carabiner to the rope below the loop and attach your primary safety harness strap.  At this time, you are secured to the tree and you can unclip the section of the rope you were using for the lineman’s belt and pull the rest of the rope through allowing it to hang down the tree.  Now, you have killed two birds with one stone.  You have safely hung your treestand, and you have also secured your LifeLine.

With your LifeLine in place, you now have a quick and safe system to climb up and down your tree when you are ready to hunt this fall.  To use a LifeLine, you attach your safety harness to the LifeLine while standing on the ground.  As you climb, slide the prussic knot up the rope as you go.  If the process I laid out for hanging your stand and LifeLine at the same time seems to complicated for you, then simply use a regular lineman’s belt and attach the LifeLine at the end.  The most important piece of information I can share with you is, NEVER TAKE A STEP OFF THE GROUND WITHOUT FIRST SECURING YOURSELF TO THE TREE!  When at all possible, take helpers with your to hang stands.  Even if you hunt private property with permission only for yourself, often times a landowner understands the concern for safety and will allow you to bring assistance with you for this one task.  In my case, my helpers are my main reason for wearing a safety harness in the first place.

 

The last bit of advice I have is to make sure you position your LifeLine in a way that in the event of a fall, you can safely get back into your stand or safely climb back down to the ground.  The easiest thing to do is make sure the top of your LifeLine or safety harness strap is high enough that if you lose your balance in your stand, you are unable to fall below your stand.  I like to keep my harness attached as high as possible in the tree so I can still sit, comfortably turn 360 degrees, and step far enough away from my tree that I can turn and shoot at any angle.  Finally, at the base of the tree I like to tie the end of the LifeLine close to the ladder so that no matter where I am when I fall, I will end up close to my ladder. This allows me to easily get myself back into a safe position.  This might seem trivial, but it is equally as dangerous to hang for too long in your safety harness as it is to fall and hit the ground.  Suspension Trauma is a real thing and kills just as assuredly as a broken neck.

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Carter Enterprises – Wise Choice Thumb Trigger Release Review

I have been shooting Carter releases for years.  Often I am asked, why don’t you try Brand X, or have you ever shot Brand Y?  And in truth, I have.  It’s been a few years, but there was a short period of time that I tried several different release manufacturers.  There were a few I liked, and a few I liked really well, but I was never able to find anything that made me want switch.  For the past 6 years, I have never gone into the woods or stepped on the target range without my Carter release.

Someone could make the argument that a release is just a simple device.  As long as it clips on your bowstring, and releases when you want it to, no release is better than any other.  From strictly a functionality standpoint, it would be hard to argue with them.  That is after all the primary purpose of a release.  However, for anyone who shoots their bow more than a few times a year, you know there is a little more to it than that.

There are two major factors that determine how well I like a release, the first being fit and the second is adjustability.  The Wise Choice by Carter performs excellent in both of these categories. The fit of the Wise Choice is perfect for my hands.  My hands are not small, but I don’t have large hands by any means.  I find that the finger groves on most releases are either too wide, or not pronounced enough.  On the Wise Choice, I can shoot well without gloves, and when the temperatures begin to drop in the fall, I have no issues with a lighter pair of gloves which are typically worn all deer season long.  I’ve heard of others using one type of release during summer shooting and early season when it is warm, but then switch to another release as temps drop and they wear thicker gloves.  I like to hunt with what I practice all year-long with, so having a release that fits me is extremely important.  The Carter Wise Choice also comes with an index finger hole that further assists with consistent grip placement, another major plus in my opinion for this release.

The thumb trigger is easily adjustable and rotates by loosening a single Allen head screw, which is important to get the trigger positioned exactly where you need it.  When I start hunting with gloves later in the fall, I like that I can fine tune the placement of my trigger so that it feels the same as it did without wearing gloves.  You can adjust the tension of the thumb trigger just as easy as by turning the tension set screw.  This allows you to quickly decrease or increase the amount of tension needed to set off the release.  I find this very helpful as gloves tend to decrease the sensitivity in your thumb.  For that reason, I like to slightly increase the tension in my release when deer hunting to avoid prematurely releasing an arrow.

Last but not least, the Wise Choice comes equipped with and adjustable lanyard.  I had never used a lanyard on thumb trigger releases in the past, but now that I have one, I could not imagine using my release without it.   When I’m walking to retrieve my arrows, or walking to my hunting spot, I like to attach my release to my belt loop so it is always readily available.  When I am on a spot and stalk hunt, I like that my release is right at my hand while still being able to grab binos or a range finder without the release being in the way.

If you are familiar with Carter releases, you know that every little detail is well thought out and each release design is extensively tested before a release ever hits the market.  The folks at Carter make the best releases available in my opinion.  Best of all, their customer service is unmatched in the industry.  To check out the Wise Choice and all other Carter releases, check out their website at www.carterenterprises.com.

 

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