Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

Starting the Season Off Right…Sort Of…

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Bow season is now underway here in WV.  I have been itching to break in my new (to me) Bowtech Diamond Marquis.  This bow is a huge upgrade from the equipment I have been using.  After all of the problems last year with deer jumping the string, I decided it was time to move into the 21st century with my equipment.

I have gotten out three or four mornings so far.  On Wednesday, I blew a perfect opportunity at a beautiful buck.  He was a mere 12 yards away, I was at full draw, and everything was perfect.  I grunted at him to stop him, but instead he bolted.  Stopped out about 35 yards (but behind trees) and looked at me for at least 15 minutes.  I was really upset about my stupidity, as he probably would have stopped on his own in about 5 or 6 more yards.  This would have been my best buck with a bow, but now he just keeps making appearances in my nightmares!

This morning I finally got to break in the new bow.  I shot a nice doe at just about the same spot that I missed the opportunity at the buck on Wednesday.  I also got a good view of just how good the new Rage Broadheads are.  I got a clean pass through, and a huge hole.  The commercials claim this for the broadheads, but I have had terrible time with mechanical broadheads up to this point.  I shot this doe and made a very good shot on her.  She went up the hill and stood watching around her for about 10 minutes.  I guess she just didn’t have the blood pumping good enough.  She never even knew she was hit.  I ended up sending another arrow through here at 35 yards because I thought she was going to walk over the hill, and I was starting to doubt my first shot.  The second arrow also passed through, both blades opening up and leaving a second huge hole.  When I went up to the spot of the second hit, I could see that I just didn’t give her the opportunity to expire.  The blood trail, and the puddle where she stood was amazing.  I know that is a bit graphic, but I just have to give my recommendation for these great broadheads.  They are fairly expensive, but it seems that all archery equipment is increasing drastically.  One bad thing about the Rage broadheads is that they don’t stay “set” on the o-ring very well.  I sometimes have problems dislodging them from the “set” position when removing from the quiver.  You need to be careful and not bump them when you take them out.  Otherwise, they are great, flying like field points, and doing a devastating job when you hit an animal.  I didn’t get any pictures because the skies opened up and we had downpours for most of the day after I got the deer dragged out of the woods.

This was my second deer of the year.  I also took a doe in a new early season muzzleloader season.  I took Jacob with me for a 2 day hunt, and we were able to score on a pretty nice doe.  The picture above is the muzzleloader doe.  He was very excited to see the smoke belch out of the barrel when I shot.  I think I have decided that a mid-September hunt is too early for deer.  It was extremely hot, and we had to process deer within an hour or so of recovery just to keep them from spoiling.  It felt like a rush against the clock just to save the meat from going bad.  We also had to battle with the flies and yellow jackets to get the butchering done!

I am hoping to get away for a couple of days to catch a few more days of bow season, and get to our camp.  I’d like to tag a buck with the new bow this year.  I just don’t know whether I have already had my shot at a nice buck!  I hope everyone out there has a good season ahead!

Treewalker Treestands: Great Customer Service!

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

It seems like I have been writing posts recently about poor customer service, or poor products. I am happy to be able to write about great customer service for a change!

Many posts ago, I wrote about the treesstand I bought at the WV Hunting and Fishing Show back in 2006 (I think…).  It is a Treewalker Treestand, and it is the best stand I have ever hunted out of.  After hunting out of it for several years, I still love it!  In fact, I continue to recommend this stand to anyone I know who is looking for a stand.  I know that Treewalker must be getting more and more popular, as I get several hits per week searching for them.  If you do a Google search, you will find that my review of the Treewalker on Associated Content is listed right under the homepage for Treewalker, and my post about the stand is right below the article.  That means these pages are getting a lot of hits!

Last year, the netting of the seat of my stand started tearing.  I forgot about it until just a few days ago.  This year, West Virginia is having an early bow season, and I was afraid that I had let it go too long to get the seat replaced.  I looked on the website, and couldn’t find the replacement seat, so I emailed Treewalker.  I got a reply back the next business day, and was told that if I would send them my address, they’d get one out to me.  Well, I needed to get one for me, and one for my dad, so I emailed them back about it.  Today, a box arrived in the mail with two net seats, and a company t-shirt!  Talk about great service.  They took care of me, not even charging me for the postage to send the seats.  I don’t know that this is their typical policy for replacing seats (the invoice had them marked at $22 apiece) but I am certainly thankful for their generosity!  I knew when I bought this stand that the netting of the seat wouldn’t last forever…I didn’t expect it to.  So, it is a nice bonus to have them send them out to me for free!

I have to tell you, there isn’t another climbing stand I would hunt out of at this point.  The Treewalker is the most solid stand I have ever used.  I am afraid of heights, so the large platform is ideal for me.  I feel secure in the stand, and never have had any fear of it failing (and I have had stands fail on me before!).  The stand bites into the tree enough to make sure that it will not slip at all.  I have never had any problems with it creaking or making noises to spook deer.  It is, in my estimation, the perfect climber.  Add to the great quality the great customer service, and I can’t recommend Treewalker enough.

If you are in the market for a new stand, make sure to check out the Treewalker.  I don’t think you will be disappointed!  It is great to see a company that is dedicated to their product, and dedicated to making their customers happy.  It is good to be able to write positive things about an outdoor company.  Throw your business their way!

Bad Customer Service Experience…

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Here is an outdoor related post, just to balance out the last one…

Recently, a friend and I went to Gander Mountain in Charleston, WV, to get some stuff for the upcoming bow season.  Unfortunately, when we got there, we could not get anyone to help us!  We spent a lot of time in the archery department, and then spent more time at the gun counter.  In more than 30 minutes, we didn’t have a single associate come around the departments we were in to offer us assistance.  I decided today that I would send an email to complain, as I figure nothing will change if no one ever complains about such bad service!  Here is the email I sent to them:

I just filled out the customer survey, but thought I would go this route as well, just to make sure this gets to someone who may be concerned about it.

Recently, I shopped at the Gander Mountain in Charleston, WV, and was extremely disappointed in the customer service available.  We were in the Archery department for 15 to 20 minutes, and never saw an associate.  We went over to the gun department, and stood at the counter for another 15 minutes, and only saw a couple of associates behind the gunsmithing area.  One associate was on the phone, but looked up and saw us waiting for them at the counter.  He finished on the phone, hung up, and then disappeared behind the wall.  Neither associate came out to assist us.  After this, we decided to leave (since we could not get any help).  Walking out, we passed a couple of associates, who did not even acknowledge us, or ask if we could use some help.  I should not have to go hunting associates in the store to get help with merchandise!

Just so you know, we decided to go across town to Dick’s Sporting Goods, where we spent over $200 that day, and where we went back and spent about $100 a week later.  When I go back out to purchase the rest of my equipment for this year, I will most likely be going to your competitor because of the bad service in your store.  It would be nice to see people who are excited about hunting and fishing in your store, and who are excited about helping the rest of us outfit ourselves for the great outdoors!

Kris Brewer
http://www.jakesoutdoors.com

I wish these specialty stores would be diligent to hire people who are going to be helpful.  I don’t go to the store to walk around aimlessly.  I want someone available so that they can help if I need it.  By the way, I was going to be asking about a special order gun stock, or barrel to outfit a gun for my son.  There’s no guarantee that I would order one, but because I got no help, they certainly are not going to get my order.

So, do you all have Gander Mountain in your areas?  If so, is the service better than what we experienced?

I have used Gander Mountain as affiliate advertising on this site in times past, but I will not be doing so any more, unless they are able to make amends for their poor service!

EDIT:  I got a very fast response (less than 30 minutes) from Gander Mountain.  Here is what I got:

Hello, Thank you for your email, I do sincerely apologize for the bad experience you had in our store. Our goal is to fully satisfy every customer in our stores. I assure you that this is something that we do not want to ever happen again, I will forward this to the store and district manager so this problem can be addressed. Hopefully you can forgive us for this occurrence because you are the most important part of Gander Mountain. Thank you very much and have a great day!

Sincerely,

Daniel M.
Gander Direct
1-888-5GANDER

Visit us at gandermountain.com

I am happy to get this response, and will await further response from the local store.  I’ll keep you posted!

Great Hunting Boots…

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Last year I had a pair of Rocky boots that were only about 2 or 3 years old.  However, the tread on them was worn out terribly.  I slipped all over the place, and nearly killed myself falling off of the steps of the hunting cabin.  I decided I had to come up with a new pair…and I hit the jackpot.  I searched for a pair of boots, and looked at several pair on sale at various stores.  However, I couldn’t find any wide width boots, which I have to have.  That is one reason I have bought Rocky boots the last couple of times.

Right before season, I was at Cabela’s in Wheeling, WV, and I started looking for a pair of boots that would last me a while.  After trying on 2 or 3 pairs, I came across the Irish Setter Mountain Claw boot.  This is a great boot!  It was comfortable, and it has a great tread.  The only time I even slipped while in the woods this year was when I stepped on a stick that was angled down the hill (if you’ve ever slipped on one of these, you know what I mean!)  I hiked up and down the mountains in rain, snow and sleet, and never had any problems.  I also never got cold feet.  I hate getting cold feet while on stand.  In fact, usually I can stay warm if I can just keep my feet warm.  These boots did a great job, all the way around.

The only problem I have found with these boots is that the eyelets cut into the boot strings.  In fact, I have already run 3 or 4 pairs of laces though them.  I am going to try to find a small file to run through the eyelets (they are metal) to see if I can rub off the edge that is cutting into the laces.  Either that, or I’m going to leather laces.

I recommend these boots if you are looking for new ones.  They are comfortable, warm, and have great traction–everything you need in a great pair of boots.

In a future post, I will tell you why I will not be buying anymore Rocky products…

Product Review: SpiderWire XXX Super Mono

Friday, April 25th, 2008

A few days ago, I wrote a post about my first fishing trip of the year on the Williams River in the mountains of West Virginia. Overall, it was a very good day, and we enjoyed ourselves. However, I did try a new product that day, which turned out to be a disappointment. I have done a few reviews on this site, and I think all of them have been positive. I guess there is a first time for everything!

Every year at the beginning of the season, I replace the old fishing line on my poles with new line. I am always looking for strong, fine line that is smooth and easy to use. I have tried several, some with good results, some with not so good results. This year’s experiment was of the latter experience.

I chose the new SpiderWire XXX (using that name will get my blog blocked by some filters!) Super Mono in 4 pound test. My first indicator that I wasn’t going to be extremely pleased with this line was when I got finished putting it on the reels. The line seemed a little stiff, and would jump over the reel, making it difficult to keep it from getting tangled right off the bat. I thought I may have just over filled the reels, so I didn’t worry too much about it.

However, when we hit the water, i found there were several other problems with this line. I found out very quickly that the line was not very smooth, as most of the time when I would tie knots, I could not get them to tighten down properly. It was as if there were knicks in the line, which kept it from getting tight on the hook. Several times during the day, while tying on hooks, the line simply broke off instead of drawing down tight. There were a couple of times during the day that I broke off fish at the hook, which indicates a weakness in the line. Some may think that perhaps I just didn’t know what I was doing tying on these hooks, but I have used tons of line, and been fishing hundreds of times…I think I know what I am doing. For reference, I was trying to use an improved clinch knot to tie on hooks.

Also, in my previous post, I told you about taking my friend Chad fishing for the first time. He had a lot of trouble with the line. It did keep jumping over the reel, as if it were too stiff. Being inexperienced, he didn’t know what to watch for, and ended up with several real messes. A couple of times, the line jumped the reel, and got tangled in the gears behind the reel. Granted that the broader problem was a result of his inexperience, but the line jumping the reel, especially when it had begun to run down after the first several tangles.

My take on this line is that I will not ever be using it again. I was tired of fighting with the line by the end of the day. i will be removing what is left of the line, and putting something else on my reels. If you all have used this line, and had better experiences, let me know. I may have just gotten a bad box. I did write a note to SpiderWire on their website. We will see if I get any kind of response.

Product Review: Matthews Genesis Mini Bow

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I have been hinting at this review for a few days now, but have not had the time to sit down and write it. I am finally able to get it down, with not much time to spare before my “Tuesday’s Tracking” is due tomorrow! So, without further ado, here is my take on the Mathews Genesis Mini Bow.

The Matthews Genesis Mini Bow is a bow designed to get younger children involved in the sport of archery. In fact, Matthews has worked to make this bow available for schools to use in physical education archery classes, as well as for archery clubs in the public school system. The Genesis series bows are the perfect choice for these classes and clubs because of their flexibility. These bows are designed to grow with children, so that they don’t have to be replaced every time the child grows (like most archery equipment).

Adjustable Draw Length and Weight…

The Genesis series of bows is designed to have a very flexible draw length. Without adjustment, the draw length covers everything from 14″to 25″. This is accomplished by having a 0% let off design. This means that there is no “break over” of the cam (more detail later). The draw weight for the Mini can be adjusted easily by either loosening or tightening the main limb bolts. The weight range is between 6 and 12 pounds. Since the draw weight itself is so small, it is ideal for very small shooters. With the 0% let off, whether a child draws it to 14″ or 25″, he is holding back the same poundage. This is impressive, because the same bow can be shot as the child grows through these lower draw lengths, and having a bow with an adjustment up to 12 pounds will ensure the bow will last for at least 2-3 years before a child is ready to move on to other equipment. So, not only can you start a shooter earlier, but you can be sure that the equipment will not become outdated too soon. My dealer said that most schools use the Mini for classes up through elementary school, and then move to the regular Genesis bow for the middle school and older kids.

Other Specs…

This bow is very well made, which is surprising for the price that it sells for. Compared to other bows that are designed for smaller kids, this one puts the others to shame. This bow is designed for durability, and I believe it will hold up to the task of providing hours of recreation for children who are notoriously hard on equipment. Some of the specific features that make this bow top notch include:

  1. Aluminum idler wheel, and cam. Matthews did not use plastic wheels, like some other manufacturers. This would easily be a place to cut cost, but it would also cut quality. These wheels should hold up to any use that a child could put it through. Simply put, they should last longer than a child will using the bow (even if it is several years).
  2. High strength, durable strings. This is another detail that could have easily been overlooked. But, lets face it, kids will be hard on a bow string! They could have gone with a cheap imitation of a bow string, but this is very similar, if not the same as, the string material used on other adult bows. With the low poundage, this string should last for years (if properly maintained).
  3. Split Composite Limbs. The limbs seem to be very well made. The composite material is very durable, and will , like the rest of the bow, be strong enough to last for years. Again, the low draw weight will also help here, as there will not be much strain on the limbs.
  4. Molded Competition Grip. The grip is not overlooked on this bow. For some equipment designed for kids, comfort elements are often bypassed for cheap materials. Again, that has not happened with this bow. Every detail has been addressed in the design of this bow.
  5. Quick Replace Rest. If there is a weakness in the durability of this equipment, it has to be the rest. However, this rest is designed to be able to be replaced quickly and easily. It doesn’t take anything but a wrench, and it takes very little tuning. Basically, it only has to be level with the knock point. It can be replaced easily, and very inexpensively.

That summarizes the main characteristics of the bow, and shows just how durable the bow is. Here are a few of the general specs that you may be interested in:

  • Axle to axle length: 29 1/2 inches
  • Riser length: 16 inches
  • Brace height: 6 1/8 inches
  • Draw Weight: 6-12 pounds
  • Draw Length: 14-25 inches
  • Let off: 0%
  • Colors (or Flavors as Matthews calls them): Red Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Black Licorice, Hardwoods Camo

My Take…

My son shot the Matthews Genesis Micro at the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show at the Ohio DNR booth. He had an absolute blast doing it, and I was very impressed with the fact that he (at just under 5 years old) was able to shoot the bow unassisted, at least once he learned what he was doing. After looking into the bow itself, I decided that I would get one for him. Though he has not had the chance to shoot his own bow yet, as the weather has been too cold and rainy, I am sure that he will love it. I also believe that the quality is so good that I am planning to hand down this bow through all three of my kids, as they should be spaced apart at just the right intervals to be ready for it as the older one grows through it. I recommend this bow highly for anyone with younger children (4-8 years old) who want to get them started in archery.

Notice, that this bow comes in several colors. That, I think, is important because archery is not about hunting. My son got the camo bow because I know that is what he would like the most. However, he has already figured out that his bow is too small for deer hunting, and has started calling the bow his “target bow”, since that is what he will be shooting with it. Archery is a sport that anyone can get into, even if they never have any desire to start hunting. In fact, hunting is only a small part of the sport. Archery is a sport that you can get your children involved in with you, so that you can have “family time” together. I know when I was growing up, I loved spending time with my dad on the range shooting. Often, in the late summer, and fall, we spend Saturdays at various archery clubs shooting 3D tournaments. I’m looking forward to getting my son involved so that we can get started in shooting tournaments such as that.

Where to buy…

The Matthews Genesis Mini is available in many places. Cabela’s has the black version available in a package deal for $199. I called Gander Mountain and found that they sell the bow, by itself, for $129. I found it at a local dealer for $159, so that is where I bought it, as it would have cost me more than $30 to drive to the Gander Mountain. You can also find a retailer at the Matthews web site.

Final Word…

If you have a child somewhere between 4 and 8, you have to check this bow out. For older children, check out the regular Genesis–Same quality, with a little larger frame!

Treewalker Treestands Review

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Treewalker Tree StandsI don’t know if you all have heard of the Treewalker Tree Stands, but I bought one a couple of years ago at our West Virginia’s Sportsman’s show, and have been thrilled with it. At the show, the guy showing the stands (which is the son of the man who makes them) had a stand set up on a round steel pole. Unlike other places, where you are often told to stay off of stands set up in such a way, this guy was encouraging us to get in the stand and climb the pole. I was amazed! I had no intention of buying a tree stand when going to the show, but I walked out with one anyway. The stand went up the pole with no trouble at all. It is the most stable, and most comfortable stand I have ever been in. I sold my Summit Viper, and now exclusively use my Treewalker. I also went together with my brothers and bought my dad one of these, which he loves as well.

I wrote a more in depth review of the Treewalker Treestand, and it can be found by CLICKING HERE.

If you have used one of these, leave a comment, and let me know what you think!

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