Monday, February 28, 2011

Outdoor Blogger Network Review Opportunity: Otis Hard Core Hunter Cleaning Kit

Otis Technology Hardcore Hunter Cleaning System

I'm not a gun cleaning enthusiast; actually if I could have someone else do the good work for me then I'd graciously hand over the firearm and look forward to the next day in the field or on the water.  However,  I tell my little girls if you want to keep the toys you have then you must clean up after yourself. Therefore, I must do the same and ensure that my firearms are well maintained.  I'm always looking for something to make what I do easier and when a gear review post came up last month, I figured it was worth a shot.  That shot was the Otis Hard Core Hunting Cleaning Kit which I managed to win.  Not bad for only having joined OBN a month before.  Now for the review.  Please note that I am an independent man with no commercial connection to Otis Technology and only a member of the Outdoor Blogger Network who offers these opportunities.  I thank both for allowing me the opportunity to try out the kit.

Compact and loaded with components
I received the kit in good order with a letter, catalog, and directions.  My first reaction was that the camouflage storage case seemed a tad small for what I intended to do.  It literally fit in the palm of my hand and came with a solid strap on back to run a belt through.  Useful I thought, but my plans would be to throw it into my gear bag for sometimes space around my waist is limited.  On any account, I can officially attest that my interest in opening this pint size means to clean was at beast on full excitement.

Level One
Strapped Level

Last Level

Within this kit were 5 distinct levels of hardware.  The pouch on the top included 3 flexible cables (8, 30, & 34 inches), bore reflector, and cotton patches in 2" and 3" widths.  As I moved down one flight, the foam capsule included a variety of tips, adapters, patch savers, and parts for a T-handle.  On the flip side of this capsule were the wire brushes in a variety of calibers.  An elastic strap then held a 12 & 20 gauge brush along with the Otis 085 Ultra Bore gun cleaning solvent.  To end my trip at the bottom was a pouch that held a micro-fiber gun cloth and a bonus complimentary dual technology brush for .17 caliber.  Needless to say, I was impressed with the organization of this kit.

I chose to tackle a New England Firearms Model P73 in .32 H&R Magnum left to me by my late father-in-law and I had never given it a thorough cleaning as I've used the handgun.  Plus I figured it would be neat to use the smaller caliber features of the kit in addition to the shotgun I chose- my Beretta Xtrema2.

It took me a few minutes to canvas the instructions (which by the way were very informative and came with step by step photos) and get started with the bore cleaning.  It was here where I hit the first snag, but an adaptable one.  In order to "pull" the custom patch through with the wire cable, I needed to prep the tip with the cotton patch and insert this into the bore where it then could be threaded into the cable.  Once ready, the system with some solvent easily performed and worked like a dream.  After that, I utilized the .30 caliber wire brush in the same manner as the patch and found the effort minimal.

The system was easy with the Xtrema2
Using the system for my Beretta Xtrema2 was quite simple.  The 30 inch cable along with the appropriate tip and brush made for a relatively easy effort.  I was most impressed that I could clean the bore without needing to break down the shotgun and "push" the brush through.  There exists no question that in the field, this system can quickly do the job to promote a clean bore even before you leave the field.

Otis Technology on the left
The things I liked about the system:
* the cotton patch system did make for a convenient swab once I learned how to apply the direction in order to adjust for varying calibers
* it's a far smaller kit than most other brands while being just if not more versatile
* the breech to muzzle concept is common sense in action while the coated cables ensure no damage to the bore
* the wire brushes were in my mind far superior to the competition in terms of overall quality especially the bristles

The things that were good about the system:
* the T-handle bar was in my mind and excellent design but the bar at times would slip out and fall
* the foam organization system made for easy organization, even my daughter could put the components in the correct locations
* the camouflage soft pack case is well designed with a silent zipper than prevents debris from getting in

The thing that didn't work exactly as planned:
* When trying to follow the directions I found that as I tried to pull the bore brush into the bore, I could not get the system through.  I had to untwist the brush from the cable, insert it into the bore, and then reconnect the system.  It wasn't a huge pitfall, but revolvers may be more of a challenge than other handguns.

I believe this system would work well on warmer days, in the camp, or at the lodge, but I would not want to attempt this in the duck blind in mid-December.  As with anything, this system has places it would work like a dream and others where it may not be the easiest to use.

I would certainly recommend this system for the mobile hunter who may be at camp, a hunting trip, or away from home for a few days.  The Hard Core Hunter Cleaning Kit is a quality bore cleaning system that I look forward to accompanying me.  I thank Otis Technology and Outdoor Blogger Network for allowing me the opportunity to offer a gear review.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The West Grand Experience (Part I)

Rabid, Bret, The Mayor, and DEDH
The only thing between me and the big ice fishing trip was two hours of driving time.  Rabid had confirmed his arrival at the grandfather's abode and my estimated time of arrival held like that of a true man, early.  As I powered over the frost heaves of Downeast Maine's secondary roads, thoughts of past times at West Grand couldn't help but aide my duration.

Once pulled into the first pit stop, I was sort of perplexed by the simple fact that Matt Diesel was here as well.  He wasn't due to attend the trip until the next day, things had come up and he decided to pack up rather than spend a night alone at his camp.  From there, the three of us began the descent into Grand Lake Stream.

Uncle Kim, the esteemed and self-appointed mayor of Township 27, met us in the driveway with hugs fit for a bear.  We quickly readied our equipment as the temperatures were quickly dipping below the freezing mark, plus a warm home and a cold beer had been advertised earlier in the day.

It didn't take long for the chatter to enter the bullshit zone as stories were flung like soiled diapers and lies became more believable than the attempted truths.  The air about our evening was about fraternity, that group of outdoorsmen, guides, men, and the fellowship that pulls all of us together.  We were all the same in all of our differences, all here for the experience of life that defines our being.  After several toasts for a variety of important and unimportant reasons, the strategy and preparations were set.  Daylight would arrive in several hours.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crazy time...

So my buddy Loren convinces me that we have enough daylight to get an afternoon ice fishing trip in, and I agreed to the challenge.  Once the final bell rang, I hopped into Bud's truck with his son and embarked for the trout pond.  The temperature- mid 30's, foggy, little wind and actually pleasant.

We got there after three o'clock, had the traps in by half past, caught twelve trout in just over an hour, and of those; I kept two beautiful foot-long brookies.  One was a beautiful hue of brown while the other seemed, well more grayish.  My guess is that I scored a native and a stocked trout.  What an afternoon, we quit at 4:46 p.m.

A limit of six trout between the three of us was satisfied and I'm putting ice fishing on hold until I unleash the fury upon the landlocked salmon and lake trout of West Grand Lake.  Countdown- 5 days!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First trout for my littlest...

First Flag

She did it and I've got the goods on tape, just need to load the video.  However, my youngest landed two brook trout last weekend.  My oldest landed her first trout at just about the same age (click here) and scored on tape a couple weeks later (click here).  I consider myself quite fortunate to have two beauties that aren't squeamish about tackling fish.

I will honestly say that they are quite different, one more of a do all tomboy, while the other is a pink clad fashion princess.  My next challenge is to put them on the ice together, we'll see how the ice holds up in March when the temperature gets at least consistently in the 40's...

First Trout

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Preparing for the big trip...

After a few quality responses to my writing challenge, I'm moving on and will utilize this moment in time to declare that someone is officially pumped for the upcoming ice fishing adventure in approximately eight days.

The mean street posse will consist mainly of Registered Maine Guides and should provide one monstrous advancement of stretched truths, outright lies, persistent harassment, and a vast fare of gas producing elements of culinary disaster.

The Rabid Outdoorsman

The Downeast Duck Hunter

The Tip Up
Matt Diesel
Big Bret
Famass Guide

At this point in time, the gear is being readied and the logistics planned out.  It should make for one memorable trip!!!  So Famass Guide, Rabid, Pa Vose, Bret, & Matt Diesel, let the countdown begin!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Taking some time... and here's your challenge...

Local photo taken about 100 years ago, is it an average joe or a former mayor???

I really haven't much to comment on other than I've been headlong into a major local history project, when it's done I might have unearthed one of the greatest historical compilations ever.  And I'm not joking...  I will be bold and say that the many hours I've spent searching people, making connections, corresponding with historical societies, and constantly reworking my data pales in comparison to the potential of research if I had decided to do this say, 15 years ago.  The internet in this case is a most amazing device with the ability to browse old books, documents, and web sites.

So for now, I will leave my readership a challenge that is certainly plausible and can shed some fantastic light on the antique days of wildfowling or other outdoor adventure.  The challenge- produce a historical photo that includes a narrative.  You may need to catch up with a family member, or hit your historical society.  If we don't churn up the pot of history ever once in awhile, our past sometimes gets away from us.  My project is quite an endeavor on several fronts, but someday someone will appreciate the time I've spent.  If you could, please drop me a comment letting me know if you've accepted my charge and where I may find it...

Take care,

The Downeast Duck Hunter

Friday, February 4, 2011

Moose Hunt 2007

One of my hometown buddies found time to enlighten me on the current status of the blog with some interesting criticism.  The dialogue went a little like this...

Buddy- You've got a nice blog but you haven't done anything on your Biggest Buck of Maine back in high school, nor have you mentioned anything about the moose hunts.

DEDH- It's basically a duck hunting blog, it's easier to write about what I'm doing rather than construct a narrative or two about the past.

Buddy- You teach history, don't you deal with the past.

DEDH- Yup, I suppose I'll get to work on those...

So now I've taken on the charge and will take some time to recount some of my historical adventures.  First up will be the moose hunt of 2007...

Never in my lifetime did I think I'd get a moose permit, let alone three (2000, 2003, & 2007).  There's an adage that the fun ends right after you pull the trigger which holds some truth and on the other hand, some of the greatest memories tend to fall into the retrieval of these massive animals.  On that note, let me digress.

In June of 2007, there stood my name on the Maine Department of Fisheries & Wildlife moose lottery winner list.  My first call was my uncle who was the alternate and my cousin who for the first time replaced his dad as my subpermittee.  We had landed Zone 2 (one of the premier zones running from Ashland north to St. Francis) and possessed a bull only permit.  This would be my cousins first chance at a moose and I offered him the opportunity to take the shot of a lifetime.  Needless to say, he was very wound up as he was in his senior year of high school.

After the traditional efforts over the summer to land our lodging, acquire our game tags, ready the equipment, and compile the crew, we found ourselves skipping the first day of the season as I had a school law course Monday night.  Later that evening, I met up with the rest of the crew in Garfield Plantation and went over the strategy for hopefully a fast hunt.

Long before daylight we set out for the Hewes Brook Road from the Fish River Checkpoint accessed just to the west of Portage Lake.  Once registered and all fees covered, we began the northerly trek for some of the cuts in hopes that Bullwinkle would be seen.

The bull stood in the middle of the road about ten minutes after legal shooting and I shut down the truck quickly for the fastest moose hunt in modern history.  As I scoped the nice bull, my cousin from the passenger side had a jam with the bolt action.  The moose began to move and in the time it took him to draw the rifle, was into the thicket.  Our first moose disappeared.  On a side note, my Remington Model 700 in .338 Ultra Magnum had to be taken to the gunsmith for a minor repair.  The rifle at the time of the hunt was rendered a single shot.

Shaken but not stirred, we continued our hunt that morning and saw approximately zero moose other than the ones taken by other hunters in the zone.  Our spirits were not ruined, for there stood two more days of vacation time and a good crew consisting of my uncle, cousin, best man, his father, a close buddy, and another pal who was on his first ever moose excursion.  Good company was making for a fine trip.

Our next morning found us repeating the voyage taken the day before and we employed an electronic moose call that broadcast the soothing sounds of a cow in estrus, young bull grunt, aggressive mature bull, and thrashing woods.  As my cousin and I stood at the road side of an older cut, I sent out the love signal only to be amazed at a quality bull smashing through the woods that arrived about ten feet into the cut.  My cousin who was at least one hundred feet to my left did not see the bull which had a hard job figuring out why I wasn't a sexy cow waiting for love.  I tried to point in the direction of the bull, but my cousin could not see it.  When the bull knew the gig was up, it turned and retreated.  At this point, strike two.

We hit the roads that day only to discover that 120 miles of dirt roads void of our intentions.  The clouds began to approach from the west and the rain promised by our weatherman found northern Maine.  We hoped for a chance on the last day of our trip.  I had to be back to work Friday.

For those of you who don't know, the truckers hauling massive loads of woods have full right of way on these roads owned by the North Maine Woods.  The rain wasn't a sprinkle but rather a downpour which turned all gravel roads into mud runs.  Our next day found little success other than we managed to avoid either going off the road, or in a serious accident.  The mud highway coupled with the inclement weather made Thursday a serious bust for we saw not one moose of either sex.  For us the moose season was nearing an end, I had been missing my family and work was looming.  But then my cousin thanked me for giving him the chance for a moose, I took that appreciation and decided our trip wasn't over no matter the consequence that could find my way.  Once cell phone reception got to at least two bars, I made the call and chose our pursuit over responsibility.

A rainbow did appear after our decision to stay

I lost three of my crew that night which left us four strong for the next day.  Our plan was for my cousin and I to drive ahead while my buddy and uncle held back.  We would contact them with two-way radios once the decision to move was made.  Since most of the hunters had either tagged out or relented from our zone, there was next to no pressure in the far northern expanse of Maine.

Once legal shooting arrived, I began the cow in estrus call and immediately heard a responsive bull.  The woods crashed and a grunting bull presented himself at the edge of the trees.  My cousin seemed to have taken forever as I had enough time to count the points and estimate the spread.  Then in a loud boom, the .338 Ultra Magnum found the target and I watched the bull collapse on spot through the scope of my Weatherby Vanguard Deluxe.  Success had been attained, well as we thought.

My cousin was sure of a quality vital shot and the moose had not been seen since the shot.  Within a few minutes, we slowly walked into the cutting armed with our rifles looking forward to inspecting the great creature.  Then all of a sudden, a rack appeared and the bull staggered up making a lurch for the woods.  I quickly fired a round, but our moose officially had left the building.

Once my uncle and buddy arrived, we explained the details of the event and then began searching for blood.  The moose had been clearly hit well, dropped, but managed to have enough recourse to run.  Hair had been spread at eye level where I managed to hit it, but again no blood.  At this point, we feared that our moose was gone and may not be found.

We broke into two groups and commenced a full blown search believing the moose had to be down at this point.  Eventually, my uncle yelled informing us that he found the moose.  It had run a couple hundred feet in and fallen in the middle of a cedar swamp.  In addition, the chainsaw for our trip had gone to southern Maine the night before.

My cousin did not want to quarter the moose and take it out in pieces which then left us with a difficult process of block & tackle, hand sawing a path, and some serious energy to be burned.  Eventually, after four hours of mechanical advantage, blistered hands & feet, and more sweat than I'd like to mention, the moose was delivered close enough to use a rope pulley system with our two trucks.
13 point 767 pound bull moose
The twenty minute ride back to the checkpoint was accompanied by some insane leg and foot cramps from the dehydration of recovery.  But we had our moose, and I had a cousin who hadn't stopped smiling since we found the moose.

At the Ashland weigh in station

After this had all transpired, I spoke with our processor about the moose wondering why the 250 grain lead from the Ultra Mag hadn't exited.  He smiled and gave me the Swift A-Frame in full entirety.  The dense mushroom had entered the moose, gone through two lungs, and severely broke several ribs on the other side.  With no exit, the blood had pooled inside the moose and if we had waited (as if), the moose would have never gotten back up.

This past spring my two year wait had expired and I weighed the possibility of throwing my name back into the ring.  I chose not to apply for a variety of reasons, but with the online application available as of last week I may just need to get myself in a little bit more trouble.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bloggers I would want to meet...

Rebecca over at the Outdoor Blogger Network posted this week a writing opportunity asking members to consider who in the wide world of the internet would you want to meet.  For the sake of writing this, I'm going to steal the questions from the post and aptly drop them just one line below (look down).

So this weeks open ended question, if you had a chance to meet some Outdoor Bloggers you’ve come across online, who would it be? Who would you like to fish with, hike with, camp with, hunt with, toss back a beverage with?

The Maine Outdoorsman
Now it's no secret that my hunting partner, The Rabid Outdoorsman, and I spend hours in the field chasing wild game and figuring out this thing called life.  But for the sake of this blog entry, he's null and void.  And if anybody wants to meet him, beware for he is a master of pious fiction and unnecessary floggings at my expense.

So here's my top list and please don't be upset if you didn't make my list for I hold no ill feelings about not being on yours.

Terry at WHJ
#1- Terry at Women's Hunting Journal
Terry has been a steadfast online friend ever since I created the first attempt at the Downeast Duck Hunter.  We've shared stories, e-mails, and even tried to set up a sea duck hunt.  Things fell through this past November, however her invite is always open.  She is a class act, dedicated to quality writing, and a true internet friend. 

Trey Luckie

#2- Trey Luckie at Brave Eagles Hunt with Antique Brownings
Fairly new to my site, Trey shares a genuine interest in the outdoor activities I participate in although I believe he has no interest in joining me in any venture if the temperature drops below 50 degrees which just might prohibit any potential trip.  He has a variety of attributes and interests ranging from vehicle restoration, deer hunting, bass fishing, and most recently he took a few jabs at me as he posted about rattlesnake wrangling.  He is a man of faith, loves family more than life, and I fear if we were closer, we'd be running like the wolves.  Check out his site, it's a combination of all activities from the perspective of being a proud dad and loving husband. 

#3- The rest... I raise my mug...
RiverMud is one of the more informative blogs out there as Swamp Thing is very clear, intelligent, and provides a wonderful prose that is a good read.  The posts range from the action of the hunt, conservation efforts, to the enjoyment of being a new dad...

Passinthruoutdoors is straight up a great blog and well written, this author brings a variety of good topics.  A knowledgeable individual, I'm impressed with the attention of detail and obvious interest within all things outdoors including good stories, how to articles, and safety factors...

The Gang at Ducks, Dogs, and Downriggers is the west coast version of DuckPower, Inc.  Although they only have 4 followers (including me) at this time, they are truly adept at duck hunting and fishing.  Rather than keep this blog a secret, these guys are top notch and display great photos to coincide with the stories.  Check them out...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gear Review Opportunity Winner

The Hardcore Hunter Cleaning System by Otis Technology

A few of my “blogging buddies” had spoken well of a site called the Outdoor Blogger Network and when I first hit the site, it was apparent who would be the next member.  It basically is a blog that generates a unique voice in the outdoors world simply because it’s of, for, and by outdoor enthusiasts.  It offers fun opportunities to share stories, submit photos, toss ideas in a forum, and throw your hat into the ring for chances to review gear.  The gear consists of items provided by established companies that ask you to try the equipment & offer your two cents on how well or poorly it performed.  Needless to say, it’s a fun site and it has generated far more visits to my site from all over than I could ever attempt to garner alone.

So far I’ve commented on how my blog got it’s name which has resulted in several explanations concerning how the furthermost county in the United States is called “downeast”, shared a link about how I do my best blogging (in the field, not often but sometimes), and most recently- I just had my number drawn to test a product.  The Hardcore Hunter Cleaning System seems to be the right fit for me simply because I put my firearms through a barrage of elements ranging from salt water on the Atlantic, snow from the tree stand, and spruce needles when trudging through the forest. 

For the most part, I’ve been very religious about my firearms and have used a variety of means to maintain the devices of pursuit.  This particular model seems quite interesting as it’s designed to go with you in all of your adventures.  Since my life is an adventure, this product seems fitting to adjoin me in the chase.  Stay tuned for an upcoming gear review.

Trey Luckie
On a side note, the other winner was a man who has been quite active on the DEDH blog for some time now.  Trey Luckie of Brave Eagles Hunt with Antique Brownings! was choice number two and I look forward to how his gear review stacks up against mine.  He is a class act guy and puts up a nice blog with a variety of life's happenings.  

Have a great day,

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