Friday, June 28, 2013

Make Sharpening Easy

Work Sharp has a pair of outstanding knife sharpeners: a field sharpener and a power sharpener. The field sharpener includes a coarse and fine diamond plate, two ceramic rods, a leather strop, and 20-and 25-degree sharpening guides to keep a consistent sharpening angle for knives and camp tools.

Strong, rare earth magnets secure the interchangeable diamond plates and provide coverage for a broadhead wrench and small storage compartment. It also sharpens serrated knives, fish hooks, broadheads and many common camp tools.

The power sharpener uses a narrow, flexible belt with a guide to hold the knife at the optimum sharpening angle. There are three belts – coarse, medium, and fine – that are easy and fast to change. I was able to turn a dull kitchen knife into a very sharp blade within a couple of minutes using only the medium and fine belts. I sharpened a dozen knives in less than half an hour, without undue wear on the blades from the power belt. The flexible belt matches the shape of the blade, creating a perfect convex edge. There are two guides: one for kitchen knives (20 degrees) and one for outdoor knives (25 degrees). The power sharpener can also be used without the guide to sharpen mower blades and garden tools. For more information visit

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hooker Deer Drag

The Hooker Deer Drag is an innovative answer to the chore of moving your deer through the woods, and even loading it into a pickup or trailer. A set of two long hooks (rated at 1000 lbs. each) are constructed from solid 3/8-inch diameter steel, powder-coated in blaze orange or neon pink, and are made in the USA. Each hook has a large, comfortable handle with a thick foam grip that accommodates bare hands or even thick gloves, and a heavy-duty 1-inch wide nylon web looped strap. The straps can be attached to a buck’s rack, or the hook ends can be easily attached to the hind legs of an antlerless deer. These hooks enable a single hunter to move a deer through the woods, across fields, and even lift the deer into a vehicle – and it’s all the easier if you have a buddy to help with the second hook. A set of Hooker Deer Drags are $49.99, and can be ordered from the website More information and videos of the Hooker Deer Drag in use are on the website.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Make Starting A Fire Easy

Grate Chef Fire Starters are packets of uniquely developed material that burn hot and clean with no harmful toxins, so they are perfect for starting charcoal grills, camp fires, and fires in your fireplace. They are simple to use: just place the packet under charcoal, wood, and so on, and light one corner. It will burn at 1,500 degrees for about 10 minutes – long enough to light your grill, fireplace, and even wet wood. It burns clean with no smell or taste, and is safe for transport (it won’t self-combust like other petroleum based starters). While Grate Chef Fire Starters are new to North America, they have been the lighter of choice in Europe and other countries for years. Even when wet, these fire starters will light with ease. A set of three packs of Fire Starters (six starters in each pack) is $8.99. They are available at major hardware and outdoor stores, or order from their website at

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Should You Start Reloading?

Most hunters will not save money by
reloading, but that is not the only
reason to reload. Customizing ammo
to fit your firearm or hunting situation
can be an important part of
your hunting experience.

The recent rise in the cost of ammunition, and the scarcity of some calibers, led one friend to ask if I thought he should start reloading. Since he is still using the same box of .30-06 ammo he bought three years ago, and he only shoots 4-5 rounds a year, I told him that I thought he’d be OK staying with factory ammo.  Then I got the same question from someone else I know. Reloading is a great hobby, but not for everyone. Let’s take a look why.

What is Your Motivation?
Reloading can offer a number of benefits, but if those benefits don’t apply to you, there is no reason to reload. Forget what I do, or your neighbor, or some guy at the range. If it doesn’t help you, it’s a waste of time and money. Remember that saving money may not be the best reason to reload.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish?
The “pound” in that old saying refers to British money, and reloading can be a great way to spend dollars to save pennies. It all depends on volume. I started reloading decades ago because I was shooting a lot of handgun ammo and couldn’t afford to shoot as much as I wanted (that hasn’t changed over the years). I was able to ‘pay’ for my reloading gear with money saved on ammo in the first year. Unfortunately, I didn’t really put that money in the bank. Overall, I’ve just shot more, and spent more money on other guns and additional reloading gear. You will find that you will either become overwhelmed, bored, and find reloading too much trouble, or you will gradually get more involved, start loading more calibers, and need more gear.

Do The Math
After you start reloading you will discover that there is
a plethora of additional gear that is helpful, necessary,
or good to add to your process. This can result in
you spending more money, and reduce the amount
you save on ammunition. 
If you think you will save money, first put a pencil to paper. A very basic starter kit, plus supplies and one set of dies, will run you $500-$700. A decent setup with some additional gear will add $300-$500. So let’s say $1,000 to get going (and you will spend more in the future). You can expect to save 30-70% over factory ammo (perhaps even more right now, with the recent shortages and price increases), depending on the cost of primers, powder, and bullets (and whether or not you have to buy brass), but let’s say you can save 50%. Let’s assume factory ammo is $1.00 a round. At a bare minimum you’d have to reload 2,000 rounds to make the breakeven point. A serious shooter can do that, but I know a lot of hunters who won’t shoot that much in a couple of decades.

Other Reasons to Reload
When you reload you will be able to
select components to achieve
specific performance objectives
 from your firearms.
But don’t be discouraged, because saving money is not the only motive for reloading. You can fine-tune your ammo to produce the most accuracy possible from a particular rifle, produce ammo to meet specific performance requirements (very light or very heavy loads, for instance), produce ammo for hard-to-find calibers, or have the satisfaction of using ammo you manufactured to take that trophy animal. You can use different powders and different weights and styles of bullets to make your deer rifle suitable to take anything from varmints to elk, and you will receive an extensive education on ballistics.

Is Your Personality a Match?
A single-stage press can produce perhaps 50 finished rounds an hour. Do you have the patience and attention to detail to do the same thing, exactly the same way, hour after hour? You have to be careful, precise, and methodical – there is no margin for error. If you leave the powder out of one case, fail to properly seat one primer, or double charge one round, the results can range from problematic to catastrophic. You must keep careful records, compare loads, examine spent cases for signs of stress, and fully understand what you are doing, and why you are doing it. All of this will take a lot of time. You will also need a clean, dry, well-lit area in which to reload, with a solid, secure bench where you can bolt the reloading press. Make sure you can safely and securely store components when not in use. Be honest with yourself – if this is too much for you, stick with factory ammo. If this is a good fit for you – then get some catalogs, save some money, and start reloading.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dan Vogt Passes on The Hunting Heritage

By Brandon Butler

Dan Vogt is a field director for Whitetails Unlimited, covering Missouri and Arkansas, and he pretty much eats, drinks, and sleeps whitetails 365 days a year. So when Dan told me he had experienced the hunt of his life last season, I knew I had to hear about it.

The story wasn’t what I expected. He didn’t tell me about a double drop tine booner closing inside 20 yards. It wasn’t a story about a state record, or some big nasty freak animal. In fact, it wasn’t
about antlers at all. The story of Dan’s best hunt ever was of his 8-year-old son, Jacob, killing his first deer.

Jacob Vogt with his first deer.
Jacob Vogt, who is now nine, is your average boy. He enjoys spending time with his daddy, going to school, and playing video games. Deer hunting doesn’t consume him (yet), but since it is so important to his dad, Jacob has gravitated toward it. When he recalled to me the story of killing his first deer, a big healthy doe, there was excitement in his eyes, especially each time he looked up at his father as if to reconfirm the admiration being bestowed.

Like many young folks, and quite a few of us older guys too, Jacob doesn’t like sitting still for long. So when Dan and Jacob decided to call it quits on their ground blind hunt, they figured their chances of success were over. But on the way back to the truck, they jumped a group of deer from a ditch. They formulated a plan to sneak up on them and it worked.

“I was like 50/50 on whether or not I should take the shot, but I did, and I got her,” Jacob said.
Dan said it was really a pretty close shot and Jacob made it count. To young eyes, 60 yards is a mile. Consider buck fever and shaking hands, and it’s easy to understand how the youngster was hesitant to pull the trigger.

“I was so excited because I shot and I thought right away that I got it. I started calling all my family. I called grandma first because she’s the closest, just across the street,” Jacob said.

Dan said it was hard to put into words how much it meant to him to pass the tradition of hunting on to his son. Here’s a guy whose career is based on turning people into deer hunters and deer hunters into conservationists, but his ultimate reward was passing the flame to his own son. “When I grow up, I might work for my dad, maybe. If I’m not a professional swimmer,” Jacob said.

Well, whether or not Jacob ends up working for Whitetails Unlimited really doesn’t matter much. What matters is that at 9 years old, he’s an advocate with a story to tell. A story he’ll recount to his friends that may create a desire in them to venture into the deer woods. Hopefully, they’ll create their own stories too.

Each of you has an opportunity to connect with a child through nature. It doesn’t have to be deer hunting. Take your child fishing, or squirrel hunting, or just for a long nature hike. You don’t have to ban them from video games to inspire a love of being outdoors. Encourage a balance. You’ll be giving a child the gift of a lifetime, and you’ll never be more satisfied with yourself than when they look up at you and smile about nothing more than the pure joy of being outdoors.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Welcome to the Brotherhood!

Travis "T-Bone" Turner

By Travis "T-Bone" Turner

I often think that I’ve got the greatest job in the world, and then something comes along and proves it.
I’ve been traveling to a variety of Whitetails Unlimited banquets, and I have a fantastic time at every one of them. I meet a lot of people, and we talk all night. I learn as much from the hunters at a banquet as they learn from me, but just sharing time is the topping on the sundae.

I’ve been told that I’m the kind of guy that could have fun in an empty room; but if I have to be in a room, I prefer one that is filled with people. Especially people like me – deer hunters. And while every WTU banquet is filled with deer hunters, there is something else that’s special about these gatherings that I really enjoy; everyone is expecting a good time, but more than that, everybody in the room understands that we are raising money to do good work.

Every WTU banquet has a different personality, and the money goes to different kinds of projects, but I’m humbled and appreciative after each night that I’m able to spend time with great people, doing great things. And then something extra special happens, and brings everything full circle.

The following note came into WTU headquarters, and when it was sent on to me, it made my week:
Bryce with his first deer.
“Here is a picture of Bryce with his first deer. He took it on Saturday of the youth gun season. We thought it was a doe but it ended up being a button buck. Bryce is wearing the hat that T-Bone signed when he was at our banquet. He dubbed it as his ‘Lucky Hat,’ and that it has ‘T-Bone Magic.’ Just thought I would pass it along.”

I’ve heard that when people are passin’ out praise you should just get in line, but in this case I’m guessing Bryce made his own luck. Even so, I’m tickled that I can be, in some small way, connected to a youngster who has joined the Brotherhood!

Your first deer is a great event, and some with more smarts than me call it a ‘rite of passage.’ That’s an event that marks your passage in life from one status to another, like graduating high school or college, confirmation in church, or getting married. I still vividly remember my first whitetail, and if you ask any deer hunter, I guarantee they will remember theirs right off.

I signed that hat when I was spending a night with Ohio Field Director Denny Malloy at the Killbuck Valley Chapter banquet, and I hope Bryce has many, many more days afield with even better luck than he had this season. If he wants to give me credit, well, that’s his choice. But I know that the real credit belongs to him, his family, and those who had influence as he was growing up.

Bryce, just look in the mirror – with or without that hat – and you’ll see who deserves recognition.

Welcome to the Brotherhood!