Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review; Eureka Centerfire Sleeping Bag

Let me start by saying that this isn't your granddad's sleeping bag! In fact this bag is so loaded with warmth and quality you'll be asking yourself why you waited so long to own one. It has now become my new favorite sleeping bag and one that my best friend Jet is a bit envious of.

On my recent trip to the Klamath Basin I used the Centerfire for 3 nights and slept great. Here are a few of my favorite things about the Eureka Centerfire 15 Degree bag.

1. The Centerfire boasts a cozy 100% soft cotton flannel that is wonderful right out of the box and the bag is very thick offering much cushioning.

2. Convenient 2 pockets with velcro closure one each on inside and outside of the bag near the top for reading glasses, flashlight or any item you need close at hand.

3. Centerfire has a separate zipper across the bottom of the bag for your feet to ventilate during warm nights, while keeping the full length side zipper wherever you need.

4. Durable cotton duck exterior with 8 point rivets add to it's durability and toughness.

There are more awesome features and having been a user of mummy bags for most of my life having cotton flannel next to my skin plus the width of a twin bed I was sleeping like a queen. There one area of concern is that of the zippers. They to my knowledge are not ykk, yet during my 3 days using the Centerfire I never had a single problem with them. So for me this bag passes with flying colors! In my opinion you can't go wrong with the Centerfire for early season camping or time at the lake. I feel you are getting your moneys worth and then some. Plus Eureka has been in business since before 1895 and you don't have staying power like that if your not doing it right!

Here is the rest of the scoop on the Eureka Centerfire Sleeping Bag.

  • For comfort, the Sip ‘n Zip aids mobility to enjoy reading or sipping while inside the sleeping bag. To use, simply unzip the abbreviated zipper on the left side of the bag.
  • The downwind foot vent can be opened for added ventilation on warm nights.
  • Design features like the full-cover cotton duck shell and 8 point rivet reinforcements enhance the durability and aesthetics of this sleeping bag.
  • The removable, integrated carry duffle bag can be stuffed and used as a pillow. Then, when ready to take down camp, just roll the bag into the duffle, secure with the internal compression straps, and zip closed.
  • Lining material: 100% yarn-dyed cotton flannel
  • Insulation: Eureka! ThermaShield
  • Zipper: Three # 8 - right, Sip 'n Zip, Downwind
  • Sip 'n Zip: dual side zipper convenience
  • Downwind foot vent: second zipper at foot
  • Full length draft tubes
  • Anti-snag webbing
  • 8 Pointer rivet reinforcements
  • Internal pocket
  • External pocket
  • Hang loops
  • Hook & loop zipper closure
  • Easy integration of carry duffle
I encourage anyone looking for a new sleeping bag to visit Eureka's site and give them a good looking over. There are many different sleeping bags to choose from plus lots of other great outdoor products.

Disclaimer; I was given a complimentary Centerfire Sleeping Bag by Eureka in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring Goose Hunt

I am preparing my gear for the White Fronted and Snow goose hunt in the Klamath Basin which begins on this Saturday. My friend Jackie will be hunting with me on opening day before she returns to the bay area on Sunday. A few weeks ago I wrote about when we hunted the last weekend of the regular season. This was her first time ever goose hunting and she did get her first goose, what an experience. Pt.1/Pt.2. She is once again eager and ready to get after them and has purchased a Final Approach Express ground blind and some other water fowling gear to use this time. I am relatively sure that we have a new waterfowl hunter in our midst. She is talking of next season already, this is a good sign! I too have some new items to field test, cabin test and will report my results when I return. Jet too is ready to get back in the field and enjoy some mild weather hunts. Sure hope to get her a few birds, that would be great.

The weather has been unseasonably warm and mild which I hope translates into the Northern migration having begun. This year we can harvest 2 White Fronted Geese and 4 Snow Geese per day. I have yet to shoot a Snow goose and am really curious to find out for myself if they taste as bad as I've heard. If so then perhaps thuringer is the way to go with them. I know that Specs (aka White Fronted) are the best goose out there and I am already licking my chops just thinking about getting a few of them back home. Have even bought a hundred Texas Rags for the Snow Goose decoys and am looking forward to seeing just how well they work. They are sure time consuming in their initial set up. Certainly something to do prior to the hunt.

That's all for now, will catch up next week with a hunting report and some photos. Also will let you know how the new gear and decoys work.

Otherwise I have been watching the Olympics and rooting for the home team. Sure were some wicked falls in the women's D.H., I can't watch those crashes, just hurts to damn much. Sure am happy for Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso's results. Congratulations Team U.S.A.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Inspiration, Motivation and Dedication

I am dedicating this post to Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luge athlete who was tragically killed during a training run yesterday at the Vancouver Winter Games. I am sure that most of you have heard about or seen the accident during the opening ceremonies last night. I was deeply saddened after hearing the news. I give my sincerest heartfelt condolences to his team mates, family and friends. I am glad the Georgian team has chosen to stay and participate in the games, honoring their friend Nodar. It certainly goes without saying that there has been a shadow cast over the games. Even so, in the true spirit of competition these athletes will push themselves in ways they never realized or thought possible. In fact it has already begun.

Some of you may wonder why I have chosen to write this post, when it strays seemingly quite a distance from the blog title of Women's Hunting Journal. Well, let me say that my life before I reached 30 was dedicated to becoming an Olympian. While I never did make the U.S. Ski Team that was my goal and ultimately the Olympics. I chose to to forgo much of the social life of the typical teenager for the pursuit of my passion for ski racing. For me I didn't feel as though I missed or gave up any part of being a kid while chasing my athletic dreams. That was my choice and I loved everything about it, even the not so good days. There is a satisfaction and pride within ones self that is a result of being dedicated in doing the work to attain such lofty goals. While injuries prevented me from reaching my ski racing goals the desire and passion from those years has continued to serve me well throughout my life. The basic building blocks of character which is proudly displayed on all the faces of our young Olympians is, for me a source of great pride and inspiration.

Perhaps you've noticed yourself or friends giving that extra bit of effort at work recently. Or you are working out with more enthusiasm and dedication. Well, me too and I plan to continue to draw upon the Olympics for that extra nudge to continue with more focus and attitude. Soon Spring Goose season will start and then comes Bear hunting. I am fortunate to be healthy and not nursing a torn knee ligament like last year at this time. Provided I draw a Spring Bear tag I will be eager and ready to get after it!

The percentage of individuals who can call themselves Olympians is quite small, this is why the prize is of enormous proportions. Equally are the efforts put forth by these young Olympians. You'll never find a better opportunity(in my opinion) for inspiration and motivation than watching these amazing athletes. I will be glued to the TV and other media sources during the next 16 days, especially for the Alpine Skiing events. I will also be glued to my bike on my indoor trainer as well. Enjoy the games everyone and say a prayer for the safety of the athletes, coaches, trainers and especially the family, friends and members of the Georgian Luge Team.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Friday, February 5, 2010

35 Years In The Making, A Goose Hunt Pt. 2

After a short hunt on Thursday afternoon we had a wonderful dinner and got ready for an early start on Friday. The alarm sounded at 5:oo a.m. and we hit the floor and got the coffee started, followed by a fire in the wood cook stove. Grabbed a quick breakfast for the field and left the cabin at 6:15. We had the decoys all set out by shooting time at 7:o2 and now it was up to the geese to do their part.

We spent many hours tucked away in our ground blinds as the snow, sleet and rain squalls passed over us without any real discomfort. We had light to moderate S.S.W. winds which gave the Spec Full Body decoys, excellent eye catching movement. The weather was just fine and we were both being patient waiting for the geese to start flying. We heard several talking amongst themselves not to far away, at least as distance goes when your waiting it out. After several hours we decided to take a break and head to the cabin for lunch then come back out for the afternoon hunt. It was good to get out of our cocoons and stretch the legs a bit. We didn't stay to long in the cabin and resumed our posts by early afternoon and Jet joined us. I re arranged the decoys a bit just because that is the typical thing a hunter does if there haven't been any geese coming by. We waited and waited and waited some more. I took Jet back to the truck with an hour left of legal hunting light. She was out of patience and not enjoying being still. Then I resumed my position. It was quitting time on Friday evening and even though we never fired a shot we did see some geese flying and moving, just not in our direction. As I have observed for many, many years I knew that the geese had their own flight plans filed and were sticking to them. Trying to call them in was going to be a challenge.

Again we broke down our decoys and stashed everything against the dike. Making sure to cover the decoy heads so they didn't get rained on and frozen. That doesn't help the realism factor in the early morning hours. Rambled back to the cabin and had a wonderful dinner and got ready for our last morning hunt of the year. We decided to not leave the cabin quite as early cause the geese didn't fly til well after shooting light.

After a good nights sleep we got up and got back out there to our ground blinds and were set up before 7:30 A.M. We heard the geese chatting it up from the usual direction and we remained optimistic. I have had geese come in to my decoys in stealth mode, totally silent til all I heard was the beating of their wings as they made their final approach. That's pretty much one of those adrenaline infusions that warms you instantly from head to toe as your eyes become saucers and your heart pounds like a bass drum in your ears. drowning out every other sound. I kept telling Jackie it can happen at any moment, just be ready. Or if one decides to answer the call of mother nature, or stretch their legs, or fiddle with the decoys, these are the times that quite often the geese will point themselves in your direction.

It wasn't much later that we saw and heard a couple geese heading our way. I told Jackie to stay down and don't move. Whatever you do just don't move! There were 3 Canada Geese flying directly at our location and they weren't to terribly high either, though they were still out of range. They were vocalizing and as they came over us I gave them a short acknowledgement call and that was all. Sometimes less is more and this was certainly one of those times. They swung over us twice eyeballing every detail on the ground, making sure the decoys were legitimate and that no predators were lurking around the dike. I gave them another short call and they seemed confident in their assessment. On their third pass after they swung over the dike they began dropping in elevation and began to stretch out their landing gears while spotting their landing amongst the decoy. I could hardly believe my eyes when they began to come in for a landing. I was adrenalined up full throttle and kept telling Jackie "don't move, don't move," and as they began to back peddle with their wings and were a foot or two above the decoys I yelled, NOW! We both sprang up and let both barrels go. We had two geese on the ground cripples with broken wings. We reloaded to try and get the third, yet he had gained to much distance and managed to scathe away. I was running to catch my goose and I told Jackie to shoot again, and she made a good shot on her goose. I was able to catch up with mine and dispatch him without having to shoot again.

We were thrilled and it was only 9:00 in the morning. Unbelievable I told Jackie, that is the hardest thing to do decoying late season Canada's. She was speechless with excitement and could hardly stand it. I was amazed at how well she held tight and didn't move a muscle. Hell, it's hard for a seasoned veteran to not twitch when you've got those big geese circling your decoys. They look closer than they are because of their size and you have to wait and let them get to within real shooting range. Jackie couldn't believe how fast she was able to sit up in the ground blind and shoot and didn't even remember how she did it. That's good, nothing like be present and fully in the moment. We celebrated and I congratulated Jackie on her first goose ever and what a goose it was! A well educated late season Canada Goose. They don't come much smarter than that. We did a good job to conceal ourselves and not wiggle. Also setting up the decoys far enough away from the dike to give the real birds the illusion of safety, yet being just within range.

We got settled back in and waited for another hour or so then we headed to the cabin for lunch and to process our birds. After shooting the geese Jackie was having a challenging time of sitting still. A bad case of ants in the pants one might say. We had a fun time going back over the scenario and did so for the rest of the trip. We finished the day at 5:09 P.M. and broke our set after nothing else flying the entire afternoon. Bagged everything up and readied our gear for home. Jet was happy to see us and we had some great food all the while replaying our few moments of excitement over and over and over. I'll tell you, nothing like being with an old friend whose never shot a goose or even waterfowl hunted til 2 days before then shoots her first Honker! That's a moment I'll never forget. Congratulations Jackie, you hunted hard, were patient, a great student and shot like a seasoned veteran! Looking forward to our next hunt and thanks for the great memories.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

Monday, February 1, 2010

35 Years In The Making, A Goose Hunt Pt. 1

Little did I know who was coming my way via Facebook last summer. None other than a friend I had lost touch with during my teen years. It was wonderful to reconnect with Jackie after a lifetime of years and miles. We conversed and emailed often, eventually coming to find out she has property near my home. Although she resides and works in N.Cal. she makes frequent trips to my neck of the woods. Among our early conversations we found a common interest in firearms. She has been shooting on a skeet league for a few years now and was totally up for a hunt.

Ah, the stage was being set and I offered her an invite to go waterfowl hunting with me this year. She was excited at the idea and had all kinds of questions regarding gear, shells, etc. etc. I told her to make sure she had good rain gear and enough layers underneath for seriously cold temps and I'd take care of everything else. Not a problem she said and even though her clothing was not camo I told her not to worry, as she'd be in my Final Approach ground blind covered from head to toe and brushed in. She didn't fully understand the language I was speaking, yet she was game for learning.

So it was that we set some dates to hunt for late season geese in S.W. Oregon in the Klamath Basin specifically. The date she headed N. was also during one of the biggest storms of the year and it took her 12 hours including having to chain up to get to my home. Usually it's a 7 hour drive comfortably. It was clear to me that Jackie was still just as gritty and adventurous now, as in our youth. That's not to say that we still don't push the envelope a tad just for sake of doing so. It does keep life exciting that way. After a quick hello and relaxing for a bit we made plans for our morning departure and I gave her a brief overview of what I expected to find where we'll be hunting . It all sounded great to her even though the waterfowl numbers have been low this season. Jackie has spent a good deal of her life in the outdoors and is quite knowledgeable , so I knew a little rain or snow wasn't going to be a problem. The outdoors is where we both are most at ease and I was really looking forward to sharing my love of waterfowling with her.

We left early the next morning, excited and caffeine'd up. Once we got our gear stowed in the cabin we headed out for an afternoon hunt and some recon. The Klamath River was wide open with zero shelf ice and unfortunately no ducks in sight either. We did see some Canada geese on the upper Klamath Lake some 25 miles N.N.E. on our way to Lowlands. I kept the boat hooked up to my truck and backed it into the boat launch area and parked. We were going to hunt the field side of the river dike. This way if we did get a cripple that landed in the river we were ready to retrieve it aided by my boat and a 15 H.P. Mercury outboard. Geese are very fast paddlers and I have lost more than one by not getting to it before it reached a cut bank and hid. We began to shoulder decoy bags, shovels, ground blind and the usual gear. We walked about a 1/4 mile in stubble that was well worn from winter's wrath. As the temperatures warmed so did the ground and the clay in the soil began sticking to our boots. Just like it did when I was a kid hunting the pear orchards for Pheasants in the Rogue Valley. It made for awkward footing and an ongoing task of slinging it off whenever it got to heavy. None the less we made it to where we were going to hunt the next several days and began to dig in- Yes, really physically dig in our ground blinds with a shovel into the face of the dike. Then brush over ourselves so as to be flush with the face of the dike and disappear from the sharp & experienced eyes of late season honkers.

Jackie was fully engaged and having a ball. I wish I had given her the shovel sooner as she is a digger extraordinaire! As we began setting out the decoys Jackie was just beside herself with the landscape and hearing geese off in the distance. She watched as I began attaching heads to bodies (G & H 747) of the field shells and jumped right in. Then we set up the GHG full bodied Spec decoys too. In all we had a couple dozen deeks and with the light S.W. wind we had the Spec decoys had excellent movement. I helped her get situated in the Final Approach Eliminator ground blind then brushed her in. She was happy and ready for whatever and whoever to come flying into range. Not long after I got settled in she was asking "how do you shoot from here"? I said "you throw the top back and sit up and let them have it, just as quick as you can". I told her not to worry that it's much easier when it happens for real then trying to think out all the steps individually. Your reactions will take care of themselves, it's instinctual to a large degree.

Mmm she replied, O.K. and so we waited and talked about all sorts of things. Mostly hunting related and every now and then we'd hear a goose off in the distance, but nothing close. Although when you're with someone who has never hunted geese every goose they hear is exciting and it rubs off on you too. Made me remember back to my early years. A new hunter's enthusiasm is contagious and I was having a blast. The first afternoon came to an end all to quickly and as we broke our set and stashed the decoys, Jackie was giving me the run down of our evening dinner menu. Let's just say she cooked up some wonderful meals including homemade French Bread with fresh Rosemary and Cracked Pepper. It was well worth the wait.

With two more full days left of hunting our enthusiasm was still running high. These were the last days of the 2009/10 waterfowl season and patience was a pre requisite for late season goose hunting. Good things come to those who wait, or at least that's what my mom used to tell me.
I'll let you know how it all turned out and if Jackie got her first goose or not.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt
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