Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shore-S-EZ - A Solution for the Handicapped Boater

For disabled people, boating can be the Mt. Everest of the outdoor world.  Water and flotation are not the most stable of platforms when attempting to transfer someone in a power chair, manual chair or even someone who just needs assistance.

The solutions are usually very pricey.  Lifts, whether from the dock or the boat, can prove costly and sometimes difficult to operate smoothly.  Most people begin looking at options with adding accessibility to their boat itself.  But again, the dollars needed can overwhelm someone who just wants to get themselves or their loved-one back on the water.

I have some very good news.  Recently, I was contacted by Bob Dishon from EZ Designs.  He manufactures a ramping mechanism that can be added to many pontoon style boats to make them accessible.   The Shore-S-EZ comes in a kit and can be added by your dealer or by any good ole do-it-yourselfer.

I asked Bob where the inspiration came from. He told me that in 2007 his grandson was hurt in an accident at the tender age of 3.  At first, Bob just bought a pontoon boat in 2010 as many of them are already friendly to disabled people in wheelchairs. But as the child has grown into a young man, a new solution was necessary.  As he grew in size, it became more and more difficult to get him on and off the boat.

Bob entered his shop determined to come up with a solution and wow, did he have a stroke of genius.

The Shore-S-EZ is a 32" wide ramp that can extend out to 5 feet.  it can be raised to about 25 degrees or lowered to around 33 degrees of angle (more on this in a minute).  It is powered by an electric motor and all the of the parts are water resistant.  The micro switches that control the ramp are waterproof which is really nice (not salt-water friendly).

The angles this thing can achieve are really amazing particularly the 33 degrees of lowering which will put the ramp below the level of the water's surface.  That's right, now you can help someone slide into the water to ride that cool new pull thingy. And when they're done, lower the ramp again and help them slide back up to deck level.  Pretty neat!

This thing can be great for the able bodied camper or hunter also.  Ever had a good bit of gear that you are trying to lug on and off a boat on some remote camping site or hunting spot?  Not a problem, the ramp makes this rather easy.  Need to load that 500 pound Elk on the bank of a lake or river?  Lower the ramp and give it a tug with a winch...done!

I asked Bob the big question - How much for this glorious piece of freedom?  At the time of this writing, the price point is only $4,750. For an additional $250 you can add a ramp with a toe-kick that will help flatten out the transition from Terra Firma to the boat.

The great news is that Bob is very determined to keep this below the $5,000 thresh-hold.

He also mentioned a couple of things to keep in mind:

1.  Shipping - The ramp kit weighs about 180 lbs.  Shipping will vary based on your location from their shop in Kalispell, Montana.  It takes about 3 weeks to craft your ramp and ship it out.

2.  Limitations - Each ramp is hand crafted and needs to match specific measurements on your pontoon.  The triple pontoon boats that are becoming popular cannot be fitted as the third pontoon is placed precisely in the gap between the two outer pontoons where the ramp needs to be attached.

Check out their Facebook page and as I said before, I think this is a stroke of genius.  Thanks Bob for overcoming the difficulties your grandson faces.  A family that fish's together stays together.  All the best to you and yours champion!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Handicapped Fishing Helper - Bait Cloud

For decades, salt-water fisherman have known the power of the chum block.  You pull up on a fish rich sight, stick the block in the water and within minutes, there is a bevy of ever increasing activity behind the boat.  Using small predator fish parts attracts large predator fish.  It's nature at its best.

With the exception of die hard cat-fisherman, the fresh water angler has long been left out of this natural food chain process of attracting target species to the boat or the bank.  But that is a dilemma of the past.  The Bait Cloud is a fizzing ball of natural attractants.  The early reviews are very promising and I cannot wait to try this out.

You take the type of Bait Cloud Ball that matches your target species.  Throw it in the pond or lake and begin fishing the spot where it hits the bottom.  The fizzing elements causes the fish attracting ingredients to permeate the entire water column from the bottom to the surface.

This product looks promising to help people with disabilities be successful in catching instead of just fishing.  particularly those confined to bank fishing.  Have a number of nice fish come to your area is much more desirable than attempting to chase the fish all over a pond or a lake in a wheelchair.

Check out the video below and give it a try:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Scouting and Deer Sign

Courtesy of Aliexpress.com
Welcome to the late part of the summer.  I am sure by this point that all of you who hunt are scouting, putting corn out, setting up trail cams and viewing some amazing pics (please email them to us and we will show them on our Facebook page).

Collectively, deer hunters begin to get a little geeked up right about now.  Here in Louisiana, we are less than 50 days away from the start of Bow season.  The excitement level is building and my wife is already starting to get annoyed at how much I am talking about deer...which means I have my priorities right for now LOL!

Courtesy of Apple Creek Ranch
This brings us to a very important aspect of deer hunting which is scouting.  How do you go about doing the necessary scouting without invading the deer's turf so much that you push them out of that area?  How much is too much?  How little is too little?  What is the best deer sign anyway?

We picked up some new property to hunt this year.  It's a mix of hardwood, open fields and high-lines and planted pine.  I can't help but to tell you that we are thrilled with it and am looking forward to opening day.

We began to scout the area by hanging on the oil roads leading into the property.  These well established thoroughfares are excellent ways to get a broad view of your land without spooking the deer.  The deer are familiar with trucks and vehicles moving through on these roads regularly and even humans working in these areas.

Courtesy of hunterlandowner.wordpress.com
Just off the roads, tracks are plentiful and trails are easily visible running back into the tree lines.

Once we can determine where the deer are cutting across, we try to use the high-lines or brush-hogged travel lanes to do a deeper scouting.  I am not a big proponent of walking into a deer's bedding area or going deeply into a "sanctuary" area.

The goal is to get a good idea of where the deer are and or moving through.  Once that is determined, set out some corn or other attractant with a trail-cam and see if your hunch is accurate.

Courtesy of blog.catbirdnotes.com
So which sign is the most important?  Is it, rubs and scrapes, clearly defined trails with frequent use or skat?  Kyle Estep, the Chairman of our Board at Handicapped Outdoors answers that question like this:

"After scouting for an hour or so, I saw some real good deer sign."

Me: Which was?  Kyle: "Well, it was the deer itself.  I jumped one and it ran away.  Now that is real, real good deer sign."

There is some deep truth to his statement.  In our recent scouting efforts, we have put eyes on 5-6 deer during daylight hours.  You can't beat that scouting report.

Courtesy of Bentler.us
All of the tracks, skat and other sign cannot outweigh visibly seeing the target animal during the targeted daylight hours.  The other pieces are important but I would make an argument that they can be misleading.  Last season, I saw a ton of sign in my favorite hunting area.  It was obvious that they were there.  I even caught a massive 6-point and countless doe on camera during daylight hours.  But I never once laid eyes on a living deer while prepping or during the season.

The season before, we routinely encountered deer or heard them leaving the area as we approached.  We had success the previous season but last year not one shot was fired.

Best of luck to you as you prep.  May your scouting go as well as our is this season!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Additional Weight Means Additional Accuracy

UPDATE 8/13/16 - **This tip is strictly for Crossbows and does not apply to regular bows whether traditional or compound.  The shortness of the crossbow bolt is the driving need for the additional weight.**

Can you believe it?  60 days until the opening of bow season here in Louisiana on October 1st.  I am more excited than a kid in a candy store.  I feel like Ralphie in "The Christmas Story".  Just this past week, I was given a new tip that I wanted to pass along to all of you crossbow hunters out there.

In the world of crossbows as well as regular bows, weight plays a tremendous part in how an arrow flies and with the amount of energy it has when it arrives at the target.  Now logic says that less weight means faster flight in feet per second from the force the string exerts on the arrow.

However, the less the weight also means less accuracy is going to occur during the flight path of the arrow.  I have been shooting 100 grain tips and I am very accurate at short ranges.  If I wander out past about 25-30 yards, suddenly my groups are not so tight.  So much so that I would likely not take a shot past 40 yards on an animal ever.

Rage Crossbow 125 Grain Broadhead
I have been thinking it was the scope or maybe I am jerking the trigger.  Truth is it may be as simple as moving from a 100 grain tip to a 125 grain tip.  That extra weight will slow the arrow down a fraction but it will also stabilize the flight.  On top of that, the added weight will also deliver more of a punch down range as the arrow impacts the target.

Update:  This tip is specifically for bows and crossbows that shoot above 300 feet per second.

I am going to make the switch in the coming weeks and will give you a report in September.  One thing to remember is to also pick up some field points that are also 125 grain so that your practice is an exact match to your actual hunting shots.

Try it out and see if your accuracy goes up out to 40-50 yards with tight groups.