Sighting-in The Guns For Next Week’s Deer Opener

I’ve decided to dedicate today’s blog to some images of last year’s sighting-in day in preparation for the Minnesota deer opener that occurs next Saturday. The pictures shown were actually shot from last year’s event…as today’s sighting in day was rainy, windy and otherwise too miserable for the cameraman. Enjoy!








© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Camo You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Just when you think you’ve seen it all…along comes a hunting product that makes you shake your head in utter disbelief. I’ve seen a lot of different camouflage products over the years, but never have I heard of chewing gum intended to mask your body’s halitosis (or bad breath) so you’re not detected by deer…at least not until now.

Gum-o-flage is a new chewing gum made exclusively for hunters with chlorophyll, real pine oil, antimicrobial agents as well as other ingredients. The promoter of this gum states that 80 percent of your odor is emitted from your breath…so his claim is the key to hunting success hinges on neutralizing or masking this odor by killing the germs in your mouth. The product was developed by a fanatical deer hunter who had tried everything to mask or neutralize body odor to increase his chances with deer…except dealing with bad breath.

Sometimes I wonder how hunters 50 years ago were able to hunt deer so successfully without all the technological advances we have at our disposal today. First there was special bar soap to wash a hunter’s body, and then came unscented soap to wash hunting clothing, and now there is a gum purporting to wash-out your mouth, of all things. What could come next?

Actually, you might be surprised at how many innovations like the Gum-o-flage get introduced into the hunting market each year. One of my all-time favorites was a product I first observed at the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show several years ago. Basically it consisted of a plastic structure (made much like a porta potty) with one big exception. There was a ventilation system contained inside the structure that supposedly sucked your scent (via a fan) up a long 30 foot chimney made out of irrigation drainage pipe. (See picture below…and observe the chimney that, although it is not fully shown, extends 30 feet into the air). The concept with this deer blind was to get your body’s scent so high into the sky that by the time it would reach the ground where a deer might smell you it would have mostly dissipated.

I suppose it should not be so surprising that many of the products available for hunters seem to tug more at our desire to play with new gadgets, as opposed to appealing to our logical thinking side of our brains. If we go out into the woods with more confidence that a piece of chewing gum is going to kill our smell…or that a deer blind can compensate for poor body hygiene, than maybe, just maybe it might work.

It must be about 20 years or so ago now that one of the big fads hitting the market was the deer whistles that drivers would mount on the front bumpers of their cars. The concept was quite simple. These little devices (although not audible to us mere mortal humans) were supposed to scare the bejeepers out of any deer that might cross in front of our path. Thus, a 20 dollar investment was to pay big dividends in saving potential deer collisions which can easily total a car, in some instances. The manufacturer usually packaged the whistles in sets of two…just in case a bug rendered one of the whistles inoperative. A nice gesture on the part of the manufacturer.

Eventually studies found that these whistles by design did not work as intended. Sure, cars that had the whistles in use saw slightly fewer deer collisions, but not for the reasons you might imagine. Instead, car owners traveling in areas where deer were susceptible to crossing paid closer attention to the ditches to avoid the potentially destructive deer crossing incidents. Drivers did this because they were so proud of their little whistles they wanted to witness the deer running off scared…a confirmation, of sorts, that the good judgment they made in purchasing the whistle actually paid off.

I guess the real lesson to be learned from all these gadgets is not to put all your hopes into the ancillary equipment you purchase for the outdoors. I’m certainly not discounting the fact that each aid has some merit and could prove to be a benefit in achieving your trophy deer…but chances are good it will only have a limited impact on your overall success.

I guess if you’re going to be truly anal about chewing gum in an effort to cleanse your bad breath…then maybe you would also be anal enough not to be chewing your gum to create jaw movement for the deer to see. After all, deer are more likely to sense movement from a distance than detect a warning smell caused by a little halitosis. Nope, because of that you won’t find any Gum-o-flage package in my pocket this deer season…instead, I’m waiting for the breath mints version to come out so my jaw can be kept perfectly still and quiet in the deer stand.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Sportsmen, Don’t Leave Home without It

To most sportsmen there are a few items of gear that are considered absolutely essential. For instance, consider how popular the pocket knife or multi-tool has become with a growing number of outdoor folk. Then again think about how nifty the little hand-held GPS units have become for navigating in the big outdoors. Still, I contend there is one piece of often over-looked equipment that should be found in every sportsman’s pack and vehicle.

Any ideas what that equipment might be? It costs less than $5, yet it can save a trip and possibly save a life. The uses are endless and only limited by a sportsman’s creativity. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes, including camouflage. Give up? I’m talking about Duck Tape. There are literally thousands of uses for Duck Tape thus making it one of the most versatile pieces of essential equipment that any sportsman can carry. But is it called Duck Tape or Duct Tape? Actually, the tape was first developed during World War II to keep moisture out of ammunition cases (like water off a “duck’s” back—hence the name DUCK TAPE).

Consider a few of these modern day uses…then consider how a roll might have saved you some headaches during a past outdoor adventure:

In The Truck
1. Emergency repair to radiator hoses
2. Patch seat covers
3. Electrical repairs
4. Securing gear together to prevent rattling during transport
5. Removing dog hair from seats

In the Boat
1. Repair minor leaks in hull
2. Emergency repair of cracked and leaky gas lines
3. Hiding a spare key with tape to a secret location in boat
4. Hold boat navigation lights in place
5. Securing broken windshields

Around the Camp
1. Repair torn tarps
2. Securing tie-down ropes so they don’t slip
3. Securing coolers to keep critters from their thievery
4. Creating insect proof between tent walls and floor
5. Splint a broken leg
6. Use as a big band-aid to control bleeding

1. Temporary patching of torn clothing
2. Fixing broken decoys
3. Removing hair/feathers from game meat
4. Constructing and attaching blind material
5. Making fletching for an arrow
6. Waterproofing shot shell boxes
7. Field repair of a cracked gunstock
8. Covering muzzle to keep rain/dirt out of barrel
9. Emergency repair of hunting boots
10. Create non-slip grips on hunting knives

1. Repair broken fishing rod
2. Waterproof a hat
3. Fix leaky minnow bucket
4. Make a cut-resistant filleting glove
5. Secure removable dividers in tackle box
6. Emergency repair a hole in landing net
7. Repair punctured or torn waders/hip boots

Out-of-the-ordinary Uses
1. Cut a small piece and leave on a wart for several days. It will starve it of oxygen and is considered more effective than freezing to remove.
2. Homeland security. The government is urging all families to keep enough Duck Tape on hand to be used for protection against chemical or biological terror attacks in the future.

As you can see Duck Tape is no ordinary piece of equipment for the sportsman. Keep several rolls on hand and above all, be creative and don’t forget to grab it the next time you have a dilemma on your hands that requires a “sticky situation.”

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.