Gear Review: First Lite Dobson Aerowool boxer, KUIU Attack pants, KUIU Peloton 240 Full Zip Shirt

Gear Review: First Lite Dobson Aerowool boxer, KUIU Attack pants, KUIU Peloton 240 Full Zip Shirt

Gear Review: Coming to you with this post this week with some good field tested gear review info from my good buddy Alex who frequents the high country of Colorado.  He was kind enough to put a short gear review together for some newly acquired items in his kit.  He gives his thoughts on some First Lite and KUIU items below for anyone out there that is shopping for some new hunting gear.

Gear Review: Soto OD-1 RX Windmaster stove and GSI Pinnacle Soloist Cookset

By: Josh Shaffer

When it comes to backpacking and bivy-style hunting I’m still a novice, but I’m learning and I’ve been preparing for the upcoming hunting season over the last few months by revisiting my gear list and acquiring the needed missing items to complete my packing list for the upcoming season. I identified the need for a small reliable cook set that I can use while on day trips or overnighters while in the backcountry chasing elk.

This will be a quick post and my initial assessment of the Soto OD-1 RX Windmaster stove and the GSI Pinnacle Soloist cookset. My preseason thoughts are as follows:

Soto Wind Master: This stove is a nicely built backpacking stove with a compact and reliable design.  It kind of reminds me of a bunson burner from chemistry lab, but its a little more sophisticated that that.  It sports a pot support of origami design and folds up into a small travel pouch that easily fits into any nested cook set.  Another great feature is the built-in ignition system so you won’t have to hassle with a lighter during set-up.  Just spin it on to a canister of Isopro fuel and you'll be ready to cook your backcountry meals.  Soto Windmaster specs can be found HERE.    

GSI Pinnacle Soloist: This nested cook set allows for compact packing and space efficiency.  It’s locking handle is a nice feature that keeps all parts and pieces from falling out of pot while rolling around in your pack.  It’s important to note that the pot does not have measuring lines on it, but the included coffee mug does.  The coffee mug will be a nice bonus while enjoying a Starbucks Via on the summit while glassing for elk/deer.  The kit (without stove) weighs a meager 10 Oz.  One thing to note is that the pot is a bit of a pain to get out of the carrying bag (that doubles as a wash basin).  It's a small inconvenience, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  GSI Pinnacle Soloist details and specs can be found HERE.


I've used the set a few times to test boil and make a few freeze dried meals.  The cook set and stove will be a good combo that should provide efficiency in the field and still save on space.  Some field time in the woods this fall will be a good testing ground for my new cook set.   

The below results are my initial boil times with 1 cup and 2 cups of water respectively:

  • 1 cup boil time: 1 min. 45 seconds
  • 2 cup boil time: 3 min. 10 seconds

Note: the test boil was performed at approximately 900 feet elevation.  

Until then, stay tuned....…I’ll be looking to update this post later on this fall when I’ve had some field time with the set.  

Thanks for reading, 

Calling all Elk! - A Compendium of 15+ Podcasts for all Elk Hunters

By: Josh Shaffer

I’ve admitted before and I’ll say it again, I’m a podcast junkie.  Over the last few years the amount of content, no matter what topic, available as a free download via iTunes is amazing and still growing.  More specifically, in the last several months I’ve went back and tried to catalog both older and newer podcast episodes in this post as a consolidated list of hours worth of elk hunting information.  I posted a similar article back in August 2015 and included this information also as noted below.  I hope you find these podcasts while you are in preparation for your hunts this fall.  Enjoy…...

1.  Hunt Backcountry Podcast #36 and #37 - a two (2) part series called “Don’t Just Call - "Talk Elk" with Paul the "Elk Nut" Medel” - This podcast series is a good resource for timing your calling strategy for the appropriate situation.  Paul is a dedicated elk hunter from Idaho and part of a crew that consistently punches tags year-after-year.  Paul is a high energy hunter that is willing to pour out his tips and tactics such as "trolling for elk", cold call set-ups, implementing the nervous bark, and pretending to be a "ridge runner bull."  Paul gets himself worked up and excited; I can't help but get excited myself when he starts talking through the different calling scenarios.  It's awesome stuff.  Take away point from this episode: choose the right set-up/calling location. 

2.  Gritty Bowmen #129: Corey Jacobsen Talks Elk Hunting: Elk 101 #2 - This podcast is hosted by Brian Call of Gritty Bowmen with guest Corey Jacobsen of  This episode dives into several topics, but one topic in particular caught my attention: solo hunting for elk, the calling set-up, and the highly controversial frontal shot.  They even go in-depth on kill zone size on frontal versus broadside shots.  Its interesting stuff.  Corey is a proven elk slayer and he even recently rolled out Elk Hunting University (aka EHU).  I haven’t looked purchased the resource yet, but I did get access to a trial chapter and it seemed very informative and worthwhile.  If this piques your interest check it out at and use the promo code Gritty40 to save $40 on the registration fee.  Take away point from this episode: "obey the wind!"

3.  Jay Scott Outdoors Podcast #67: Elk Hunting - Maximize Success and Learning to Be Efficient with Chris Roe of Roe Hunting Resources - Jay’s podcast is great and covers a wide range of topics related to western big game species.  I’ve found his podcasts to be both informative and thought provoking regarding various western big game species.  I found this episode interesting as Chris Roe is “dailed-in” on elk behavior and appropriate timing of calling methods/sounds.  They cover a wide range of topics like solo hunting, over-the-counter tags, backpacking and more.  I love Chris’s enthusiasm when it comes to understanding elk behavior and reactions.  He would be a great guy to share elk camp with.   Take away point for the episode: watch and study elk behavior and adjust your plan accordingly.

4.  Jay Scott Outdoors Podcast #72: World Champion Elk Caller Joel Turner talks “How to Call Elk” and “Target Panic” - Joel Turner is a "student of elk hunting" and the founder of Ironmind Hunting.  Also he has several youtube videos that discuss some details of what he teaches in his seminars.  In addition to being a firearms and archery instructor, Joel has perfected elk calling sounds and tactics to an amazing level of detail.  Similarly to Chris Roe’s thought process, Joel looks hard at the elk behavior patterns and using situational awareness to gauge the appropriate calling sequence.  He also brings light to a term called “Bull calling Cows Bugle” and gives Paul Medel (aka Elk Nut) credit for sparking his interest in this method.  You’ll have to check it out in the podcast to completely understand the basis of the discussion: its great info.  I’ll have that specific strategy ready in my bag of tricks this fall.  Take away point for the episode: be a good elk student. 

5.  Jay Scott 162 elk calling tips with Jason Phelps (4 part series): This series covers a vast array of aspects from call making methods, to calling basics and situational tactics.  The 3rd episode of the 4 was rolled out a few days ago and the 4th will be posted likely this week.  This series in total is a few hours long, but they go into specific detail on the process of using elk mouth calls and how to have proper mouth form when making various elk sounds.  They cover a wide variety of elk hunting scenarios and discuss not only Rocky Mt. Elk, but also Roosevelt Elk as well.  Take away point for the episode: be adaptable and have multiple game plans.  

6.  Phelps Elk Nugget Series (on Gritty Bowmen Podcast): As of this writing, this series had six (6) parts of shorter videos produced by Gritty Bowmen team. Their content is available to watch on YouTube or available for download via podcast. The series is a lighter side of elk calling that gives specific examples in approximately 15 minute segments for easy quick listening when you want to catch a short episode to get excited for the fast-approaching season. Much like the Jay Scott 4 part series, it covers a wide range of topics.  The bonus of these episodes is that you get to experience the Gritty Scotsman Mark Brownlee.  He is a fun loving elk hunter with a hilarious demeanor: Enjoy!

As noted above, the following information is a list of podcasts from my post in August 2015. They are as follows: 

7.  Peterson Bowhunting Radio (February 21, 2013 Episode) with field editor Eddie Claypool.  I believe that this was the first elk hunting related podcast that I found in my search of hunting related content on iTunes.  It's been a few years since it was recorded, but the information is still relevant and worthwhile.  Eddie shares some great tips and stories from his past experiences in the elk woods.  I've listened to this episode multiple times and just downloaded it again for a refresher this week.  You'll have to go back a bit in the archives, but check this one out before the season is here. 

8.  Jay Scott Outdoors Western Hunting & Fishing (August 13, 2015 - Episode 63): Bowhunting Elk Tactics during September Part 1.  I just found out about Jay's podcast and I must say I'm already hooked on the info in this material.  Jay appears to be well versed in western hunting and this episode brings Craig Steele from Exclusive Pursuit Outfitters to the table to discuss the ins and outs of September bowhunting elk.  There is a ton of info packed into this 50 minute segment including wind, tracking, shot placement, etc.  This is a great refresher to listen to before bow season is upon us!  

9.  Jay Scott Outdoors Western Hunting & Fishing (August 16, 2015 - Episode 64): Bowhunting Elk Tactics during September Part 2.  Jay and Craig must have had a lot of info to discuss since they went into another hour long discussion on the same topic mentioned above.  In this episode, they discuss various tactics such as calling, stalking, water hole sits, etc.  The wind topics gets discussed throughout each episode, so apparently wind is important in elk hunting.  I concur!  

10.  Hunt Backcountry Podcast (July 27, 2015 - Episode 2): Muley Tactics, Elk Scouting, Rookie Mistakes.  Mark Huelsing and Steve Speck team up with Lenny Nelson from Exo-Mountain Gear.  This episode covers more than just elk hunting and it discusses topics related to mountain hunting while chasing bucks and elk alike.  Its a great mix of info and is worth a listen.  As a bonus listen, check out the Hunt Backcountry Episode 4: A-to-Z Gear Lists for Backcountry Hunting.  This is a pretty good listen that I picked up a new water purifying tip.  Check it out and you may pick up something as well.

I am constantly on the search for new podcasts and info so if I missed a good one let me know in the comments box to this post. 

Thanks for reading!  


(Updated) Hunt Planning: Google Earth Scouting and Files for Eastern and Western Hunters

(Updated) Hunt Planning: Google Earth Scouting and Files for Eastern and Western Hunters

A new post with Google Earth links for your virtual scouting efforts this winter.  Good luck in your scouting at you get ready for the big game lottery draws this year. 

A Hunter’s Nutrition, the New Hunting Fitness Craze, and Other Dietary Resources

By: Josh Shaffer

In my travels and free time, I catch various podcasts, ranging wildly in topics, in-lieu of having a favorite TV show or playing Angry Birds (No offense).  It’s hard to ignore the trend across many industries/cultures and it is one that revolves around a health, nutrition, and fitness lifestyle.  More specifically, over the last few years the hunting world has highlighted these aspects and have brought forth many new products and mindsets that have created  seemingly new standards for us all, or so it seems.  Nowadays, It is normal to see references to "hunting athletes”,  “mountain athletes”, and the like whereas these terms where uncommon 20 years ago.  
The basic principles of a healthy life-style haven’t changed drastically over the last 20 years, but humans are constantly making strides in technology and medicine to push the limits of our knowledge.  I wonder what the next 20 years will bring?     
My own exposure to several health and fitness avenues lately spurred me into thinking more about my own life-style choices, diet, exercise regimen, etc.  As with anything, forging a healthy life-style is a learning process and I feel that I’m getting better as I experiment with my diet.  So with 2015 gone and 2016 here to stay I’ve put forth a few goals for myself as it relates to health and fitness.
I also would like to share a paraphrased quote (from various sources), “don’t let perfect get in the way of good.”  In other words, some good action is better than none at all while laying out a “perfect plan.”  I see this point mostly in terms of diet and exercise.  Just remember, no one is perfect and making mistakes along the way is part of learning your routine.  
To spur some of your own research and motivation along, I’ve put together this list of podcasts that I found recently that I’ve found helpful.  I’ve also included a few show notes (paraphrased) to key you in on what they discuss.  
Podcasts for nutritional reference

  • The Hunt Backcountry Podcast (Episode 20) - “Cut the Crap” No BS Nutrition Advice from Dan Staton of  Show Notes: Hunting hard and effectively is tough to do while eating a crappy diet.  This show talks about the importance of a good, balanced diet for a strong foundation to a healthy start to 2016.  
  • Beyond The Kill (Episode 002) - Backcountry Nutrition and Performance with Heather Kelly.  Show Notes: Heather has a company called Heathers Choice that focuses on back country meal options for the outdoors folks out there.  They cover some good points about basic nutrition principles as it relates to diet choices while afield.  I plan on trying some of Heather’s meals in place of Mountain House meals this year.  
  • AltShift Podcast (Various Episodes) - Show Notes: This diet program revolves around eating solid, non-processed foods in the right order (aka shifts).  It is a Paleo-ish type dietary plan with some variations that seem to make pretty good sense.  I’m currently in the midst of following this nutrition plan and it seems pretty good so far.  The podcast covers a wide variety of topics ranging from Q&A sessions, to calories counting, and meal planning.  The AltShift e-book is also worth a read, check it out.   
  • The Tim Ferriss Show (Episode from Nov. 3, 2015) with Dom D’Agostino on Fasting, Ketosis, and The End of Cancer.  Show Notes: If any of you have listened to Tim’s show before you know that he brings a vast amount of knowledge to the table and during this episode he talks with Dr. Dom D’agostino from the University of South Florida.  It is an interesting talk about the effects of a ketogenic diet as it relates to the human body and fueling the body on proper levels.  For many folks, this episode will be a bit in-depth, but I found the discussion to still be interesting enough to do further reading on ketosis and other related discussions.  I’m not certain that nutritional ketosis is for me, but it offers a perspective that most are unaware of.

This list of resources should get you pointed in the right direction for 2016. I hope you find them enjoyable and spark some interest in your own nutrition planning.  As noted above, I’m following the AltShift diet right now and the best part about this diet is that I can incorporate all the wild game and fish I want!  It’s perfect for the hunter/gatherer life-style.  I plan on further honing my dietary needs this year and will be reading some more books to seek out further dietary knowledge.  I hope this post finds you all well to a solid start to 2016.  

Whitetail Rut Movements and Home Range from Multiple Perspectives

Whitetail Rut Movements and Home Range from Multiple Perspectives

A timely post about whitetail rut movements and home range from various points of view.  I hope this reading provokes some thoughts for your own hunting grounds.  As always feel free to engage with comments on the post: Enjoy.    

A Praise to America's Public Lands (#KeepItPublic)

By: Josh Shaffer

Today seems like a great day to spread some good words about our wonderful nation, don't you think?

I've recently returned to a normal schedule after a trip to Colorado for early season elk and I'm reflecting on the events that unfolded.  These western trips are character building and have lasting impressions on us hunters: I can still smell the dark pine forest scents and feel the sting of the frosty 25 degree morning temperatures on the way up the mountain.  Even though I came home with an un-filled elk tag, I still learned a lot about the mountains and came away with pictures of scenic views that few have a chance to witness.  

What was the keystone to our safe and successful DIY elk trip?  It wasn't any fantastic elk calling tactics or a high dollar piece of hunting gear, it was the ability to walk endless miles in the timber, meadows, and mountains that are situated on America's public lands system.  Without the leadership and foresight of those in the back in America's heyday, we wouldn't have these lands to call our own.  

 A landscape shot from 2010 in Shoshone National Forest.  

A landscape shot from 2010 in Shoshone National Forest.  

In my own curiosity about the public lands system, I did a little background research and found that the first national forest was the Shoshone National Forest and was founded in 1891 as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve.  Coincidentally, my wife and I visited the Shoshone years ago en route to Yellowstone.  I can attest that it is vast and large!  In the years following many more national forests were added to the tally and to date there are 155 separate national forests that encompass some 190 million acres.  As the years progressed, 1964 arrived and the Wilderness Act came to fruition during the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration.  Initially it protected about 9.1 million acres and 51 years later (2015) protects a very impressive 109 million acres.  Interestingly, the famous trophy elk destination known as the Gila Wilderness Area of New Mexico was the first wilderness area designated under the act and encompasses 559,040 acres.       

 One of the many gulches on public lands that I traipsed while in search of elk meat for my freezer.  

One of the many gulches on public lands that I traipsed while in search of elk meat for my freezer.  

As you can tell my recent trip to the wild and rugged anpublic lands of Colorado has refreshed my appreciation of America's public land system.  

Many western hunters coming from all ends of the country rely on public lands to fulfill our hunting dreams.  Without our public lands, we'd be limited to trying to obtain ranch tags at a premium under fierce competition.  Thankfully, we have many DIY options at our disposal.  

There has been a lot of talk in the western states about some of the federally owned lands being auctioned off, leased, and/or transferred to the states and other private entities to alleviate federal constraints.  As with any debate, there are always two sides to the story, but I am in favor of keeping these lands under federal control.  If these lands are auctioned off, they will never return to federal control for all tax payers to enjoy.  I recently found a good article that discusses the different types of federal lands and the varying protections that each has to offer.  Give the article a quick read for a better understanding of the various federal protections.         

It makes me wonder how the good news of our public lands could be amplified if all the hunters and anglers across America took a few minutes to spread a good word.  Please consider sending a supportive email to your state representative: I just did!   

 These sorts of views can be enjoyed by all on our public lands system in America! 

These sorts of views can be enjoyed by all on our public lands system in America! 

In closing, public lands of all sorts are owned by you and me.  Keep this in mind next time you are spending time in one of America's parks, forests, or wilderness areas.  It's up to all of us to practice good stewardship with what we have been entrusted to manage so that generations to come can enjoy these resources as well.  

Let's #KeepItPublic!   

Managing Your Benjamins ($$$): Hunt More BUCKS

By: Josh Shaffer

Do you wish you could press "pause" your day job in the fall to chase rutting whitetails?  Do you find yourself in meetings at work while bucks are seeking and chasing hot does past your favorite archery stand?  Do you check the weather and realize that a cold front is moving in and you can't get home in time from work?  Every day in October and November, I find my mind wandering back to these topics.  Like many others in America, my family is working hard towards financial freedom for many reasons, but one personal reason of my own is to spend more time in the timber and less time toiling for wages.  I'm not wishing time away until retirement, but I do want to be financially prepared which requires planning years in advance.        

I'll assume that you also want to learn more about personal financial freedom that will afford you the opportunities to fulfill your dreams.  Wouldn't it be awesome to have the freedom to hunt the entire whitetail rut?  Keep reading! 

 Just one of the many good quotes posted on the wall at the studio of the Dave Ramsey Show.  

Just one of the many good quotes posted on the wall at the studio of the Dave Ramsey Show.  

The sport of hunting and the aspect of financial planning have a very important thread in common: "Stewardship."  According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary stewardship is defined as " the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something - usually of - the stewardship of their investments/estate - the stewardship of our natural resources."  So with that definition in mind, there is a direct, strong correlation between the modern-day hunting world (the worlds leading conservationists) and personal financial planning.  Why not make your life seamless and strive for good stewardship in both aspects?!  I offer a personal note below.      

A main part of our (my wife and I) early financial focus and target financial goals were a product of being raised in a fiscally conservative household, however we were still searching for information on personal finance.  That's when we discovered Financial Peace University (FPU).  This class is taught all over the country in group sessions via Dave Ramsey and the class has a track record that is hard to ignore.  I have yet to find a single book or class that has made such a positive impact on family finances.  The class revolves around a 9-week schedule and focuses on the 7 baby steps in personal finance:

  1. Save a $1,000 emergency fund
  2. Pay off all your debts except the house
  3. Increase your emergency fund to cover expenses for 3 to 6 months
  4. Invest 15% of your income for retirement
  5. Invest for your kids' college
  6. Pay off your house early
  7. Build wealth and GIVE  

I know that many scoff at the "7-step process", but if you've made it this far in this post, then your obviously curious about the subject so continue reading and have an open mind.  This may seem like an obvious financial progression and be overly simplified, but it speaks volumes in today's world.  Whilst we can get caught up in the complex "rat race" of life and "keeping up with the Jones' ", it is easy to lose sight of these important foundation blocks of personal finance.  If this information is new to you, I strongly suggest you take a further in-depth read on these aspects as it will make you view your own finances in an entirely different light!  Truth be told, my wife and I liked the FPU class so much, that we took it again last year as a refresher course!  

Cautionary Statement: Re-habilitation of your personal finances is not an easy task and this is not a get-rich quick scheme.  It's akin to a marathon and you must have a long-term mindset.  Do not lose focus of your goals and be persistent.  

This is one of many panels in the Dave Ramsey Studio that people have signed as a testimony of becoming "Debt Free"!  These panels are placed throughout the building as inspiration to those that work and visit there.  

Do you remember the Aesop's Fable you heard as a kid: "The Tortoise and the Hare?"  Who wins the race?  The Tortoise does of course!  A famous millionaire once told Dave Ramsey about this fable and that he reads it to his grand children frequently.  To paraphrase his thoughts he said, "the world is full of Hares (get-rich quick ideas, keeping with the Jones', etc.), but the Tortoises (financial conservatives, long-term investors, etc.) always win the race.  

Personal finance is only 20% head knowledge. It’s 80% behavior. - Dave Ramsey

If you are struggling with your household finances, then start with the baby steps mentioned above.  You need to set short term goals for yourself to establish a sense of accomplishment.  Make sure you always have a long term plan as well to ensure you aren't wandering aimlessly.  

Once you reach financial peace you'll be able to focus more on family time and recreation, rather than working overtime to pay for stuff you don't really need.  Just think about being able to take the kids fishing or deer hunting rather than having to work overtime.  This is the point in life at which you are squarely in control of your own destiny!  

I'll leave you with a parting thought from Proverbs 21:5 - good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty short cuts lead to poverty.  

Welcome to Financial Peace: Josh


Elk Hunting Related Podcasts: Pre-Season Refresher

Elk Hunting Related Podcasts: Pre-Season Refresher

Well, its the end of August and once again the summer has flew by way too fast for most of us.  Across the nation, there are guys and gals with elk tags in their backpacks waiting to cash in their vacation time at work and make the trek to their elk hunting destination.  These are the same folks that have been spending the last few months getting their gear in order and prepping, both physically and mentally, for the season which is fast approaching.  

I always try to read up on tactics and tips as much as possible, but sometimes it is simply too hard to find the quiet time to sit down and focus on a good book, article, or video.  In my mind, the next best thing is a good podcast that you can listen to on your commute to work.  I've put together a short list of the podcasts that I've mined out of the iTunes archives that specifically discuss elk hunting tactics.  I hope you find some useful information in these: Enjoy!