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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spring Bear Hunting - It;'s Time!

Spring Bear. Next week, Spring Bear opens up in Quebec. There was still some snow a week ago and getting bait sites established at Lac Suzie presented some challenges but everything is on course for a great season according to Serge Dapra who owns this camp in Northern Quebec.
We know Serge from the NRA Oudoor Show over the last several years and have logged a few meals with Serge at the Capitol Diner in Harrisburg. He is a good friend and we know several Kodabows have made the trip North and have had very successful outcomes at his camp. 

Canada bear hunting in this province is generally a baited hunt because the terrain is thick and a spot and stalk hunt would yield little harvest. Far different than a bear hunt on Vancouver Island I had a few years ago which was 100% spot and stalk. Each method has pros and cons.
This bear was taken at lac Suzie with a Kodabow.

Hunting bears over bait is fairly simple in principle but that is not accurate. The biggest bears know the game well and can always be counted on to make a cautious approach with their nose taking it all in. There is often the opportunity to study a bear closely prior to making a shooting decision which is a real benefit of bait sites.  Then again, if you are ground hunting, being that close can get the juices flowing pretty quick. A tree stand is a nice option but don't think you are out of harms way up in the air. A black bear can be up 20 feet in 2 seconds - they are fast climbers. Shots can be expected to be close at between 15 to 20 yards in most situations. Bear anatomy is different than a whitetail and whether shooting a firearm or bow, a deer type shot will often be in the wrong anatomical area of a bear.  Shooting for the "middle of the middle" as some folks have called it is the way to go to achieve the desirable double lung shot.  Bisect the bear using the midpoint between both legs (left and right) and then bisect the up and down in the middle again. Where the lines cross is the textbook aiming point. Maybe cheat a little and move a bit forward for a better margin of error. A good bow hunter is always looking for the double lung shot. Elk and bear can travel significant distances if only one lung has arrow penetration. Your Kodabow with a Killzone mechanical broadhead is a terrific choice for black bear --- expect a pass through shot and a very short blood trail if you hit your mark.

Another hunter with a nice Canada Black Bear and his Kodabow. This was a different camp than Lac Suzie. The best approach is to do your research prior to booking a bear hunt! 

Avoid messing up your bait site by walking around the bait before getting into position. 
Go in quietly and proceed directly to your stand. Carry a Thermacell for the mosquitoes and bugs so your hands can stay still instead of constantly swatting flies while on stand. The bugs may be the most memorable event of a Quebec bear hunt if the weather is right. The mosquitoes can bite through a single layer of pants and duct tape will be critical to seal up any openings (like your boot to pants interface.)  Needless to say, a head net is mandatory even if you head out on the lake to fish. A bug suit and a rain suit are useful items. Your outfitter and the effectiveness of the bait sites established prior to your arrival in camp are the keys to having a terrific hunt. A few years ago I was sadly disappointed on a bear hunt when the outfitter failed to do the proper and timely baiting. Sites and tree stands had been ignored or had been hunted the week before by another hunter without success. Options were limited. This camp was more of an activity designed to keep hunters entertained and misdirected than a serious bear camp. A good rule of thumb is that a hunter should be allotted at least two fresh active baits that have not been hunted previously. Serge said that 17 of 18 hunters took bears last year at his camp which is a solid success rate --- 100% had shot opportunities. There were some very nice bears taken in 2015 and the pictures are posted on the Lac Suzie website. Serge invited me up to his camp this year. Who knows --- I just might join the other Kodabow hunters and get some time in up at Lac Suzie. 
My best --- (study your bear anatomy and tell us how you do!)
Chuck @ Kodabow


Thursday, April 28, 2016

EVERYBODY has problems! (Really?)

Let's say his name is Harvey. We had a chance to talk crossbows. I make the darn things. As an Outdoor Writer, he hunts and shoots them.
Like most Outdoor Writers, there is a passion for the fishing and hunting game so the conversation flowed freely.
I asked him how he did last year. (Today, we all assume that means whitetail hunting, 50 years ago, the response could have been a report on last year's squirrel and rabbit season.) The tale begins and the excitement and emotion in his voice made me feel as if I was there and this was no ordinary story.

Outdoor writers have embraced "blogging". Here I am with a young lady from Maryland who is all about hunting, fishing and blogging about those experiences. 

The writer replied that he had the opportunity of a lifetime but missed a tremendous buck last year. By the way, these types of bucks do not appear every year - you are lucky if you see a monster in a decade of hunting and even more fortunate to be in a shooting position. Hours and hours and hours are spent just to be in the position for that lifetime whitetail. The opening meant this story would not end well but Harvey had my attention especially since he was hunting with a crossbow. He didn't have a Kodabow - it was another brand....but OK, not everyone buys a Kodabow.

He related that he was in his tree stand and spent the morning glassing game going past and then the monster appeared. The big buck moved in closer as he centered the target in his scope. The moment came .... that millisecond right before the shot when everything lines up and the hunter's confidence level is so high, that thoughts of being at the butcher by 10:00 AM begin to cloud the thought process. He slowly squeezed the trigger. It was an easy shot. He was so lucky! At that point, ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!
An Outdoor Writer takes in the benefits of the Kodabow EL-2 Sling  Imagine the need to take a quick shot and you get the picture.  Other benefits like the unique Kodabow Anti-Dry Fire (ADF) System are always impressive. Always ask for a demonstration that actually shows the ADF system functioning on a crossbow and see what type of response if offered. 
As the trigger was pulled, the arrow shattered sending carbon fibers in every direction. The string on his crossbow broke and loose string ends were flying in the wind. He said it scared the heck out of him as he watched the buck run in response to the commotion. There would be no trip to the meat processor today. No pictures. Just a walk back to the truck with a defeated crossbow. Harvey reached into his pocket and the cell phone came out. He showed me a picture of the buck. Another hunter killed the buck during rifle season and the photo was right there .....the big buck next to photos of family and past vacations. Obviously the memory still loomed large.

What happened? Harvey said the crossbow was a compound type and eventually was repaired with a new string and cables at a dealer. I  said a few different reasons could have caused the issue. The string or arrow could have been defective. He agreed. I said the most likely reason however, was that his arrow was not seated properly. This bow used a "half moon nock" and the string is moving up and away from the rail as the trigger releases the bowstring. The system depends on the arrow nock "catching the string" in the recess or slot of the nock -  named for its crescent shape. He said he might have not put the arrow in correctly. These type of arrows require that the nock be oriented to the string. Place it on the rail 120 degrees out of phase and there is nothing to stop the string from jumping up and over the arrow. He related that the dealer thought that the arrow position might have been just a bit forward but not so forward that the Anti Dry Fire system was not activated so the bow fired. Harvey said his arrow might have been in no - man's land. It was in far enough to fire but not inserted completely to function. I thought to myself --- "thank goodness Harvey was staring down a Whitetail and not a Cape Buffalo."

That's me ....  shooting a Bravo Zulu! 
Life is short. We can be blunt. I told Harvey that if he was shooting a Kodabow that morning, he would have killed that buck. The truth is the truth. I explained that our bowstring is moving down towards the rail as the trigger is pulled and not trying to hop over the arrow. We use a "Flat Nock" and arrow orientation is not critical. I showed him the external indicator on a Kodabow that monitors the position of the arrow on the rail and shows if the arrow slips forward, a hunter is alerted.

Harvey totally understood as he popped a few arrows downrange with a Kodabow. He gets it now. (Note: The Kodabow operating system is a preferred choice for hunting Dangerous Game because the visual confirmation and arrow control is absolute.)
The writer said he never expected last year's outcome when he purchased that crossbow because it was supposed to be good. I leaned back and thought about how effective and powerful the marketing in the Outdoor Industry has become to the degree that even a seasoned Outdoor Writer can get all confused. If you purchased every recommended item to go turkey hunting from the mail order catalog sitting in your mailbox, you could spend $4,000 and still not significantly improve your success for bagging a turkey. Most gear is nice to have but unnecessary. My guess is that Harvey's new Whizbang 350 with a history of epic failure will be retired by the time next season rolls around.
He will become a Kodabow man. We have heard this type of unfortunate story many times. After all, a monster buck doesn't appear every year.  Around here, we think a Kodabow is nice and necessary but actually provides a huge edge to improve your success. As Harvey headed over for a cup of coffee, I thought I heard him say to himself, "I should have had a Kodabow."  He is still hurting.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March is Gear Prep Time -- Nothing else to do!

March is an ideal time to take a realistic assessment of your gear -- or take the dog for a walk because there is nothing better to do for a few weeks before Spring Turkey season kicks in.
Sam as a young pup! He has worked the 9 day NRA Show for several years now. See article below.

If you are positioned to have hunting opportunities right now (like Texas hogs), you are fortunate and good luck! If not, maybe pick up a new skill until the time is right.

Here are a few ideas: 

Deep thoughts on Fletching and Vanes:  Maybe it is time to learn to fletch your own arrows if you don't know how. Can you use feathers in a crossbow? Certainly. Can you pick other colors and styles than the 4" parabolic plastic vane that we supply on our standard Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow. You bet!
But keep in mind that the Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow is one of the best kept secrets in the crossbow industry as one customer recently told us! 

From Left to Right: 3 traditional arrows with 4" to 5" long feathers and a high amount of helical. This degree of helical won't work well down a crossbow rail. The red arrow was redone with 2" Blazer vanes with helical. The helical works because of the shorter vane. The two arrows to on the right are standard Kodabow Magnum .338 Arrows with 2 degree offset.
The best practice for crossbow arrows is to avoid putting so much helical on a vane or feather that the poor arrow can't get down the crossbow rail without making heavy contact. What works is a standard 2 degree offset on a long vane or feather. The vane is applied in a straight line exactly like on our Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow. If you are using shorter vanes and feathers, you can try helical (which twists the vane around the arrow and is more aggressive than offset) and still be safe because of the shorter fletching length like on the red arrow above .....but it won't work on a 4" vane. 
Here are some other considerations:
Weight: Feathers weigh about 1/3 the weight of plastic vanes. Feathers are lighter. Feather companies will also tell you that the surface of a feather engages the air mass better than the slick surface of plastic which is favorable.... and since the 3 feathers are lighter, they will help boost the FOC (Forward of Center % - high %  is a good thing) vs. the 3 plastic vanes by eliminating weight at the rear of the arrow. Feathers are slightly less durable but I have never found that aspect to be a real issue. (except in real heavy rain and snow.)  To make arrows, you will need feathers or vanes, and cement. An early decision will be to choose a jig that will help you affix the feather/vane precisely at 120 degree intervals. We use a brand called the "Jo Jan Fletcher" for repairs and building custom arrows and it can do one vane on 6 arrows at a time. Other options are single arrow fletching jigs like the Bohning, Aizona EZ Fletch or Bitzenberger -- do your homework and choose what you like or find appealing. Another tip - we find that standard Gorilla Instant Glue --- makes a great fletching cement and is much less expensive (comes in a big bottle) than typical "archery specific" fletching cements. This is the white stuff --- not the brown colored Gorilla Glue and you can find it at your local arts and crafts store. But then again... those Kodabow Magnum .338 arrows sure are sweet. (Hint: How much longer before our current fabulous prices increase?) More important - why do any of this? Maybe it is just to repair arrows or because you simply want to try your hand at it. One customer went through the whole process and found that accuracy with his "custom" arrows could equal the Kodabow Magnum Arrows - but he could never make an arrow shoot any better.

Camo Face Paint  If you haven't tried it, we think you should. Forget the constant facemask hassle. Buy some for the Spring Turkey hunting season. We sell this three tube kit on our website for $13.99. And if we sell it, you know it is good and it works! 

Link to Kodabow Accessories

The Presidential Election: About a month ago, Petersen's Hunting Journal made a real strong case to Sportsmen to consider voting for Donald Trump. Politics are your own business but we always attempt to stay fully informed around here --- and while Donald's behavior on the campaign trail has certainly been controversial, it appears a lot of folks really like him.  The media and political elites can't stand the guy and are doing the best to derail his campaign but with a lot of voters behind him, he might be unstoppable. Here is the article by Michael Schoby.


Trump's son, Don Jr. is the real deal when it comes to hunting and bow hunting in particular. I am impressed with Don Jr. He appears authentic and genuine. I think it is reasonable to believe that should Trump win the 2016 election, his son Don Jr. would be a tremendous asset for the American Sportsman. Long before the election campaign, Don Jr. was frequently on hunting forums. One seller of a traditional bow was surprised when Don Jr. made payment with a check and the seller realized the identity of the buyer. Don Jr. appears to be a regular guy - had to work at it a little harder but he looks like he really knows his archery stuff.  

Wierd Crossbow Excusions:  Crossbows (and archery equipment in general) have plenty of energy. In certain circumstances, the force behind the arrow can cause a carbon arrow to flex and spring back in unusual ways. Hunters have discharged crossbow arrows into the ground and unknowingly struck a buried root causing the arrow to flex and rebound directly back towards the hunter. A high speed arrow passing right by your face will get your attention. That can be dangerous. Always consider your backstop. A few years ago, I shot a deer at 15 yards with my Kodabow. As the arrow entered the deer's engine room, the arrow direction was altered by bone and muscle in a very peculiar manner and the arrow flexed and turned 90 degrees going straight up in the air --- high --- at least 30 feet --- then floated down to the ground at my feet. The deer was dead 20 yards away but the path of the arrow was impressive. Another time, a Kodabow customer related that he shot over his target one day and struck an oak tree in the backyard just right. The arrow's direction was altered 90 degrees and ended up in the fender of his F-150. The picture below was taken at the NRA Show in Harrisburg PA. Look closely at the center of the door. A vertical bow arrow was launched apparently a little high on the target range and traveled into a large metal overhead door nearly finding freedom in the parking lot. Yikes! We observed an improved backstop in place shortly thereafter. Always be sure of your backstop! 

9 Days in Harrisburg, PA  The NRA Show in Harrisburg (Great American Outdoor Show) was a great success especially considering the Super Bowl was on one weekend and Valentine's Day the following weekend. We sold plenty of Kodabow crossbows and many Kodabow owners stopped by to say hello, show pictures or pick up some arrows, a backpack or other accessory items.  At one point, there were 2 gents visiting our booth looking at the Kodabow products. There were 6 other folks who just happened to own Kodabow Crossbows standing right behind these 2 prospective Kodabow buyers. The first fella asks, "Just how good are these Kodabows?" 
Before we could say anything, the Kodabow crowd erupted with statements like, "You are nuts if you buy any other crossbow than a Kodabow."  We just stayed out of the way for the next 10 minutes.  
All crossbows look the same from a distance. Digging deeper, Kodabow is in a class by itself.

"Kodabow was our first stop. I never believed I could shoot a deer but here are the photos."

Erin (C) speaking with a Kodabow buyer who had been looking at Kodabow Crossbows since last year. (The whole family ended up purchasing 3 bows at the Show). Matt (R) carrying a bow back from the shooting range. Mark (Background) shooting with a future Kodabow owner. Kodabow shoots more than any other crossbow maker at the NRA GAOS Show.
Leatherwork: Another Skill to Learn  Many Kodabow owners appreciate craftsmanship and craftsmanship has always been part of archery. 
We teach traditional archery on our Kodabow range on weekends. We enjoy crossbows but we also enjoy traditional bows and gear and know it pretty well. One aspect of traditional archery is a propensity for archers to make their own accessory equipment. You will see custom leather quivers, armguards  and carry sacks. Archers by nature, are patient folks and there is an element of pleasure of customizing and using equipment that you had a hand in making.  (At Kodabow, we have consistently added modifications to our own Kodabow crossbows and some of those additions make it as mainstream accessory products. For example, the Stock Tube Adapter was developed by a Kodabow customer. Our Decocking Aid was developed in the field because of necessity.) Leave the Kodabow development work to us but consider picking up  a new skill and work with leather to make yourself hunting items that just can't be bought.
Here are two examples that were completed in the last 2 months:
The first was an old hunting knife made in Germany in the 1960's that was badly in need of a sheath and some metal polish. The knife is not a collector's item. It was in the bottom of a tackle box inherited years ago.  Many knives of this style were imported after WWII and can be bought relatively inexpensively on Ebay and they are nice. So with a few evening's work, a nice sheath was made and the knife was suitable as a gift.  Not an expert leather worker here --- but a nice way to relax.

A knife was resurrected with a new sheath -- hand  sewn and there is no other one like it in the world. 

The second item was driven by the recent NRA trade show experience. The nylon badge holder (L) was very convenient to hold a cell phone, business cards and writing tools during the show. It was so useful that following the show and a few hours work, I made a similar leather holder (R) customized for my cell phone. This pouch will be a great tool for hunting season and has been in daily use since the show.

Just a few ideas .....be safe and thank goodness --- my turkey permit just arrived in the mail!   

Chuck at Kodabow Headquarters

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Looking Forward to 2016 - No Regrets

When hunting seasons ends and the calendar turns over, I always think about the past Kodabow year and all the events and friends that crossed our path.  Here are a few pictures from the scrapbook of living, hunting, and reflecting on life.

We introduce a lot of folks to archery on our Kodabow range facility. Hundreds of people in a year. I bet you didn't know that. The emphasis is teaching using traditional equipment with the goal of educating a prospective archer around the ethics, technical aspects and joy of launching an arrow downrange. I think there is no better insight into how an individual processes information and handles challenges than observing their mental and physical performance as they draw back a bow. Fred Bear once said, "Nothing cures a troubled mind like shooting a bow."

We discuss the future of our country around here every day. We are closely connected to many people in the armed services and worry about them. They are scattered around the world doing their duty and we hope they return safely. Sometimes, they are injured or make the ultimate sacrifice. We remember standing at a memorial service a few years ago for Sgt. Bury. Never forgotten. Freedom has a price and we pray that this country always has leaders worthy of our servicemen and women who are on the front lines.  

Making crossbows is great fun and we have the privilege to meet many accomplished hunters who shoot and appreciate our Kodabow crossbows. They send in photos and we feel the excitement of their success. THANK YOU! A Kodabow hunter is typically very successful --- maybe it is the way they go about their business. We believe you can't buy a finer crossbow and we want everyone who chooses our product to be confident. These photos from the past year reflect that type of success. We strive to always earn and be worthy of the trust you place in our company.

Hunting is the biggest part of our business. We enjoy the hunt. The majority of the time afield ends with great memories (if you are fortunate) and far less often with the killing of an animal. Success is better defined by the experience and not the kill as most of you know. As the New Year starts, I think about all the great 2015 moments -- being surprised in heavy cover by a nice whitetail at 4 yards - being fortunate to have a friend that would stand with me at 9,800 feet in Colorado with a recurve bow in search of Elk --drawing back on a nice buck in Pennsylvania at 12 yards but deciding to give him another year as I slowly let the arrow down. No regrets. (But I do think about it.)  The killing of an animal reinforces the cycle of life and death and can highlight our own mortality.  My mom told me one day that "it all goes by so fast." When you are making the trip, friends are the best. So if you can get down this road with a great friend, be thankful. If you have a great friend you can hunt with --- be more thankful because that is pretty rare. Whether you are miles in the Colorado back country with Mark, in Texas learning how to chase whitetails with Monte, or in suburban Pennsylvania exploring the art of backyard hunting with Ted, it is always far more fun with a friend. Good luck hunting in 2016! 
My best, Chuck 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Sad and Woeful Tale High in the Rockies

It was a big Elk high on a ridge. 
The first week of archery season in Colorado and the big fella acted as if he owned the place. He did. He was surrounded by 7 cows and periodically bugled as the sun was setting. His antlers reached far back to his rear quarters. He was a big one. I could only watch from a well hidden vantage point 500 yards away.
"Ready for Elk in 2015."
Three close encounters at 30 yards, 10 yards
and 15 yards ended with the swirling wind foiling
each opportunity. Excitement is a big bull Elk raking the trees
at 15 yards. More excitement is making the shot with
traditional equipment but it was not meant to be this year.
The bull was on a neighboring ranch and was safe across a fenced boundary.  Then along came Rodney. (Name Changed by design)  Appeared to be a nice fella...had been bowhunting this property for several years and had never killed an Elk. Rodney and I had met briefly in camp and the introduction included a woeful tale about how he lost his handgun while hunting the year before. Apparently Rodney had to drop his drawers and take care of business. The task was completed and the toilet paper was buried and Rodney went on his way only to realize sometime later that he laid his Glock 9mm on the ground while in the woodsman full squat. In 30 seconds, I think I knew all I needed to know about Rodney. He lost his handgun that day. Despite searching, the loaded handgun was never found and remains at 9,000 feet in the Rockies. The episode highlights two critical lessons. #1 - Know where you are when you take a crap. #2 - Always be aware of your handgun location. It won't do you much good in the sagebrush. The bull Elk was still bugling and Rodney (with no handgun) was making an approach with bow in hand. My Swarovski binocs were focused on the unfolding drama. I expected the odds were well in the Elk's favor. The bull wasn't on the property we had permission to hunt.  At 150 yards, Rodney made a cow call that sounded like a chirping bird. The big bull arched his neck with a facial expression of "what the heck was that." Elk  have eyeballs and ears three times the size of a whitetail and suck in four times as much oxygen with every breath through a nose that is five times as large as a bloodhound.  After Rodney made his cow/turkey call and with the bull Elk focused intensely on the direction of the sound, Rodney thought it would be a great time to close the distance. He took one step and the bull immediately glanced at the cows and in unison, the entire group headed across the meadow and over the next ridge. It would be another year with no Elk hanging in camp for Rodney.  When hunting with a group that includes strangers that you meet for the first time, my overall experience has been very positive. This is especially true for bowhunters who always come across as thoughtful for the most part. The lost handgun story had my head spinning as Rodney took the time to educate me on thermals and how the wind shifts as the air mass warms. Thoughtful. Nice. I muttered to myself, “this guy just finished an Outdoor Life article.”  
Here is the final analysis.

The camp had a rule that prohibited ATV use beyond a certain point.  The rule maker was wise because he might have hunted the land for years or possibly knew about the adage that if you take an ATV in 1/2 mile, the Elk move away a mile. Run in before dark 1 mile and you might push the Elk two miles out. Rodney had a rip roaring ATV of course. Our small group was hunting hard and it took some time to sort out this next piece since we were hiking 2 miles before sunrise daily and other hunter’s movements were not visible. As the week progressed, we noticed that Elk activity diminished and the bugling was always on neighboring ranches. Eventually, we realized that the young “thermal expert” Rodney was driving his ATV 2 miles across the property into prime Elk habitat daily. Rodney would return for lunch, watch a TV on his satellite dish in the afternoon and head back for an evening hunt traversing the property 4 times each day.
If your drive an ATV into the middle of Elk habitat,
quality opportunities will decrease. 
 Even the most neophyte hunter should have been embarrassed by the disregard for others in camp. In this bowhunting situation, Rodney proved himself to be lazy and inconsiderate of others with his ATV use.  It explains why the big Bull moved off the property and really behaved with his guard up. The ATV behavior was selfish and disrespectful and the empty meat pole in camp was proof. During a week of hunting, our small group was walking at least 6 miles daily with many miles in the dark. When we returned to camp, we were exhausted. They say Elk hunting is a young man’s game.  By the end of the week when we figured out what was happening with the ATV use, it was too late to remedy the situation....... but next year in camp, we look forward to providing Rodney with a better orientation on Elk hunting that will begin by leaving the ATV behind. *

Be safe out there and good luck! 
Chuck at Kodabow

* a fictional Elk hunting story based on a 2015 Elk hunt

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Secret Life of Outdoor Writers

Outdoor Writers are, by nature, colorful folks and knowledgeable about all things hunting and fishing.  

Outdoor Writers at the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers
Association Meeting in Seven Springs, PA this past weekend.

These days, they need to be clever as well. Gone forever are the days when every teenager anxiously awaits the monthly arrival of their favorite outdoor magazine. Sure, there are still kids who long for a Christmas gift subscription to Outdoor Life but more likely, these kids will spend 7 hours a day in front of a screen of some type - computer, iPhone, TV or Video Game. Kids have a roving range of a small postage stamp backyard these days. Odds are when you grew up, your parents let you roam wherever as long as you were home for dinner before dark. The problem that Outdoor Writers face is that writing jobs are hard to come by and the jobs don't pay like they used to pay. It is a digital age and just like our national news cycles, information is everywhere and it moves fast. Somewhere right now, there is a "wanna be writer" in his pajamas writing internet articles and blogs and even taking gigs for free. At Kodabow, we love the men and women who carry on and practice their craft of spreading intelligent information on the outdoors -- they build turkey calls, they know the best trout streams and they take immense pride in their writing craft but after spending a weekend with these professionals, we see that the job at hand is as challenging as one would ever find.
Here are just a few things we learned over the weekend:

1 - COMBAT THE "LEAVE NATURE ALONE" SYNDROME. Most people in your town or city don't understand the "outdoors". They may be predisposed to just let nature be.... and hence, hunting stories can be controversial ie. why do people need to shoot these animals?  But these men and women readers (who may be never have fished or hunted) are smart and a good outdoor writer knows it and knows that an article may be read by both hunters and non-hunters especially in a local city paper. Today, our outdoor world has the handiwork of humans all over it and after decades of logging, development and other human activities. We now have a serious responsibility for STEWARDSHIP over this domain.  Nothing is the same as when settlers arrived in this land 600 years ago. Since readers are smart, explaining Wildlife Management as a starting point goes much further than immediately pushing a hunting perspective in the news print. One of the best things we can do is take someone who has never been hunting, shooting or fishing along with us on an expedition.

2 - COMMON GROUND. Aligning and finding the areas of commonality among birders, mountain bikers, hunters, fisherman and naturists is more important than focusing on the areas of disagreement. In comparison to hunters and fishers, these other groups do very little monetarily to positively impact the outdoors.
Seven Springs, PA in Western PA near Pittsburgh has ski slopes, nearby hunting and fishing, and sporting clay ranges. This is a view from the top of ski slope after a 5:30 AM walk to the top early one morning.
The highest point in PA, Mount Davis, is nearby. We are up about 3,000 feet here.

3 - WRITERS ARE FRUGAL. A writer comes up to me and says, "Chuck - do you know why no Outdoor Writers wear red shoes?"
I can't come up with an answer.
He says, "Because no manufacturers give away red shoes."
His point was that many writers are always on the prowl for outdoor gear at no cost. It is understandable. Some weekly articles might only generate $75 or $100 in pay and it is a constant struggle to obtain paid assignments. Many writers are older and the younger ones almost always have a "real job". There were a lot of teachers and former teachers in the room. A well written article can take hours of work and research and some publishers might say - "we would love to have you do a monthly column but we can't pay you."

A Kodabow friend, Kodabow owner, and long time PA hunter Ted Saddic stands on the balcony overlooking the Sporting Clays range at Seven Springs, PA. Ted helped Kodabow at the breakout session when writers talked with us.

4 - SOME READERS WILL GO NUTS. If a writer identifies  "Laurel Hills State Park" in an article but the REAL NAME of the Park, is "Laurel Hill State Park" ......standby for incoming rounds and take cover. In today's internet world, an obscure event or misunderstanding can sometimes blossom into a full fledged controversy that can undermine all the good intentions of the writer. We have seen that type of thing ourselves as a manufacturer where a small issue or mistake is driven to huge proportions over the internet. The best professional writers have a sensitivity to being accurate and careful. Some are artful in presenting both sides of an issue and will let the facts speak for themselves. And if you believe you are on the correct and on the right side of an issue, it will be more credible to present  both viewpoints --- and a smart reader will be drawn to the right answer by the factual perspective. 


5 - REAL SERIOUS TYPES MIX WITH EDGY CHARACTER TYPES. It probably pays to have a "look." Jim Shockey, for example --- always wears that cowboy hat. At a POWA meeting, an attendee will come across other attendees who are millionaires from selling small non-descript outdoor products to gents who have killed 248 turkeys ...yep, a gent that keeps track by number down to the individual turkey. The new PA Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources, Cindy Adams Dunn, spoke at the meeting about current issues facing the State.  How about a writer that is nearly 100% focused on ... Beagle Dogs?  ..... Beagling ....Beagle Hunting ...... maybe a circulation of 10,000 readers --- now there is a little niche.  How about gaining insight into the logic behind Pennsylvania approving crossbow use from someone who was right there? The approval logic was "how could we stand in the way of an activity that would increase user participation and not hurt the resource?" As a Pennsylvania hunter myself, it appears that the crossbow benefits have far outweighed the perceived negatives. And as a traditional bowhunter, I hope I have the sensitivity to see both sides of the issue. The crossbow controversy was at a fevered pitch a few years ago. In some small circles, the controversy still reigns. One imaginative and clever POWA writer composed an archery article circa 2013 that included several quotes like, "this will be the end of archery hunting as we know it."  He was accurate and dead on .....but he waited till the end of the article to reveal to the reader that these quotes were not from the current crossbow brouhaha but from the early 1980's when vertical compound bows were vehemently opposed by some. Like we said, those Outdoor Writers are clever folks.
- Chuck Matasic at Kodabow; May 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Texas Logic

Sometimes, a person or organization gets lost looking at the trees and never sees the forest.

There was a very thoughtful post by a reader on our Kodabow YouTube site that we thought was worth reposting in full. Written by a Kodabow follower in Texas named Braxton S. after reviewing our "Hunting Hippo with a Kodabow" video. It is worth a quick read if you have a moment.  

"Thanks for sharing. Texas has preserved at least one animal from extinction; the Scimitar Oryx. The only reason this animal still inhabits the earth is due to the conservation efforts of those that hunt it. To the non-hunter and the rabid environmentalist this is unthinkable; an oxymoron of the highest order. Putting emotions aside, and looking at the logic: Ranchers in Texas get paid very good money for hosting Oryx hunts. The well being and proliferation of the animal is the rancher's primary concern. Why? Money!!. Hunters are thrilled to harvest these beautiful animals for the meat and the trophy. Until recently the state and Federal government was not involved. But uneducated "do gooders" seem to enjoy killing as much as murderers do... "Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals, found oryx hunting “obscene” and challenged USFW in court to end the exemption. On June 22, 2009 the court remanded the rule and the exemption was pulled. It went into effect April 4." The current population of the Oryx has decreased in Texas due to the beuracratic paperwork involved with hunting an "extinct" animal. In fact, over 1000 were killed in the first few months as ranchers, unwilling to deal with the Federal Government regulations closed shop and allowed hunters to kill off their stock animals at a cheap price. I don't know how many Scimitar Oryx are left in Texas, but its fewer than before Friends of Animals got involved. If this group is really interested in the survival of one of nature's most beautiful big game animals, then they need to go back to the Judge and admit that they were wrong and have the law allowing Scimitar hunts to be reinstated. Friends of Animals also needs to know that hunters love the animals they harvest. We brought back the Elk in Colorado and New Mexico, the Whitetail deer nationwide, increased the flights of duck and geese in North America with the fees we pay for our licenses. Priscilla Feral, Friends of Animals??? Not really apparent to this Texan."

To be fair and balanced, we present the same issue as presented on the Connecticut based Friends of Animals website. With our own hunting experiences in Texas, we see firsthand how this type of misplaced and thoughtless "do good" viewpoint harms the very species that are supposedly now protected. When hunting high fenced properties that cover vast amounts of acreage, rest assured that there is nothing "canned" about the experience. The primary danger to these animals is their eventual demise because of the lack of conservation and game management.  Hunters are the true conservationists who see both trees and the forest.

On August 9, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell issued a 105-page ruling denying an attempt by the U.S. hunting community to remove legal protections for three African antelope species—the scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle, and addax—under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Safari Club International (SCI), a group that promotes unrestricted hunting of animals for sport, had asked the Court to remove these three species from the list of endangered animals.  The Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA), a group that promotes the interests of canned-hunting ranches in Texas and other states, had asked the Court to prevent the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) from removing a blanket exemption for captive members of these three species that was found to be illegal under the ESA by a Court in 2009.
“This is an important step toward eliminating the legal arguments that have so far allowed humans to keep these animals in captivity for the sole purpose of killing them,” says Michael Harris, Director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program.  “For the first time, these antelope—whether free in the wild or held captive—are all being given equal protection under the law,” Harris continues.  
This is not the first time that Friends of Animals has prevailed against SCI and EWA with respect to these species.  In 2005, Friends of Animals succeeded in forcing FWS to list these antelope as endangered after the agency refused to do so for nearly 15 years in order to protect the interests of SCI and EWA members.  In 2008, Friends of Animals brought a successful lawsuit against FWS which, again to appease SCI and EWA, had issued an illegal Sport-Hunting rule that sought to exempt from legal protection African antelope held captive on U.S. hunting ranches. 
Now its Friends of Animals that is setting its sights on ending all hunting of these animals in the U.S.  Ironically, also on August 9, 2013, Friends of Animals sent notice to FWS of its intent to sue the agency for its decision to issue one of these ranches a permit to kill captive, endangered scimitar- horned oryx.  Through this lawsuit, Friends of Animals hopes to once and for all establish the rights of these animals to be given full protection under the ESA and to be free from human exploitation.