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Our Blog

Connecting with Hunters on what matters most to them.

Full Circle

5 October 2022

On tonight's episode of The Midnight Gardner, we take a look at when a plan comes full circle.  These Himbo Top Raspberries are coming into fruition and I couldn't be more pleased with the heavy yields.  The canes are literally buckling under their own weight, something to definitely address for next year with a trellis, to help support the weight.

Some of these berries are thumb sized, and smell amazing.  The taste is a succulent sweet with a slight tangy aftertaste.  Perfect for dessert needs, or perhaps a hungry bear.  Seed harvest is on point right now with berries ripening daily, and looking like a large batch ready to be picked by the end of the month.

Big thank you to MiracleGro for the perfect pH balanced soil, to be able to grow these in.  More big thank you's to True Organic for a fertilizer that my plants thrived on all year.  Can't wait to see what volume next season brings!

I can't forget to thank Bonide for making quality IPM devices for controlling and killing Japanese Beetles, which absolutely decimated my plants in a quick manner.  Thank you also to Theisen's Home Farm Auto, for quality Ag products to help support my budding farm. 

Wisconsin Fall Turkey

25 September 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Sometimes things work out... 12 Gauge. 68 yards, #5 Shot, 3" Mag.  Happened super quick.  Was walking out of the cabin and saw it in the field.  Ran back grabbed the shotgun and got as close as I could before they spooked.

Sometimes it's that quick, and sometimes that's hunting, but I'm proud of this old hen, I'm thankful for her and the meat she's providing my family for Thanksgiving.  Sometimes things work out.  Thank you Jesus for this bountiful harvest.

Wisconsin 2022 Fall Turkey Tag, Filled.

Big Sow Down

20 September 2022.

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Another big sow down.  This is woodchuck #8.  The structural damage to my cabin is unreal.  These rodents need to be managed.

Phase 1

20 September 2022.

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Phase 1 of seed harvest is going rather well.  On pace for almost 3,000 plants next year.  That's going to make for a more exciting bear season!

Bear Season

7 September 2022.

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

2022 Wisconsin Bear Season Opener.  It's warm.  Feeling like almost 90*F.  My Thermacell is out of juice, ants are crawling down my shirt, and mosquitoes might as well be the state bird.

Wearing some light weight camouflage options from Kryptek today, in Highlander which works well for where I'm at.  Check them out, you'll love the patterns and how light weight and breathable the hot weather lines are.

I've got my CVA ACCURA V2LR loaded up with a Powerbelt 330 Grain ELR, paired with Blackhorn 209, and Federal 209A Shotgun Primers.

Rounding out the choice optics on my hunt today are the Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX4.5-14x50mm, the KILO2200BDX Rangefinder, and the Sig Sauer ZULU9 11x45mm Binoculars.  These optics are razor sharp and all feature HD Abbe Koenig Prisms.  I can't say enough about these optics. 

Product Spotlight

28 August 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Few Photos of me showing you how easy it is to use the Scent Crusher Mobile Closet, now called the Locker Lite.  Just plug in the generator , hang it on the rack, fill the closet, turn it on, apply your timer, I like mine at 30 mins, and zip it up and you're good to go, it's that easy.  I made button placement dots on mine to indicate power and my timer setting.

It goes for $219.99 and it's worth every penny.  You can check this out by clicking on partner deals and scroll down until you see the Scent Crusher ad and click the link.  It's really that easy.

Scent Off. Game on.  Scent Crusher.

Getting back to normal.

24 July 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Occasionally, things somewhat return back to normal.

When I purchase Muzzleloader supplies, whether it's powder, primers, cleaning supplies, or even a new rifle, I visit my friends over at first.  If they don't have it and I'm able to wait, I'll sign up for email alerts, if I'm in a pinch then I'll do what I have to do as a consumer.

Please consider supporting small businesses, and visit for your black powder hunting and shooting needs.  They are great folks, and have an amazing customer service team, and are always willing to take your calls.  Darren, thank you for your friendship and the help.

This haul will carry me through the year in regards to the volume of shooting that I do.  I shoot ALOT, and it's expensive and all out of pocket. 


10 July 2022.

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Well, Japanese Beetles have hatched, and my plants are struggling.  I woke up on the 5th of July and my Raspberry leaves looked like Swiss Cheese.  I ordered up some Azera and it arrived last night and I was able to spray it today and treat my plants with it, and I was able to get my Bonide Japanese Beetle Traps hung as well, and it's slowly beginning to work.  I have 4 bags set out and they are quickly filling up , and I was also able to do another coating of Arber Fungicide and Bio Protectant as well.

Big thanks to Theisen's Home Farm Auto for having the supplies I need to be able to combat these dangerous pests.

Azera is OMRI certified for Organic use, and about an hour after the application I had dead beetles wherever the product touches.  It is potent, and powerful.

explosive growth

4 July 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

On tonight's episode of The Midnight Gardener, I'm definitely excited over the explosive growth I've been having from the result of the of the many heat degree days, and overall very pleased with the growth of the Crimson Night and Himbo Top varieties, with the Himbos having a thicker, more luscious growth and canopy to the canes.

The Doyle's Thornless Blackberries are finally starting to settle into their own and the transplant shock is beginning to diminish.

Tonight I applied Natria Insecticidal Soap for my monthly Integrated Pest Management needs, and this should cover me for awhile.  Things that have made this growing season successful so far... 

1.) Miracle Gro Performance Organics Potting Mix, which utilizes organic compost to help regulate proper pH for Raspberries and Blackberries, in the 5.5-6.5 range  This has been crucial.

2.)  True Organic Berry Food fertilizer, with an NPK make up of 5-4-4 which in conjunction with proper watering and the heat have made this growth at an accelerated rate.  I have also used Espoma Berry Tone with a 4-3-4 NPK make up, as I ran out of True Organic Berry Food, and it was all I could find in a pinch, it worked, but not to the extent of the True Organic Berry Food.

3.)Arber Bio Protectant and Bio Fungicide.  These two products have helped to invigorate the plants immune system, and also regulates a broad range of foliage diseases, Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Leaf Spot and Rust.

***Disclaimer*** I am not under contract with any of the afore mentioned companies, I just use what has been readily available to me in my price range, at the time of purchase.

Plant Food

30 June 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Doing an unboxing from my friends over at Theisens's Home Farm Auto, and I was able to order up 4 bags of True Organic Berry Food.

My raspberries absolutely love this, and popped hard with growth over the past month.  Realistically, with the volume of plants I have, this might get me through July and August, meaning I may need another 4 bags after that, to get me to the dormant season.  16" of growth in 30 days isn't too bad.  Excited to see what the rest of summer brings.  Thank you for making a quality product.

Plant Health

June 26

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Ran to Menards in Onalaska today, and picked up a 2 gallon sprayer strictly for organic use, and also picked up ARBER Bio Protectant, and Bio Fungicide.  Super easy to use, mix 2 tablespoons of liquid to 1 gallon of water and mix the solution.

Directions call for applications for the next 7-10 days to help mitigate fungus, and help to boost plant immunity and health.  Hoping this helps take care of my blight on my new blackberries.


25 June 2022.

Photo Credits: Josh Brown.

Well, here we are preparing for the 2022 Wisconsin Black Bear Season, and I consistently have this bear showing up in my Wild Blackberries by the creek.  In the past few days o have as many pictures of him, with also scat in the yard by the cabin, and also on the neighbors back porch.

It’s going to be interesting what happens come September 7th when Season opens.  Can’t wait to pull the hammer back on my first Bear.

Transplant Day.

19 June 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Transplant Day.

Finally had a chance today to get my new Doyle’s Thornless Blackberries potted up into Miracle Gro Performance Organics Container Mix, along with some Espoma Organic Berry-Tone fertilizer.

I am really digging this mix as it is the perfect PH for these berries, between 5.5 and 6.5; which allows these plants to thrive.

I was able to order up 5 of these and have many more on the way. Pretty excited to have these as they will grow in ALL 50 states, in Zones 3-10.

Bear bait can get expensive from time to time. But I don’t mind a plant that can yield 3 gallons of berries each season. Every bit will help.

Transplant Day

19 June 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Himbo Top Raspberries. Planted May 28. Off to a decent start.  The fertilizer from True Organic is kicking in and doing a great job with these plants.  Pretty excited to see what kind of growth and root development I can get from this growing season.

New Beginnings

16 May 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

I probably think about farming, just as much as I think about hunting, and honestly they go hand in hand here in many parts of the country, more than one might think.  Having had a pretty difficult time competing with my neighboring bait sites, for bear season, I decided that my best course of action was going to be to better manipulate my habitat to get the bears to come to me, more naturally, and when I want them to show up.  I was able to purchase some Organic Certified, Heritage Variety, Everbearing Raspberries.  What makes this special for my bear hunting needs, is that this is going to augment the berries that I have growing wild on my land already, which is a summer draw for many of the large boars that are roaming my fields and hills.

Everbearing means that these berries will produce two crops per year, from the primocanes and the floricanes, in the summer and in the fall, which will act as an immediate draw for early to middle Bear Season for my property in Western Wisconsin.

These plants when mature will grow to around 5-6 feet tall, 3 to 4 feet wide and will provide lush thick cover as well as a tangible food benefit for all forms of wildlife on my land, including me.

They are just babies now, but my hope is that in two - 3 years, they can be monsters, just like these Bears.

Never Too Early for Bear Bait

27 April 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Doing an unboxing here from Sportsman's Warehouse.  Just got 6 gallons of Blueberry Pie Flavored Liquid Bear Bait delivered, and this stuff smells fantastic.  I cannot wait to get this out on my bait site.

New Discovery

April 20 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

A new discovery was made today in regards to the cutting edge of Kinetic Energy and Velocity in the world of Muzzleloader technology.  Is Blackhorn 209 still the King of The Mountain in the world of Black Powder?  Stay tuned for more information to follow.

More Supplies

15 April 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

It's always a good day when you get spare breech plugs in the mail.  If you don't already have spare parts for your muzzleloader, I would strongly encourage you to start assembling your possibles bag.  I've learned this the hard way, at the range when I've dropped my breech plug damaging the rim of it, denting it on the concrete and for safety reasons with no spares, I was immediately done for the day.  If you are adventure hunting, you owe it to yourself to have back up parts ready to go.

Oakley Standard Issue Ballistic Shocktube

8 March 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Having proper Eye and Hearing protection when shooting isn't negotiable, it is an absolute must.  Shooting a muzzleloader can be inherently dangerous when doing load development, and I like being able to see and hear in all aspects of my life.  Normally I try to do some research on a product or at least own it before I write about it on here, but what I do know is that these have a ballistic rating, and the lenses are interchangeable with a small screw driver that came with the pair should I ever need to replace them or opt for a polarized lenses.

I ordered these up from Oakley SI and I am super excited to try these out. 

A Dilema

27 February 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

If you're like me you work a blue collar job, 12 hour days, 5-6 days a week.  Your feet usually hurt, your boots stink, and your wife typically ain't happy about it and throws your boots in the garage, and now your steel toes, are frozen.

A quick fix remedy for that, is the Ozone Boot dryer.  Place your boots on the legs, turn on the unit and let the Ozone kill the odor for you.  This saves your feet from cold boots, and cold looks from your wife, because now, your kitchen doesn't stink.

Tax season is a perfect time to stock up on your favorite Scent Crusher Products.  Click the link on Partner Deals today to get yours.

Scent Off. Game on.

Scent Crusher.

Hornady Great Plains 

20 February 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

I ordered up these Hornady Great Plains Bullets from my friends over at, and they were fast with the shipping as always.  I will be using these in conjunction with Blackhorn 209 for the Fat, Slow and Ugly mini segment.  These were engineered for a 1:48" twist and I have a feeling that these should work quite well out of my 1:28" Twist, 30" Premium Bergara Barrel on my CVA Accura V2 LR.  I am actually quite excited to shoot these.  Weighing in at 385 grains this is the second largest bullet, in terms of weight, that I will be testing in this segment.  This could very well prove to be a winner for bear season.

The best bullet you haven't tried yet

17 February 2022

Photo credits: Aaron Thesing

Winchester and Nosler alike have had great success with the Nosler Ballistic Silvertip bullet.  This is one of the most devastating hunting bullets ever created, and I was absolutely excited to see that it was offered for 45/70, which is .458.  Knowing I had Harvester Sabots for .458, I placed an order for these, and I was able to run a test bullet down the barrel and it was a super tight fit, but the bullet sat nicely and I have a feeling that I will be getting some outstanding terminal velocities from this particular bullet.  To say that I am excited to shoot this as part of the Fat, Slow, and Ugly segment is an understatement.  More to follow as the days get nicer.

A Rugged Storage Option

16 February 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

I ordered this range bag up from Muzzle-Loaders . com and I have to say that I am very impressed with it.  Normally I have a hard plastic tool box that I carry around with lots of organizers and pockets in it, and It is quite handy, but I'm also sick of having it weight 10 lbs at a time and be oblong and bulky.  This offers a nice compact option that has the ability to hold my cleaning supplies, dry powder, extra primers, cleaning rods, dry and wet patches and extra bullets and quick charges.  

This is a rugged canvas material and there are pockets everywhere, and a nice robust carrying strap.  One of my favorite features is the elastic charge tube holders sewn into the side wall of the bag.  This was a very well thought out design and I am proud to take this with me to the range and on adventure trips across the country as a possibles bag.

The Shooting Series - Partnership Announcement

21 January 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Waiting on some warmer temps to start burning powder... -17*F isn't quite cutting it for me.

Big things to come with The Shooting Series, I am excited to announce that I was able to sign with Muzzle-Loaders . com, on a joint partnership to help bring you black powder load data, uniquely developed for 30" barreled rifles, typically data we don't often see.  This partnership will allow me to help bring new and exciting content to you in the form of written articles, videos, pod casts, ad any other forms of communication for you.  

I will be conducting a miniature segment within The Shooting Series called "Fat, Slow and Ugly", where we look at the terminal performance of large heavy for caliber bullets teamed with Blackhorn 209, and Federal 209a Shotgun Primers.  I want to find a solution for quickly and effectively breaking down a bear with one shot and anchoring it in place, and I feel like this could be a great place to start.

Stay tuned for some fun and exciting results, with my CVA Accura V2 LR Nitride, .50 Caliber.

The Shooting Series Product Spotlight

21 January 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Doing an unboxing today from my friends over at muzzle-loaders . co.

When you spend the amount of time, that I do at the range shooting, you need to stock up on cleaning supplies as well.

I was able to get 3 bottles of foaming bore cleaner, more Barrel Blaster Quick Cleaning Patches, a Barrel Blaster Parts Soaker, Barrel Blaster Solvent, some CVA Breech Plug Grease, and about 800 dry patches.  This will realistically carry me through the year.  Just one year.

Big shout out to Brad Watts and Darren Binder for always taking care of m , supporting my blog, and providing solid customer service.  Go check them out.  You'll be glad that you did.

Killer Brutal Temps

7 January 2022

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Winter in Wisconsin can be a miserable place.  Cold winds out of the North, that rip through your soul, and cuts you to the bone.  Frozen ground and water, with high humidity making the air damp and chilling you in ways I can't describe if you've never felt it.  Since the end of December we've been experiencing solid low temps.  I've lived through much colder, but 24 degrees below zero can make for a long night, as I type this I'm thinking about throwing another log onto the fire and hoping my deer are able to make it through the season.

Gun Season

20-28 November 2021 

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Cold.  Frozen.  Unforgiving.  Numb.  These words all accurately describe the general Firearms Season here in Western Wisconsin.  Temperatures ranging from 12 degrees to 52 degrees, and winds gusting as high as 24 miles per hour, the deer were simply not moving on my property.  Even properly staked down, my blind blew off of its anchor stakes and into the neighbors pasture, as I had no tree to tie an anchor line to.

The day before season, as luck would have it, one of my shooter bucks was at my stand within 15 yards, at 11:58am, while I was still asleep from the night shift I had just completed hours before.  This would be the only buck that showed himself for the next 10 days.  I have no idea if the giant 9 pointer has survived the season and made it through or if one of my neighbors was lucky enough to get a good shot on him.  Time will tell.

The day after my blind blew away, it was still damn windy, and I decided to still sit in my same set up, just bundled up in my Kryptek Highlander and with my Heater Bodysuit as an over suit to help block the wind.  I sat through freezing rain to the point where my scope began to ice over and I had to sacrifice my gloves to protect the glass.  I sat until 9am with winds blowing 20 plus, and decided that was it for the morning as nothing was moving and I needed to warm up by the fire and get some coffee in me... My favorite sit so far, was on the day where it was actually warm, and it was then when I saw 3 does all within the last hour of day light.  

To say I am disappointed with how the season turned out, would be an understatement...  But that's why they call it hunting, and not killing.  Even on my worst day in the woods... it still beats being at work, every time. 

Bow Set Ups

1 November 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about Bow Setups.  Each one is completely different with no two bows being alike.

My personal set up:

-2019 Bear Divergent, RH70 28" Draw, Set at 60lbs.

-Trophy Taker Drop Away Arrow Rest.

-Easton AXIS 5mm 340 Spine Arrows.

-Rage 4 Blade Xtreme Hybrid 100 grain Broadheads.

-Easton Blazer Vanes.

-Nocturnal Lighted Nock, Blue.

-Trophy Ridge 4 Arrow Quiver.

-Trophy Ridge React 5 Pin Sight Set for 20, .30, 40, 50, 60.

-Trophy Ridge 9" Stabilizer.

-Sims Vibration Labs Limb Saver, Split Limb.

-TruFire Smoke Release.

This might seem like a mouthful of information to some, and it is.  Though these words are what make my particular setup tune right in to where I need it to be.  The Divergent is 28" Axle-To-Axle making it compact, and maneuverable enough for both ground blind and hunting out of a tree.  The Kryptek Highlander Camo is a bonus for me as it is my favorite pattern to wear.  The bow itself has a very smooth draw with 75% let off if I remember right, and weighs in less than 4 lbs making it sturdy, yet super light weight for any hunting application you can think of.

The Trophy Ridge React 5 Pin Sight is just about perfect.  I have it set from 20 all the way to 60 yards, leaving me with 5 yards increments between each pin, ensuring fast target acquisition for when you only have seconds to figure your shot window.

I love the drop away arrow rest from Trophy Taker, its very low profile and has a nice housing that encapsulates the arrow making it so it can't fall off the rest and down the tree.

The way that I have this set up it sits right in my hand, not moving or recoiling when I shoot thanks to the limb savers, and the stabilizer does just what the name indicates and ties everything all together.

The Arrows are expensive, but anything worth having is going to have a correlating cost associated with it.  They fly well, and are incredibly tough for such a small diameter, which was quite surprising.  I topped them with the new Rage 4 Blade Xtreme Hybrid 100 grain broadheads which should leave a nasty hole and result in very short blood trails.

I can't wait to be able to show you what this can do on one of my target bucks.

I was able to get this on a close out from Sportsman's Warehouse, and they carry a fine selection of Bear Archery products.  If you like what you see click the Sportsman's Warehouse link on the Partner Deals page and take a peek at the selection available.  You will not be disappointed.

When a plan works

16 October 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

I went ahead and made some mock scrapes at both of my primary stand locations after I received trail cam photos of a very nice chocolate racked 8 pointer actively trailing a doe.  I placed these scrapes within 20 yards of my stand along with my scent dripper, in an attempt to get my target buck, 7 year old in the day light.  Which has been only 3 times in as many years.

My neighbor also started picking his corn and finished off the field during my sit, which made it difficult to hear anything but an absolutely awesome night to sit.  No complaints, life doesn't suck when you're 20' up a tree.

Eating Crow

16 October 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

There has been a giant popularity lately in the world of archery, with improvements in Mechanical Broadhead design, and functionality. Adding to that is an immense popularity with the high lethality rates brought to you by Rage Broadheads, a Division of Feradyne, which owns Rage, Muzzy and Rocky Mountain Broadheads along with several other brands, located in Superior, Wisconsin.

When these broadheads first came onto the market they took it by storm. They fly like a dart, are super accurate and leave a massive hole. I was absolutely stoked when I got my first Rage 2” Chisel tip. That fall, and being newer to bowhunting and not as disciplined, I took shots that maybe I shouldn’t have taken, and they were not lethal as a result, and I blamed the broadheads, when in fact I should have been mature enough to blame myself. Fast forward 10 years to today, 16 October 2021, I am proud to try out these brand-new Rage Hybrids, the X-Treme 4 blade. With a 2.3” cut delivered by rear deploying slip cam technology, and a fixed 7/8” cut on contact head, these broadheads deliver a total of 3.175” of total cutting surface which should in turn render your quarry’s vitals into a slop mess, and they should pump out like an aerosol spray can.

Things I like about this, I really love the huge cut on contact tip, because if God forbid the shoulders refuse to deploy you are still going to be able to leave an almost 1” hole in your game, which has been proven lethal for as long as man has hunted game.

Things I don’t like about these broadheads, an extremely short list. The blades, when pulling the arrows out of your quiver, must be extremely careful as to not bump the blades them selves as they can fall out of place with the retention collar. I had this happen to me on Tuesday Morning, 12 October 2021. Luckily, I was able to safely unscrew the head and replace the collars and screw it back on the shaft. This happened with 2 of my 4 arrows.

These appear to be nasty in design and look to be devastating and should in theory result in very short blood trails. I’m hoping to catch a very mature 7 pointer I’ve got nicknamed as browser in the morning at my mock scrape, 20 yards directly in front of the stand.

If you like what you see, go ahead and click on Partner Deals, and scroll down to Feradyne Outdoors link and click on that and it will take you to the website.  Click on the drop down menu, got to Rage Broadheads, and scroll down the page and it will be the fourth option down on your right hand side.  Let's make some holes.

A New Knife

16 October 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

I received a foldable Gerber Gear knife as a membership gift from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and I absolutely loved it, still do. Super light-weight, compact, easy to carry in just about any pocket you might have. I went to order more blades for it as I as one left un-dulled, and I wasn’t able to find any on the website. I ordered the full-sized model called, the Vital Big Game Folder, and replacement blades instead. This thing is massive. It fits your hand well, has a wonderful rubber grip with molding for increased dexterity. The blades are 3.5” in length and it comes with I want to say 5 if I can remember correctly? The Replacement blades do come in the 5 count, regardless of the count I have a ton of blades ready to go for my next harvest.

The blades are very easy to replace. All one has to do is take the locking mechanism, and push it in, slide back the blade from the blade lock and it pops right off. And same for installation of a new blade.

My previous compact sized Gerber was able to process a single deer on one blade, I have no doubt in my mind that this will be able to have the same success.

If you like what you see, go ahead and click on Partner Deals, and scroll down to Gerber Gear link and click on that and it will take you to the website. Click on the drop down menu, click knives, click folding, and scroll down until you see it on the right hand side.  You will love this knife and be glad you picked it up.

Scent Crusher Rapid Mobile Shower

16 October 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

From time to time, I am able to stumble across a product that I really like, when it comes to scent control.  This one is a total game changer.  For years we have had to hang up our clothes outside, air them out, wash them in special detergents, drying them with special dryer sheets, and that was only if we had everything around ready to go so when we left work on time to get to our spot, we were ready.  What happened though if we didn't get a chance to leave on time?  We were running 20 minutes to an hour late?  Then what?  This product addresses those scent control concerns and will attack via use of an ozone generator those lingering odors from your day, and will destroy them, much like the room cleaner and the Locker Lite technology does, but as a wearable body suit.

Here I am trying this out for the first time, and I'm pretty excited to see the results of it.

Post hunt follow up: Wind was swirling and I had deer underneath me and all around me, and never got busted.  I'm sold on this product.

Click on Partner Gear, scroll down and click on the Scent Crusher Link, and its that easy.

Scent off.  Game on.  Scent Crusher.

First sit of the year

10 October 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

It's the first sit of the year for me, and I'm currently sitting on the south end of my property, in a transition zone, between the creek and bedding area, and a major food source, my 5 acre food plot.  Yesterday morning I had a mature 8 pointer show up on camera, along with a big 9 pointer I had been targeting so I know they're using this corridor and it's just a matter of time before one slips up.

Bear Season

25 September 2021

Photo Credit: Aaron Thesing.

43 Degrees. Slight breeze, East, North East at 4 miles per hour. wrong wind for the stand as the bait is now directly downwind of my tree.  Oh well, I have limited time to hunt.  To say I'm excited, is an understatement.  I get to my tree, re-apply Scent Crusher Copper Scent Eliminator Spray, and being the 20' climb up the tree.  I didn't see anything that morning or for the following few days, but I did get an absolutely beautiful sunrise, and an education on how picky bears can be and how difficult it is to compete with an Acorn mast.  The bait site was dead when the Acorns fell.

I chose to use my Muzzleloader for this season.  Using my CVA Accura V2 LR Nitride, .50 caliber, loaded with Blackhorn 209 at 120 grains by volume, Powerbelt's 330 grain ELR, and Federal 209a Shotgun Primers.  This is a nasty combo, cranking out 3,123 ft lbs of energy at 38 yards, which is my distance to the bait from the tree.  That's more than adequate to drop a large grizzly with one shot, and for the size of bears running in my valley and the surrounding area, I need it.  The largest bear by weight, was shot by a young female hunter in excess of 800 lbs, with several boars north of 500.  The Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX 4.5-14x50mm and Kilo2200BDX Rangefinder Combo work amazing together with the app and in real time.  See my photo below for a better visual of what happens at the moment of ranging your target, in real time.

With the Sun setting on my final day to hunt I walk away with a few things... an education in bait site construction and timeliness of baiting.  You can prepare a bait site and spend tons of money on bait, and it still at times, won't be good enough.  Lastly, that I'm now more determined than ever to punch my tag for bears with a muzzleloader, and have fun doing it.

Until the next time I draw a Bear Tag, God made me a land steward.  Time to switch gears, and start chasing my target bucks.

Ease of Use

28 August 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Hey everyone.  Today I wanted to show you one of my critical pieces of hunting gear I have been using for the past year.  This is the Scent Crusher Mobile Closet, now called the Locker Lite.  The way that Scent Crusher works is that it generates Ozone and uses that to neutralize odors.  Scent Sprays have been around as long as I have been alive, going on 32 years now.  Many of us started with Wildlife Research Centers, or Robinson Labs, but since then the game has changed.  No disrespect to the above mentioned companies either, they make a fine product, but the one that I have used and will be continually using in future hunts to come, is Scent Crusher.  Many will ask why is Ozone more effective than a Spray?  Well, I took a quote directly from the website which will explain it better than I can: 


Ozone, or O3, is the tri-atomic form of oxygen. Stated simply, it is a molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. O3 rapidly oxidizes organisms it comes into contact with, then converts safely back into Oxygen (O2).

Scent Crusher’s ozone generators produce on-demand O3 (ozone) which is attracted to contaminants that cause odors. The ozone attacks and kills odors through oxidation, and then converts safely back into standard oxygen, leaving your gear scent-free"(

The ease of use is incredible.  The pictures I took of my set up, illustrate just how easy it is.

1.) Once you have your closet assembled, all you have to do, is place your gear inside on the mesh racking like I have done.

2.) Take the generator and plug in the ozone trailing hose, along with the power supply cord to the generator and hang it on the rack.

3.) Go ahead and zip the canvas shut, and turn on the unit, and select which crush setting you would like to use.  My personal favorite is the 30 minute setting.  It has an automatic shut off so you don't have to worry about it running up your power bill.

That's it.  That's how easy it is to use this product.  No staining from carbon based sprays, no residue.  Just a completely odor neutralized piece of hunting equipment.

The locker itself is incredibly light as well, fully loaded I was able to move it around with ease, maybe 25 lbs total fully loaded as you see here. This is a corner stone of my hunting equipment.  Good camo is valuable.  Being Scent Free is Priceless.

To view this piece of equipment now called the Lock Lite, and other wonderful products from Scent Crusher, head on over to my tab titled Partner Deals, click on the Scent Crusher Add, and it will take you directly to the website.  This product goes for about $219.99.  What I can tell you though is since using this product I've had deer walk directly underneath my stand and I have yet to be winded, even when it swirls.  You would be doing yourself a favor this fall and in the spring when it comes time to chase bears out west, by getting some of these products.

Scent Off.  Game On.  Scent Crusher.

New Partnership

14 August 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

It has been a busy month for me between prepping for bears, getting stands placed, and Fall food plots prepped.  One thing I am super excited to share with you is a new partnership between myself and Scent Crusher.  I have accepted a Field Staff position with the company and will continue using their products in the field as I've been able to do for the past year, and am excited for this new venture and things to come. 

Building The Bear Bait Station

6 August 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing and Nolan Thesing

Here I am cutting logs on my property, fully utilizing the spruce trees I fell'd earlier in the Summer and creating a Bear Bait Station preparing for my Fall 2021 Wisconsin Bear Season.  After 8 solid hours of securing the stand, limbing, cutting logs, hauling them across the field and into the woods, clearing brush and weeds for a selected bait station, I got to work building it.

I have my legal length logs in place, cut above the legal minimum Bear length and height so there's no question when a legal bear shows up.  I got the hollowed out stumps placed, and filled with the legal maximum amount of bear bait at 10 gallons for the first initial placement, of Peanut Butter cookies, and hoping to see what comes in for a snack.

I huge shout out today goes to my dad.  I wouldn't have been able to get much of this done without his help.  We got that sweat equity in today.  We also ended the day after being completely soaked in sweat, with 2 porterhouse's, cooked medium, salt and pepper and thrown on a plate.  A damn good day it was.

Stocking Up

27 July 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Well, things are starting to pick up here in Wisconsin.  I found a couple of decent sized Bear's on my cameras out in my fields.  I went over to Trophy Adventures Bear Bait located in Ettrick, Wisconsin and picked up some Bear Bait from Owner, Eric Huseboe.  He was able to outfit me with 2 barrels of Peanut Butter and 2 barrels of Cookies.  It was and easy and he was able to teach me what Bears are looking for this time of year and was able to get me some hollowed out stumps, wooden caps, liquid scent attractant.  To visit Eric at his shop, or view his website I have listed his contact information below.

"About Us

Trophy Adventures Bear Bait is located outside Ettrick, Wisconsin which is located 20 minutes west of white River Falls off I94. We don't just sell bait, we are bear hunters ourselves. We offer a wide range of top quaility bait in small to large quantities. Our bear bait inventory changes frequently, but typically includes: Trail Mix, Peanut Butter, Granola, Cookies, Frosting, Nuts, and Much, more! Contact us to schedule pick up or arrange shipping.

Location: N23988 Tranberg Ln, Ettrick, WI 54627

Sending Arrows

7 July 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

It's getting to be that time of year again where regular shooting is going to be a must to regain that muscle memory again.  I switched to spot shooting after I wrecked 4 arrows in the bullseye, and had decent success with that.  time to starting moving back out to 30 and 40 and fine tuning my form. 

Bear Stand Placement

23 June 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

After planting the Spruce trees, I was able to locate a fitting tree on the North end of my property, sturdy and straight enough to hold my 20' ladder stand.  I will be placing my bait site about 50 yards to the north of this stand, in thick brush with a small clearing enough to make a clean shot.  

I'm not going to lie, this was the hardest stand I've ever had to try to set.  Being as top heavy as it was, We had to use the tractor, my quad, and us 3 to be able to properly walk it up the tree.  Being a good spot for both deer and bear, I am excited to see what this season can bring for me.  Will it be a mature 7 pointer that's been haunting me for 2 years or will it be a 500 plus pound Black Bear?  Time will tell.

Planting Norway Spruce Trees

23 June 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

My dad, and Brother in Law and I spent the day putting in 150 Norway Spruce Trees in the ground before Noon.  By edging the field with these giant spruce trees, which can grow well over 3' plus in a year its going to provide a welcome source of cover and better help put the deer at ease.

Habitat Manipulation

6 June 2021.

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

When attempting to attract in and hold deer, you are going to need three key items for that to occur.  You need food, cover and access to water.  Putting in apple trees, in the middle of my Antler King Trophy Clover Field I am better able to increase my draw for not only deer, but for black bears as well.  It is my intention over the next 5 years to continue planting Apple Trees in this field to become a small orchard, for both wildlife, and my benefit.  Fruit trees are a great strategy and I cannot wait for them to fully mature.  It's going to take several years for them to fully bear the weight of a full fruit set, but when that happens, this is going to be a deer magnet.  I'm going to try to make it so that the deer don't need to leave my property, having abundant food and browse, thick bedding areas, and a creek that runs through it.  It might be a 30 acre tract, but its slowly becoming a mature deer hang out.

What do you prefer for food sources?

Late Season Turkey

26 May 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Second Season came to pass like a thief in the night, swiftly and without a trace of ever being there, similarly, so did the cooler temperatures.  Being the final week of May, temperatures are forecasted well into the 80's, making the season slightly more difficult with each passing day.

I set out immediately from work and got settled in just after sunrise along my field edge after setting out a pair of decoys.  I began calling and was able to locate a bird on the neighboring property across the road about 250 yards away, and came to the road way full strut and hung up.  I spent the next 3 days battling gnats, mosquitos, bees, biting flies and hot temps and humidity, trying to get a bird to commit.  After hunting for 3 weeks out of the available 6 for Spring turkey, my seasons here in Wisconsin have come to a close.  Even though I was unable to fill a tag, I wont call it unsuccessful.  I was able to call in birds, spending time in nature, where I don't have to worry about Forklifts, machine alarms, loud noises, and flashing strobes.  Besides, a true hunter doesn't mind when the animals or birds win from time to time.

A Must Have for Any Situation – Stay Alive

18 May 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

As a former Police Officer I was a first responder to many different types of emergencies, whether it be a pulseless non breather at the bottom of a staircase, a subdermal laceration to the skull on an elderly female who fell at church in the stairway, or responding to another officer’s immediate need for help as he was surrounded by many potential assailants, after deploying his taser and calling for help and letting his potential attackers know that the next person was getting shot and to get back. That last one got my blood pumping. I was able to back up my partner, and we and the rest of the officers who showed up came home alive. That is what this is all about staying alive.

I have partnered with My Medic, as I have been able to see the quality of the products that they carry. Today I am reviewing the Advanced MyFAK. Each item of this pack was intentionally hand selected to render aid in the hands of those trained to use the equipment it holds. Some of my favorite items in this pack are the Rapid Tourniquet, Emergency Pressure Bandage, a 4 Channel Vented Chest Seal, Scalpel with # 10 and # 12 Blades, a Nasopharyngeal Airway with lubricant so you can secure an airway in the event of a blockage or choking; and QuikClot, a Hemostatic dressing. It has a nice hand hold carry strap on the top, along with button snaps on the back side so you can secure it to your belt or hiking pack and it also has a smartly designed rip away function so that you can get to it in an instant. Just unbuckle to top strap and rip away and you have it in your hands. There is a Molle system on the front face of the MyFAK which is pretty cool.

As you open the pack, it is a trifold design and it houses an incredible amount of first aid gear in a small yet, rugged and durable canvas pack. It is 7.5” Tall by 6.5” Wide by 5” Deep. It weighs in around 2.5 pounds for those of you concerned with weight. This is something I wish that I had in my squad while on duty, for how compact it is. This is now a mission critical item for any future backcountry hunts, camping, shooting or any everyday travel needs. To order this item or any others like it, click on “Partner Deals”, scroll halfway down the page, and on your righthand page, click the My Medic Link, and it will take you to the order page. Click on First Aid Kits. Scroll down to where it says MyFAK, second option under universal kits. This item is called the MyFAK, Advanced. To get everything listed below, select the Advanced option. Fill out the required fields and use code AARON20 to save $48.00 on your purchase. You won’t be disappointed for the added value and well thought out intentional item inventory on this lightweight and comprehensive kit.

Total Contents:

For Bleeding:

• Rapid Tourniquet ½” by 4’ in length. Qty. 1

• Micromend Cut Kit. To provide stich-less laceration or cut treatment. Qty. 1

• QuikClot, a Hemostatic Dressing. 3” by 4’. Qty. 1

• Pressure Bandage 4” by 5’. Qty. 1

• Secure Strip, a surgical tape strip. (3 per pack) ¼” by 3”. Qty. 1

• Non-Adherent Pad (Doesn’t stick to wounds, wont damage healing skin) Qty. 4

• Small Gauze Pad 2” by 2”. Qty. 4

• Large Gauze Pad 4” by 4”. Qty. 4

• Small Bandage 1” by 3 ¼”. Qty. 8

• Large Bandage 2” by 4”. Qty. 4

• Finger Tip Bandage 1 ¾” by 2”. Qty. 4

• Knuckle Bandage 1 3/5” by 3”. Qty. 4

• Elbow/Knee Bandage 3” by 3”. Qty. 4

• Gauze Roll 3 ½” by 12 ½’. Qty. 1

For Burns:

• Burnshield Jel 3 ½ ml Qty. 2

• Burnshield Cloth 4” by 4” Qty. 1

For Medication:

• Tylenol 500mg Extra Strength, 2 caps each. Qty. 2

• Advil 200mg. Qty. 3

• Benadryl 25mg. 2 caps each. Qty. 1

• Pepto-Bismol 262mg. 2 caps each. Qty. 2

• Bayer Aspirin 325mg. 2 caps each. Qty. 1

• Dramamine 50mg. 2 caps each. Qty. 2

• Ammonia Wipe. Qty. 1

For Outdoor:

• Whistle Qty. 1

• Space Blanket Qty. 1

• Paracord, 20’, 55lb, 7 strand. Qty. 1

• SuperSkin (Blister prevention and cover for high friction areas) 1” by 2 ¾” Qty. 2

• Light Stick, 6”. Qty. 1

For Topical:

• Anti-Biotic Ointment, 0.9 grams. Qty. 2

• Anti-Itch Cream, 0.9 grams. Qty. 2

• Lip Balm, 0.5 grams. Qty. 2

• Oral Pain Relief, 0.75 grams. 20% Benzocaine Qty. 2

• Sunscreen, 3.5 grams, SPF 30. Qty. 2

• Petrolatum, 5 grams, Skin Salve. Qty. 1

• Sting Relief Wipe. 2% Lidocaine. Qty. 2

• Hand Sanitizer. Qty. 2

• Alcohol Prep Pad. Qty. 2

• BZK Towelette. Qty. 2

• Povidone (Surgery Prep Pad) Qty. 2

• Dynalube (Nasal Airway Lubricant) Qty. 1

• Saljet (Saline solution) 30 ml. Qty. 2

For Airway:

• Chest Seal, 6 ¾” by 8”. Qty. 1

• CPR Shield 8” by 8”. Qty. 1

• Nasal Airway (7mm) Qty. 1

For Hydration:

• Electrolyte Tablets, 4.4 grams. Qty.2

For Sprain and Fracture:

• Elastic Bandage, 2” by 15’. Qty. 1

• Finger Splint, 1 ¾” by 3 ¾”. Qty. 1

• Triangular Bandage, 40” by 40” by 56”. Can be use as an arm sling. Qty. 1

For Surgical:

• Scalpel Blade, No. 10. Qty. 2

• Scalpel Blade, No. 11. Qty. 2

• Scalpel Handle, No. 3, 5”. Qty. 1

• EMT Shears, 7 ¼”. Qty. 1

• Thermometer. Qty. 1

• Tweezers, 4 ½”. Qty. 1

• Nitrile Gloves, 2 per pack. Qty. 2

• Pen Light, 5 ½”. Qty. 1

• Surgical Tape, 1” by 7 ½’. Qty. 1

• Surgical Scissors, 4 ½” Qty. 1

Wisconsin Spring Turkey, Second Season 2021

29 April 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Well, Second season was a bust here in Wisconsin.  Cold temperatures mirroring late November and wind had the Tom's almost muted.  During breaks in the wind I was able to draw some birds in from about 400 yards away, only to have them hang up at about 150 yards, when a Hen intervened.  Having them talk to me was a confidence boost.  I have two more tags yet for the week of the 19th and for the week of the 26th.  There's still plenty of time to get a bird on the ground.  But it's ticking.  I saw an alarming amount of coyotes that I'm going to be thinning out with my .300 Win Mag, and that bobcat has been sticking around, and I'm putting in preference points for the Cat too...  Would make a pretty neat mount in the cabin.

Saw more of the native grouse that I have down by the creek bringing my eyes on count to about 11.  I'm hopeful with better predator management I can help them along with better survival rates.  Time will tell.

Early Spring Cleaning

1 March 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Early Spring is a great time to start going through gear and filtering through what you need and what you can afford to get rid of and declutter.  Here I sit measuring out Blackhorn 209 charges with my Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Intellidropper to 84 grains by weight.  This thing is slick, super accurate to within a tenth of a grain.  If you have ever attempted hand measuring out powder you know that it is time consuming, it can frustrate the hell out of you and this takes a lot of that time and frustration away.  

Calibration is easy, follow the step by step instructions and after your 15 minute time lapse for the calibration you should be good to go.  This made weighing out 40 charges, quick, easy and efficient.  To get your own Intillidropper, click on "partner deals" on my header above.  Scroll down half way on the page and the link will be on your right hand side.  Click that and scroll down on the page and you will see that it is advertised on the page.  It is very much worth the money and a value compared to other electronic powder measures on the market today.  Go check them out.

Arctic Blast

6 February 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Here in Wisconsin, Winters can be bone breaking, and kill you cold.  It takes a tough animal to survive -60*F weather.  This is a photo was taken in the middle of my Antler King Fall/Winter/Spring Food Plot, and it shows the beds of 3 deer all bedded down with each other sharing body heat, while literally on top of their food source so they could eat all night while bedded, sharing heat and wind blocking for each other.  This was no doubt a last ditch measure for survival.  My field was littered with beds like this.  Plant the food plots.  It may just actually save your herd.  Winter is hard enough, it doesn't hurt to spend the money where you can and be a friend to them.  After all they are the reason we do this.

Critical Gaze 2.0

13 January 2021

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

In my last post I spoke about being able to purchase the very best optics that you could afford.  I was lucky enough to be able to find a decent pair of optics that I had been looking at for quite some time.

Many folks will buy what they can afford for optics and they make it work for them.  I was this way for a very long time and still am to some degree.  In fact I was going to save my money over the course of this year and push it for another season with broken binoculars.  I wasn't even looking for a new pair when I came across an add on Facebook for a set of Sig Sauer Zulu9 11x45mm Binoculars.  

The price was staggeringly low for this particular glass coming in at $739.  After clicking on the add and doing some digging I was able to determine that yes the price was in fact legitimate.  Having my $600 stimulus check freshly in my bank account, and figuring the total cost to my door, I pulled the trigger and placed the order with a well known online retailer which brought a $1,499.00 MSRP valued optic to my door for $181.00 out of pocket.  This was a fantastic deal.  I was elated.  

During my unboxing, I immediately noticed the rubberized coating armor on the metal housed binoculars.  If you look closely at the photos you can see a slight texture on the rubber coating which makes dexterity issues nonexistent.

The glass is HDX and Abbe Koenig Prisms, offering razor sharp quality and I would confidently put these up against a Maven B2 of similar size and say that they compete, and this does beat a Vortex Razor HD in overall quality and image sharpness.  I cannot wait to take these out in the field and begin glassing for Whitetails, Turkeys and Black Bear this fall.

My favorite features of these Binoculars would have to be the overall image quality.  One of my least favorite features would be the weight of them, but with the size of them being 11x45, it is to be expected and I can look past it.  A thoughtful feature that Sig Sauer included was flip caps for end of the barrels.  Between this and the included Bino Harness, they were nice additions to the purchase.  My initial thoughts on this purchase so far are 9.5/10 with the weight in my opinion being the only thing to hold it back from a perfect score.  The good thing though is that there are plenty of Bino Adapters for glassing which will more than make up for this.  The image clarity is phenomenal.  I was able to count individual wood grains on my decking from an undetermined distance.  Pretty amazing stuff and I wasn't planning on it happening but I now have a matching set of world class optics, brought to you by Sig Sauer.  Never Settle.

Critical Gaze

31 December 2020

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Build for Success

My father once told me that when building a house, you measure twice, and you cut once. He also told me that to be successful in building that same house you “use the right tool for the job”. Meaning if I have a wall to frame up, can I use a framing hammer? Sure, it’s a great tool for the job, but I can tell you this after having framed several walls for several houses, I would much rather use a pneumatic nailing gun and shoot each nail in as opposed to driving it into place. It saves, time and is much more efficient.

Framing walls, choosing the right optic for your hunt are both critical pieces as to how your hunt is going to be built. The questions you want to ask yourself, am I going after Midwestern Giant Whitetails where I can get away with a standard 10x42 pair of binoculars or am I heading out West Elk hunting at 9,000 feet, where the Weather can be a huge factor, when glassing? These are serious considerations to consider when selecting your optics. 

I’ve been hunting my entire life and for as long I can remember whenever I hunted, I’ve had a pair of binoculars around my neck. Now many years have passed since my first squirrel hunt in the fall of 1994, but my gear list hasn’t changed. Camouflage, a good pair of hiking boots, a day pack, and binoculars.

These are must have items for many hunters, myself included. In this article we are going to break down many different aspects of selecting the right optics for you.

Budget and Cost

The first factor that you are going to have to figure out for yourself, is what can you afford? There are many things in hunting that you can skimp money on, but optics should never be one of them. I see discussions on the internet almost weekly, with many hunters, asking other hunter’s, what is the best bargain level binoculars that they should get for their trip out west hunting for elk, or mule deer where lots of glassing is going to be occurring. Many of those discussions are based around common brands, such as Vortex, Leupold, Nikon, Burris with many hunters boasting in field success with lower costing optics. This is fine as most modern-day optics makers produce decent quality optics at all price point tiers.

What I am getting at though, is If I am going to be pursuing animals on the North American Super Slam, which is extremely expensive and takes many hunter’s their entire lives to accomplish, I am most definitely go to be using the most expensive pair of binoculars that I can afford. 

I recently within the past two years purchased a pair of Nikon Pro Staff 5 10x42 Binoculars… I purchased these for around $200.00 from the local Wal-Mart. This will be my third year having them, and I already need replace them, as they now break down on me each time I go into the field, to where I need re-affix one or both ocular pieces. This is a critical equipment failure and one that should not be occurring to begin with. Always buy the best equipment you can afford. That includes your gun. Your bow. The ammunition or arrows you choose to use. There are so many different factors that can be included into the success or failure of you hunt, so why not stack the odds in your favor, when and where you can?


There are many good brands out there that offer quality optics. Leupold, Maven, Athlon, Bushnell, Burris, Vortex, Sig Sauer are some of the American optics brands and all offer a quality product, just be wary of the price point and proceed accordingly. Again, nothing scathing or detrimental against any of these brands, but If I am going on a once in a lifetime hunt, I surely will not be using economical tiered optics. I will be shucking out the money to get their top of the line products to help ensure my safety and success.


The optics that you are looking to purchase should be in good availability. What exactly do I mean by this? What I mean, is that You should be able to readily get a second pair of your binoculars for your trip that you are about to embark on. Many folks, myself included, will take a back up weapon on hunting trips incase the worst happens while I am 6 hours away from home, in another state, and you should also consider doing the same with your hunting optics. This may not always be the most feasible option, but it is a damn good one. A hunt of a lifetime is going to be costly. Why skimp on a critical piece of equipment that you are going to cornerstone your hunt around? If it is my hunt and I can afford to do it, I am bringing a second rifle scope, a duplicate of the one I am currently using and the mounting kit to be able to do some quick field assembly back at camp should the worst happen and my rifle falls down the mountain or off of my ATV or pack horse. Be prepared. If you have a backup, your hunt should still be okay. If you don’t now is going to be the time you had wished, you had it.

Size and Weight Offerings

Looking at the major American optics brands that I have mentioned above, a vast majority of them will have a wide offering for consumers to choose from. Some of my personal favorites are the Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX 4.5-14x50mm Rifle Scope paired with a KILO2200BDX Range Finder. I was able to get this scope and range finder combo from a decent sale that I found online. I am also a huge fan of the Vortex Razor HD Binoculars 10x42mm. These pieces, both respectively are exceptionally clear, offer fantastic light gathering abilities and are both possessing HD glass, and are high price pointed options sold by their manufacturer, and these are items that I have either purchased myself or have been ones I have tested in the store, whether that was Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, or Scheels.

Looking at the different brands available that I have mentioned, it would behoove you to look at their premium product lines and go test them out. I am absolutely in love with the Vortex Razor HD’s and the Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX’s that I mentioned earlier, and both would have an equal spot in my hunting pack on a trip out West. The point is, you need to go to the stores, do your research get your hands on the glass, feel them, see them, and put them through the paces in the store if you feasibly can. Otherwise make the purchase, save the receipts, and go test them and return the ones that don’t make the cut.

I am a huge fan of the 10x42 sized binoculars. Most companies make this size, and you can find premium HD glass readily available in this sizing. It is perfect for hunting Whitetails from a tree stand, just as it is equally at home glassing hillsides searching for Mule Deer in the long grass, or perhaps you are looking into the shadows for a sign of Grizzly, or Elk. The point is, good glass can save your eyes, and it can too, help save your life. Bottom line, you’re going to want something rugged enough to match the physical demands of your hunt, and light enough to not slow you down.


I work very hard to afford the lifestyle that I live. I work two jobs 70-75 hours a week to pay for my truck, my hunting land and my hunting equipment and to be able to support this blog. I need to make sure that my money works as hard as I do, and that demands top shelf equipment with a top shelf warranty. I can’t afford to keep throwing money away on marginal equipment, which is why it is imperative to buy good expensive equipment with a world class warranty. The good thing about the top shelf binoculars and optics available today, is that you can find some of these on sale for some fantastic prices. I was able to get a $1,500 value with my Sig Sauer set, and I was able to get it for around $700.00. Take the time to scour the internet for sales, sign up for emails from online stores and manufacturers. There are better ways to get your hands on these optics than paying full suggested retail price, you just need to be patient, and do your homework… Same thing as scouting for a whitetail or glassing for a muley. Put in the work, sign up for emails, save your money, and pull the trigger when you’re able to.

A Slow Change Up

14 December 2020

Photo Credit: Aaron Thesing.

Hunting isn't the only thing that I love doing... I can't wait to go get out on the water and chase after some Northern Pike and Walleye this Spring, Summer and Fall.  What I love about fishing is it can literally be done all year long... Makes for a great use of that cold weather camouflage in your closet!  Who else loves to fish?  What is your favorite species, and favorite set up for them?

A Second Wind

13 December 2020

Photo Credit: Aaron Thesing.

It appears the second rut is in full swing here in Wisconsin... This decoy was staked into the ground and I went to collect it this morning only to find that a buck had challenged it and won that encounter... Any one else seeing buck movement right now?

A Time to Reflect

6 December 2020

Photo Credit: Aaron Thesing.

If I were to attempt to some up 2020 into one word, for many it would be disappointment. It indeed has been the strangest year on record, with the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic ravaging the world. My word selection for 2020 is opportunity. I was able to transform my property into a place where deer would begin to congregate and want to stay.

I started an opportunity to chase down a childhood dream of traveling and hunting and documenting the process along the way. I was able to upgrade and overhaul my hunting equipment this year across the board along with a new pick up.

With as horrible of a year as this has been with the complete and total chaos from this virus and a complete lack of cooperation from both sides of the aisle in Washington, I was able to create a lot of good. I look forward to the new year, with hunting opportunities and working more on exploring new tracts of public land and getting some miles on my boots… The fact is we need to keep chasing sunsets, star gazing, getting out maps and creating our own path… reading articles, taking photos, packing out mule deer, and hearing bugles roar in the dark timber, and gobblers at sunrise.

We must keep moving forward, however we can. This will be over before we know it, we just can’t lose ourselves in the process. Meanwhile, I am going to keep charging forward with my property plan and work on making it the best deer and bear habitat in the county. It might take me 10 years, but I’ve got the time. Tonight, I sit here and reflect on the year I’ve had, I still have a rifle to clean, I have wood to make and stack and I have a cabin to winterize and clean; but for now, I am going to sit here and drink my coffee, right next to the fire.  

Dropping Dreams

23 November 2020.

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Sitting here by the creek. Have not seen much. Kicked one up on the way in, keeping my eyes peeled. Haven’t seen anything since kicking it up. Watching the clock. Have to leave by 230pm…. Ok time to get out of the stand… hook up my muzzleloader to the bow rope, secure it, start lowering it down the tree…. Snap. The bow rope broke and down falls my muzzleloader 15’ down the tree to a hard and violent fall landing barrel first into the mud. @#$%. Pissed was an absolute understatement. Due to an equipment failure, I just watched my $2,000.00 set up fall down the tree. My hopes for the season were dashed.

If you have been hunting for as long as I have which is now 27 years, at some point you’re going to drop your rifle, or you’re going to be caking your barrel with mud. My barrel was caked over. In situations like this, you have to do the right thing and rip the gun apart and do a deep cleaning. I took my ramrod and bored out as much dirt as possible out in the field, and then later on in the week I ripped apart the barrel. I took the breech plug off, and slowly poured out the 120 grains by volume of Blackhorn 209, into a bowl of water. I then hammered the 325 grain Powerbelt ELR out of the barrel. I used my .50 caliber copper cleaning jag and brushed out the remaining dirt obstructions and used my barrel swabbing patches and finally got it as clean as I could get it.

Knowing that it fell as hard as it did, I knew the probability the scope being jarred or bumped, was quite high. I have my Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX 4.5-14x50mm sighted in for dead on at 50 yards, and its good past 600 yards with this load setup that I am running. Where I do my hunting, I have both up close shooting in the brush and far open fields so for me this set up makes sense having it sighted in at 50, and having my carry over dot taking me the distance if need be.

The gun was off. Thankfully I was only two inches high and two inches left. Very fixable. After firing a few rounds to confirm that from my Caldwell Lead Sled 3, I was able to dial it back in where it was before the fall. No adverse harm to the gun or to the scope, and I will say I got pretty damn lucky. Now, time to wrap this up and head out to the blind. I’m burning day light.

Moral of the story, be safe, take the extra time to fix your set up when it goes wrong. Check your stands and your bow ropes so this doesn’t happen to you. If it does, learn from my mistake, and please take the time to clean your rifle and check your set up. You owe it to your life, your family and most importantly whatever it is you’re shooting at.

Good Hunting.

The Frozen North


14 November 2020

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing.

Pelican Rapids, Minnesota

Earlier this year, I was invited on a trip to be able to hunt my home State of Minnesota, which I haven’t been able to do before. I was over the moon at the chance to hunt rifle season there and be able to bring my CVA Accura V2 LR 50 Nitride at a chance for a huge Northern Minnesota Whitetail. The hunt took place from Sunday November 8th 2020 until Friday November 12th. The hunt would be located In Pelican Rapids, Minnesota near Detroit Lakes, and regionally, Fargo North Dakota.


The weather experienced on this trip was absolutely mind boggling, and extreme to say the least. My first day hunting I was encountering 72 degree heat with 24 mile per hour winds, and went all the way to 8 degrees with windchill.

Equipment Used

This hunt required a myriad of clothing options for ultimate protection from the cold, and overall, comfort. I used the following equipment.

-Aegis Bibs

-Aegis Jacket

-Vellus Pants

-Vellus Jacket

-Cadog Jacket

-Briareos Gloves

-Kiska Beanie Highlander

-Kiska Beanie Inferno

-Inferno Spartan Ball Cap.

-Wyot Balaclava Highlander


The weather experienced on this trip was absolutely mind boggling, and extreme to say the least. My first day hunting I was encountering 72 degree heat with 24 mile per hour winds. I wore my Vellus pants and Cadog Jacket for this sit and was surprisingly cool and comfortable with little to no effect from the wind. The fleece was soft to the touch and quite light and I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was at cutting the wind, the bane of my hunting career. I can handle rain and snow, but I’m a big baby when it comes to hunting in the wind. Having already used the Vellus Pants and Jacketing system earlier this hunting season, and knowing its capabilities, I decided to do a torture test on the Aegis Cold Weather Hunting System.

The terrain I was hunting in consisted mostly of hardwoods, marsh grass, and lakes and ponds. The Bibs were light weight and flexible and I really liked the reinforced articulated knees, which made crawling much easier than anticipated. The Aegis Jacket was also very handy to have in this environment, and the outer shell did a great job at stopping the wind but also which I feel is more important, was roomy enough to be able for me to move how I needed to, when I needed to, with little effort, and little noise.

On my final day to hunt I experienced the coldest temperatures of the trip, being 8 degrees with the wind chill. I bundled up using the entire cold weather system. Aegis Pants and Bibs, Vellus Pants and Jacket, and Cadog Jacket. Being stationary and sitting in one spot in the middle of several thousand acres of federal land, I needed to be layered up to defeat these temperatures. Rounding out this system were my 1600g rubber boots, the AlphaBurly Pro from La Crosse Footwear, and the Briareos Gloves and the Kryptek Beanie hats in both Highlander and Inferno patterns. I wore both hats simultaneously, along with my hoods deployed and the wind was not a concern of mine in the slightest.

I was able to do an all day sit in single digit temperatures, in the same spot I had been all week, which was the very best spot I could find, adjacent to a large lake, on a hill, in between two patches of large hardwoods, where I could cover for 500 yards in any direction with my CVA Accura V2 LR Nitride .50 Caliber Rifle, topped with a Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX 4.5-14mm Rifle Scope, paired with a Sig Sauer Kilo2200BDX Range Finder.

Take Aways

If you are looking for a versatile camouflage system that will make you disappear You need to look at Kryptek. I use the Highlander pattern for all of my hunting here in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and it blends in with Hardwoods, marsh grass, rolling hills, pines, corn fields, even sitting out in the wide open on top of a knoll against a tree this pattern will work because of its three dimensional nature, and your outline will be broken up. Butch Whiting and Josh Cleghorn did an amazing job designing this to be the most effective camouflage pattern ever developed, proven effective to defeat the human eye by the United States Military.

Before I made my initial purchase with Kryptek I was floored by the prices of the equipment. Yes, I said that correctly. I consider my camouflage to be the single most important piece of equipment in my hunting arsenal, and that says a lot considering I have a $2,000 muzzleloader set up. Having a great and rugged weapon in my eyes, is essential, yes. Though, if you can’t sneak up on your animal, your gun is rendered useless. The only camouflage that I trust my hunts to anymore are Kryptek. The prices on each item listed offered by the company are completely fair and justifiable. I work another job to support my hunting expenses, and I earn my gear the hard way, the blue-collar way, and it’s because of that work ethic, I treat my camouflage as an investment, one that pays dividends.

The way I look at it is this… If you can afford to go on an Elk hunt out West in Montana, Arizona, Colorado, or Utah, you can afford this camo. If you are going on a Mountain Lion hunt, or trekking after Mountain Goats, Sheep, or even Kodiak or Mountain Grizzlies, you need this camo. If you can spend hard earned money on hunts of a lifetime, don’t sell yourself short with over the counter camouflage from a local retail store; spend the money necessary for concealment and comfort for your trips. Your life may very well depend on it.

Favorite Features

I think my favorite feature from the cold weather system would be on the Briareos Gloves. I absolutely love the pull strap. This is super crucial and well thought out. The cuff of the glove actually comes out flush with your Aegis Jacket sleeve making them transition nicely and you don’t get any exposed skin or drafts. I loved the articulated elbows and reinforced knees on the Aegis system, along with the zippered chest pocket on the left breast. Great spot for my range finder.

Draw Backs

The only draw back I encountered was probably due to human error, but When I layered up completely for the coldest day of the hunt with Cadog, Vellus and Aegis Systems in play, I had a difficult time moving my arms…After closer examination why, I didn’t properly take into account to go a size bigger for each layer. Therefor this drawback was on me, and not on the garments.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am quite pleased with my purchase and I will be eager to purchase more gear for next year’s DIY Public Land Nebraska Mule Deer Muzzleloader Hunt. This clothing is warm. It is light weight. It is an exceptional value. Buy it. 

Shooting the CVA Accura V2 LR Nitride


18 October 2020

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Equipment Used

• CVA Accura V2 LR Nitride .50 Caliber Muzzleloading Rifle, with a premium 30” Bergara Barrel, Realtree Max-1 XT Camoflauge.

• Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX 4.5-14x50mm and Kilo2200BDX Scope and Rangefinder Combo.

• Blackhorn 209 from Hodgdon Powder Company, maximum charge rating of 120 grains.

• Powerbelt Bullets ELR .50 Caliber, 325 grains.

• Federal Premium Ammunition B.O.R. Lock .50 Caliber, 270 grains.

• Powerbelt Bullets ELR .45 Caliber, 280 Grains, modified to fit in a Red Harvestor Sabot.

• Caldwell Lead sled 3, with 50 lbs of weighted dumb bells.

• Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph with Tripod and Rechargeable Battery for indoor and outdoor use MPS/FPS Readings.

• Tipton Ultra Gun Vise.

• Wheeler Scope Mounting Kit Combo Engineering Professional Reticle Leveling System.

• SiteLite Mag Laser Boresighter.

• Frankford Arsenal DS-750 Digital Scale.

• Nikon D3500 DSLR.


Shooting and data collection was performed at the Sparta Rod and Gun Club, located at 12740 Janus Ave, Sparta, Wisconsin 54656-8071; which is a few miles from town just adjacent to Hwy 71.


Temperature: 57*F

Humidity: 44

Pressure: 29.76

Altitude: 827’ above Sea Level

Wind Speed: 7 mph SW


I previously wrote an article regarding the new 280 grain .45 caliber Powerbelt ELR, I had some tremendous results being able to push that out of my CVA Optima V2 LR at 2,170 fps using 120 grains of Blackhorn 209 and a Red Harvestor Sabot to facilitate shooting it from the .50 caliber platform.

I purchased a new CVA Accura V2 LR Nitride .50 Caliber, directly from CVA this past April… I was later able to top it with a Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX and Kilo2200BDX Scope and Range finder combo, to give me a world class shooting platform.

Rounding everything out, I needed a world class bullet and powder combination. I selected a few different contenders, being the .45 Caliber ELR from previous use featuring a .333 BC, along with Federal Premium Ammunition’s B.O.R. Lock 270 grain sabots, featuring a 0.168 BC, and the brand new .50 Caliber Powerbelt ELR 325 Grains with a .312 BC.

Let us take a second and talk about the CVA Accura and the features it has. The Accura features a 30” premium Bergara barrel made from 416 stainless steel, which can only be found on Accura’s, as BPI is the parent company of Bergara. It is extremely well balanced, and very pointable. Weighing in at less than 10 lbs. it’s easy enough for me to shoulder off hand and touch off a charge if the need arises. This gun is tough. It has a very comfortable stock and the CrushZone recoil pad is durable yet squishy for lack of a better word as needed.


Seeing that the barrel on this newer rifle is 2” longer and has gone through the carbon nitride process, the steel is even more hardened, and the increased length should increase the velocity as the powder undergoes more burn time.

I predict that the velocities generated from this round of testing will be greater compared to that of the CVA Optima, and .45 Caliber ELR housed in a sabot.


I began the day firing off a .50 ELR. I registered a speed reading of 1,942 fps. Scratching my head knowing my results from last year, I ripped the gun apart and looked down the barrel to find that I had the wrong breech plug in the gun, the one meant for pellets. I swapped over to the BlackHorn 209 Breech Plug and cleaned the barrel and started again.

I did a change over to the Federal B.O.R. Lock and was able to achieve a speed reading of 2,833 fps, at the muzzle. I was incredibly impressed with how easy it was to load, and I did like how the bullet had a polymer tip with relief cuts under the tip to better mushroom and expand, for better terminal results.

I immediately liked this bullet, but at the time, not knowing the ballistic coefficient for this particular bullet (later discovered at the time of writing this article, post sighting in), I decided to go with the .50 caliber ELR from Powerbelt, and gave it another shot. The first corrected shot I touched off, was able to achieve 2,642 fps. Being that the bullet weighed in at 325 grains, I was impressed enough to not need to fire off the .45 caliber ELR.

Knowing what I had to work with, the ease of load, which it effortlessly glided down the barrel… even on shots where I didn’t have to run a metal brush or cleaning solvent through the .50 Caliber ELR was a no brainer. The following shots are as follows: 2,688 fps, 2,754 fps, 2,771 fps, and the most impressive shot of the day at 2,839 feet per second. Disclaimer, the last four shots were cold barreled, cleaning between each with metal brush and solvent.

I have this rifle dialed in dead on at 50 yards, and many will question that but for me, where I hunt, I’m going to have both close shots, on whitetails and large black bears, and if I’m sitting on my field I may have shots of well over 400 yards.

All shots taken from the Accura had a volumetric measure of 120 grains of powder, and verified on the weight scale at 84 grains, ensuring that maximum load recommendations are heeded.

Data Breakdown

What does all this information mean, in terms of hunting? It means that this rifle, scope, bullet and powder combination are fully capable of taking everything from Pronghorn Antelope, to Grizzly, Browns and Polar Bears and Musk Oxen in the frozen North; cleanly with a single shot.

I was able to plug the data for the day, into the Vortex Long Range Ballistics Calculator. I took the 5 shot string from the .50 caliber ELR and was able to attain an average speed of 2,738 fps and entered that into the calculator to determine hold over points, and figure out what my kinetic energy is for my maximum effective range.

I am cranking out 2,738 fps velocity with 5,409 ft lbs of energy at the muzzle and at 500 yards It’s still moving quick with 1,514 fps with 1,654 ft lbs of energy. This total package that I am using, gives me the confidence to walk into the field anywhere in North America knowing I have a damn good opportunity to fill my tags and drop my quarry with one shot, and that’s incredibly important when that comes to Grizzly Bears, or any animal that has the propensity to kill me or hunt me in return. This gives me comfort knowing I have two large Black Bears north of 500 lbs on my property, the larger of which is pushing 700 lbs.

Numerical Review

Ease of use: 4 out of 5. The only critique I have of this rifle, is I had to remove the Nitride BH209 breech plug and use the standard stainless Accura/Optima BH209 breech plug. Minor details, it locked up like a bank vault, and it looked kind of cool too.

Ease of Loading: 5 out of 5. Effortless. I will never use a saboted bullet ever again.

Point ability: 5 out of 5. It’s like another arm. Thumb stock is incredibly comfortable and ergonomic, and the rubber grips are a nice added touch for dexterity.

Weight of rifle: 5 out of 5. Light enough for a backpacking hunt, and heavy enough yet to handle punishing loads.

Barrel: 5 out of 5. I have never had a barrel of this quality, or the accuracy for that matter. Cutting holes at 100 yards after having it sighted in at 50 was a pleasant surprise.

Rifle Scope: 5 out of 5. The range finder and scope paired perfectly and was able to give me a correct hold over point, and I was blown away with the overall ease of use regarding this set up. Sig Sauer hit a home run with this innovation. The glass is super crisp; and gathered a ton of light. I will be using Sig Sauer for my optics need from this moment on.

Final Thoughts

With a final numerical rating of 24 out of 25 points, CVA gets a 96% rating from me on this rifle, with an overall satisfaction of 100%. I couldn’t ask for a better firearm. You would be doing yourself a service to go buy one today. It’s Just a Better Gun.

Bear Divergent Field Test

28 September 2020

Photo Credits: Top, Josh Brown, all others Aaron Thesing.

Earlier this year, I was able to purchase new broadheads and I wanted to try something new.  I looked at Ramcat and I really liked their hybrid diamondback design, being chisel tipped with a 7/8" fixed blade with and deployable blades that deliver a massive 2" cut for almost 3" of total cutting surface.  I was quite excited to give these a test drive with my new Divergent.

I went out on the second Saturday of Bow Season here in Wisconsin and I sat in one of my fields where I have Antler King Trophy Clover, and Honey Hole planted.  I went out around 3:30pm and got into the blind and got situated for the evening's hunt.  I saw a buck come into the field an hour before dark, coming off the neighbors.  I sat and watched him for about 20 minutes or so before he decided to come into range.  I debated on taking a shot with this buck, and It is one that my brother in law and I decided to take out of the herd as we didn't care for his genetics and looked sickly with what appeared to be an almost mange like splotching near his antler bases.

He came in and offered a shot at 22 yards and I shot over the back of him when he ducked the shot.  He ran of and came back 10 minutes later and gave me a quartering too shot, with his vitals covered up by grass.  I followed his leg and parked it right behind his should and took the shot, and caught him in the back of the lung and the liver.  The Broadhead performed flawlessly and the buck was dead within 20 minutes of being shot and there was nothing left of his insides as the arrow worked hard in his cavity as he ran off.  I am happy to have meat for the frying pan and this young buck certainly ate wonderfully on my Traeger.

Food Plots

28 August  2020

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

I chose to go with a local company for my seed selection for planting food plots. Antler King is based out of Black River Falls, Wisconsin (At the time of me planting my seed). I was able to speak with the former owner, and now seed consultant Todd Stitleburg, and He was able to get me on the right track for the goals I wanted to accomplish on my property. I want to be able to attract and hold deer. I have water, I have cover, now I need the food.

I chose the following seed blends, Antler King Honey Hole, Slam Dunk, Fall Winter Spring, and Antler King Trophy Clover, and Barricade. These blends have been an absolute deer magnet, and I have been able to draw decent bucks from neighboring properties onto mine, with some of them electing to stay.

I don’t know much about it myself, but what I do know is that the deer absolutely love the blend, and I will be planting more of it in the future.

The Purple Turnips, in the Honey Hole and Slam Dunk have come up nice and thick and I can’t wait to see the results when the late season hits. The deer are already mowing down the Trophy Clover (perennial) so I am able to let that do its magic year in and year out. I wont lie, the Fall Winter Spring was super expensive, but I have tracks all over in it and the rape and rye seed seem to be a big draw. All I know is my deer love it and I would encourage you to take a look at these products. 

Bear Divergent

28 August 2020

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

Earlier this summer, I was doing some window shopping online when I came across a Bear Divergent, 55-70lb Right Handed Bow, camouflaged in Kryptek Highlander on Sportsman's Warehouse website.  It was priced well, at around $499.00.  I was kicking myself.  You have got to be kidding me!  Three days earlier I had just purchased a Bear Cruzer G2, from Fleet Farm in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Carefully number crunching I was able to buy the Divergent, and sold the Cruzer to a buddy of mine for $400.  This is normally a $700-$800 bow depending on the retailer.

What a bow!  All I can say is wow.  It is super light weight, at least compared to my previous Bear Pledge, and 2006 Martin Jaguar.   

The Divergent is violently fast cranking out speeds of 338 feet per second, and what I like most about it, is when I shoot, the bow stays put in my hand, with no felt jump or recoil if you will.  It's a nice compact style as well.  I do alot of ground blind hunting, as well as being 17-21' up a tree, so having something that can do both, for me is a must.  I am able to put my bow kick stand on and set it down on the ground; and have room to be able to move around and position cameras, or even a propane heater for late season hunting.

I have this decked out with a Trophy Ridge React H5, which is quite handy, and calibrating is a breeze; along with a 9" Trophy Ridge Static Stabilizer, and Limb Saver Super Quad Split Limb Dampeners, and a Trophy Taker RH Smackdown Pro Rest.  This is a nasty set up.  If you're looking for a high quality bow, and looking to not break the bank, I would encourage you to look at what Bear Archery has to offer.  You will not be disappointed, and neither will your checkbook.

Project 50

28 August 2020

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

I started my love affair with Black Powder hunting about 16 years ago when I was able to buy a .50 caliber inline muzzleloader that my Uncle had won from a wildlife banquet.  When the smoke bellowed and the thunder and fire exploded from the barrel for the first time, I was immediately hooked.  

I have come to find that I enjoy doing things the hard way.   That's why I enjoy bowhunting and black powder as much as I do.  I have rifle hunted before with my Browning A-Bolt .280 Remington and had loads of success with that.  What appeals to me more in regards to black powder though, is for the most part... I'm only gong to get one shot, and the entire valley is going to know that I am there, so I damn sure better take my time and make sure the shot is there because I wont get a reload, at least not immediately after.

I was able to take my first muzzleloader buck in 2018, with a down hill shot of 152 yards through the trees.  He was an 8 pointer I had encountered during bow season and I was quite happy placing my tag on him.  He was no Boone and Crockett Record Book buck, but any whitetail you can harvest with a smoke pole or a bow, is a trophy.  I was using my CVA Optima V2 LR 28" Stainless Steel barrel, with a thumb stock.

Being out in the elements for most of the 10 day muzzleloader season, I had to do rust prevention on my gun whenever it would snow or rain.  This was getting excessive and tiresome.  I began shopping for a new solution.  There had to be a better way.  After looking at Nitriding services, Cerakote, and a new rifle itself, I found it was more cost effective for me to upgrade my rifle to the CVA Accura V2 LR Nitride with a 30" Bergara 416 stainless steel custom barrel.  I went ahead and made the purchase for $430 directly from CVA's website, and sold my Optima for $400, a similar move I was able to do with my Bear Divergent; making the upgrade to a new rifle for $30.00.

I was able to top it with a Sig Sauer Sierra3BDX 4.5-14x50mm paired with a KILO2200BDX Range Finder combo.  I was able to find a quality set on Natchez Shooter's Supply for right around $700 making my set up an almost $2,000 set up for $730 out of pocket.  Not too shabby... I'm looking at later on doing a Kryptek Highlander Hydro-Dip on the stock, and an FDE E-200 Cerakote on the riflescope, the barrel and action, as I have money to do it. 

I have yet to shoot this muzzleloader yet as I am waiting for temps to fall down below 60*F to make it more comfortable, and to help with the barrel cooling and overall accuracy.  I hypothesize that with an increased barrel length, and the Nitriding, that the velocity will be increased resulting in more energy on target and an increased maximum effective range.  What are your thoughts?  What's your go to set up for muzzleloader season?

Field test of Kryptek Vellus Pants and Jacket and Cadog Jacket

28 August 2020

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing

11 Degrees Fahrenheit.  Winds blowing 10-15 miles per hour.  Sun is just deciding if it wants to break the horizon or go back to bed, like I am wishing to do... It was only the second time in about 10 years I have been able to sneak away from work for the Spring Turkey season here in Western Wisconsin... I drew the week of April 17th.  With snow still on the ground, this is going to make for a challenging hunt. 4:22am.  The fire is warm and crackling, and my bed is like Miami Beach with about as many blankets on it as there are folks down at spring break.  Nonetheless, I'm not wasting a vacation day sleeping in.  I broke out my brand new Kryptek Vellus Jacket and Pants combo, along with my Cadog Jacket, all in the Highlander Pattern, which I really like as it is 3D, and has a great color scheme, making it blend in anytime of the year, in any location.

This clothing combination had no business holding up the way it did.  It was extremely light weight, which I thought was going to be detrimental considering the weather conditions, but surprisingly enough it actually kept up with the weather.  What intrigued me the most was how maneuverable it was... I actually had room to move around while layered, and it was nice for a change, I was able to sit in my field chair, not having to struggle to move around and reach for items from my field bag, and move my legs as needed.  This was built with strategic and complex movements in mind and it made sitting in bone breaking bitter cold, quite comfortable.  I never filled that Turkey tag, but I was able to get away from work for four days, and that, is just as good.  Go check out the folks at, you'll be happy you did.

CVA Optima V2 LR

Velocity Data from Powerbelt ELR

Powerbelt ELR 280 Grain Bullet Peer Review -


26 August 2020

Photo Credits: Aaron Thesing


To provide an accurate analysis and comparison of the velocity, muzzle energy, and other pertinent down range data as provided by Toby Bridges of; of the new .45 Caliber 280 grain Powerbelt ELR being shot out of a .50 caliber muzzleloader.


Sometime in September of 2019, I came across an interesting article published by Toby Bridges on and it piqued my curiosity. Bridges prosed an idea that he had, wondering if there could be a more accurate .50 caliber bullet on the market today. Now knowing that most of the popular bullets for .50 caliber rifles are shot from sabots carrying a .45 caliber bullet, the wheels began to turn.

Bridges selected the .45 caliber 280 Grain Powerbelt ELR and paired it with a red Crush Rib Sabot, to which he found worked quite well (Bridges 1).

“During my earlier shooting with the Traditions .50 VORTEK StrikerFire LDR with 120-grains of Blackhorn 209 and the saboted .430” diameter Scorpion White Lightning bullet, the long 30-inch barrel of the rifle gave me a muzzle velocity of 2,063 f.p.s. – which translates into 2,832 foot-pounds of energy … at the muzzle. My initial shooting with the 280-grain Aerotip ELR … as a saboted bullet … with the same amount of Blackhorn 209 out of the same rifle gave me 2,112 f.p.s. – which trranslates into 2,776 f.p.e. But … THIS IS AT THE MUZZLE! Don’t forget, the 300 grain .430” diameter White Lightning has an approximate .290 b.c., while the 280-grain .449” diameter Aerotip ELR has a noticeably higher approximate .335 b.c. Out at 200 yards, the 300-grain White Lightning would still be flying at around 1,550 f.p.s., retaining right at 1,600 f.p.e. The sleeker and higher b.c. saboted 280-grain Aerotip ELR would retain close to 1,625 f.p.s.- along with 1,640 foot-pounds of knockdown power”(Bridges 1).

Bridges was able to provide the afore-mentioned data in his published article titled “Shooting The PowerBelt Aerotip 280-Grain ELR As A Saboted Bullet!” by using the following equipment. He used a .50 Caliber Traditions Vortek StrikerFire LDR with a 30” barrel, fueled by 120-grains of Blackhorn 209 pushing a 280 grain Powerbelt ELR at approximately 2,112 feet per second, generating 2,776 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle(Bridges 1).

With the information I was provided by Bridges, and the equipment that I have myself I am going to attempt to conduct a scientific peer review with the only variable being the gun and most importantly my barrel length.


I believe that Bridges will have a higher velocity based solely upon barrel length with his Traditions .50 Caliber VORTEK StrikerFire LDR bearing a 30” barrel, than I will with my CVA .50 Caliber OPTIMA V2 LR bearing a 28” barrel, with the Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph with Tripod and Rechargeable Battery for Shooting Indoor and Outdoor MPS/FPS Readings; to deliver precision readouts and be more accurate than the long hand equations provided by Homer Powley via username Boberama on


Firearm: .50 Caliber CVA Optima V2 Long Range with a 28” 410 Stainless Steel Fluted Barrel and a Realtree Edge Camouflaged Thumb stock.

Rifle Scope: Vortex Diamondback 3-9X40mm BDC Scope.

Powder: 120 Grains Blackhorn 209.

Bullet: .45 Caliber Powerbelt 280 Grain ELR, paired with a red Crush Rib Sabot.

Rest: Caldwell Lead Sled.

Chronograph: Caldwell G2 Ballistic Precision Chronograph with Tripod and Rechargeable Battery for Shooting Indoor and Outdoor MPS/FPS Readings.


Firearm: .50 Caliber Traditions Vortek 30” Steel Fluted Barrel and a Realtree Edge Camouflaged stock.

Rifle Scope: Hi-Lux 3-9X40mm Scope.

Powder: 120 Grains Blackhorn 209.

Bullet: .45 Caliber Powerbelt 280 Grain ELR, paired with a red Crush Rib Sabot.

Rest: Unknown.

Chronograph: Unknown.


The following is a direct quotation excerpt from Bridges article:


First ... that blue "snap on" polymer/plastic base has to go. It pops right off. That small round post protruding from the bottom of the bullet also has to be eliminated. It can be snipped off with a healthy pair of wire cutters ... or even a set of toe nail clippers. Just a little lead will still stick out from where it's been clipped off. That can be easily taken care of by rubbing the bottom of the bullet back and forth ... and around and around a few times ... on the surface of 80- or 100-grit sandpaper ... until the center lead spot is even with the copper coating on the bottom of the bullet.

The bullet is then ready to be loaded into a sabot ... then together into the bore of a .50 caliber in-line ignition rifle. Remember ... this is a .449" diameter bullet. When loaded with a standard .50x.45 sabot ... like the Harvester Muzzleloading black Crush Rib Sabot shown in the photo above far right, it may fit too losely. This sabot was made for bullets of .451"/.452" diameter. In most of the .50 caliber in-line rifles on the market today ... a better choice is likely the slightly heavier sleeved red Crush Rib Sabot also shown in the same photo.

To make one of the bullets ready to use ... with a sabot ... out of a .50 caliber in-line rifle takes between 1 to 2 minutes. If you do modify a few of these bullets to try in your .50 caliber rifle, please drop me a line and let me know how it performs for you. Send to the following address. - Toby Bridges”’(Bridges 1).

(Photo Credits {above and below right and left} – Toby Bridges)

My photos of .45 Caliber 280 Grain Powerbelt ELR Bullets prepped for Sabots.

My Photo of both black and red Crush Rib Sabots for ELR testing.


Trying to calculate velocity long hand can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t even know where to begin. I was able to stumble across a man by the name of Homer Powley, famed ballistician and chemist, who helped pioneer modern ballistics with his mathematical research coupled with his access to DuPonts Nitrocellulose compounds and IMR powders (Pearce 7). 4 jan. 2011

“’Blackhorn 209 IS NOT Smokeless Powder!

The powders in the two containers shown at right share one common trait - both are nitrocellulose based. Accurate Arms 4350 is definitely a "smokeless powder", and one of the best for some of the new modern "Short Magnum" rifle cartridges, like the .300 Winchester Short Magnum - while Blackhorn 209 has been specifically developed for use with today's modern No. 209 primer ignition in-line muzzleloading rifle models. It is the "other igredients" used to formulate the two powders which makes AA4350 a true "smokeless powder" and Blackhorn 209 a "black powder substitute". About the only other traits they share would be that both are exceptionally clean burning and basically non-corrosive. Each of these powders were developed for a specific use, and while both share a nitrocellulose base, a charge of AA4350 produces pressures far too great for modern in-line muzzleloading rifles’”(Bridges 8).

After doing more digging I was able to find some of his equations in use and how to calculate velocity from different barrel lengths. This was interesting to me as I had no data for a 28” Stainless steel barrel. I was able to plug my information along with bridges above, into the following equations and through the arduous task of double checking my work many times, I was able to come up with the following results. I took Photographs of my long hand calculations and attached those to this report.

The following is an excerpt from a post from username “Boberama” on, for citation and credit purposes I have him listed as (Erama 1) in my Bibliography. I have plugged in Bridges and my data for the following equations and step by steps to be possible for this review.

“Alright, here's how to do it.

You need to know these values for your load.

Also, remember you can calculate velocities for longer, as well as shorter, barrels.

Vo = the original muzzle velocity (ft/s)

B = the bullet weight (gr)

C = the charge weight (gr)

Lc = the cartridge overall length (in)

Lb = the bullet length (in)

Lbbl = the barrel length (in)

D = the bore diameter (in)” (Erama 1).

Experimental Data

Vo = 2,112 ft/s (Bridges 1)

B = 280 grain ELR

C = 84 grains (120 volumetric)

Lc = 3.75”

Lb = 1.25”

Lbbl = 28” (CVA Optima V2 LR)

D = .50”

Calculating the Expansion Ratio

Ro = 1/{1-B+C/3)(2,112 FPS/8000)^2/C}

1/{1-(280+84/3)(2,112 fps/8000) ^2/C}

1/{1-(280+28)(2112 fps/8000) ^2/C}

1/{1-(308)(.069696) ^2/84}

1/{1-(21.466368) ^2/84}


1/(1- 5.485773275

Add 5.485773275 to both sides, cancels out the negative, 1/1 is 1 and Ro = 5.485773272 or 5.49

Expansion Ratio for New Barrel (CVA Optima V2 LR)

“Now we want to find the expansion ratio for the new barrel.

First find the Bullet Travel for the original barrel, To” (Erama 1).

To = Lbbl+Lb-Lc

To = 30.0+1.25-3.75

To = 27.5”

Now find the bore volume, Sbo (Erama 1).

Sbo = To*0.773*D^2

Sbo = 27.5”*0.773*0.50^2

Sbo = 5.314375

“Now we need to find the "chamber volume", Sc”(Erama 1).

Sc = Sbo/(Ro-1)

Sc = 5.314375/(5.49-1)

Sc = 5.314375/4.49

Sc = 1.18360245

“Now we can use Sc to calculate the expansion ration for the new barrel” (Erama 1).

“Find the bullet travel and bore volume of the new barrel” (Erama 1).

T = Lbbl+Lb-Lc

T = 28.0+1.25-3.75

T = 25.5

Sb = T*0.773*D^2

Sb = 25.5*0.773*0.50^2

Sb = 4.927875

“Use the bore volume to find the new expansion ratio” (Erama 1).

R = (Sb/Sc)+1

R = (4.927875/1.18360245)+1

R = 5.16345455

Now use this equation and solve for velocity (Erama 1).

V = 8000*sqrt((C*(1-(1/sqrt(sqrt(R)))))/(B+(C/3)))

V = 8000*sqrt((84.0*(1-(1/sqrt(sqrt(5.16345455)))))/(280+(84.0/3)))

V = 8000*sqrt((84.0*(1-(1/sqrt(2.272323602))))/308)

V = 8000*sqrt((84.0*(1-(1/1.507422835)))/308)

V = 8000*sqrt((84.0*(1-0.663383874))/308)

V = 8000*sqrt((84.0*0. 0.336616126‬)/308)

V = 8000*sqrt(28.27575458/308)

V = 8000*sqrt(0.091804397987013)

V = 8000* 0.3029924058

V = 2423.9392464 which rounds to 2,423 ft/s.

V = 2,423 ft/s

Presumptive Velocity for CVA OPTIMA V2 LR is 2,423 ft/s with 3,651 Ft-lbs of Muzzle Energy, according to ( 3).


Values have been plugged in for both .335 BC and .452 BC as I have conflicting information for two different sources, the bullet manufacturer (.452) and Bridges (.335).

1,855 ft lbs of energy at 300 yards with .335 BC, compared to 2,229 ft lbs of energy at 300 yards with .452 BC ( 3). Wondering if there is a direct correlation with the higher ballistic coefficient and greater down range energy.


Sparta Rod and Gun Club, Sparta, Wisconsin 54656

Time of Day: 12pm

Temperature: 30 Degrees Farenheit

Wind: Calm


2,160 FPS at 5 yards from Muzzle. Photograph of Read out to follow.


In a surprising readout, I was able to register a speed reading using the Caldwell G2 Chronograph at 2,160 Feet Per Second at 5 yards from the muzzle, generating 2,900 ft lbs of energy, yielding approximately 1,993 feet per second with 2,469 ft lbs of energy, based on the ballistic coefficient of .452 given by Powerbelt.

With a corrected muzzle velocity of 2,170 fps, it generates 2,927 foot pounds of energy; after hand calculating it out with the Long Range Ballistics Calculator from Vortex Optics, it is showing the following data. Sighted in for 100 yards this combination is cranking out 1,989 feet per second with 2,459 foot pounds of energy, with 1,817 feet per second and 2,052 ft lbs of energy ay 200 yards and carries

During the sighting in phase I had it cutting holes with each other for a .75” grouping at 50 yards. I am currently shooting dead on at 50 yards and 2.5” high at 100, which for me, where I hunt is about right where I want it to be.

The predictive data that I ran earlier was about 300 feet per second off, and having been my first try at this, I can say I learned a lot in regards to numbers on paper and tangible real-world applications.

All in all, I can say that this is one hell of a hunting combination for just about anything in North America. I’m anxious to see how this will pan out for Wisconsin Black Bear hunting next fall. Regardless of quarry, I will be using this bullet, powder and sabot combination in the future. It truly is one violent combination. – Aaron Thesing.


(Bridges 1)

BC of .452 as advertised with Powerbelt Bullets for the 280 grain ELR.

BC of .335 per Toby Bridges.

VORTEX LRBC with BC of .452 as advertised with Powerbelt Bullets for the 280 gr ELR

VORTEX LRBC with BC of .335 per Toby Bridges.


1. Bridges, Toby. “Shooting The PowerBelt Aerotip 280-Grain ELR As A Saboted Bullet!” Http://, Toby Bridges, 5 Sept. 2019,

2. Erama, Bob. “How To Calculate Velocity For Different Barrel Lengths.” Http://, Gun Rights Media, 24 Feb. 2010,

3. N/A, N/A. “Ballistic Trajectory Calculator.” Ballistic Trajectory Calculator,, 4 Oct. 2019,

4. N/A, N/A. “Ballistic Trajectory Calculator.” Ballistic Trajectory Calculator,, 4 Oct. 2019,

5. N/A, N/A. “Vortex Long Range Ballistics Calculator.” Vortex Optics,, 5 Oct. 2019,!/


7. 4 January 2011

8. 8-28-2013