outdoor brands arrows side by side

Empty Pockets | Are Outdoor Brands Worth The Extra Money?

So, what does price say about quality when it comes to arrows? Is a household name brand better than a lesser known one? Does a higher price tag equate to better arrow flight and more successful archery hunts? For that matter, does the name brand matter in any outdoor activity?

Well, in an attempt to answer that question, I’ll use a few examples. First, I’ll start with fishing (yes, fishing… just wait for it.)

The Price Of A Boat Doesn’t Catch Fish

I grew up camping and fishing in the High Uintas of Utah with my father. My father taught me how to love and enjoy the outdoors and how to clean out the fish you catch. There were also a few memories I will never forget.

My Pops had an old sun-dried yellow, aluminum boat with a 25 hp Evinrude motor that we putted around in. We would spend a week up there, doing nothing but fishing and filling the stringer.

outdoor brands fishing boat

Maybe moments like this are worth more than the boat you are in.

When I was 9 years old, a guy saw us back up our old Suburban and that ole yellow boat into the water. He yelled, “Damn, that is an expensive rig ya got there!” Of course, he was being extremely rude with his comment, laughing as he backed his expensive speed boat into the water.

My dad just said, “some people…”



We fished for about four hours or so that day and filled up the stringer with 22″ rainbows that we caught with our basic all-around fishing rods and reels and life was good.

When we went back to load the boat, my dad yelled across the water to the guy with the expensive boat, “You catch any?”

The man answered, “No, the bite has been slow.” My father replied, “I hope that boat was worth it” and then pulled out our stringer. The look on that man’s face was priceless!

We laughed and went to camp and enjoyed the rest of the evening cooking up the fish we caught (in our “expensive rig”) on the camp fire.

Your Ford Could Be A Chevy

outdoor brands chevy truck

Is more expensive really better?

Perhaps you’ve seen the test drive commercials where a truck’s identity is kept secret from the driver. The test driver takes it for a spin and says “it has to be a Ford.” But, then to the driver’s surprise… it’s a Chevy!

It’s the same with many of the products in the outdoors industry. There are many awesome products out there. Some are affordable and some not so much. And, of course, the more expensive item is always better quality. Or is it?



Higher Price = Better Quality… Sometimes

Many believe that better quality and performance live where the higher price tag is. In the gun industry, this argument holds up to some degree. But, at the end of the day, all guns travel the same whether you buy a $250 12-gauge pump shotgun by Browning, or a $900 12 gauge shotgun from Winchester. Both have the same pump action, same gauge, and same function. Both will serve the same purpose of taking wild game.

So why the cost difference? Could it be that it’s all just marketing?



20 Guns, 60 shells And One Duck

outdoor brands duck in flight

Money doesn’t kill ducks… but good shots do…

One Saturday morning in November, I went out waterfowl hunting  on a dyke beyond the city I lived in. When I got there, only one other guy had shown up. I thought to myself, “Hey, this may be a good morning!”

As soon as it was shooting light, a group of 20 guys (probably all from the same football team) showed up and parked right next to me. Most of the crew had 12 gauge semi-automatic Beretta shotguns and were ready to take some game. At the time, I had a model 1300 Winchester 12-gauge pump.

It didn’t help matters that none of them would get in the reeds to hide (and it didn’t matter cause there was so many of them!)

One kid yelled “DUCK!”

>> Join our mailing List for news on all the latest N1 products! <<

All 2o of them, including myself, faced north, and sure enough, one duck was coming in slow like he was about to land. I then got to experience 20 men unload all three shells from each gun. It was like being on the line at the Alamo!

Not one person peppered that duck! I pulled up to shoot after all that ammo spent from the others, shot once, and sacked it.

They all looked at me like I had committed a crime.

Needless to say, I was getting more value out of my $250 gun then all twenty of them who had a $1,500 gun (and I didn’t use near as many shells:)



Outdoor Brands Shouldn’t Make Or Break Your Fun

Whether it’s guns, bow hunting arrows and broadheads or outdoor apparel, I think we all could say that we are guilty at some point or another of being caught up in the allure of brand name gear.

For example, some bow hunters are willing to spend $185 for a set of six arrows, when there are arrows on the market for only $55 for a set of six. And, if compared to each other, just like in that Ford and Chevy test, you might not even be able to tell the difference.

Others are extremely particular about what brand of broadheads they shoot.

Enjoy the outdoors. At the end of the day you should not be afraid of shooting your bow at longer distances, just because you’re afraid to lose a $25 arrow. You should feel comfortable shooting at various yardages ranging from 10 yards up to 85 yards, as long as you are taking an ethical shot that will give you a good chance of a clean kill.

Some bow hunters won’t shoot past 70 yards while practicing, while some ethical hunters will shoot further, just in case that dream buck walks out and you may not have another chance of getting any closer.



The Outdoors Should Be About The Moments

As we make unforgettable memories outdoors, hopefully we can focus on getting more people engaged and enjoying themselves more than we do on what brand of equipment we have.

So, don’t get caught up in the brand name of your camping and outdoor gear. After all, the outdoors should be fun, affordable and enjoyable.

austin hurst pic

Public Land Hunting Tips You Should Know

Do you love hunting but don’t own property? Public land hunting may be the answer for you. But, there are so many different types of public land hunting opportunities ranging from National Wildlife Refuges, State Forests, State Parks, Nature Preserves, Natural Areas, Nature Conservancies, Wildlife Management Areas, Lands maintained by Army Corps of Engineers, and Military Establishments. 

So, with so much public land throughout the country, where in the world do you even begin in developing a strategy to hunt public land?

Check out these public hunting land tips to help you start enjoying the vast opportunities!

  1. Know the Rules and Regulations
  2. Use Maps & Boots
  3. Take Advantage of the Seasons
  4. Know Thy Transportation
  5. Get the Right Gear
  6. Use Trail Cameras

Regardless of what type of opportunities your state offers, you may find it easier to begin hunting these lands by becoming familiar with the following public land hunting tips. 

Tip #1: Know The Rules & Regulations Where You Hunt

Whenever I venture onto public land, whether I have hunted that particular piece of property before or not, I always familiarize or update myself with the local as well as state hunting regulations that are in effect where I am going to hunt. 

In my home state of Virginia, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries does a good job of providing outdoorsmen and women with these regulations.  It does so in the forms of booklets and also by keeping the website and public land kiosks up to date with important information that could impact a visitor’s trip. 


Get Your Hunting License

A regulation that goes hand-in-hand with hunting in all states is having the required hunting license or permit. It is becoming more frequent for state natural resource departments to require hunters, hikers, bikers, and even bird watchers to either have a permit, license (or in Virginia, an Access Permit) on hand before they can enjoy public lands.  

Regardless of what your prey may be or what time of year you plan on taking a public land adventure, you will not go wrong by becoming familiar with the local regulations and rules that may affect your trip.  Understanding such guidelines could not only make the difference in you having a safe and legal hunt this season, but ultimately will lay the foundation for a rewarding public land experience. 


Tip #2: Use The Scouting Match Made In Heaven… Maps And Boots

You might already use maps when you hunt. However, you may not realize that many local government agencies will provide free maps of public hunting land.

Using these maps can be a great resource for hunters to learn valuable information about the land they are hunting when pursuing game.

man walking public hunting land

Use maps to help you learn how other hunters may be accessing the same parcel of public hunting land.

Whether you use government maps or get mapping information from an internet source like Google Maps, Google Earth, or one of these latest and greatest phone apps like OnX Maps, you can certainly build your knowledge about the area of public land you are scouting or hunting. 

>>Join the N1 Outdoors Mailing List for news on all the latest products!

If a hunter knows what he or she is looking at on a map, that hunter’s boots can take them anywhere on a map in search of “prime” locations that could be hot spots for wild game such as whitetail deer.  By examining an updated map, a hunter can pin point key areas and resources just by looking at that map. Then, a game plan can be developed based on those key areas and resources. 


Lots of bucks on Kansas public land!

Some key areas and resources to be mindful of on public land maps include:

  • Any local agriculture or food sources
  • Natural transition areas where two or more different habitats come together
  • Waterways or other water sources
  • Trails, roadways or property boundary lines
  • Bedding areas
  • Areas of elevations
  • Areas leading to hunter access
  • Any local agriculture or food sources
  • Natural transition areas where two or more different habitats come together
  • Waterways or other water sources
  • Trails, roadways or property boundary lines
  • Bedding areas
  • Areas of elevation
  • Areas leading to hunter access


Hunter Access

When it comes to combining maps and scouting, I love the element of hunter access, and maps can tell you a lot about it!  

Maps are also helpful in predicting what other hunters may do regarding how they access a piece of public land. Not to suggest that hunters are lazy, but many are creatures of habit as well as convenience. Simply put, many hunters will follow the path of least resistance in accessing a hunting location. 



This means that most of the time, they will use the same locations of access (public parking areas to public access roadways) to get to their stand setups as well as the same entry/exit access points which will allow them the easiest way to and from their vehicles. 

I have discovered while hunting public lands that if hunters are more inclined to take the road less traveled, which could mean a path of more resistance or a longer entry/exit access point, they will not only discover more encounters with game, but less encounters with other hunters



By combining map study and physical effort, you can discover these areas that most other hunters will not be willingly to venture off to. The payoff in the form of a successful kill or greater sense of accomplishment is hard to match. 

Some hunters will even opt for access via mountain bikes, which can provide a quiet, but faster route to the hunting location.




Identification Of Deer Habitat  

Studying maps can also provide hunters an opportunity to discover overlooked areas that many hunters just do not realize game like whitetails are hiding in.  In these areas, being able to identify public parking areas and highly trafficked roads can be extremely productive areas for hunters who take the time to study the maps and then put their boots to work. 



Tip #3: Take Advantage Of The Seasons

elk on public land

For bow hunters, archery seasons often provide an opportunity to hunt public land with fewer hunters around.

In all public hunting lands, there is at least one season for hunters to take advantage of big game with a particular weapon.  But on many public lands, big game can be hunted during different seasons such as early archery season, gun season, or maybe a late muzzle loader season. 

In some states, like here in Virginia, hunters can chase game during overlapping seasons.  In my experience hunting big game on public land, I have found that many hunters choose to hunt more during the general firearms season than any other season.  This can really be good news for the bowhunter and the black powder hunter in the short and long term. 

>> Love To Bowhunt? Check Out all our bowhunting and archery tees!<<

If archery and black powder hunters play their cards right, they can avoid the high traffic of a gun season by spending the majority of their hunting time during the archery and muzzle loader seasons. 

These hunters will discover the benefits of hunting these seasons as there will typically be more encounters with big game and generally less pressure from other hunters.  Combine that with good scouting techniques and the willingness to venture deeper into public land, and hunters can hope to have much more success during their public land outings. 



Tip #4: Know Thy Transportation

Protection of our public lands is a high priority. That also goes for the public roadways, trails, or paths that lie within.  Hunters, hikers, and campers across the country will quickly find that most public lands have limited roadway access. This often includes restrictions on motor vehicles, including ATVs. This means that visitors are usually limited to walking or using bicycles, or in some cases, electric vehicles. 

Other than your own two feet, the other two options that I know of that can help get you and your gear from point A to point B when hunting public land would be a bicycle or a good game cart. 

I myself rarely use one during hunting season, but a bicycle is one of my best resources during the off-season when it comes to scouting as well as helping me move tree stands or other gear around public land. 

I have found that using a bicycle during the off-season is so beneficial that I get twice the work accomplished and twice the scouting done. 

During hunting season, I always have my game cart with me. A game cart is just as important to me as having my license, weapon, and other gear. 

I just know that I am going to need it and I am always better off with it. Most of my hunts on public land take me around a mile or more into public land, so by having it, I can place all my gear on top of it, strap it down and transport it with ease while I walk. Not to mention when I do harvest big game, it makes life so much easier if I don’t have a partner with me. 

Not all local agencies see eye to eye on the topic of public land transportation. So, before venturing off to your local public hunting lands this season, make sure you check with your local agency to see what the acceptable forms of transportation are before bringing your ATV or purchasing that new electric bicycle.  

Tip #5: Have The Right Hunting Gear

Every hunter has gear, but some have it coming out from their ears!

Of course, it’s easy to think we need the latest and greatest gear, but I am going to tell you the simplest pieces of gear that will help you not only be successful, but safe while hunting public land. 

public land hunting fire starter

A fire starter is one of the most essential pieces of gear when out hunting public land. In a survival situation, it could be a life-saver.

To go along with your map, you can never go wrong with the following items when hunting public land:

  • Compass: A good compass is a must and something you should know how to use. Some public lands make it mandatory for hunters or visitors to carry a compass when on those lands in the event that they get lost. On big tracts of land, you will be thankful to have this piece of equipment if you ever get turned around. 
  • Headlamp: A reliable headlamp with extra batteries is important to have for entry and exit. But, if you are ever lost, this resource can help others locate you. 
  • Orange: Blaze orange or pink is typically going to be something that hunters should have on during most firearm seasons, and possibly during other hunting seasons, depending on local regulations. Having this garment with you at all times, regardless of the season, can be an important piece of safety equipment while moving about public land.
  • Fire Starter: The all-important fire starter is something that I think most hunters overlook in their pack. I hunt land that I am very familiar with, but you just never know what may happen when you are out on an adventure. So, a fire starter is a tool that could be critical to your survival in unfamiliar or even familiar territory.  I always carry a fire starter, just in case. Bowdrills, fire saws, flint and steel, magnifying lenses, matches, lighters, battery and steel wool and fire pistons are all types of fire starters
  • Boots: Taking care of your feet is extremely important. So, having a good fitting, durable pair of boots is a must. For me, I prefer to use rubber boots, mainly because the majority of the land I venture into has swamps or marshes.  These boots also provide good protection from snakes. This really sets my mind at ease during the early season, as I move through thick cover.  Always carry an extra pair of socks, regardless of the season.  Your feet will thank you for it!


Tip #6: Use Trail Cameras

Over the years, I have become addicted to – and really do depend on – the information that game cameras can provide  me. Whether it is areas I have a history of hunting, or new areas I am learning about, game cameras are a perfect way for me to gather needed information without continuously disrupting a particular spot. 

pubic land trail camera image

Trail cameras can be very useful in determining what types of game may be frequenting the public land that you are planning to hunt.

Typically, I will leave my game cameras out during the summer months into the opening of season and I may check them roughly two to four times before the season begins.  I place my cameras near known bedding areas and travel corridors, where I have established mock scrapes, or near established stand setups. 

When I do check these cameras, I will be able to determine what type of game is in the area, if the area is going to be productive for what I am pursuing at the start of the season, or if I need to abandon the area altogether and move to a different location. 

A camera can help me determine if I have a doe “hot spot” or doe bedding area.  It will give me an idea of when the rut is picking up or tapering off.  Game cameras will also provide information on possible shooter bucks to target.  Sometimes cameras can provide insight on why you may not have as much game traffic in a particular area. Perhaps you are getting more coyote traffic or bear traffic, which could discourage animals like deer from using that particular location. 


Moultrie MCG-13331 M-8000
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

In some cases, a spot you thought was secluded and out of the way may end up proving to be a highly trafficked area by other hunters.

In any event, using game cameras on public lands can really help you determine what you are working with when it comes to particular locations.  Be advised, cameras are a resource that others are willing to take from you! So, take the proper precautions to protect your trail cameras.  This may mean you may have to secure them by locking them to a tree, or as I have done in the past, placing them at an elevated level, making harder for others to get see and get to. 




Public Land Hunting Tips Conclusion

There are so many other tips I could provide when it comes to public land hunting. But, the tips I have provided here are ones that have been tried and proven effective for me on the public lands I hunt. And, I am sure they will work for you on whatever public land you explore and hunt. 

When you go out, look back on these tips and use them to your advantage this season and in the years to come.  You will find that by using them, and maybe even by altering them somewhat, that you will have much more success when you are hunting public lands in the future. 

Remember that there is nothing more important than being safe when you are out. So, take every precaution to do so, and make sure you take every opportunity to make a “Trophy Moment!”

Jason Giovenco-Montano photo
Jason Giovenco-Montano

You can read about N1 Outdoors and even learn how each of our apparel designs came to be!

deer hoof print next to mans hand

Deer Hooves… More Than Meets The Eye

As a hunter, it’s always nice to see deer tracks.

At least you know you have deer in the area. But deer hooves do much more than just leave a “deer was here” signature in the dirt.

Hooves make just about everything a deer does possible and easier.

Deer hooves are made up of keratin, which is the same thing human finger nails are made of.

deer hoof print and dew claw

Deer front hoof and dew claws

The hooves consist of two divided, or cloven, elongated toes.

Each deer hoof has two “dew claws” (see picture), located above and behind it.

Mammals such as gazelles, sheep, hogs, cattle and goats also have cloven hooves.

A deer’s dew claws typically will not show as part of its track, unless the deer is travelling through mud or snow.

In these conditions, the dew claws give the deer’s foot a larger and wider platform with which to move about.

Hooves are one of the most important parts of deer’s body and are useful for many purposes. So, let’s take a look at 5 ways in which deer use their hooves…

A deer’s hooves are cloven, or split, and are made up of keratin, much like human fingernails.


#ad

Ameristep Care Taker Ground Blind, Mossy Oak Break Up Country, Model: None
$99.14
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/01/2024 08:30 pm GMT

Deer will use their hooves for:

Running And Jumping

Deer obviously run and jump using their legs. But, while powerful hind leg muscles account for much of a deer’s ability to run and jump, hooves play a vital role as well.

A deer’s front cloven hoof helps it to turn sharply and push off when jumping.

So, whether deer are running up to 40 miles per hour to evade predators, chasing during the rut, or jumping in excess of eight feet in the air, they couldn’t do it without their hooves.



The keratin in deer hooves is sheeted and runs in all directions.

This results in hooves that are stronger, harder and more crack resistant than bone, making them durable enough to support the animal’s weight, even when it is running or jumping with force.

When deer run, the toenails on the front of the hooves allow it to reduce the area of the foot that touches the ground, resulting in a longer stride that allows it to cover more ground.



Hoof Stamping (Stomping)

If you’re a hunter, you have probably experienced the ‘ole “foot stomp.” It usually goes something like this… You’re watching from a tree stand or a permanent blind when a deer sees your shape or movement, or gets wind of your scent. It senses the danger and stops abruptly, curls up a front leg and starts stamping its hoof.

Deer do this to either confirm the apparent danger or become comfortable that there is actually no threat. Sometimes the deer will flee, but hopefully for the hunter, the animal will eventually settle down and continue browsing or travelling in a manner that allows an ethical shot.

deer stomping foof

Deer will stomp their hooves to try and cause movement from perceived danger.


#ad

Huntshield Men’s Neoprene Muck Boot | Insulated Waterproof Rubber Hunting Boot | Size 11
Buy Now
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.


Defense

It’s not uncommon, especially in suburban areas, for people to mistake deer for defenseless animals. But don’t let their majestic appearance and graceful movements fool you.

In addition to hunters, deer have other natural predators. These can include wolves, coyotes bobcats, and sometimes even bears and alligators.

When a predator threatens or attacks, a deer can either run or fight. Bucks often use their antlers to defend themselves, but just like does, can rise up on their hind legs, using their hooves to strike predators. They can also kick from behind, using the hind legs and hooves, if necessary.

Deer hooves do more than just leave tracks. They can be used by a deer to help defend itself against predators and perceived danger.

Deer Scraping

For hunters, the rut is a magical time of year. It’s that time when many hunters dream about that deer of a lifetime walking into view. Bucks are rubbing trees, using licking branches, and making “scrapes.”

In addition to hooves giving a buck the ability to chase does back and forth at high speeds, they also play a key part in the deer scraping activities.

Bucks and does alike will visit and use scrapes, but during the rut, bucks scrape more aggressively and will use the scrapes to announce their presence in the area as well as to tell other bucks to stay out of it.



Bucks will make “scrape lines” along travel routes and as they move through their territory. These can show up along field edges, fence lines and between feeding and bedding areas.

Bucks will paw and clear (scrape) an area to be free of leaves and debris. They will urinate in the scrape to leave their scent, effectively marking their territory. In addition, they will lick and chew overhanging branches, leaving forehead scent as well.

Does will also visit and use these scrapes, allowing bucks, upon a revisiting of the scrape, to know if a doe is ready to be bred.

As you can see in this video (sound up), whitetail bucks will make “scrapes” on the ground with their hooves and urinate in them. They will typically make these scrapes under a “licking branch,” where they will chew and rub their forehead, leaving scent.

Get the Licking Branch Buck Tee



Interdigital Scent

Deer have interdigital scent glands in between the two hooves on each leg and one of the most important glands the animals have. Deer use the scent dispersed from these glands to track one another.

The interdigital glands are small, sparsely-haired sac located between the hooves on each foot. The sacs contain a yellowish material called sebum. The scent is left in a deer’s track every time it takes a step.

fawn hoof print next to human finger

Fawn tracks are much smaller than full-grown deer tracks. The size of a fawn hoof print compared to human thumb



Whitetail Deer Hooves Vs. Mule Deer Hooves

Whitetail deer and mule deer have many discernable differences in appearance and movement. Both have a unique antler structure.

Mule deer utilize a bouncing gait, known as a pronk or stot. The whitetail do not utilize this type of gait, but rather tend to run and leap when fleeing danger.

While whitetails and muleys may have their differences, hoof structure and tracks are nearly impossible to differentiate. Both whitetail and mule deer have two hooves that form and upside-down heart-shape on the ground with the rounded bottom.



The side of the hooves are convex, while the tips of its hooves are located towards the inside of the track. The outside of the toe is usually slightly larger than the inside toe while the hind feet are smaller than the front feet.

Without other non-hoof signs, distinguishing between whitetail deer and mule deer is nearly impossible.



Hunt The Deer Tracks?

Hopefully, we’ve been able to provide you with a useful overview of how deer use their hooves. Here’s one final thought… those deer tracks you find will only tell you where the deer have been. Here’s to hoping you find out where they end! Happy hunting!



Check out our Hunting And Fishing Shirts