FIshpond Thunderhead pack review.

In a world where sustainability has been diluted to a catch phrase on a corporate slide, there are still companies who live by the term. One of them is Fishpond USA. As a manufacturer of premium fishing gear they truly understand that sustainability and conservation go hand in hand. Hence the line of Thunderhead submersible packs and travel bags. Their policy can be found here. The Thunderhead line of gear are all made of recycled one time use water bottles, you know the ones we pick up on almost everybody of water we fish.

This review is on the Thunderhead Submersible backpack. When I ordered it I had concerns about comfort and durability in a pack made of old water bottles. Soon after I received my pack those were put to rest almost instantly. The pack is nearly bombproof and very “Modular” In nature. The self healing zipper is probably the best change for 2022. It actually works very well. The removable lumbar support is nice to have for me as I seldom hike with a pack, However my pack goes in the boat with me every time so I simply remove it. I tested my pack on several trips to the Stuart Florida inlet. We got rained on, sprayed daily with saltwater, and even dropped it in the water for a few hours while we fished, Bottom line was everything stayed dry and the pack was simple to clean afterwards. Here is a listing of the features, of what has become by go to bag.

  • Lariat gear loops are included for one side of the pack. (Fly Rod tube carriers)
  • Foam shoulder straps
  • Removable lumbar support
  • Multiple attachment points for accessories.
  • Removable interior organization pocket

Give the Fishpond Thunderhead pack a try! I am sure you won’t be disappointed. 

Outdoor Edge Razorguide Pak

Given that Christmas is a month away I wanted to do a review on the Outdoor Edge Razorguide pak. I think most outdoors people have more than a single knife. However, we all have a favorite knife. When it comes to game preparation and processing, this is where “all the other knives” come into our possession. As I have gotten older, and hopefully wiser, I have become more cognizant about game care in the field. The ability to efficiently bone out a carcass and cape a trophy out are paramount.

De boning, and sawing of bones, have always been a pain when doing these tasks in the field. The main reason is always because I never have the exact knife i needed in my possession. The Razorguide pak solves that issue. Having a Long & Flexible knife blade is key for effectively boning out game. A fillet knife is perfect and the Razorbone knife is a ideal substitute. Given that bones will dull a blade extremely quick the replaceable blades are as handy as the proverbial shirt pocket.

The Bone saw is a great addition and the perfect size weight.

The Razorcape caping knife fits the hand very well, and facilitates good control when caping out big game trophies. Once again the replaceable blade insure you’re not wasting time sharpening a blade in the field.

The waxed cotton carrying case holds all three tools and replaceable blades together in a very compact case. Lastly the orange handles make these easy to find when you drop them in the field.

MSRP is 99.00 which make this a prefect Christmas gift for the outdoors person in the family.

The Bobwhites of the Bluegrass state

When one thinks of western Kentucky it conjures up thoughts of basketball, bourbon, and horses. Even though all those things accurately represent Kentucky there is one thing missing, and that is bobwhite quail. Last season I discovered a little piece of quail hunting paradise called Winghaven lodge. It’s a place where the three important B’s, Bourbon, Bob Whites, and Birddogs, all combine. This combination equals a first-class bird hunting experience. Russel and Michele Edwards have transformed their slice of the bluegrass state to a Bobwhite paradise, and upland hunter’s dream.

Now there are many quail hunting operations in western Kentucky, but Winghaven is a quail hunting experience. Everything from the lodging to the food is carefully thought out and planned well in advance of the first hunters arriving. After all bird hunting should be more than just a hunt. It should be a experience filled with memories of more than just dead birds.  Russel and Michele Edwards ensure that you leave with both birds and memories. Their dreams become the client’s reality from the moment you arrive to the day you depart. Its amazing that these two, with minimal help, run such a top shelf operation.

The lodge is a beautiful place surrounded by the beauty of the western Kentucky landscape. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and the check in experience is smooth as a glass of Kentucky’s finest bourbon. However, lets face it a room is just a place to sleep so I tossed my bags down and took a tour of the lodge. The large dining room can accommodate anything from hunting partners to a corporate business group. The large fireplace and copious amount of taxidermy make the dining area a warm and inviting place to gather after a day of chasing birds in the surrounding rolling hills of Kentucky. The pro shop is well stocked and very reasonable and affords a perfect Segway into the main lodge. The main lodge emanates the outdoor life on every aspect. More taxidermy than most big outdoor stores, a full bar, leather couches and chairs, fireplace for those cold Kentucky evenings, a corner set aside for live music, and a big screen television. While I was there the TV was playing “heist” which was very appropriate, and educational, considering we were setting in the heart of bourbon country.

To try to describe the food would be doing nothing short of an injustice to the staff, but I will give it a shot. Breakfasts are what a traveling bird hunter should expect out of a top tier upland operation. They were hearty, large portions, and had a southern flair that brought everything together. Lunches were what I would describe as a hunter “comfort foods”. They were hearty enough that eating everything on your plate was a challenge, yet not so over filling that they would impede a great afternoon afield. Dinners were of the quality of a high-end restaurant in both quality and quantity. All of this was accomplished for two main reasons. First was the amazing and spacious lodge kitchen. Second was the hard work of Michele & Russell Edwards, more Michele than Russel in the kitchen. She handles the food prep almost single handedly while Russel is seeing to the needs of the hunters, and at times their canine partners.

Once settled and my gear unpacked for the hunt we headed out of a look at the main attraction, bobwhite hunting in the rolling hills of Kentucky. It was instantly obvious that Russell Edwards put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the quail habitat on the property. The native grasses were an ocean of premium habitat as far as we could see. Our guide for the day was a young lady, whom I can’t say enough about, named Brittney Downing. I must take a moment to discuss women in the outdoors while reminiscing about our hunt. Everyone in the outdoor industry says, “we need to recruit more women into the outdoor pursuits”. I tend to disagree and think we, as an industry, need to focus on recruiting the right women into the outdoor industry. Brittney is a glowing example of that kind of woman. She was a consummate professional and not only was she a perfect representative for Winghaven lodge but for women in the outdoors as well.

When the dog box was opened, I realized I was hunting with a Brittney and her troop of female dogs. We hunted with Lilly a GSP, Lucy another GSP, and Daisy a yellow lab. The irony of myself and Russell being the only two males was not lost on the group. That day turned into one of the most memorable days afield in a ling time. The dog work was exquisite to say the least and words will never do justice to the guide work I witnessed that day. Brittney was the best dog handler I have seen in years. No yelling at the dogs, no need for the shock functions in their collars, a simple and occasional beep of the collar kept everything copasetic. We had more shot opportunities that day than I have had in Kentucky in more years than I can count. It was also nice to hunt with Russell and his gorgeous side by side .410. Being an aficionado of sub gauges, myself made the day even better. We put the .28 gauge and his .410 through the paces for sure. In the sub gauge world, you hope to get as many as you missed and today was that day. We took home enough quail, enough that we had a great day wing shooting, and left enough to give the next group a great hunt as well. That day will always be remembered as the day I hunted with the ladies. Brittney, Lilly, Lucy, and Daisy we a treat to hunt with and I would hunt with these four anywhere in the country.

At the risk of taking away from the fabulous quail hunting I need to point out two other amenities that beg to be discussed. First if the fishing lake that it literally right outside the lodge. Its manicured shorelines and clear water begged me to cast a fly rod into its depths. However, is was only 20ish degrees in the mornings to fishing had to take a back seat to morning coffee and a fireplace. Second was the bar and bourbon selection. I love bourbon, and I mean good bourbon, not the crafty hipster type bourbon that seems to gain more and more of a following these days. Russell’s bourbon collection was hailed as “the best bourbon collection west of Louisville Kentucky” by Bourbon review magazine. That’s a big statement in itself!

We ended our trip with enough birds and a glass of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. I can’t think of a more fitting end to a quail hunting trip than that.

If you want to partake in some of the finest bird hunting in Kentucky, you can reach Russell and Michele through their website at  or by calling 270-836-7998. Tell them On the Fly Magazine sent you.

Review: Orvis Pro LT vest

I used to think I was only a jacket hoarder but, the results of a recent closet cleaning indicated that was a lie. Early last season I purchased an Orvis Pro LT upland vest. I have worn it so much I had forgotten about the other 8 I have in the closet. Now, the question would be is this the perfect vest? The honest answer is absolutely not. However this vest, with its positive attributes, may in fact be the perfect “all around” upland vest. That said lets start with the Pros.

  • If your an Orvis person this vest is much lighter than the pervious Orvis Pro vest. 40% lighter in totality which I like because I wear my upland vest more than the average person.
  • The pro LT also has position adjustable pockets. I really like this feature for access customization. It allows the shell pocket to move from your side to the front.
  • The zippered security pockets, which I thought were overkill. have turned out to be a handy feature for small items like a GPS or heaven forbid you carry one, a cell phone.
  • The large, almost oversized game bag will accommodate a 6 bird limit of pheasants no problem. The only problem is carrying 6 birds for any amount of time is a chore!

Now for the Cons of this vest.

  • The shoulder straps are very well padded but, they are too thick for my tastes and make the vest hotter than it needs to be. I had a concern that they inhibited my gun mount but, as it turned out I was just a terrible shot on the trip that caused me to wonder.
  • I would give up the adjustable pockets for the ability to add a pocket, or two, for dog handling equipment but, once again that’s my personal preference based only on my style of hunting.
  • The material and composition of the Pro LT make it extremely durable. In this case that also makes the vest hot during early season hunts.

Overall I wear this vest more than any others I own. If your looking for a single vest to hunt anything from Quail in the south to Northwoods Grouse and out west chasing pheasants, this vest is worth a long hard look.

Hot leather and bear grease.

Recently I was talking with a younger upland hunter about boots. I was looking for an all leather boot that was not to heavy and not a “hiking” style boot. I have a thing for a good quality leather boot. His question was why all leather? There are many better options in modern boots. That question made me think about my choices. Well I tried to explain to the young man that’s it’s about time travel. Time travel back to a time when things were simpler, better, and I was happy.

You see I still treat my boots with Bear Grease, as his eyes rolled back into his head. My father and I used to set in the basement, of our Michigan home, and get our stuff ready for season. I loved those nights. He would use my mothers hair dryer to heat the boots up, rub them down with bear grease, and use the dryer to melt it into the leather. The smell of warm leather and hot bear grease takes me back to a time when he was alive and we were making memories. The act, and smell, of treating my boots stirs memories that would otherwise be forgotten. I can hear Elvis on the record player, see our GSP Sam laying in front of the fireplace, and I can feel the excitement of the upcoming season.

I guess that getting old means getting nostalgic. It doesn’t mean I frown on new ideas and technology. It means I don’t need it so be happy. To many times today we focus on the limits of birds. Somehow forgetting the preparation, the drive, the weather, and the dogs. So while most people are looking for the next best thing, I am traveling through time with my old leather boots and hot bear grease.