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.

Tom Beckbe Tensaw Jacket

Admittedly I am, or rather was, a bit of a jacket hoarder. I have entirely too many jackets for a single hunter. That has changed because I had the opportunity to test the Tensaw jacket from Tom Beckbe. This particular jacket is the intersection where comfort, style, and functionality all meet. After hunting and wearing this coat for a full season I have to say the the only time I needed another coat was during the coldest parts of the year. Its very comfortable from 30 degree to 55 degrees.

Comfort- The waxed cotton shell is very durable and flexible. The range of movement on the coat is more than ample for a winghooting adventure. The Gusseted underarms and Bi-swing back make this an excellent coat for activities that’s require a wide range of motion.

Style- The Tensaw jacket really stands out in a crowd. The waxed cotton exterior does not hold stains and is very easy to clean. The jacket fits as well with hunting attire as it does for a casual night on the town.

Overall the jacket is a huge win, both on the streets and in the field. We highly recommend this jacket as a compliment to your upland clothing collection.

Review: Orvis game shears

While a pair of side cutters will get the job done, as far as upland game cleaning, so will a chainsaw but we don’t use them. Last season I bought a pair of Orvis game shears and, in total honesty, they were one of my best purchases of the year. They were one of the very few, under 100.00, that I could find that were not made in China. These are made in Italy out of forged stainless steel.

Ergonomics– Most shears are simply made too large and have huge rubber handles to offset the horrid ergonomics. These are small enough to not require rubber grips and fit an average size hand very comfortably.

Durability– These are heavy duty shears and after a season of Quail, grouse, pheasant, dove and small game cleaning they operate and function like they day I took them out of the box.

Sharpness– This area is why I was in search of new game shears to begin with. Most of the other brands available are made in China out of the cheapest steel possible. These are still sharp today after cleaning lots of wild birds, small game, and becoming my go to kitchen shears as well. The heavily notched blade makes these shears cut through small bones with ease.

Price point– The price point on the Orvis shears is 89.00. You can spend a lot more and not get anything better, and you can spend less and replace them every year. I feel like 89.00 is a bargain for shears of this quality.

Overall I am 100% satisfied with the Orvis Game shears. They have become one of the tools i never leave home without.

Review: TFO Mangrove Coast 7Wt Rod

Treasure Coast Snook

I decided that I wanted a better rod for inshore saltwater fishing and after a lot of studying I choose the Mangrove Coast series from Temple Fork Outfitters. Given the reputation of TFO I thought it was a safe bet and have never been more correct!

Fit and Finish– The Mangrove Coast series has the fit and finish of a much higher end rod. Its beautiful straight out of the box and does not loose any of its appearance attributes after 100’s of hours in the salt.

Weight– Its not the lightest rod, nor the heaviest either. I found it to be extremely comfortable casting for 6-8 hours for dock light snook.

Accuracy– I found the Mangrove Coast series to be extremely accurate to 50 feet and moderately accurate out to 65 feet. I used the Rio outbound lines on both the 7wt and 9wt rods.

Action– The action was a solid medium with just enough softness to make it deadly accurate on short cast to laid up fish. This was paramount fishing docks at night because the ability to feel every step of the cast made for some truly glorious moments in the dark.

Price point– I expected this rod to be in the upper middle retail price category. After buying three, 6,7 & 9wt, at a retail price point of 299.95 I was a little shocked. Temple Fork packed a lot of rod into a low price point!