Wildheart // BHA Filmfest 2018

Check out our short film submitted to the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers filmfest this year! We shot this over two elk hunting trips, bow and rifle, in Montana.

We’re proud to have shot this all on public land and could not have done it without them.

American citizens own and have access to 640+ million acres of land to recreate on. It is more important now than ever to fight for these lands. We’re the land’s greatest advocate – let’s use our voices to save what’s ours.

 

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TEDx Talk: Two Views

 

 

Everyday, many people will ask photographers hundreds if not thousands of questions on gear, settings, and lighting. The conversations are had, back and forth, between which camera is rated better, has more mega-pixels, etc.

However, we seldom ask the question: “What’d you see in that photograph that made you capture it? What did you see at that very moment that inclined you to bring your eye up to the viewfinder?”

This TEDx Talk dives right into the perspective of a photographer and what we usually see is not only the subject – but ourselves as well.

Enjoy.

Gear Review: ALPS OutdoorZ – Bino Harness

ALPS OutdoorZ Bino Harness

“As one of the first product extensions to our very popular and successful Extreme line, the Bino Harness X is the perfect companion for your optics. Designed to keep the pocket close to your chest and reduce the amount of movement you’ll feel in your optics. Constructed using 1680D ballistic nylon fabric, the Bino Harness X is as tough as you and ready for any hunting environment. A lens cloth is included, and the design features an easy to use one-handed opening mechanism for quick access.”

Company/Brand: ALPS OutdoorZ

Company/Brand Location: New Haven, MO

Manufactured/Made in: Vietnam

MSRP: $49.99

Product Number: 9901700

Sizes: One Size Fits All

Colors Available: Coyote Brown

Listed Features: 

  • Pocket stays secure to chest during movement
  • 1680D Nylon Ballistic Fabric for extra durability
  • Front U-shape design allows for easier access to binoculars
  • Lens cloth included
  • Padded back panel for added comfort
  • Adjustable closure to accommodate a variety of binoculars
  • Adjustable attaching harness to fit all body sizes
  • Non-metallic binocular attachment straps
  • Two lashing points for extra accessories
  • One side pocket for storing wind indicator

Total Weight: 11 oz.

Total Dimensions:  6.5″ x 5.5″ x 2.25″

Scoring criteria:

  1. Craftsmanship & Design
  2. Performance & Durability
  3. Fit & Sizing
  4. Pricing & Affordability

Scoring will be out of 5 for each section and then calculated as a percentage out of 100% for ease of comparison.

Craftsmanship & Design

The design of the ALPS OutdoorZ bino harness is a simple, yet functional design. It simply performs the one job it’s supposed to do – carry your binoculars. The harness design is slim and is crafted out of nylon ballistic fabric. The harness is rather thin and does not come with any bells and whistles which keeps the harness from being too bulky or bulge once a pair of binoculars is inside. There are, however, two lashing points and a small pocket on either side to lash and store whatever your heart desires, but should you not need them – the harness functions great without it.

Score: 5/5

Performance & Durability

Tested over the course of a year on a variety of hunts, scouting trips, and differing locations, the bino harness has functioned quite flawlessly and has held up through many scuffs and scrapes from dogs, humans, trees, rocks, etc. Our binoculars have all come out without a scratch. The harness has shown no sign of fraying or deterioration through the hunting season and has performed just the way we wanted it to – out of sight and out of mind until we need to pull out the glass. All the straps have held perfectly and does not sag over time.

Score: 5/5

Fit & Sizing

As a one size fits all – it truly does a great job of doing so. The straps come with extra length to accommodate a variety of users big and small. The binoculars fit very snug into the compartment and does not rattle around at all. The harness is wide enough that you don’t feel out of proportion. It seems to fit snug and centered onto your sternum with the sides of the harnesses within reach without feeling awkward when you reach for something. The only complaint is the drawstring that is used to close the front flap – as is out of the factory it does not hold the flap closed very well. This is quickly solved by opening the plastic loop retainer and shortening/cutting away excess string to make the loop tighter.

Score: 4/5

Pricing & Affordability

At only 50 bucks – this is a rare case of something that is cheaper than most (if not all) of its competitors, yet gives them all a run for their money. Although we are firm believers of the age-old saying “you get what you pay for” this harness truly gives you a great product for what you pay. At the price of a box or two of shells, you can protect your bino harness without all the bells and whistles. If you have an extra pair of binos that you like to keep in the truck or wherever, this could be a wonderful solution without breaking the bank.

Score: 5/5

Overall Score & Thoughts:

A great binocular harness for a wonderful price. This harness gives you the protection that your binoculars need without the dent in your wallet. Some people might be a little reluctant to put their $1000+ binoculars in a harness that’s $50 bucks, but we’ve done so without much worry. The harness is slim and designed very well. It fits and compacts down to pretty much nothing when not in use and can be stored pretty much anywhere due to its small footprint. The straps, enclosures, and fabric are all extremely durable. If you’re in the market for a harness that will give you the peace of mind and function when you need it to – look no further.

OVERALL SCORE: 19/20

95% / 100%

 

Field Shots:

Gear Review: Alps OutdoorZ – Commander Pack + Bag

 Alps OutdoorZ Commander Pack + Bag

“The Commander X + Pack is a complete system for the multi day backcountry hunter. The combination of an internal frame meat hauling pack with a detachable 4000 cu in pack bag offers the ability to pack in gear to a spike camp and haul out meat when the task is completed. The Commander X frame has lashing system that incorporates a compressed wing system and a lower shelf to secure loads to the frame. The pack bag can then be reattached with a series of compression straps over the load. When the meat-hauling frame is not needed the pack bag attaches to the frame with zippers for a secure fit to the frame for a comfortable carry. The frame is comprised of dual aluminum stays with channeled high-density polyethylene frame for rigid carry.” – AlpsoutdoorZ.com

The Commander pack works well in a multi-day hunt with a drop camp set up.

Company/Brand: ALPS OutdoorZ

Company/Brand Location: New Haven, MO

Manufactured/Made in: Vietnam

MSRP: $349.99

Product Number: 9994710

Sizes: One Size Fits All

Colors Available: Coyote Brown

Listed Features: 

  • 1680D Nylon Ballistic and Robic™ Nylon Fabrics for unmatched strength
  • Pack bag attaches to frame with zippers or compression straps when frame is loaded
  • Improved waist belt includes pockets, anti-sway straps and accommodates clip-style holsters
  • Improved side fleece-lined spotting scope pocket with large opening for easy access
  • LED light included with pack
  • Rifle and bow drop-down pocket
  • Top loading with spindrift collar
  • Top pocket converts to a fanny pack
  • Front pocket can be removed for extra gear
  • Extra-large lower door – #10 zipper
  • Internal horizontal divider
  • Side pockets
  • Hydration pocket and port
  • Rain cover included

 

 

The pack can slim itself down and function as a day pack.

Bag Weight: 2 lbs. 9 oz.

Pack Weight: 4 lbs.

Frame Weight: 5 lbs. 3 oz.

Total Weight: 9 lbs. 3oz.

Scoring criteria:

  1. Craftsmanship & Design
  2. Performance & Durability
  3. Fit & Sizing
  4. Pricing & Affordability

Scoring will be out of 5 for each section and then calculated as a percentage out of 100% for ease of comparison.

Craftsmanship & Design

The design of the pack is well thought out and certainly does not lack in innovative designs. ALPS always does a great job of including design items that truly make a hunter’s life a little easier in the backcountry. Some of these items would be considered industry standard, such as a spotting scope pocket and waistbelt pouches.

However, design items like the bottom door, integrated fanny-pack and adjustable velcro lumbar are things that set it apart. Everything seemed to be designed very ergonomically and everything had its place. Pockets, zippers, and clasps seemed to fall right where someone would instinctively reach for without looking around too much on where to access certain items.

The craftsmanship of the pack and bag are extremely rugged and feels heavy to the touch – which on the downside makes the pack quite heavy. This would certainly be a trade-off between ruggedness and weight – all at a balanced price point. The seams, zippers, material, all held up over some rough elk hunts and made it out of them without a scratch.

Score: 5/5

Hunters are shown after dropping off their camp and slimming down to day packs.

Performance & Durability

Performance of the pack bags were tested over multiple camping trips, hikes, and two elk hunts in Montana – one in hot weather and one in cold weather. Both times during the seasons, the bag performed well. The pack was also tested on four different people throughout the season and performed well enough in multiple configurations and pack loads varying from 30 to 70 lbs.

In all cases, the pack came out of rain, snow, dirt, and wind intact and ready for its next adventure. This is a pack that you do not feel bad about tossing around a truck, plane, or pretty much anywhere. The one downside to the pack’s performance is under extreme loads, we noticed that the pack tends to “sag” about two inches due to the lack of grip on the waist-belt. This was quickly solved by adjusting the lumbar and pack to be worn slightly higher than usual. This was a big deal to us as a pack should be fitted once and left alone for the remainder of its life with a hunter/user – regardless of load.

The material that makes up the pack is definitely strong and physically durable enough to withstand being scrapped up against trees, rock outcroppings, rough brush, etc. It does a great job of keeping everything inside of it protected and out of the elements.

Although the pack is quite well-rounded in durability and performance – we did notice a few weak points of the pack. The seams at the side pockets are very light and are not as rugged. One area that also seemed to be lacking was the draw strings on the top of the pack, which seemed like it was going to fray and was of lesser quality that an average pair of shoe laces.

Score: 4/5

The pack is comfortable enough for glassing while on the move.

Fit & Sizing

While the performance, craftsmanship, and design of the pack were great – the fit and sizing were definitely lacking. The pack was worn by 4 different people varying in height, weight, body type, and waist size. All testers had one comment that seemed to annoy them the most – the waist-belt. It seemed like no matter how much you pulled on the straps, adjusted, or fitted, the belt always got a little loose and never seemed to fit just right. As this is one of the most important fitting items in any pack – we definitely thought that it was severely lacking. The inside of the belt, while comfortable, did not grip the body very well – even when snug against the body. The material felt as if it was very “slick” and we had trouble with sagging across all users. While we understand the”One-Size-Fits-All” model, it could do a better job of staying fit and snug to the person that is wearing it.

In terms of the pack size, we collectively agreed that the it was the perfect size for multi-day trips into the backcountry. The packs versatility to perform as a large capacity pack bag, day pack, and meat hauler definitely redeems itself in the fit & sizing department.

Score: 3/5

Multiple configurations and versatility in use is where the pack truly shines.

Pricing & Affordability

Price. Pesos. Coin. At the end of the day, people will ultimately judge a product by its price tag and see if it is truly worth their hard-earned money. We would have to say that the pack is quite worth what it’s asking. While it is not the cheapest nor the most expensive – it does hit the middle market very well. For the price, one must truly discern what is balanced for them for the money. Weight, features and pockets, sizing, etc. these all have to be balanced to the value and it is easy to do so with this pack at $349.99. The true value of this pack is the versatility to use it in whatever configuration or load capacity that you want it to function at.

Score: 4/5

Overall Score & Thoughts:

The pack shines in its ability to really hit the middle of the market as a one size fits all pack. It can be adjusted to any persons desires for a backcountry pack and can adapt to multiple scenarios. The pricing is great and is quite affordable to someone looking into a hunting pack, as well as a general hiking pack. The craftsmanship and designs are very innovative, however, the myriad of features does make the pack a lot heavier than most of its backcountry competitors. For minimalist and super light packers, this pack is not for you, as it carries alot of bells and whistles with the weight to go with it.

However, if you are in need of a hearty pack that can pack in 40 pounds of camera gear, supplies for a 5 day hunt, and your food and water while staying organized in multiple pockets – this one is for you.

OVERALL SCORE: 16/20

80% / 100%

A hunter is shown with a completely full pack weighing in at 65 pounds.

Detail Shots

Yeti & Orvis Present: Andy

Every now and then, there’s content out there that simply resonates with you and you find yourself nodding your head with each passing second.

Ever since I decided to turn photography and videography into a career, people (specifically hunters and anglers) have constantly asked me what it was like to have your hobby be your dream job.

I’ve found that it was quite hard to explain – and sometimes I couldn’t. You see, people have a common misconception that it’s a job without stress, complications, and loads of fun – all the time. However, like this video, there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. The days spent at home are few, the time spent with my wife and dogs are short, and I find that I miss my own days afield hunting and fishing. Weekends are quickly booked up and my nights filled with editing.

I find it sort of ironic that what seemed like a career that would afford me more days in the field – was actually the complete opposite.

On the flip side of that, I’ve been blessed to see many amazing things, meet absolutely phenomenal individuals and groups, and shared in many great memories.

I’m sure that many photographers, in any niche, can relate to this short film. It reminds us of why we do it and to always have a balance in life – regardless of what your career may be.

 

Disclaimer: The author,Muddy Shutter Media Group, and it’s associates have no affiliation with Yeti Coolers, Orvis, or related associates nor is the author compensated for the sharing/posting of this content.

 

Gun Dogs of Summer 17′

As the last few bumpers and training leads get put away for the year, we thought it would be appropriate to highlight all of the dogs we’ve had the pleasure and honor to photograph throughout the year so far!

Whatever kind of dog you own, train, hunt over, or just plain love – we wish everyone the very best this hunting season. Here’s to muddy paws, tired legs, and full straps!

Do you have a specific dog, kennel or trainer you think we should work with? Feel free to let us know!

See everyone out in the field and happy hunting!

 

Moonrise

When someone begins a life of hiking they are presented with a set of unwritten doctrines outlining the “Do’s and Don’ts” of how to experience the natural world.  It has been said time and time again, the proper way to hike a mountain is to plan an arrival at the trail head as first light beings to flood the sky.  You are gifted with uncongested trails, crisp morning air, and the opportunity to oftentimes witness incredible vistas on the ascent.  This is the way I began, and continue to hike – sometimes.

As is often the case, there is a flip side to the “day-hiking coin” -a world often left unexplored and unsurveyed.  Read on, as I attempt to paint a picture for you of the hiking we many times overlook and even cast aside.

At the end of the day, once the sun begins to fade beyond the horizon, there is a noticeable calmness that gradually blankets a mountain valley.  The air whispers with the sounds of people making their way off the trail, the fleeting white noise of countless cars coming and going, and the wind settling, cloud cover cracking.

There is no better time to tie up your well-travelled pair of boots and strap on your pack than this moment – moonrise.

As the moon begins to crest over the earth, I try to find a “seat” at the highest point.  There is no better vantage than wrapped in a sleeping bag, engulfed by the uninterrupted view offered by the summit of a mountain.  From this perspective, you become part of the show, standing in the wings as the celestial performance of Aquarius and Cassiopeia takes center stage in the heavens.

As the last light fades, the stars wake up, the Milky Way dances across the sky, and shooting stars and fluorescent clouds add a dash of contrast and excitement.  If you look close enough, you can begin to understand the depth of the nightly display; vastly superior to the latest 3D technology, and far richer than the flat canvas we typically portray it as.

The night sky is alive and tells a story better than any cinematic masterpiece contrived in Hollywood.

As the main performance draws to an end, the sun begins to appear as if called back for an encore.  At this moment, the full cast of luminaries; the sun, moon, and stars appear at once for a final bow.  The clouds at your feet begin to lessen their grip on the world below.

The world awakes, unbeknownst that Mother Nature has just put on a performance unmatched by even the 3rd symphony.

This is the most tried and proven story line; ironically an experience that has no monetary value, but gives an inexplicable amount of importance to those that witness its grander.

In these moments I find myself at peace with the world; provided with the purest form of tranquility.

 

 

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“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life…” HDT

 

 

Modern Huntsman: Volume One

 

Logo

A publication with a mission to improve the perception of hunting in our society through telling honest stories in a fresh format.


 

Since the start of Muddy Shutter Media, we’ve always looked to the hunting, outdoor, and sporting communities for inspiration and motivation. The amount of quality and depth in the content that we collectively saw everyday was absolutely breathtaking.

Artist, photographers, and influencers such as Chris Douglas and Charles Post inspired us constantly to create authentic and genuine stories and visual imagery of our outdoor pursuits.

Enter Modern Huntsman.

What started as an aggregation of visual imagery from some of the best social media influencers and content creators – quickly evolved. Now, they’ve successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their very first Bi-Annual magazine!

Our words simply can’t do it justice, so we’ve included a video from Modern Huntsman below:


 

 

The Team

Team

The Contributors

Featured Contributors

Conceptual Magazine Imagery & Layouts

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3

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1

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The Elk Woods of Montana

 

Hunting elk in the mountains of Montana is by far one top of the bucketlist hunts in North American Continent. Steep terrain, thick timber, and sweeping views offer many hardcore hunters exactly what they’re looking for – high risk for high reward.

Chasing the Wapiti is not easy – as they seem to disappear and reappear in the alpine forest in the blink of an eye. Despite their large size, with some bulls weighing close to 1000 pounds, these ungulates are ghost of the forest.

One’s first expectation for an animal so large is that they’re easy to find. For the most part, this can be true during the rut and later part of the fall, where the elk migrate and gather in large herds. However, getting one up close and within shooting range of your bow – is a completely different story. Many hunters will find (and learn) quickly that they may see elk in one location one day and by the time they hike out to the last known location – they’re gone.

This is the cat and mouse game of elk hunting – this is the addiction.

One can come out of the elk woods empty-handed, as we did this past weekend, but you will never come out without an experience of a lifetime.

Rest assured, we will be back.

Be sure to check out our team’s contributors Seth Morris and Rick Hutton’s work on Instagram!

@signs_west

@rhuttonjr

 

How Do You Hunt? – A Drake Short Film

 

Check out Drake’s new short film “How Do You Hunt?” highlighting the product testing and development by Drake’s Guardian Elite Team – these professional guides, dog trainers, outfitters, and hunters push product testing to new heights. Be sure to go over to Drake and check out the Guardian Elite Series, as well as their revamped site, before the season comes – that’s when you’ll need it!

 

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