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

 

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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!

 

An Interview with JC Bosch of No Limits Kennels

 

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JC and Jaxon working on steadiness and marks.

 

Usually, when the average person thinks of dog training, two things pop up in their minds. Either, a fast-charging German Shepherd Dog chomping down on a man in a pillow suit or a some sort of canine on a leash following a human around a classroom learning how to ‘sit’ and ‘roll over’. Now, tell that same person about training a dog to hunt any kind of animal and that’s sure to raise some curiosity – not to mention a few questions.

Bird dog training has always been (and probably will always be) a world of its own. Like any training, of any sort, the means and methods will differ from trainer to trainer. However, it all boils down to one thing, training a dog to do something it was naturally meant to do – hunt.

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Early morning training sessions help beat the heat and keep dogs sharp.

JC Bosch, a young and motivated individual, is one trainer that has done just that – training a dog to not only hunt, but hunt with a vigor, drive, and finesse in the field.

We had a chance to not only meet, but actually witness first-hand what JC can do with the dogs under his wing.

In this interview, we dive into what it takes to handle and train high-performing dogs, as well as guiding in the bird hot-spots in the state of Kansas.

Warning: Long interview!

We hope you enjoy!


 

Tell us a little about yourself, JC. Who are you and what do you do? Where are you based out of? 

My name is J.C. Bosch. I own and operate No Limits Kennels, LLC; a full-time and full-service dog training and boarding kennel in the heart of central Kansas – just outside of Great Bend.

NLK specializes in the training and breeding of the versatile German Shorthaired Pointer. We train and develop the ultimate canine companions, from obedience to finished level hunting retrievers and pointing dogs.

What is it like to be a professional dog trainer and wingshooting guide? 

Each hunting season, we have the opportunity to guide and hunt all things fowl with outfitters, friends, and clients. It is very rewarding to watch and hunt over my personal dogs and the dogs I have trained throughout the year. The real icing on the cake for me is meeting and hunting with all of the different people each season. We work very hard every off-season so that each November – January we can hunt and guide to the best of our abilities.

You have to love the social aspect of the wing-shooting sports and being a guide, the opportunity to meet so many great people from all different walks of life and different places is a real blessing.

The thing I like the most about being a professional dog trainer and wingshooting guide has to be the opportunities to work with amazing people and their dogs. I am sure that sounds pretty generic, but it really is that simple for me. We have some of the most amazing clients in the world with great dogs to match. Many people will never understand the bond between a hunter and a good gun dog. That relationship between a working dog and his owner is what it’s all about for me. I would love to help everyone I can, find a dog like that, and develop a relationship that runs deep with the highest level of trust and respect.

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JC working his two German Shorthaired Pointers, Cash and Pennie in the field.

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How did you get into hunting, training, and what was your first hunting dog?

I grew up hunting, and I grew up training dogs, but the two worlds never really collided until a few years ago. Growing up in Great Bend, Kansas there are only a few things to do outside of hunting and fishing.

We are located right next to the nations largest inland marsh, the Arkansas river, and Quivira National Wildlife refuge – so hunting and fishing is a way of life for most people around here. Growing up out her, even with all of the opportunities, there never were many bird hunts I went on with dogs. The few that I can remember going on –  all I can remember is someone yelling at their dogs all day and the dogs running off. I bought my first GSP from Brad Weets of TKO Kennels and he opened my eyes to what I was missing.

I WAS HOOKED, up until this point I had just been helping friends and family do basic things with their dogs and helping people as I could with behavior modification with aggressive dogs. Ever since I brought home that first GSP (Cash) I haven’t looked back, slowed down, or even thought about doing anything other than training dogs, hunting, and helping others.

A quote that comes to mind here is “Every master was once a disaster.” I don’t consider myself a master, I have a ton that I am still learning every single day and I have made plenty of mistakes along the way.

I am glad to say that I learned a lot from those mistakes. I take a lot of pride in what I do with each dog and client I get to work with. I will continue to give each of you the very best service possible!

You have 7 German Shorthaired Pointers – tell us about them!

So we have 7 German Shorthaired Pointers now all of which are pretty young (under 4 years old). Each of our dogs I have very carefully selected for our gun dog squad and each have the potential to have a place in our breeding program.

They all go through a FULL hunting season of multiple species of upland and waterfowl birds. We do full health clearances and they are all family companions as well as working gun dogs and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our dogs are tested in titled in many different venues, some titles our dogs have earned are Champion x’s 2, National Champion, International Champion, Junior Hunter, Natural Ability prizes, and we will have a couple of new Master Hunters this fall and we will be going to our first NAVHDA Utility Test in October that we are very excited about as well.

 

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Cash and Pennie, the dynamic duo that is a force to reckon with.

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The dogs of NLK ready to go in the morning.

When training dogs – how do you set yourself and the dogs up to succeed? How do you define your own success and that of your kennel?

I believe with an open mind and a closed mouth we can all learn a lot from each other and many different trainers. I could really delve into the training subject for hours and hours. Every dog is different, but with the proper timing of rewards or corrections, a good attitude, and plenty patience – I believe every dog and handler can achieve a level of greatness and reward!

What’s your training process like? 

Our development and training philosophy is derived from many different mentors and trainers that I really respect or have studied. Robert Cabral is a world-renowned dog trainer from California that I really respect. His philosophy, methods of training, and especially his philosophy of dog psychology. For hunting dog training, I take inspiration from many different trainers and mentors –  from George Hickox to the guys at the local NAVHDA chapters and everyone in between.

What do you think defines your approach compared to everyone else?

We live in a world that is drowning in information, but starving for wisdom.

You can google anything and find a million different answers or ways of doing any particular thing. The question we need to ask ourselves first is:

 “Why is my dog doing this particular thing?” instead of jumping straight to the “how do I get my dog to quit doing this particular thing?”

Foundation is critical for development!

You can start casting, handling, and steadiness work with any dog at any time, but without the basics and the foundation – you may just confuse your dog. This will ultimately end up in more force and a lot more time in the long run than you would if you had a solid foundation to positively teach and build on.

I could really delve into this for hours and days on end with my opinions and philosophy, but what it boils down to is just keep it fun. Be patient and always strive for a relationship of trust and respect with your dog.

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If you ever find yourself around Great Bend, KS and you see this sticker – be sure to wave!

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Jaxon with a hard-earned bumper retrieve.

 

During the hunting season – what is guiding like for you? How many hunts and trips do you guide a year?

Hunting season is what we live, breath, and train for all year-long! We guide or hunt with 100 or more hunters each year and love every second of it. It isn’t all glory and it is pretty embarrassing for me when my dogs make mistakes or don’t perform well on a given day, but at the end of the day it’s always worth it.

I’m always a little nervous having strangers shoot over my dogs and each other for that matter, but normally everyone is safe and respectful. We go out and have a great time!

Guiding wild game hunts of any kind gets frustrating at times when it doesn’t work out the way you want it to, but hey it’s called “hunting” for a reason.

I love sharing fields and getting to know other people. The chance to watch different breeds and types of dogs do what they were bred to do is always fun. The rush of flushing wild bobwhites and decoying mallards or specklebellies in the same day is just un-beatable!

 

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JC showing his patience with a young pup, Bailey.

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Upland and Waterfowl, no matter what the job, JC trains the dogs for versatility and drive. Jaxon shows his ability to fetch it up.

 

What are some of the things you look forward to every year?

We are anxiously awaiting the season opener and teal season, which is my personal favorite hunting experience!

The dogs and I can feel the crisp air moving in. The sights and smells of fall will soon be upon us. I am really excited to meet all of the new people who are coming out this year, finish up some hunt tests, and get into the fields or the blind! With the quail numbers up over 250% from last year, the good rains, and food this season will be one for the record books here in central Kansas!

If you find yourself out this direction, give me a shout! I would love to talk and toast to the good days, bad days, and the love of good dogs and the great outdoors. Shoot straight and God bless! #thisisNLK

Thanks for taking the time for this interview, JC!


 

Be sure to follow him on Instagram and check out No Limits Kennels.

No Limits Kennels

@nolimitskennels

Dogs with No Limits

The air was dry and hot as I pulled off of onto a dirt road leading towards a cabin in the distance. I had stopped to survey a herd of cattle grazing alongside the doves roosting above the fence line. The sun was setting and had seemingly brought a magical stillness over everything out in front of me. I drew in a big deep breath and smiled – this was Kansas.

It had been over 30 hours of traveling before I reached where I was supposed to be the day prior. Long flight delays, two cancelled flights, and a missed connection (not to mention the lost luggage with my gimbal stabilizer in it) caused a big delay in my weekend plans of photographing the working dogs and owner, JC Bosch of No Limits Kennels out in Heizer, Kansas.

The original plan was to fly into Wichita, Kansas and then drive 1.5 hours to meet JC and the dogs at his cabin near the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Hudson. We were to get 2 full days of shooting before I had to leave Sunday afternoon. However, the world proved otherwise and only graced me with the morning of my departure to get into the field with the dogs. Despite the time constraint, JC and I were determined to make the best of the time I would have that morning.

With a variety of different dogs in different stages of their training, I was provided with multiple opportunities to see these high-performing dogs work. From started dogs all the way to highly polished and seasoned veterans – JC showed me that these dogs truly have no limit to their capabilities and potential in the field.

I’m quite sure that this will not be the last time I find myself in Kansas, as I am already planning my return for the fall for the hunting season. In the meantime, check out some of the photographs from the shoot below.

Enjoy!

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Oh Brother – A Flyfishing Short

 

 

Andy and his little brother, Quy, grew up fishing any waters they could get their feet into – regardless of if it held fish or not. The act of fishing, to them,has always been a sacred ritual since they were children. As they spent more and more time with each other on the water, they realized that fishing was more about the bonds, memories, and relationships that you form – catching fish was just the by-product. Two decades later, the same still remains true, as fishing holds a special place in their lives and hearts. As they grew up, they learned through each other, that special bonds are forged on those waters – and those bonds do not grow old with age.

 

 

How To Start Hunting at A Later Age: The Do’s & Dont’s

Many of hunters that we find afield today have been hunting since they were toddlers. Toting a Daisy BB in the old forest or trying their hand at traditional archery.Usually, these activities are introduced and ingrained under the supervision of their elders. An aging grandparent with years of wisdom or a loving father or mother nearby to nurture the lessons of sportsmanship.

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Having someone to mentor you or simply take you out hunting is crucial.

However, there are the few hunters who were less fortunate and got into hunting much later in life.

It seems that an increasing amount of outdoor folk have been taking the field eager to learn the ropes and immerse themselves in this world. So what are these men and women supposed to do without the direct guidance of a relative or mentor? How does one get started in this rather intimidating world of guns, rods, reels, and sporting dog jargon? What are the etiquettes? or the “Do” and “Don’t do” things that one is supposed to learn?

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Find a community of like-minded individuals and learn all you can.

I remember my first day afield as an early twenties bow hunter, fresh out of college with a degree and education that would do absolutely nothing for me in the woods. I had gotten my hands on a brand spanking’ new PSE compound bow and found myself on an old deer stand in the middle of a suburban neighborhood in Maryland dotted with McMansions.

I had gone out on my first hunting experience on opening day of Whitetail deer in Montgomery County, Maryland. Armed with my new bow, cheap arrows, and a drab green mil-pack full of useless items like a giant bowie knife, two gallons of water, and if I can remember correctly – some awesome new mixed and matched camo from Bass Pro Shops. I was sure to “catch” a deer! I shot and harvested my first 6 point buck that morning and I’ve been hooked ever since. A lot of Youtube videos later and a bloody shed – we had our first freezer full of venison. Looking back on it, I realized I made a lot of mistakes that day, but I also learned tremendously within those first few hours.

Needless to say, here are a few things I’ve learned to do and not to do since that embarrassing day thanks to individuals that were willing to take me under their wing and teach me their ways.

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Seek opportunities to learn all different types of hunting and see what you like.

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Expand your hunting areas to include beautiful places – it’ll keep you coming back.

 

Things You Should Do:

  • Find yourself a mentor
  • Register for and attend a hunter’s safety course
  • Learn the hunting, fishing, and firearm regulations of your local, state, and federal jurisdictions – ignorance of the law is never an excuse!
  • Be ready to learn and stay humble
  • Respect the quarry and the land which you recreate on
  • Know what is ethical and what is not ethical
  • Practice and be proficient enough with your weapon BEFORE you take the field
  • Research and learn about the animal you will be hunting
  • Make friends and stay out of trouble
  • Volunteer and give back

 

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Practice shooting your weapon way ahead of the seasons – then practice some more.

 

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Find friends that are willing to join you in your journey – even to the backcountry!

Things You Don’t Do:

  • Be arrogant or naive
  • Show disrespect or disregard for wildlife, people, and property
  • Trespassing or poaching
  • Waste anything that you harvest
  • Post anything on social media that would harm the image of the hunting and fishing communities (This subject will and deserves an entire post to itself!)
  • Make an unethical shot or action that would maim or intentionally cause suffering to an animal
  • Take the life of an animal for the pure enjoyment of killing it – the joy of hunting does not come simply from killing

There are many things that could be added to this list, but then again – these things can be completely up to your personal opinions. Regardless, I feel that every hunter that takes the field should have, up to a certain extent, high regard for life and the environment in which he or she steps foot on.

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Ensure that your weapon is properly functioning and that safety is number one.

 

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Take someone else hunting and instill the same passion that you have – pay it forward!

 

What do you think? What do you wish you would have learned earlier in your hunting career? Any advice you’d like to impart on others?

Let us know by emailing us at info@muddyshuttermedia.com!

Muddy Morning Coffee: 6/19/17

 

Curated and featured content to get you through the week!

 


Featured:

DU Films: Father’s Footsteps

 

A day late for Father’s Day, but we figured it was still worth posting anyway! Ducks Unlimited started their “DU Films” series a few years back, and it is a highly anticipated thing for us! Rock Road Creative does an amazing job – every single time. This short film in particular focuses on the beautiful relationships that are formed and strengthened out there in the field. Check it out and hopefully you have a box of tissues nearby!

 


Photography:

The Canon 6D Mark II is Coming Back!

 

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The 6D Mark II is rumored to be back in July! (Canon Rumors)

 

According to Petapixel via Canon Rumors, the full-frame Canon 6D will be making its comeback sooner than everyone thought! The enthusiast/pro 6D camera body was popular among its users for balancing a full frame sensor, relatively cheaper cost, and likeliness to its more expensive counterpart – the 5D. If you are looking to upgrade your current kit from an entry level DSLR or mid-level, a 6D is always a good step up – without losing a limb. Check out the article by Petapixel here.

 


Hunting:

Will Hunting and Fishing Ever Cease Being an American Tradition?

 

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Hunting and fishing has long been apart of our nation (Wikimedia Commons)

 

An article was posted a few days ago on Wide Open Spaces by Travis Smola regarding the future and longevity of our hunting and fishing way of life. Is it truly becoming a waning part of American life? A few statistics that were thrown in there has us scratching our heads a little and wondering what everyone else has – Why are there so few left? Give it a read here and see what you think.


Fishing:

450 Pound Black Marlin Eaten by Shark

 

Although it was uploaded in 2006, hence the relatively bad quality, this footage is just plain cool. Situations like these remind us that there is a food chain out there and it is a constant fight for survival out in the wild!

 


Outdoors:

Dog Power Movie Trailer

 

At Muddy Shutter Media,  it’s not a secret that we love dogs and have an unhealthy obsession with them. Pair them with any outdoor activity where they can come along or even partake in? We’re interested. German Shorthaired Pointers competing alongside their human teammates skiing? – SOLD. Take our money!

Check out the full site here and support Dog Power Movie 2!


Shop Talk: 10 Tips to Starting a Photography Business

There comes a time in a photographer’s career where the path splits into two – hobbyist/enthusiast or professional. There are a few things that are always good to keep in mind as you switch over from a hobbyist to a professional.


 

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Love what you do – get paid for what you do.

 

1. You’re an artist – but you also have to eat.

Photography is an art and usually with art – there are three ways people will look at your work.

  1. They don’t appreciate it and don’t see it as a real profession.
  2. Some people will like your work and compliment you on it – but will not want to pay for it or compensate you fairly.
  3. There are people who will appreciate your work and know the value that your art brings to them.

As a professional photographer, you’ll meet some combination of the three mentioned above. You want to work with Number 3 and occasionally Number 2. A Number 2 needs selling and you, as a photographer, must sell them on the value that your photographs create for them. Educate your clients and they will have a much better understanding of the effort it takes to create your photographs. Educated clients that truly know the value of good photography will more than likely compensate you for your time. At the end of the day, it’s a job and you have bills to pay.

 

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Work hard for your shots – put yourself in situations to excel in your craft.

 

2. Never work for free – even for your portfolio.

This can be a heavy debate among the photography folks, but I stand firmly behind what I say here – never work for free or “exposure”. I’m not just talking about money, but also about time, effort, and creativity. When you give away any of the above, be sure that you are getting something in return. If you are doing a discounted shoot (Even if it is 80% or 90%) , ask for other things as well; a feature on their website, help with connecting to a potential client, or things that will advance your portfolio, career, and business.

It is extremely important to establish early on with clients and even family, that you are a business. Don’t work for the simple promise of “Exposure” this statement that is thrown around by clients or potential clients is a large indication that they do not respect your work or value and simply think that they are doing YOU a favor.

Don’t do it.

 

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3. Build connections, contacts, and relationships early and often

Networking is not just reserved for bankers and brokers. Connections help excel your business and will always help your pipeline.

Connections turn to contacts, contacts turn to relationships, and relationships turn to clients.

Budget some time every month to make it to at least a few functions or even just one. Make it a goal to have meaningful conversations and networking for the purpose of finding people you TRULY want to work with. Don’t be a connection/networking junkie and be known as a person that just throws names and business cards around. This devalues your networking efforts very quickly and will make you seem very desperate for work. Stay cool, calm, and collected while introducing yourself and your business – it will pay off in the long run.

 

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4. Stay within your means

This is a big one and can kill your business faster than you think. A business, down to its core has revenue and expenses. The difference (revenue – expenses) of the two is your profit. No profit means no money to grow. Be sure to manage all three of these at a balanced rate. Don’t be too greedy and pay yourself too much if you are in need of money elsewhere in your business. That is a sacrifice you will need to make early on, but will pay you immensely later down the road. Invest in your business and it will invest itself back to you.

On another note of expenses – don’t go buying all the latest and greatest gear until you know you truly need it or have outgrown your current kit. Balance the need for gear with the quality of work that you can deliver.

Example:

If a shoot requires you to deliver 10 photographs of a cupcake for the sake of Instagram posts and the client is only paying you $200, don’t go buying a brand spanking new full frame camera for $6,000. It will take you a long time to recover from that or if you run out of business – never.

Fit the gear to the job and not the job to the gear.

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5. Be legally protected and insured

Be legally established and get insurance for you and your gear. No questions. Not establishing yourself as a legal business can have terrible ramifications later on down the road. Keep good books, documentation, and have a good lawyer draft up your contracts. Be sure that you and your clients know where your company stands on certain issues like commercial usage, intellectual rights, etc. Be sure to separate your personal expenses from your business expenses. Be sure that you have all the necessary permits, licenses, and paperwork necessary to operate within your area.

If you’re serious about turning this into a legitimate business – you have to ensure that you are able to do so on all ends.

 

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Legal contracts, financial organization, and of course – insurance.

 

6. Choose your clients and gigs carefully

Just as much as a client screens and chooses a photographer, so must the photographer. The amount of stress and money will not always be worth it if the client is a terrible person or organization to work with.

Turning down a potential client that doesn’t suit your style or creative process is always a smart move – just point them to another photographer/creative that is more suited for the job. Sometimes, saying no is even more important than saying yes.

 

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Choose who you want to work with and clients carefully – it makes a difference.

 

7. Find your niche, but stay flexible while you find your feet

You may have started out with dreams of solely photographing that one subject you love. For me, it was outdoor and hunting photography. I quickly realized a few things:

  1. I did not have enough clients or even shoots to get me through month to month
  2. I was new to the industry and could not charge rates that could sustain me or my business
  3. I needed to be realistic and realize that I could not build Rome (my business and portfolio) in one day – or even one year.

Engagement shoots, family portraits, pets, food, retail, product, and corporate head shots soon started to fill my calendar. These types of photography, one would say, are far removed and vastly different from the photos I want to shoot personally,  but until you feel confident enough to transition to a single niche – stay flexible and diversify yourself monetarily and skill-wise.

 

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It takes a whole lot of work and time to build up your business – be patient.

 

8. Be open to collaborations and different projects

Work with other photographers and creative people – it will open your business up to more opportunities as well as connections. When passionate people come together for a project – good things also come along. Usually, collaborations are personal projects for me as I try not to bring any monetary motivation to complete it. This lets you stay unrestrained from doing what you want and how you want. At the end of the day, you’ll end up with something you are proud of working on, make new friends, and have decent stills for your portfolio.

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Always be on the lookout for interesting and collaborative opportunities.

 

9. Always be professional and courteous

Always, always, always be professional. One thing people will remember is how you conducted yourself. It requires no money or talent and pays dividends on how people see you and your business. Be respectful and courteous to your clients and people around your during your meetings and sessions. If you’re out in a public place for a shoot and someone gets in your way, don’t push them aside and mutter under your breath – your client will notice these things.

 

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10. Have fun, stay passionate, and keep learning

At the end of the day, you’re in the business because you love it. You have the passion, drive, and might be slightly insane, but it’s worth it. You get to deliver your work to clients that matter and you should enjoy it. Yes, you may have those long edit sessions where you want to call it quits after looking at the same 2000+ shots, but keep at it.

Stay sharp and always improve yourself – your business relies on it. Learn as much as possible and hone your skills so that you’re ready when the opportunities come. Experiment and don’t be afraid to try new things – even if you fail or said experiment looks terrible.

Keep the passion strong, have loads of fun, and as someone once told me “Keep burning pixels!”

A Cast At River Bend - 1st Round-5

Remember to always have fun and keep growing as an individual. Everything else will follow!

The All-American Bino Harness Review

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Photo by Seth Morris

A comparison and review of the Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak Cub and the FHF Gear medium binocular harness and why you should use a bino-harness.

Why use a Bino-harness?

           All hunters have a piece or pieces of gear that they consider to be a must have, whether that be a trusty old folding knife or some modern electronic gadget. For me, a quality pair of binoculars is a must have for any hunter! Whether your perched high in a tree stand looking over the whitetail woods or glassing up some elk in the rugged Rocky Mountains – a good pair of binoculars can make or break a hunt. Although, just owning a set of quality glass isn’t the only important thing, I believe the manner in which you carry that glass is equally important. Having a $1000 pair of binoculars means very little if they are always stuffed deep down inside a backpack during a hunt, or sitting on the cabin shelf. They should be out and accessible so they may be used to their full potential.

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Photo by Seth Morris

For years, I simply used the elastic strapped binocular harness you can find on any sporting goods store shelf to keep my binoculars seated on my chest. The problem with these is that they offered no protection for my optics and were always bouncing around getting snagged on anything and everything. That is, until about two years ago when I discovered the modern style binocular harnesses that were on the market. Since purchasing one, it has changed the way I hunt and has now evolved into, in my opinion, one of the most important pieces of gear a hunter can have! It is as vital to me as a duty belt is to a police officer, it has all my essentials in it. In the following paragraphs, I will explain the importance of a bino harness while comparing and reviewing two American-made bino-harnesses I have purchased and owned and why I prefer one to the other.

         Why use a Bino-harness?

 Its simple, if it’s on your chest you will use it more often and more quickly. So, with that in mind, I want to keep all my essential items within quick and easy access without the need to drop my pack and dig through it. This will not only make me faster at glassing up an animal or getting a range before I take the shot – it will involve less movement.

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I also don’t want these items in my pack or clothing pockets in case I need to quickly drop my pack to head in for a stalk or add/shed layers. Everything I need minus my weapon to make a kill is attached to one harness or kit. What you put or attach to that kit besides binoculars is up to you, and your needs. I will break down the gear in or attached to my harness and why it makes it.

Binoculars:

NoShed (1 of 1)Good optics are vital to any hunter as I said before, whether that’s glassing up a suspicious elk-like object on a far away slope in the west or getting a better look at a sneaky whitetail buck on the far side of the field. The truth is, if your binoculars are in your pack, you will hardly ever pull them out and miss great opportunities due to it. If they are on your chest, you will constantly be looking through them, and by doing so seeing much more game! Not only will you see more game, you will be able to better judge the game by seeing more detail. You will be able to tell if that buck you can barely see with your naked eye is the one you’re after, the one you would pass, or just plain legal to shoot without having to get closer for inspection. You will also be able to better observe the body language of the animal and by doing so make a better decision on how to pursue, such as those elk you see way off in the distance – are they feeding calmly or do they keep looking back as if pursued by a predator?

Rangefinder:

The rule also applies to rangefinders, if it’s in your pack you will not use it or not have enough time to get it out. I keep my rangefinder on my harness so I can easily access it, range the target, and make the shot. The seconds it takes to dig your rangefinder out of a pack could be the difference between a filled or unfilled tag. It is a vital piece of gear for the western rifle or bow hunter who always has to deal with changing set-ups and distances. Even for those who tree stand hunt and keep their rangefinders tucked away after ranging a few key reference points from their stand. What if the buck does a 180 on you and comes in and ends up standing in the one window of opportunity you never ranged? You could easily pull your rangefinder out, range him, and make an ethical shot, or guesstimate yardage and risk wounding him..it’s your choice.

GPS:

NoShed#3 (1 of 1)My GPS being attached to my harness is slightly more critical for western hunters since I use it not only to navigate terrain, but also to know where the boundaries of public and private land are. This is key when skirting the boarders of private and public on those oddly shaped pieces of public land. Also, if I ever need to mark a spot, I can easily access my gps and mark a waypoint within seconds.

Accessories:

There are certain things that always stay in my harness, such as spare batteries for the gps, lens cloths to clean binocular and camera lenses, off wind indicator, game calls, license and tags, and when not in grizzly country..chapstick! once again these are all items I will need to use often and don’t want to stop and drop my pack for. Other useful items if you have the room would be your headlamp and a small spare pocket knife.

Hopefully, now your sold on giving a bind-harness a try so which one? Well, the two bio-harnesses I will be reviewing are the Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak Cub and the FHF Gear Medium Bino-Harnesses. I own and have hunted with both of these harnesses and want to start off by saying they are both amazing, quality, American made products!

Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak Cub:

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Features:

  • Fits Binoculars up to 42mm objective lens
  • Main compartment: 6.5″ tall x 6″ wide x 3″ deep
  • Front compartment: 4″ tall x 6″ wide x 1.5″ deep
  • Side compartments: 3″ tall x 2.5″ wide x 1″ deep
  • Rear compartment: 4″ tall x 6″ wide
  • Hook and Loop closure (adjustable tension)
  • Two elastic band pockets on top of lid
  • 7 lanyard loops
  • B.T.S Bino Tether System straps included

            The Kodiak Cub was my first purchase out of the two and the one I have hunted with the longest. It is a great bio-harness with a few caveats in my opinion. I like the fact that the harness is extremely well-built with rugged material and finished off with high quality stitching. I have abused my harness for over a year and a half and it has no rips or tears with only a few very small signs of wear. The main compartment of the harness is lined with a micro fleece material with a lid that completely shuts, encasing the optics sealing out any weather from coming in. This is the feature that sold me on the harness when I first purchased it, and is still one of its best features.

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The front compartment is a great storage space for your head lamp or extra camera batteries as well as most modern rangefinders. However, its zipper and shape does not make it user-friendly for one hand operation. This may not be a huge deal for the rifle hunters out there but for many bow hunters the ability to access a rangefinder while only using one hand is key, at least for me it is. Now, I am not saying that it cannot be done, but it’s not as fluid as accessing a seperate rangefinder pouch. The side compartments are also nice and large being perfect for extra batteries or a bottle of wind indicator, however, their slanted zipper design makes it difficult to fit certain items in and also get them out with one hand, something that caused me much frustration.

The rear pocket on the harness is one I have no complaints about, it’s large and has a quality zipper, I used it to store my hunting license and tags so I always had them on me. The harness also has a super comfortable suspension system that comes with high quality B.T.S bino tether system straps. The wide shoulder straps of the harness help distribute the load of the harness well and comfortable under pack straps.

I don’t think there is any functional flaw to this system, but I have had to make some modifications to fit my personal preference. When I fully adjusted the harness to be as high as possible it still felt as if my binoculars where resting on my gut and not my chest. This was something that annoyed me on a daily basis. For many taller users, this is not a problem but for someone of my height 5′-9″ it may be problematic if your like me and want your binoculars high on your chest. I modified my harness by taking out the stock buckles and adding some MOLLE d-ring buckles. This modification was also for attaching P-cord lanyards that I run on my GPS and rangefinder pouches. The lanyards keep the pouches in place while the d-ring lets me take them on and off easily if needed. Like I said, there really is no issue with the harness if your taller, but I feel it lacks the ability to be seated high enough even when you crank the bottom buckles tight.

Another negative, in my opinion, to the harness is its size and robustness. The harness with the front pocket sticks off your chest quite a bit and if your ever anticipating getting low and crawling (which is common on antelope stalks) this harness will get in the way with how large it is. Although, this might not be common situation for most people, making the large amount of storage the harness has much more important than size. BinoHarness#17 (1 of 1)Overall, I think the Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak Cub is an amazing bio-harness that boasts tons of storage. Is it the right one for me? No, but perhaps the Alaska Guide Creations K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) model would work better for me? It is slimmer and has a lower profile. However, the AGC suspension system just doesn’t work for where I want my harness to sit on my chest.

FHF Gear (medium)

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Features:

  • Microfiber lining
  • 2.25″ deep, fitting binoculars 6″-7.25″ tall
  • 2 side mesh slot pockets
  • Front vertical zipper pocket
  • Front slot pocket
  • Full rear pocket with flap
  • Lower lanyard loops
  • Bino tethers included

After running the AGC Kodiak Cub for over a year and half, I decided to give the FHF Gear harness a try. My hunting partner, Seth Morris had been running one for over a year and half with no issues and nothing, but love for it. So, when they finally came back in stock I ordered one right away. I am blown away by the feel and quality product that FHF gear is producing. Just as the AGC, the FHF gear harness was made of super high quality materials and finished off with rock solid stitching. The harness is lined with a microfiber material to protect your optics with a top flap that secures by a hook and loop. The flap does not 100% close off all the elements to the binoculars inside which is not optimal but is a very small negative to say the least.

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On the front of the main pouch under the flap is a zipper pocket that runs the height of the pouch which is great for storing lens clothes or some small thin accessorizes. There is also a slanted slot pocket on the opposite side which fits two AA batteries perfectly.

On either side of the harness are mesh elastic pockets that fit wind indicator and game calls perfect, and allow for easy one-handed access. The rear pocket on the harness is also nice, however, only sports a simple flap design and not a secure zipper design like the AGC. This pocket, none the less, is perfect for storing licenses or perhaps a cell phone. The harness does come with a binocular tether system and a great suspension system. The suspension system does not come stock with padding as the AGC did, but separate padding can be purchased separately. However, it is not necessary for comfort –  just an added bonus. The best feature of the system is the X design if you will, that allows the harness to be tightened and the binoculars to sit very high on the users chest, but not high enough it would ever interfere with a bow-string. This was an overall key feature for me, the harness sits high on the chest and is super low profile making it perfect for any hunting situation. The FHF gear harness may not sport as much storage as its AGC cousin but in my opinion that cost is worth the excellent fit the FHF gear sports.

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I did modify my FHF gear by adding two MOLLE d-rings so I could attach my GPS and rangefinder pouches to the harness. The P-cord just keeps them up higher and from slipping around my side. Now, FHF gear does make some excellent quality GPS and rangefinder pouches that fit perfectly on the harness without those issues but I have not yet gotten my hands on them.

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One modification that I did on both my AGC and FHF gear harness, that was not necessary but made taking the harness on and off much easier is an extension buckle. Both harness sport the buckles immediately on each side of the harness, however when you are running accessory pouches on either side it is hard to get the harness on and off quickly, due to the pouches covering up the stock buckles. So I pieced together and stitched extension buckles. These extensions make it easier to take the harness on and off while sporting pouches on either side, maybe a bit overkill for some but for me it is much faster and keeps my kit together.

Who Won?

So who won? Well, for me I will keep sporting the FHF gear bino-harness as it fits ME and what I’m looking for in a harness just perfectly. But remember, you may be looking for something much different in a bind-harness, or be built differently than me, so pick up one or both of these great American-made Bino-harnesses and see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed! And even if you decide against one of these harnesses, at least pick up a Bino-harness and give it a try!

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About the author: Rick Hutton is an all-around outdoorsman, hunter, and photographer based in Helena, MT. When he’s not snapping great stills or enjoying the outdoors, he works for the U.S. Forestry Service. To see more of his work, visit and give him a follow on Instagram handle @rhuttonjr.

 

Muddy Morning Coffee: 6/5/17

 

Curated and featured content to get you through the week!

 


Featured:

The Reward – A Hunter Mentor Film

 

 

Another film in the 2017 series of Project Upland’s epic shorts. This one particularly is one of our favorites. In our opinion, conservation’s greatest tool is the hunter him/herself. Ensuring that there are others to carry on the torch from generation to generation is of utmost importance and is one of the reasons why mentors in the field are so important. We truly believe that Project Upland is doing a magnificent job showcasing the upland world as well as educating and inspiring potential hunters. Give it a watch!

 


Photography:

Cut Your Editing Time in Half with Mango Street Labs

 

 

One thing that people always underestimate in a photographer’s daily duties is editing. Editing will usually make up about 50% – 75% of your time if you’re lucky! From running around to meet clients, taking care of the books, to the actual shoot. Editing is what stands between you and the deliverables. So why not learn to cut that time in half? Mango Street Lab and their Youtube channel has a plethora of videos that will help you everything from editing workflows to social media tips. We highly recommend browsing through their channels and watching a few! It might up your game!


Hunting:

Deer Found Shot and Taped to Road Sign

Warning: Graphic Image

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In a world of respectful hunters, fishers, and outdoors people – there are some that are not so respectful. Some are even down-right sick. This photo and article surfaced a few days ago with the Georgia DNR asking for leads on the illegally shot deer which was then dressed, sat on a chair, and duct-taped to a road sign.

We’re sure that many hunters out there are shaking their heads and hoping that the general public and anti-hunters will not use this as ammo. The animals that we harvest deserve the utmost respect – from field all the way to the table.

Game wardens urge the public to share in hopes to generate leads.

If you have any information that will help the DNR in locating the person or persons that did this please call (912).850.8703 or contact the Coffee County Sheriffs Officer at
Anonymous Tip Line (912)383-8477(TIPS)
email-tipsline@coffeecountygov.com

 


Fishing:

Great White Shark Attacks Kayaker

 

We’ll just leave this right here as it needs no explanation. Makes you cringe a bit thinking about the next time you’re in your kayak…

 


Outdoors:

Andy Best + Treeline Outdoors = Adventure

 

If you need something to watch early in the week and just about every day during the week – here it is. The cinematography, music, and voice over definitely send you daydreaming about your next adventure out in the wild. Cheers to Andy Best & Treeline Outdoors!

 


Gear & Equipment:

The InReach Explorer+

 

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 If you spend a lot of time in the back-country or any part of the world with no cell service – you should probably get one of these. They offer loved ones and yourself the peace of mind that should something happen to you – you have a backup plan.
Here are some reviews below:

Instagram:

This week’s featured Instagram handle is:

@fetching_feathers

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In honor of his interview this past Sunday, we’ve featured Anthony’s Instagram handle. Be sure to give him a follow if you’re into gun dogs and upland hunting.

Photo Courtesy: Anthony Ferro

 

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