Taiga Coolers – Living the Cooler Life!

Taiga Coolers is a veteran owned company.  These high-quality coolers are manufactured and assembled right here in Texas.  The coolers are injection molded of nearly indestructible poly-propylene that is FDA compliant for food contact and include anti-microbial additives.  Taiga graciously sent us two of their awesome 27 Quart coolers in Woodland Camo for review.

Taiga Coolers
Taiga Coolers

Continue reading Taiga Coolers – Living the Cooler Life!

Hunting with the LMT LM8MWS 308

Lewis Machine & Tool Company (LMT) is recognized for producing high quality rifles in demand by law enforcement and military.  The British Army and New Zealand Army have selected LMT weapon systems.  The LM8MWS is built around a Monolithic Rail Platform and the Modular Weapon System that allows the operator to easily change barrels and calibers.  My particular rifle is fitted with the standard .308 caliber chrome-lined 16″ barrel 1:10″ twist.  I look forward to adding a 6.5 Creedmoor down the road.  So how well does the LMT .308 perform as a hunting rifle? Continue reading Hunting with the LMT LM8MWS 308

Armasight Zeus Pro Thermal Weapon Sight

Armasight makes some of the best thermal rifle scopes available.  These are high-end units – professional grade.  The Armasight Zeus Pro is simply a superior solution for hog hunting.

I have taken the Armasight Zeus Pro hog hunting at night but did not have the DVR available to record the video.  As you know, deer hunting past twilight is a criminal offense.  The video taken here is intended to demonstrate the capabilities of the thermal scope – we were not deer hunting at night!

Thermal is different from traditional night vision devices in that the subjects really jump out at you.  On one occasion, we had both a Gen 3 NVD and a thermal out one night hog hunting.  We had spread corn down a long road, parked up on a rise, and were waiting on the pigs to arrive.  Scanning down the road with the NVD, I didn’t notice anything moving.  I then picked up the thermal and wow – a doe was standing about 60 yards away!  Because she wasn’t moving I did not notice her with NVD.  However, with the thermal she just popped!

Coker Tactical is our preferred supplier of thermal imaging and they are an authorized Armasight dealer.


Alaska Fishing on a Budget

Have you ever dreamed of fishing Alaska for salmon and world-class trout but can’t justify spending $1,000 – $1,500 per day at the premier Bristol Bay lodges?  My brother Charles and I recently returned from a week-long fishing trip to the Kenai Peninsula and enjoyed a terrific experience at a very reasonable price.

Everything is more expensive in Alaska.  It is a long flight and you have to go for a minimum of seven days – and two weeks is recommended.  I am going to share our secrets and tell you how to have a great fishing trip on a budget.

We flew in to Anchorage and picked up our Toyota Matrix from National.  The first thing you need to know is to leave Anchorage immediately!  You might as well be in Cleveland.  If you are set on visiting someplace specific in town do it on your last day out if you have time.  You are going to Alaska to be in the wild.

As luck would have it, our trip coincided with the opening of moose season!  Although we weren’t officially “hunting” we went out and did some scouting with our friend who lives in Ninilchik.  Mike owns and operates the MeanderIn and is an avid moose hunter.  He was hoping to spot a young spike opening morning but otherwise just locating cows in anticipation of the bulls coming down from the mountains in a couple of weeks.  It was fun being out in the woods spotting moose.  We saw a couple of young bulls – not legal 50″ – and some cows.  Most importantly, we did not encounter any brown bears!  As Mike stated matter-of-fact after one hike, “You survived bear alley!”  Gee, thanks.

The MeanderIn sits above the Ninilchik River.  The view from the deck is stunning as you can look both ways down the river valley.  Mike is a great host and chef.  I highly recommend the MeanderIn if you are staying in the area.


Our days were spent scouting for moose at dawn and  at dusk and fishing for silver salmon midday.  Great times!  Staying at the MeanderIn allows you to easily fish two rivers – the Ninilchik and Deep Creek are only ten minutes away.  Anchor River and Kasilof River are close by as well.

Mike Coker
Mike with Silver Salmon

The Ninilchik General Store is your first stop.  There you can get your Alaska fishing license, gear, and, of course, some local beer (casting fluid).  The store sells a decent collection of tackle for spin or bait casting but very little for the fly rod.  They also sell the all-important tide charts.

Tides here are extreme.  We generally got out about an hour before low tide to go after the fish that backed up to the holes near the mouth of the river.  These fish never made it all the way up-river before the water started dropping so they slid back down.  We would then walk out on the mud flats to where the river meets Cook Inlet and fish the incoming tide – slowly progressing towards the beach as the ocean flooded in.  This is exciting fishing!  The salmon are rooster-tailing through inches of water as they race upstream.

This is fishing with spinning or bait-cast.  Lure of choice is a Mepps with some color in the tail.  It is close-in, fast, and social.

Break out your fly rod up-river.  Both Deep Creek and the Ninilchik offer good fly fishing for salmon and trout – depending upon the runs.  At the right time you can land a 30 plus inch steelhead.

Everything is about the fish runs.  Here is one good explanation of the fishing to be found on the Kenai but there are countless other “run charts” available online.

How to get your salmon fillets home?  Super-easy.  Go to Tanner’s Fish Processing in Ninilchik and buy an insulated fish box.   This is basically a styrofoam cooler inside a cardboard shipping box.  Freeze your fish and check it in as luggage on your flight home.  Way cheaper than paying for a commercial fish processing service that will ship Federal Express.  Think $25 rather than $200.  Pretty much every hotel, motel, and fishing lodge has a fish freezer.  Even the Best Western in Seward has a fish freezer.  This is an accepted and expected service in Alaska.

Say a fond farewell to MeanderIn and head to the mighty Kenai River.  There are countless fishing lodges along the river.  We chose the Eagle Landing Resort but there are many to choose from including the iconic Gwins.

Charles Coker
Charles with Rainbow

Troutfitters is my recommendation for drift boat trips down the Kenai.   Fish the Upper Kenai – through the Refuge – or Middle Kenai for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, and salmon.  The Upper Kenai is spectacular with no motors allowed.  Basically, the Upper is above Skilak Lake and the Middle is below Skilak Lake.  Both sections offer incredible scenery and fantastic fishing.  The Upper is a bit more remote – the Middle a bit more crowded.  There are some sections of Class II or Class III rapids on each section.

Mike Coker
Mike with Rainbow

Drift boat fishing trips run about $250 – $275 per person per day.  Please remember to tip your guide – $100 is the going rate.  These guys work hard, are up before dawn getting ready, and work their butt off rowing the boat all day.  Troutfitters hooked us up with Mike and you simply couldn’t ask for a better fishing guide.

Mike Coker
Mike with Red Salmon

We used 6 weight and 7 weight fly lines.  The fish are feeding on the salmon eggs and that is the go-to “fly.”  Different sizes and colors of beads that set up to slide just above the hook.  We got into quite a few nice red salmon and landed a bunch of trout.  Charles probably won the “best fish” award here.

There you have it – an Alaska fishing trip that doesn’t break the bank.  Fish the Ninilchik and Deep Creek for free other than the cost of your room at the MeanderIn.  $250 per day plus lodging to fish the legendary Kenai River.  You can do this!


South Texas Arms STA-LR in .243 Win

Some time back I had a conversation with Brandon Sneed, owner of South Texas Arms, about a lightweight full frame AR purpose built for hunting. We both understand that there is only so light you can go, and we want premium components which sometimes bring some heft with them. In addition, we considered what calibers are available and decided against the standard .308 that is found in most full frame AR rifles. We both agree that .308 is great on medium game like deer and pigs but a bit much for a coyote gun.  We considered 6.5 Creedmoor, but a lack of variety and overall availability of factory ammunition had me looking for a new option.  I can’t remember who suggested .243 Winchester, but it was a clear choice with its huge popularity and variety of available factory ammunition.  .243 Winchester has been around since 1955 according to Wikipedia and was even designed around the idea of a dual purpose varmint and medium game cartridge.
Continue reading South Texas Arms STA-LR in .243 Win

Goose Island State Park

Looking for a new place to fish?  Try Goose Island State Park near Rockport.  Our family has been going to the Rockport-Fulton area for years and Goose Island State Park is a special place.   There are campsites within the park and the area offers a wide variety of lodging from old-time cottages to new condos.  It is also home to the Big Tree which is well over 1,000 years old. Continue reading Goose Island State Park

Bay Flats Lodge

Bay Flats Lodge is the premier fishing (and duck hunting) lodge on the upper Texas Gulf Coast.  Located in the quiet fishing village of Seadrift, the lodge and facilities are first-class.  No long truck rides to the boat ramp – the dock is a short stroll out the front door.   You will fish the San Antonio Bay system including the back side of primitive Matagorda Island. Continue reading Bay Flats Lodge