Monday, June 20, 2016

You need to speak the language, if you want to play the game!

Silly me!  I thought (first problem) bird dog hunting and field trial terminology was pretty much interchangeable.  Wrongo, Batman! For example, the other day I was perusing an online ad for a French Brittany puppy.  Being a Brittany guy, myself, I like to look at ads and bloodlines and prices.  Just keeping myself abreast of current events.  Well, this little pup, apparently, has a very strong "prey drive"!  OK, I think, prey drive....humm, well, that can only mean the puppy gets really excited around birds and wants to go hunting.  That's a good thing, then.  (Is that an issue?  Aren't French Brittany pups "bird dogs"?)  So, I got to thinking about terms and phrases that might be two different ways of saying the same thing.  I think "prey drive" to the Pinot Grigio, tofu-eating, Prius-driving, brie-slurping crowd really means: birdy.  As in, "Bubba, that there dog sure is one birdy little pup! Where'd you say you got him?  France? Shucks, what's he do, point and surrender?"  Or words to that effect.  

Or, here's another one.....Honor.  As in, "honor a point".  I have trouble using that term in conjunction with bird dogs.  The tailgate, beer-drinking, walking crowd would refer to a dog "honoring a point" as "backing".   Coming across two dogs stopped, the handlers may ask the judge, "Which one's pointing and which one's backing, Judge?"  Which brings up another term, The Find! Of course it means, "point".  You can see how the language gets cumbersome when you hear Griswold ask Smithson "Which dog is Finding and which is Honoring, my good man? And, by the way, that was an excellent, smokey Brie you served last night at the Lodge!" 

Here are some more equivalents: 
AKC-Dog Manners                            Redneck- Biddable
AKC- Fancy Table Spread                 Redneck- Tailgate
AKC- Steady to Wing/Shot/Fall        Redneck- None

Redneck- Retrieve            AKC- None
Redneck- Water Retrieve  AKC- None
Redneck- Dead Bird         AKC- None
Redneck- 28 ga. SXS        AKC- None

AKC- Brie                        Redneck- Sardines/Saltines
AKC- Nice Wine              Redneck- Bud (Wealthy Redneck- Bourbon/well water)
AKC- Course                    Redneck- Cast 

Finally, along with the language, some of the accouterments are just plain different, as well.  Where I might see an aluminum horse trailer with living quarters and two Tennessee Walkers pulled by a Range Rover for the AKC crowd, I'd look over and see a classy outfit consisting of a newish (1990-2010) F-250 pulling a Jones Trailer piloted by an old guy and his teen grandson toting  20 ga. semi-autos.  Those AKC types may be running Vizslas, Weimaraners, Pudelpointers, or Braque du Bourbon (or some such).  Those rednecks will be off loading English  Pointers, English (some Llew and Gordon) Setters, German Shorthair Pointers (if they really want an off-brand), and Brittanys- with a smattering of GWP's (German Wirehair Pointers).  

I hope this helps the translation problems while you read the ads for your next bird dog.  It may also help to get some instruction in suitable wines and cheeses for the field.

Friday, June 17, 2016

How to Find the Perfect Binoculars (Guest article.)

(A special thanks to Kevin Hines and

How to Find the Perfect Binoculars

If you are looking to purchase a set of binoculars anytime soon, chances are you will be greeted by a ton of information and a lot of price differential for similar-looking models. Because there are simply so many types of binoculars available today, the options can seem truly daunting when coming at it with an untrained eye. This guide’s purpose is to provide insight into the different types of binoculars, their strengths and weaknesses, and the various features that factor into making a buying decision. For now, we will start with the basics:
Binocular Sizing

Binoculars come in a variety of different sizes of magnification (numbers explained below) and allow in different amounts of light, depending on their intended use. While there are countless special permutations, we will be taking a look at the three most common ones in this guide. These include: 
Compact Size

These types of binoculars usually have specifications that sit around 8 x 25 to 10 x 25 and are best suited for casual daytime activities that don’t require serious magnification. These types of binoculars are the lightest and smallest, making them quite convenient for many backpackers, although they tend to become quite a bit more uncomfortable after extended use than their larger brethren. 

Commonly found at 7 x 35 and 10 x 32, these types of binoculars have extremely adaptable performance at a still-manageable size. Many backpackers can find these a bit large for their tastes, but still more swear by them. Observing wildlife or using these in a sports setting will be ideal, as these binoculars allow for above-average light transmission. 

Full-size binoculars are commonly used for extreme wildlife observation and are also quite commonly used at sea. Usually sitting at 8 x 42 to around 10 x 50, this size is much too large for basic backpacking and other casual outdoor activities. The major advantage is that they allow much more light to pass through them, resulting in a steadier view and superior low-light capability. 
Magnification Power 

The first number in a specification sheet for a pair of binoculars is the magnification number. For instance, in an 8 x 25 spec, a pair would have a magnification factor of 8. This means that objects viewed through the lenses would appear 8 times closer than they were in reality. Binoculars with magnifications greater than 10 can become difficult to operate freehand, due to the exaggerated movement shown when looking downrange. 
Objective Lens Diameter

The second number in the specification is the objective lens diameter, which is measured in millimeters. This is the lens that is furthest from you and closest to your subject. This measurement, in its most basic form, determines how much light will be able to pass through the lens elements. If two binoculars with the exact same magnification but different objective lenses were to be compared, the one with the larger lens would perform better in a low-light scenario. 
Exit Pupils 

The exit pupil of a given set of binoculars is a measurement that will determine how bright an object appears when viewed through the lenses. If you are looking to purchase a pair of binoculars that excel at nighttime viewing, for instance, you will want to find a pair with a high exit pupil. This number can be found by dividing the diameter of the objective lens by the magnification factor. For daytime viewing, a lower exit pupil number will be fine, as the number itself is less important. The human eye narrows to around 2mm in bright light, and all binoculars offer at least this number to start with. 
Eye Relief Measurement 

This measurement refers to how widely the eyepieces on the binoculars sit when the entire field of view is present. Longer eye reliefs allow for greater comfort over time, enabling you to hold the binoculars further away from your face while still seeing clearly. This can be an especially important factor if you wear glasses. Finding an eye relief of 11mm or greater will allow you to operate the binoculars much more easily than those with lower numbers. 
Field of View (FoV)

The field of view that a pair of binoculars offers relates to how wide your view will be through the lenses. Usually, a higher magnification means a narrower field of view. If you are looking for binoculars with which to bird watch, for instance, then it will be best to find a pair with a wide field of view, allowing you to find and track the animals easier. 
Weather Resistance

Chances are that you are planning on using your new pair of binoculars out in the wilderness quite a bit. This can mean exposing them to the elements, whether rain, snow, or the open ocean. Waterproof offerings, for instance, usually utilize a system of O-rings that do not allow water, dust, or small debris to enter the lens element, keeping them safe and clean in the process. There are also versions of binoculars that are fog proof, achieved by placing an inert gas in a section of the lens element, canceling out any fogging effect created by cold air. There are even lens coatings that can be applied to the lenses themselves to reduce things like glare, while also increasing light transmission in inclement weather situations. 

By this point, you should hopefully have a solid understanding of the basic principles and specifications that define the different types of binoculars available today, as well as their inherent strengths and weaknesses. This guide is meant to aid you in the purchasing process, whether you are looking for a basic set of inexpensive binoculars for casual backpacking and outdoor fun or an intensive, specialized set that will serve as a tool under extreme conditions. Whatever the case, understanding the features and attributes above will go a long way to providing the clarity you need to make the right choice for your individual needs.