Dave and Bear Tested Gear.
See what surpasses expectations and what fails to achieve the hype! All the Gear reported on is items purchased by Dave and used in the field by he or Bear.
Let-Em-Lite Duck Calls
This call is made from the highest-grade acrylic you can buy and also made from some of the best-looking acrylic you have seen. These calls have aluminum bands that have been anodized to different colors, to match the particular call. These calls sound awesome and look awesome. If you want a one of a kind call, pick a call out of the many and you will not be disappointed. I love the raspy quack, the rolling deep chuckle. This will always be on my lanyard. I can’t wait to bust some Mallards over the prairie this October. Dave’s grade A+.
Merrick Back Country Raw Infused Dog Food
Back Country Raw Infused Dog Food is an all-natural, grain free protein packed food that my dogs love. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused kibble recipes deliver a combination of protein-rich, grain free kibble plus real, whole pieces of raw, freeze-dried meat, poultry or fish. They provide my hunters nutritional benefits of a raw diet. Merrick Backcountry is cooked in the USA in Merrick's own organically certified kitchens. The food contains; Deboned meat as the #1 ingredient, Grain free + no gluten ingredients, Omega fatty acid rich formula for healthy skin and coat. It is easily digestable and my labs, like most labs, like this (and all food). My labs appear more energetic and look brighter since I have had them on this food. Dave’s grade A.
Sillosock 3D Sentry Mallard
I picked up a dozen of these to add motion and density to a couple dozen full body duck decoys I use when field hunting. The look is outstanding. The heads and colors of the sock are great. My concern is in the body and that they do not collapse well. This makes them less durable then some alternatives on the market. Dave’s Grade C.
Dr. Dogs Ear Oil
All pets can suffer from ear mites and/or ear infection symptoms. Dr. Dogs Ear Oil is a natural remedy for treating ear mites, killing adults and eggs as they hatch. Boo, my white lab began having symptoms of ear problems; shaking his head and rubbing his ears. Inspection showed some irritation in the ear cannel. I am not a fan of using overly-harsh chemical treatment and asked around for opinions on what works best. I heard from other dog owners and my own vet that Dr. Dogs Ear Oil was the way to go. A few drops in the ears and immediately the dog calmed. I now do weekly drops as a preventative to keep the dogs healthy and happy. Dr. Dogs Ear Oil earns a Dave’s Grade A.
Lucky Duck Decoy Deceiver
I am always looking for an edge for ducks and geese. Realistic motion that will not spook geese always helps kill geese. I purchased a pair of these decoy stands that turn your decoys to get more birds feet down in the spread. However, they are a little pricey ($100 a pair), and the movement is what is advertised but is so minimal I can’t believe it makes any difference to the geese. It might be great on a Turkey decoy, but in Oregon where I mostly turkey hunt, you can’t use them. They will not be making the trip with me next season. Dave’s Grade a C-.
I drive a 2008 F250 “Duck Truck”. Primarily, I am towing a 20’ decoy trailer and I own a couple of different boats that are pulled and one 28’ camp trailer. I was told, and I believe, that if you own a low sulfur diesel you need to use fuel additives to get and keep optimum performance. Opti-Lube XPD is the ultimate in performance diesel fuel additives. The best diesel fuel additive on the market. I have measurable better fuel economy and noticeable improved acceleration.
Opti-Lube XPD’s primary purpose is to increase the lubricity properties of ultra low sulfur diesels (ULSD). However, improving Lubricity is just the beginning. XPD Formula is a multi-functional additive for upgrading the quality and enhancing the performance of diesel fuels. It improves lubricity, efficiency, cleans injectors, improves Cetane by up to 3 points and contains an anti-gel to keep your fuel flowing down to -10° F.* Opti-Lube XPD earns Dave’s grade A+.
Flambeau Storm Front Blue Wing Teal Decoys
Here in Oregon we rarely see Blue Wing Teal but every year on my trip to North Dakota we see TONS of them. Last year I wanted to add some BWT to my water spread. I picked up a dozen of these as I like the body positions and their over-all look. I also like the keel and anchor ties (multiple spots to change how they ride the water). However, after using them less then half-a-dozen times I noticed some significant paint loss on five of the decoys. Not good. Dave’s grade C.
I finally purchased a pair of these high end sunglasses and initially I loved them. By far the best sunglasses I have owned; also by far the most expensive at $204. With in a month of owning them while talking to my buddy in the driveway my new glasses fell off my hat and hit the driveway. This resulted in a scratched lens. Now the warranty states Costa will repair glasses for a "nominal" fee. For my glasses "nominal " = $95. I paid it as I already had the 240 invested. Three months later I dropped them again and now have another scratch on the lens. Again the glasses are great but not durable enough to justify the view. Dave's Grade, C.
The RIVER GATOR Mallard decoy catch any current in creeks, streams and rivers~The end result is a life like side to side motion without motors, batteries, remotes or jerk strings! Perfect in any spread~When it comes to ducks, motion kills, and River Gators provide the maximum of motion without jerk strings or batteries! I started with a four pack and now have eight in my spread. I like them so much I will double that number by next fall. Dave' s Grade A.
Taiga Cooler ~ Living the Cooler Life
I finally bit the bullet and got me a high end cooler. After looking over several of the top brands I finalized my selection and choose a Taiga Cooler. The reason being I am impressed with their construction. Nearly indestructible. I like the idea of the last cooler I will ever buy! Besides the durability, they are built “true to size” and really offer a better space to cost value. I got the 55 quart cooler in camo green. It is solid; which is nice because at times it doubles as a seat in my boat. I recently took my Taiga Cooler on an extended hunting trip to North Dakota. I loaded it with two smaller blocks of ice, packed it tight with food then put cold ice over the top. I covered the cooler on the 2 day trip to Minot. When I got there, it was like I packed it yesterday with very little melt of the ice. I was impressed! Dave’s Grade A+.
I hunt in a lot of different environments. One of my favorite is in the potholes in North Dakota. These potholes hold birds. Unfortunately they are silt filled, sticky, gunky, muddy were everything slides and eventually ends up in the mud; including you and your gun. This past trip I brought a tool to keep my gun clean and me safe from firing a plugged barrel. An SRB Waterfowlers Rest is a simple yet ingenious improvement to the stick in the mud solutions I have been employing. The SRB Field Rests Waterfowl Set includes 2 metal sockets bolted to 2-31″ adjustable extensions and 2 durable plastic rests. This 2 piece waterfowl set is awesome in the flooded fields, marshes or anywhere there is shallow water and ducks! I also will be using mine in the spring when I go after turkeys. Dave’s Grade A.
Anser decoys have unique features. First, the look is outstanding. Feather detail and flocked heads make them look like geese. Second, the construction is exceptional. Stiff fiberglass posts with a hard plastic skeleton. Head connections, something I have had trouble with other popular windsocks are terrific. Solid. Picking them up by the head has not caused disconnection issues. A unique feature of these wind socks is the side feeder decoy, Anser decoys are the only maker of a side filing wind sock. It greatly enhances the natural look of the spread.
I suspect a full spread of Anser decoys would kill birds. However, I use my Anser Canada decoys as a way to enhance motion in a spread of primarily full body flocked Avians. They look good mixed in and with just a slight wind make the spread look alive. Just a dozen mixed into three dozen full bodies can be the difference from your spread looking like little goose statues to mimicking a feeding flock in a prime field.
Take a moment and check them out. And remember when able, support American made! Dave's Grade A.
My latest addition to my lanyard is a Baptized Short Reed Goose Call. I liked the way it looked when I ordered it, but LOVE the way it sounds. Having a longer barrel then my other short reeds gives it more bottom end, a really nice moan and throaty “Err Honk” greeting call.
It produces the best clucks of any call I have owned….. and I have owned a few! Moderately priced, beautiful, with a quality sound Baptized Goose Call earns Dave’s Grade of an A+
Northern Guide Breathable Boot Foot ~ by Waterfowl Wading Systems
Functionality and innovation characterize this multi-featured Wader with the finest materials right here in the U.S.A. These waders are designed to overachieve~! The advanced new Northern Guide Bootfoot waders offer HD Soft material combined with CaddisDry™ fabric for maximum comfort. Large hand warmer pockets and easy-access ammo pockets on the chest offer security and convenience. These waders feature reinforced knees and seats, triple sealed seams and high-density rubber sole boots. They wear lik a pair of jeans or overalls. I hated wearing my heavy neoprene waders which had me sweating and lumbering around. These breathable waders allowed me to walk into my hunting area without over heating and I moved in and out of the layouts easily. I LOVE these. It is easy to see they are over built and I anticipate many years of service. Dave’s Grade A ++++.
Decoy Dancer WhipSplash Mallard Decoy
This pull-string motion decoys runs exactly when you want it to and requires no batteries to operate. It is legal in Oregon (they ban battery operated decoys). The WhipSplash’s spinning wings wind up and spin with every cord pull to simulate a stretching duck or a settling flock. Attaches to a 1/2" conduit stake (not included), and includes 30 yds. of cord and a pull handle. At about a $150 it is a big decoy investment. Having used Mojo’s for years and always found them extremely helpful, I wanted more motion in my spread here in Oregon. Thus I made this purchase. Unfortunately, Mojo’s work for you before YOU even see birds and from a long way out. This set up did not seem to influence duck behavior and was a lot of work to try to keep it going. I would have been better off putting the $150 in the trucks tank and scouting more. Dave’s Grade a D.
Hardy Face Paint
HARDY Facepaint ~ Midnight Black Camo Face Paint made with quality ingredients that are not only effective, but that are safe and gentle on the skin. HARDY Facepaint is the easiest, most effective hunting camo face paint for hunters. Unlike other greasy and heavy face paints on the market, Hardy’s face paint is formulated using quality ingredients without harmful chemicals that can withstand mother nature while remaining lightweight and gentle on your skin. The no mess wand applicator allows you to quickly apply face paint without any messy fingers. I could tell the difference on my face. The wand really made application easier than when I use to use my fingers with other products. It makes a thin almost pealable layer. It is a little on the pricey end, but quality usually is. I love it and will be ordering more soon. Dave’s Grade B+.
Hunter Speciaties “Bill Colector” ~ Double reed. This polycarbonate call has a brushed aluminum band and is polished to look like acrylic. It is durable and able to withstand the toughest hunting conditions. It is realitively cheap and unfortunately … a little shallow in the sound. I didn’t like mine and I played with the reed to try to get a deeper more raspy quality, but failed. Dave’s Grade C-.
GRANDADDY ~ by Zac Brown’s Southern Grind
I like quality items. At this point in my life I have moved away from getting “temporary/throwaway” gear. These days I try hard to only buy quality decoys, guns, calls and other tools; yes … even knives.
Southern Grind, Zac Brown’s Georgia-based metal shop, offers unrivaled knife lines and unique metal works made by American hands using extremely high quality materials and an unparalleled attention to detail. This shop produces high quality gear.
I wanted a machete blade for cutting natural cover to improve my hides whether they are on the river bank or in a field.
After looking at options on the shelf at Cabelas, I widened my search and found Southern Grind.
I became intrigued with the “GranDaddy” Model. Here are the specs for this knife:
Black, solid G10 milled handle creates a secure, all-conditions grip.
Full-tang, differentially heat-treated blade that can bend up to 90 degrees without fracturing.
Black textured powder coat that provides an ultra-tough coating along with excellent corrosion resistance.
Blade cut from reclaimed vintage sawmill blades for superior capability that’s also environmentally friendly.
Skeletonized Kydex sheath.
Webbed nylon jump strap snaps around the handle for an extra secure carry.
My knife came with an O.D. Green sheath, and features a comfort belt clip, an adjustable, webbed nylon leg strap, and a custom-designed quick thumb lock-and-release mechanism. It also has a webbed nylon jump strap that snaps around the handle for an extra secure carry.
Yea, it looks cool. It performs GREAT. It feels good in the hand. Has a balance to it. I cut grass, twigs and even chopped a couple smaller (2.5” diameter) trees while brushing my hides. It performed great and ruggedly holds its edge. Dave’s Grade A+.
For your consideration is the mission of Southern Grind; it goes along way beyond being on the edge of metalworking, giving back to the community. It’s one of the main principles on which the business was founded. That’s why the efforts of Southern Grind, and all other Southern Ground properties, benefit the development of Zac’s passion project: Camp Southern Ground.
Camp Southern Ground is a year-round camp and conference center for children and families. The mission of the camp is to give children of all abilities the opportunity to come together to learn life skills and teamwork in a positive, healthy environment.
Chain Reaction Game Call Nexus Series Stabilized Flame Box Elder Slate over Glass
This is the newest Turkey call I have bought. As soon as I picked it up, I liked it. It is heavy, feels substantial in your hand. When I heard it, I fell in love with it. It is a loud, deep yelps and clucks. The call has been stabilized with resin to harden the wood and to help mitigate any changes to the wood due to weather that every turkey hunter will find themselves in at some point. Each of these calls are hand turned, hand made from start to finish! Another thing, I like about this call maker is his motto “Inititiate, Communicate, Terminate”….pretty cool. Dave’s Grade A.
Duck Blind Bistro
Duck Blind Bistro is billed as the Ultimate Outdoor Oven. The actual goal of providing a superior quality cooking utensil for outdoor enthusiasts in my view has been met! It is a durable, cast aluminum construction which is lite weight and highly functional. This tool allows you to cook biscuits, calzones, cinnamon rolls and more while in your blind. It is designed to be taken apart and used as a multipurpose utensil doubling as two skillets. It can be used on a propane stove, wood fire or any heat source.
I have used this tool while out fishing and while on a picnic with the family. I CAN’T WIAT to take this out duck hunting. There are few morning hunts in the cold that wouldn’t be better with a hot biscuit. I highly recommend all outdoorsman check out the Duck Blind Bistro. Dave’s Grade A+.
QMaxx Gun Care Products
Advanced Cleaning, Protection and Lubrication Against Rust and Corrosion in Extreme Conditions. QMaxx is the only Patent Pending water displacement technology that beat the competition for rust and corrosion protection in independent testing. Versatile QMaxx delivers 1) Proactive Cleaning, 2) Anti-Rust/Anti-Corrosion Prevention, 3) Long-Acting Protection, and 4) Low Viscosity Lubrication.
After having a choke lock up on my Browning Maxus I started looking for what were the premium products for protecting what might be my most prized possessions ~ my guns. This stuff has been formulated to protect from both saltwater and freshwater in the most extreme weather conditions. I love how it cleans the guns and leaves a layer of protection, being heavier than water; this oil stays on your firearm even in the toughest conditions Waterfowlers seek out. Dave’s Grade, A+.
Polar Bear Coolers
The Polar Bear Cooler patient pending full coverage closed cell technology makes it he ONLY zip down the middle soft sided cooler with his high level of insulation. These are the BEST made soft sided cooler. I got mine in a Mossy Oak Camo. When loaded with food/beverage and ice, zipped up and with the corners clipped down they are a solid feeling cooler. I have taken mine on three day fishing trips with ice staying in-tack for the trip and my beverages maintained a frosty and pleasing temperature! These are the best and at a very reasonable cost. Dave’s Grade A.
“Black Head” by Shoal Creek Calls
Every off season I will invest in a few (maybe a few too many) new calls. I recently got a new acrylic short reed from Shoal Creek. It is a sleek, sharp looking call with the same tested guts of their other short reeds. After getting out of the box I immediately proceeded to annoy the wife and kids by blowing some notes. Right out of the box the call seemed a little stiff and deep. I messed around with it as I am prone to do with most my new toys and flipped the reed around 180 degrees and slightly shortened the presenting reed by pushing it further into the wedge.
What I got was a call that was crisp and clean; broke easy and was of a slightly higher pitch then many goose calls (exactly how I prefer). It gets low too and makes great clucks and moans. Any time you can take a call out of the box and have it humming just the way you want in less than 5 minutes you got a good call. This call will be on my lanyard come September! Dave’s grade B.
P.H.A.T. LADY by Primos
I picked up one of these calls at the sporting goods store a few days back as they were on sale at a good price (under $25). Being made out of a rose colored polycarbonate and a single Arkansas style reed; the call looks nice. Unfortunately, it didn’t sound all that nice. Although able to produce adequate volume, the call did stick and the tone was not to my liking. I messed with it and even replaced the reed and ended up with a call that was better but not something I really like. The good news is it didn’t cost me a lot to find this out. Maybe it will make a good gift for my brother. I do have other Primo calls and gear and have been happy with their products in the past. Not so much this time. Dave’s grade a D.
Hooks Custom Game Calls Bantam Turkey Call
This is my first season using the Hooks Box Call. I love it. It is a little higher pitch then some other boxes I have used and extremely loud. The “Bantam” is a chalkless call. It has a weather resistant coating to the call that allows it create the same sound without the need to ever chalk. Ever call created is hand tuned to ensure a great sound~! Dave’s Grade A.
Bird hunting made quick, clean and easy! Adrenal Line has invented a remarkable alternative to the out-of-date and inhumane techniques that can damage or destroy your trophy bird. The Finisher is a patent pending device that has been successfully tested in the field for over two years and continues to hold true to its name. This method will kill any bird instantly with a small amount of pressure where the back of neck and base of the skull meet. At the size of a quarter, it can easily be worn on your vest or lanyard. I really like this product. I keep one on my call lanyard. It provides a much better alternative dispatching method than “ringing” the neck or crushing the skull. A little heavier than I would first expect and the killing post occasionally grabs at your jacket. Dave’s Grade B+.