It’s time for Outdoorswithdon’s Outhouse Awards — exposing what I believe to be the 10 worst outdoor products and services from 2008. As always, all of the products mentioned were purchased at full retail price, used in the field under real outdoor sports conditions, and are in no particular order.
1. American Hunter Hanging Feeder motor — This motor is designed to hang off the bottom of a suspended barrel and dispense granular feed at preset times. The motor and spinner on mine worked fine, but it is made so cheaply, it is nearly impossible to mount the thing without breaking it.
The spinner is attached to the motor by flimsy plastic bars. Touch them to the ground by mistake (an easy thing to do when filling a suspended feeder), and they crush under even the slightest weight.
2. Mossback Shooting Tripod — Tripod rifle rests are the way to go for long distance shots in the field. This one is too tall at the top, making it tough to position a firearm on it. The legs on mine also slipped when pressure was applied to them.
3. United Airlines — To be fair, I think all airlines ought to make this list. United, however, is the worst of the worst for traveling hunters.
Of the eight times I booked with them in 2008, all eight flights were delayed. To validate my frustration, in February, 2008, the University of Michigan conducted an airline customer satisfaction survey. They found that United had the worst customer service ranking among U.S. airlines. I know, why did I book with them eight times?
4. Indiana DNR turkey licensing requirements — Can someone please explain why I need a $25 turkey license and a $6.75 game bird habitat stamp to hunt turkey in Indiana? I don’t need a second stamp to hunt deer.
I understand requiring the stamp for grouse, pheasant and quail since they don’t have their own license. Requiring it for turkey hunting, however, seems like bureaucratic double dipping to me.
And by the way, all of the upland birds I mentioned are in a freefall decline for years, so what exactly is the $6.75 stamp accomplishing anyway? Add to that the fact that turkey stocking is complete in Indiana, and the tag just looks like a reason for CO’s to hand out tickets.
5. Roundup Herbicide — Herbicide is a critical component in the maintenance of a healthy food plot for hunters and wildlife observers. And while I’m not a chemist, I can’t believe someone can’t make one that doesn’t take two weeks to kill weeds and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
By the time Roundup kills all the vegetation, new weeds are typically sprouting. That’s convenient for the makers of Roundup, but a pain for consumers.
6. Deer food blocks — The brand and ingredients don’t matter, deer don’t like any of them. I used to put these out after deer season closed just for fun. They always just rotted into the ground, untouched.
These are a scam. Don’t fall for it.
7. Gerber Folding Saw — These are fine for light pruning, but not much else. When opened, the blade is held in place partly by a plastic housing. No legitimate bone saw should have any plastic parts.
Mine broke into several pieces this year when I tried to cut the skullcap off a caribou with the replaceable bone saw. After I duct taped the handle back together, the blade snapped.
8. Wildview Trail Cameras — You get what you pay for with these trail cameras. They are inexpensive, but miss most photos unless the subject pauses in front of the viewer. Worse yet, they require very specific SD card brands that are not always easy to find.
9. Spinning reels with new long cast spools — Several fishing reel manufacturers have gone to longer, shallower spools with angled tops to increase their ability to cast long distances. Line definitely rolls off the new design easier than before, but not always when you want it too.
Regardless of whether the line is spooled correctly or not, the new long cast spools drop line in bird’s nests at a rate only previously common with baitcasters.
10. Alaska’s must-be-guided rule — Nonresident hunters in Alaska must hire a guide to hunt goat, sheep and grizzly. This rule is unfair at best and unconstitutional at worst.
It has made hunting those species a rich man’s sport, and has greatly contributed to the decline of other species. Animals like moose and caribou get more pressure because hunters who would rather hunt the must-be-guided species are shut out by $25,000 hunt fees.