Vortex Binoculars: Optics You Can Rely On!

Working in a gun shop, I get to see a lot of different products. Guns, scopes, rangefinders and binoculars. When I first started there, I had not heard much about Vortex, but after selling a few scopes, bore-sighting rifles and looking through the scopes myself, I could tell right away that they were a quality company with equal quality products.

Vortex Vanquish 10X26 Binoculars

I decided to buy a pair of small binoculars, because my old Tasco were getting hard to focus (after 20 years). So I decided to try a pair of Vortex Vanquish, 10X26 binoculars.

I took them out squirrel hunting and I was amazed at how well I could see. I was even able to pick out a squirrel that was laying flat on a limb 30 feet high. Being able to see clearly for the first time in years through binoculars that were compact and crisp was almost as good as when I got Lasik eye surgery.

I was amazed at how much better I could see and the price was right at $129.

After a few weeks of using the Vanquish, and deer season coming up soon, I decided I would buy the Vortex Fury HD, 10X42 Rangefinder Binoculars.

Fury® HD 10X42 Rangefinding Binocular

I figured that having a rangefinder and binoculars together would save a lot of movement in the woods by having an all-in-one product. I received my binoculars two days before the West Virginia Bucks Only Rifle season opened, so I was pretty excited that I would get to use them the first morning. The Vortex Fury, was amazing! I could range out to 1600 yards (even though there is no where I hunt that is that far) and could see up close just as clear. It has many functions that allow you to range an individual object, or if you hold the button down, it allows you to range while scanning. It was well worth the $1599 price tag!

The opening morning, I began by ranging different objects so that if a deer came by one, I would know how far away it was. I ranged squirrels, turkeys, anything that moved. I was definitely like a kid in a candy store. Without seeing a deer for a few hours, finally a doe came running down the trail. So I ranged her, 28 yards! I was looking at her through the binoculars, noticing that she had her mouth open, tongue sticking out and gasping for air. She turned and ran into the brush. Not 30 seconds later, I see a buck, running down the same trail. I pulled up the binoculars, and I could see he was a five point, not one of the bucks I was after. But I ranged him too! I probably would have ranged a tank if it had come through the woods at that time, because I was having fun. The five point ended up going the same way as the doe, and I knew he was chasing her!

Once I let the small buck go, it wasn’t a minute later, I saw another buck, following the same trail as the first two deer.
As he got closer, I could see he had a nice rack, but from the side, I could not tell quite how big he was. I put the binoculars on him, and noticed what looked like a drop-tine. As he turned to follow the trail of the smaller buck and the doe, I noticed his rack was wider that his ears. So I decided to take him. Turned out to be a nice eight point with a 16 inch spread. He wasn’t a huge buck, but he was mature and with the help of my Vortex Fury HD Binoculars, I was able to see clearly enough to see he was a nice buck.

Not all hunts go this well, but it is worth noting that no product can make you 100% successful, but it does not hurt to have good equipment when you are trying to outsmart that nice buck!

For more information on Vortex Optics, go to www.vortexoptics.com and see their whole line of scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes and accessories, you will be glad you did.


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2017: A Great Year To Come Home!

2017 was a good year to move back to West Virginia. After working for the U.S. Navy for 30 years, I decided that I wanted to go home. A place where the outdoors is a way of life. Many people ask me about “retiring” from the Navy, but I only retired in name, not reality. I put in 19 years, active and reserve, six years as a government contractor and five years in government service, all intertwined to equal 30 years. Confusing huh? Let’s just say I joined the Navy in 1987 and left in 2017 and leave it at that. Needless to say, I made a good choice. I have never been healthier, never been more at peace as I have been since I moved home.

I got back to West Virginia on a Saturday, and unloaded my bed, and some belongings so that I could have a place to sleep that night. After a good night’s sleep, I got up early Sunday morning and had a cup of coffee and sat outside enjoying the cool breeze and just taking it all in. I decided to walk to the creek and see if I could catch a bass. After about 10 casts of my buzz bait, a musky hit and for the next 15 minutes of fighting, he just spit it out. It was a great welcome home for me!

For the next few months, I spent a lot of time with family, fishing with my nephews, taking my niece to the movies. It was a great summer, and catching up with everyone was priceless.







We caught fish, turtles and really had a good time, just the way summers used to be when I was growing up.





As summer ended, I needed to get back to work.

Of course going back to work, meant
that my time spent with family and in the outdoors was going to be limited. But I still had time to hit the woods a few days.






I was able to spend a day here and a day there working the trail cameras that were set and each time we looked at them, it was like Christmas morning, we were always surprised. First morning of rifle season and all the preparation paid off, when I took my largest buck to date.



But the biggest highlight of 2017 for me, was being able to be with family for the holidays. It had been many years since I had been in West Virginia for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I can say it was worth coming home for.

I believe that 2018 will be a good year for me, but 2017 was a great year!

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WV Bananna: Paw Paws, The Unknown Fruit (And Deer Food)

So everyone has heard the old children’s song about the “Paw Paw Patch,” that goes like this:

Where, oh where, oh where is Susie?
Where, oh where, oh where is Susie?
Where, oh where, of where is Susie?
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

Picking up paw-paws; put ’em in a basket.
Picking up paw-paws; put ’em in a basket.
Picking up paw-paws;put ’em in a basket.
Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch.

But did you know anything about the Paw Paws they are singing about?

Paw Paws (also known as the WV Banana as well as other states claiming it to be their banana) is a fruit that grows in eastern North America forests and unless you know what you are looking for, you might just over look them.

In West Virginia, there are many festivals and celebrations that celebrate the fruit. The Paw Paw is a very tasty fruit and can be eaten raw (after it ripens and turns brown) and is also an ingredient in Paw Paw pie.

One of the things with being an outdoorsman, I am always looking at what wildlife eats. One day I was hunting squirrels in October and as I was sitting there, I kept hearing a loud plop in the hollow below me. I ignored it at first, but then I heard more plops and deer began to show up. After a while the curiosity got the best of me and I walked toward the sounds only to find Paw Paws hitting the ground and just like a deer feeder throwing corn out, the deer came running, eating them as fast as they were falling.

When you are looking to see if you have Paw Paws, here are a few photos to help you recognize them.



Here is what the leaves look like.






The trees are slender but tall and the weight of the Paw Paws make the trees lean.





Here are how the Paw Paws look in the trees.

The key to hunting around Paw Paws is to make sure you are in the woods when they start dropping for two reasons:  1. You want to be there when the deer are in there feeding and 2. you want to be able to pick some for yourself before the deer and wildlife eat them all.


Many people have never seen Paw Paws before, but in WV, they are all over the place and easy to find, if you know what you are looking for.

Watch this video that I made, showing a good Paw Paw patch. Enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer, live off the land and live healthy!






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A Milestone! Thank You for Taking the Time

I would like to thank all of my followers and casual readers for allowing me to hit 10,000 views on my blog! stats.alltime

Many things I write about end up in places I never expected them to, like Rednecks Vs. City Folk which ended up in a discussion on a SB Nation College Football forum. Also, my best one day views on July 3, 2014 was an article about Kendall Jones (www.thekendalljones.com) when she was being attacked by anti-hunters Nature is Much More Cruel Than Humans Could Ever Be.

I do not write every day and when I do, it usually has a point to it. As you can probably see, I love writing about guns, food, West Virginia and anything outdoors (with a little politics thrown in), So it is very humbling to see so many people reading what I write and using my articles in conversations.

Thank you all and I will keep writing and I hope everyone has enjoyed the visit into my life, opinions and adventures.



Jeff Nichols






Stand Up for Something or Someone Everyday

Today I shared a photo from Cowboy Ethics FaceBook page that struck a cord with me and I wrote something that is true to what I believe.

“I may not have the opportunity to do this everyday, but when I do, I make it count! One thing in my life I regret is not actually going with my heart, instead I went with the money and spent the rest of my life working to get back to my heart!”

What I said had a couple meanings, one was that I often try to stand up and help out those less fortunate whenever I see someone in need. Last year I was in the checkout line at the Wal-Mart  store that I shop at and an elderly African American woman was in front of me and had a few items in her cart for Thanksgiving dinner. Now I could not tell if she was fixing dinner for herself or if she had someone visiting that she was going to cook for, but she was checking the prices for each item she put on the belt. She got down to three items that she said she could not afford and so I told the checker to ring it up and I would pay for it. She pleaded with me and said, “No, it is ok, I really don’t need those.” But I replied to her that if she had it in her cart, that she evidently had a use for them. Well, she was beside herself thanking me and I gave her a big hug and told her that I hoped she had a very happy Thanksgiving and we went on our way. I have not seen her since, but I can tell you, it made me feel very good to be able to help someone out who had lived a long life and didn’t need to walk away from a checkout without things she needed.

Now, let me be clear, I am not looking for people to say how good a person I am, or how it was so nice I did that because, in my mind, this is something all of us should do every time we see someone who might not have enough money to enjoy a holiday, or even eat something that they want to eat on a daily bases. We all should strive to help out someone in need without anyone asking us to help. It is how I was brought up and it is how I live my life.


The other part of what I wrote, ”  One thing in my life I regret is not actually going with my heart, instead I went with the money and spent the rest of my life working to get back to my heart!,” was because I was one of the people who left my home to travel and work and look for the big deal in life that would make me rich.

Did I find it? Well, I am living, I have a roof over my head, food on my table, but am I happy where I am? No! While many have moved on from our childhood homes, I have pined for the day that I can return, with all I have learned and experienced, to help out the folks where I grew up. Now I am not saying that I want to “Bring sunlight to the wilderness” as some have stated. They are only in it because they want more money, prestige and power. What I would love to do, is be closer to family, lifelong friends and be able to help out a community that raised me. I don’t want to bring huge manufacturing back, I don’t want to bring back ideas from another part of the country. What I would love to do is bring back a simple life and possibly help some folks along the way.

I have thought of many ideas, talked to some folks and have even put some ideas out there that if they work, could help out. Right now, of course I am still planning, and trying to think of ways I can help, because without that little area in West Virginia, I would not be the man I am today and if I can help give back just a little bit of what I was given when I was growing up, it would only amount to a small fraction. Thank you Sistersville, for helping to make me who I am.

I guess what I am saying is, most of us leave with our eyes on making it big, on making money, owning land and that is fine, but I think that if we thought just for a minute as to where we grew up and some of the struggles people face, giving back is not such a bad idea. As a matter of fact, giving back every day to those less fortunate does more than any of us could imagine.

I always think of one person that I grew up with who did more for others than anyone I know. Kevin Ritchey, was that man. We grew up together, played sports together and when we graduated high school, Kevin decided that he wanted to help others. He joined the volunteer fire department and was also a member of the EMT. Once he had a few years in, he decided to move to another community where he worked as an EMT and one icy night while on a call, he gave the ultimate sacrifice when he died trying to help others. Kevin will always be a hero to me, always be someone I would strive to be like. He has been missed, but what he did for others will live on.

Remember your heart, where you came from and where you go. There are always people in your past that got you to where you are.

So, I guess in all of this, my one thing that I wanted to say is, “Stand Up for Something or Someone Everyday!”

Coming home: It’s that time of year again!

It is a week before I begin my travels to my hometown for the Thanksgiving holiday and some much needed time in the woods deer hunting.

But this year, it is a little different. You see, my hometown is in a bit of spot with City Hall not being transparent, people feeling harassed and intimidated when they speak out against those in charge of the city. Well, I have a bit of advice for the residents of my little town, stand up, be heard and do not back down. Just like the lack of transparency can cause chaos in the federal government, it can crush a small town and when residents allow that to happen, you can’t blame anyone but yourself.

Now I am one who does not take to intimidation very well. I will tell you what I think and if you don’t like it, walk away. You can discuss differences and come to middle grounds or even an agreement, but you have to know all the facts.

Now, someone might ask, “what do you care, you don’t live here?” or “you don’t know all the facts!” I would agree with that, except for two points:

1. I care because that is my hometown and I am moving back.

2. I have seen what both sides have said in public forum as well as watch clips from local news and articles written about what is going on.

Now this little town has gone on social media and has an “Official” information page. But the problem is, they do not post relevant information, like when the next council meeting will be held, where it is and what is on the agenda, and the minutes of the previous meetings. When businesses use social media, they allow the customer to originate posts when they have questions or comments, good or bad about the host page. On this particular page, that is not allowed. So, I took it upon myself to post the city council meeting just an hour before it began, so that those who did not know would be informed.

After the meeting was over, I went back to the host page and my comment had been deleted, and I was magically banned from making any further comments on the page. My comment was simply “Don’t forget the city council meeting at 7pm.”

Well, I had written to the administration asking why it was deleted and why they banned me, but they have yet to respond to me. Instead, they posted this “This facebook page is for city information only any negative posting will be removed.  Let’s keep it clean.  Thank you.”

I wrote them another email asking about why they deleted my post again and have yet to get a response to that as well.

Now I am not going to go into the weeds as to all the problems of the town, or name names on here. What I will say is, that it is time for the residents of this great American town to stand up and take it back. The residents own the town, the city government serves you and you as residents deserve to be treated with respect and honesty.

I make it home at least once a year and really look forward to getting back there. Yes, I can see that my trip home will be interesting to say the least, but it will be even more interesting when I finally move back there for good!

Even with all the problems of this great town, I can’t wait to return, it will always be my home. See you soon!

Mountain State Proud: The Reason West Virginia Rarely Makes National News.

I just finished reading a post and all the comments that several friends, my sister and I had written on FaceBook about my hometown, Sistersville. It began when I made the comment about how proud I am to be from West Virginia.

“You know, when I saw the news for the past week about the storms that hit from the great lakes to the east coast, I wonder why the emphasis on Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia was what was in the national news, and only a few mentions of West Virginia. Then I answered my own question, West Virginians are a tough group of people, when something happens there, they don’t go begging for help, they roll up their sleeves, fix what needs fixing and then help their neighbors. They don’t wait for FEMA to get there and they definitely don’t expect help from Washington. This is what makes me so proud of the great state of West Virginia. I have traveled a lot in my life and have lived in many different places, but there is only one place I can honestly say that I was proud to live, and that is West Virginia!”

I was concerned about why the national media would not mention much about WV, but then realized the people there might not have let them in (there was a rimshot there, it was a joke! Ha!). But in all seriousness, West Virginians are probably the most resilient, toughest, yet generous people I have ever known.

Since the storms hit, I have been texting, emailing and calling home, seeing how things were going. A lot of people were telling me, “they have the electric in New Martinsville,” or “the crews are just down the road, we should have electric in a couple hours.” But not once I did I hear anyone complain about anything except maybe how hot it was.  As I read on FaceBook from other posts that were trying to find out how their family members were doing, it was amazing to me how many people would take the time to answer a post with “I am going to be out toward your family’s place, I will check on them for you,” and still others that would post that they had water and ice for those who needed it. To top off the generosity of the people back home, was no matter how much was going on, they would take the time to walk outside and offer water to the crews who worked tirelessly on restoring power to the state.

What I have been talking about, has been just one area of West Virginia, but I can say that the whole state is like this. I mentioned to someone the other day how they should look at people from West Virginia,

“There is no place in the country, let alone the world that has more people that would give the shirt off their backs to help out others, but don’t talk down to them, because the same kindness can turn to a fast butt whoopin by the same people.”

It is funny when you mention West Virginia in another part of the country, they often reply, “Is that the western part of Virginia?” Then when you try to explain that West Virginia is a real state of its own, you get the “Are you kidding me,” and the not so nice jokes that most of us just laugh along with. I mention this because, to most people, West Virginia is a small state, with coal mines, mountains and bad roads, but to people like me, West Virginia is where I want to be, and I long for those “Country Roads, Take Me Home!”

*Note: When I speak of West Virginia in this post, I am also including the entire Ohio Valley, because basically, we are all pretty much the same from there!

A Taste of Heaven: Mister Bee Potato Chips.

If you are from West Virginia everyone has their own reason for going home, family, holidays, Alumni and Mister Bee Potato Chips. I know that sounds funny, but if you are within 200 miles of Parkersburg, you probably know what I mean. You know the old slogan “200 Miles Fresher,” well I can attest in my case it is 600 miles fresher!

Mister Bee has been in continuous operation since 1951 minus a small hiccup in the past couple of years the company is back in operation and in my opinion, better than ever. You see, growing up, there was always a bag of Mister Bee chips in my house, for times when we had burgers, hotdogs or just as a snack. You could not go to a ball field in the local area without seeing the chips being sold there. Mister Bee was without a doubt the best in the state.

Fast forward to now…

When I left home several years ago, before the internet took off I had no idea you could order them online, but in 2006 I had the bright idea to look online to see if they were there and to my delight, they were. I ordered a three pound bag immediately and when they arrived to my door, I devoured them (it took a few days, I promise). A couple of years ago, the economy got in the way of production like it had for so many small businesses and Mister Bee’s future didn’t look bright. Many of my friends and I discussed how we missed being able to go home to get some chips, or order them online, it was truly sad. Mister Bee, being resilient, hired Christie Mallett as the president of the company and now it is back to doing what it has done the best for many years, putting smiles on the faces of those who loved them! Just to tell you how good they really are, on June 3 I left West Virginia with two 1-pound bags of original chips. By Tuesday evening June 5, they were gone. yes, they are that good!

Mister Bee has several different types of chips and even some new products:


  • Original
  • Sour Cream and Onion
  • Barbeque
  • Dip style
  • No Salt
  • Tortilla
  • Cheese Curls
  • Salsa

Now I can say from all of the places I have been around the world that Mister Bee Potato Chips are the best I have ever had anywhere. I challenge anyone who reads this, no matter where you are, order some and then tell everyone about how good they are. I promise, you won’t be sorry.

You can visit Mister Bee on FaceBook and order them online here.