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Another Lighted Nock Advantage

by Daniel James Hendricks 15. August 2011 07:21
Daniel James Hendricks

As the brisk wind added to the cold misery of the dying day, I made the decision to fill my tag if I was given the opportunity thereby bringing to an end the MN bow season for this year.  There was only a few days of the season left, we already had two feet of snow and the real fun had faded a week ago.  The next deer that came along was toast regardless of size or sex; I just hoped that it was tonight, because I was cold and tired.

As the daylight dimmed, I caught the dark form of a whitetail moving along the crest of the ridge my stand overlooked.  The terrain on the far side of the ridge dropped steeply down to the shore of a small lake.  I had very little time as I brought my crossbow to my shoulder, flipped the safety off and found the animal in the scope.  I had one narrow shooting lane and when the whitetail stepped into the lane, I pulled the trigger.

The waning light of the day was set on fire by the flight of my arrow, which was nocked with a bright red Lumenok.  It was like I had shot a flare gun at the animal.  The arrow disappeared from sight and the animal sped off melting into the dense gray of the dusk shrouded, falling snow landscape.  Quickly climbing out of the stand, I moved down the shooting lane hoping all the way that my perception of the arrow passing through the center of my target was not an illusion.  When I reached the crest of the ridge, I was treated to a massive blood trail on both sides of the freshly made trail that had been plowed through the freshly fallen snow.  

The arrow, which I had already kissed good bye in my mind, had passed through the animal and flew over the ridge, down towards the lake.  I checked in that direction and was startled to see a warm red glow on the surface of the snow just ten yards away.  I walked to the glow, reached into the powdery white-stuff and pulled out my arrow still brightly shining.  Without the Lumenok, I would not have been able to find that arrow until spring (if I remembered to come back and search for it)  That was the fourth whitetail I had taken that fall and all had been taken with a Lumenok.  The buck I had taken at Palmquist’s Farm is the only one that I hadn’t benefited greatly from the Lumenok as that one had been shot at high noon (an excellent time of the day to kill a rutting whitetail).  In the final analysis, I had ended the season being an avid fan of the lighted nock concept.  My enthusiasm for the product has gotten me involved in numerous conversations about lighted nocks and the biggest complaint I hear about them is that they are so darned expensive.  Well, let’s analyze that statement.  Using Lumenok as an example (since that is the extent of my lighted nock experience) let’s see exactly how expensive of a deal it is.  Individual Lumenoks sell for $11 each and are available in a choice of flat or moon nocks.  Wow that is a lot!  Or you can buy three arrows already equipped with Lumenoks for $55/3-pak.  That’s a shade over $18 for each arrow.  Wow, again that’s a lot!

For additional data I went to the Information Highway to learn that I can buy crossbow arrows for any price from $5 to $15 each.  Now of course that is without the Lumenok.  Then I shopped broadheads and again discovered that one can spend from $5 to as high as $20+/broadhead if you go for whatever the rage is.  Doing an average on the math would give us an average of $10 for an arrow and $12.50 for a broadhead for a grand total of $22.50/projectile.  Now let’s say that you just added the Lumenok end to your arrow and that $11 investment helps you find just one of your $22.50 arrows.  Well, according to my math (which is the old math as I haven’t a clue what new math even means, let alone how it works) if the Lumenok helps you find even one arrow that would have been lost it just paid for itself twice.  Not a bad investment. 

This past fall is the first fall in my hunting career that I didn’t lose an arrow.  I did have one arrow broken when the broadhead was stopped by the scapula on the far side of my target and the deer fell on it when it died.  Otherwise, I recovered and am able to reuse all four broadheads, all four Lumenoks and three of the arrows. The Lumenoks were definitely a fine investment the first year of use; and, I will be using the same Lumenoks this next season.  Lumenoks were the original lighted nock and their concept must really be a sound and intelligent idea based on all of the other companies that are following suit with their own versions of the concept.  The most sincere compliment any company can receive is to be copied and Lumenok is being copied, big time.

After just one season of using lighted nocks in my crossbow hunting, I am soundly sold on the concept.  Not only for the savings in dollars by recovering arrows that may have been lost, but also because of the enhanced ability to follow arrow flight and being able to accurately determine where the arrow hits the intended target.  I strongly recommend that you try a three pack (arrows or just the nocks) of Lumenoks this next season as see if, in the long run, the Lumenoks don’t save you money.  Remember if you find just one arrow that would have been lost, you have paid for two Lumenoks.  How many arrows did you lose last year?  If the answer is more than zero, perhaps you should try hunting with a flare.  





The Koda-Express Leaves Lasting Impression on Canadian Bear

by Daniel James Hendricks 21. July 2011 11:34
Daniel James Hendricks

My recent trip to Canada for spring bear provided me with an opportunity to begin development of a personal relationship with one of the new kids on the block of the rapidly expanding crossbow world – the Kodabow.  Kodabow is an American made crossbow distributed out of Pennsylvania.  It is of recurve configuration and is an extremely well made piece of equipment.

The Koda-Express from Kodabow is every bit as good as it looks. 

On this particular mission I was using the Koda-Express, which has a 185 lb draw weight and is rated at up to 305 fps in the speed category depending on arrow weight.  That’s a lot of power as far as crossbows go, but Kodabow has two more models that are even more powerful than the Koda-Express.  I have always been a proponent of “it’s not how fast your arrow goes, but where you put the broadhead that counts!”   Shot placement is critical and the first thing that I learned about the Koda-Express is that it is an extremely accurate shooting bow.  Confidence, which in my humble opinion is the most important asset a hunter can possess, is quickly acquired with this crossbow and from that point on the rest is just plain fun.

 The Hawke Optics HK3244 Scope greatly enhances the performace of this bow.

Easy to assemble, the Koda-Express comes complete with a rope cocker, a destringing aid and several optic options.  My bow is topped off with a Hawke HK3244, which is perhaps my favorite Hawke scope.  Choosing my favorite Hawke is a tough call, but it is reassuring to know that one of the best, new crossbows in the field comes adorned with one of the best crossbow scopes in the field, as well.

The projectile of choice for this test run was the Lumen-Arrow by Burt Coyote.

The Koda-Express I received must have been zeroed in at the plant by the senders because when I took the first shot at 10 yards, I was a little high of dead center.  At 20 yards, I was right on the money.  The second mark was right on at 28 yards and the third zeroed at 36.  I did not go beyond that mark as there is little likelihood that I would ever shoot beyond that distance and as always, lack of time to play with my new toy was a major consideration.

 The adjustable military style stock and pistol grip definately enhance use.

I really like the Military-style adjustable stock and rear pistol grip.  It allowed me to adjust the bow to a perfect fit and the pistol grip makes for easier handling.  The bow has an adjustable 90 degree hand grip on the fore-end, but I was not impressed with that option and did not use it other than to stabilize the bow in the ladder stand.

 I was not personally impressed with the grip on the fore-stock, but it worked great for locking the bow onto the safety rail.

An automatic safety engages when the bow is cocked and has an ambidextrous release that is clearly marked.  There is an anti-dry fire mechanism to prevent accidental discharge, which could seriously damage the bow or its user.


The ambidextrous safety automatically engages on the Kodabow.

A feature that I really appreciate is the anti-dry fire indicator level which allows the user to visually confirm that device is working and also that the arrow is properly seated when it is loaded.  The trigger pull is smooth and crisp allowing for steady and accurate release.  

The oval "ringy-thingy" is one is a sample of Kodabow's carefully thought out construction.

My Koda-Express has a machined riser with built in string-dampening pods that serve to make the bow quieter when fired.  Its rail is also machined from solid aluminum for durability and lightness and is designed to safely keep my fingers away from the string.  One of my favorite features of the Kodabow, as silly as it may seem, is the flat, oval ring that is attached to the bottom of the riser.  I don’t even know what its proper name is; I just call it “Wonderful”.  Not only can it assist in keeping your fingers away from the string when you are shooting, but when resting in the stand it allows the shooter to comfortably and stably balance the bow on their lap, hands-free, without danger of it tipping or falling from the perch.  This bow is packed with “little things” that demonstrate the long and clear thought that went into its design and construction.  And with the crossbow market becoming so competitive, it’s the little things that can really make the difference in the long term relationship with your crossbow.

The new  Rage Crossbow Head prvided the cutting edge at the moment of truth.

The Koda-Express performed flawlessly in the field while serving as the core of my hunting equipment package.  I combined it with Lumen-Arrows and the new Rage Crossbow broadheads.  The combination proved to fatal for my quarry with only a fifteen yard chip-shot being required in order to close the deal.  All of the time spent shooting arrows into the target with the Koda-Express paid handsome dividends at the moment of truth when the hunt ended in the blink of an eye with one perfectly placed shot.  The startled bear hit the large tree right behind the bait and nimbly climbed to escape danger unable to stem the doom that had already be sealed by the killer Kodabow.  The shot was clean, humane and quickly dispatched the bear.  I really didn’t have to shoot the bear as the fall out of the tree would have killed it.

All Kodabows are of recurve configuration with a solid and well designed string attachment.

In the final analysis of this hunt, the Koda-Express did all that was expected and required of it and is a super value at a MSRP of $800. And there were a few unexpected benefits realized from the many hours spent in the ladder stand with the bow, but the bottom line is that I am looking forward to the next outing with one of the newest and most solidly built crossbows on the market.  Now I know that there are two even more powerful Kodabows available, but it is my humble opinion that the Koda-Express is equipped to handle any animal on the North American continent and therefore is all of the crossbow that any hunter would ever need.  Personally, I would be more inclined to want to examine Kodabow’s Alpha Strike, which is their 155 lb draw weight model.  Any more power than that contained in the Koda-Express is unnecessary overkill - unless you are hunting a Tyrannosaurus Rex. 

The very last night of the hunt, the Koda-Express was responsible for creating one very happy hunter.















Crossbow Accessories for Bear Hunting

by Daniel James Hendricks 13. July 2011 12:04
Daniel James Hendricks

Okay, let’s go down the check list for your spring bear hunt. You have researched, selected and contracted an outfitter, paying the required deposit to reserve your hunt…check.  You have decided how you’ll travel to Canada and made the required arrangements…check  After careful consideration, you’ve selected the crossbow you will use to take one of the many world record black bears your outfitter claims are in his territory…check.

2-3 small flashlights, a headlamp, rangefinder, treesaw, sharp knife and small first aid kit are all good things to have in your pack for a spring bear hunt.

The next step is to decide what accessories you’ll need to pursue the wily bruin in the thick, Canadian bush.  Most equipment that’s used on your hunt will be the same that you use while hunting whitetail deer.  A good, sharp hunting knife and a treesaw are necessary items, along with a thick cushion to prevent brain damage during the long sits in the stand.  You’ll need two good flashlights and one headlamp with plenty of extra batteries.  This gear is standard back or fanny pack stuffing, but what else should you include.

Bring an extra crossbow just in case you have problems with your primary bow.

The first thing you might want to consider is an extra bow or, if you are shooting a recurve crossbow, at least one extra bowstring.  Things happen and if you’re deep in the wilderness and your crossbow blows up, you don’t have a lot of options.   Chances are slim that there is a proshop in the area and you don’t have the time required to send your bow back to the factory.  Now you can always borrow a firearm from your outfitter, which they are sure to have; but if you are determined to take your bear with a crossbow you had best pack a spare, just in case the unlikely happens.  Be a good Boy Scout and be prepared!  Check with your outfitter and find out the average distance from the stands to the bait and then adjust your sighting-system accordingly.  If all his baits are within 30-yards set your first mark at 10 yards, second at twenty and third at thirty.  Bring along the trusty old range finder so that you know the exact distance to the bait once you are at the site.  Some outfitters have the stands as close as ten yards, but with the 10-20-30 plan you will be prepared. 

Bear Spray is seldom neccesary, but could be a life saver.

If you have chosen to hunt from a ground blind (which we will discuss in greater detail in another column) you may want to have bear spray on your person.  Very rarely does a hunt turn dangerous with a black bear, but it does happen.  Bear spray will deter a curious or even an aggressive bear.  If you are in a treestand, a bop on the head with the fore-end of your crossbow as it reaches your platform is usually all that is needed.

Trail Camera can keep an eye on the bait when you are not there. 

A trailcam is a handy device to bring along to monitor what is happening at your bait while you are not there.  Most outfitters will have you sit during the last half of the day; bears, however, may visit the bait any time of day.  If you have really good bear traffic in the early part of the day, then your trailcam will tattle on the bears and you can be there waiting to greet them with open sights.

Thermal-Cells are a wonderful invention and they really work!

 Misquitoes are a very important factor on a Spring bear hunt so you might want to consider bringing along a Termal Cell to repel the little buggers.  This marvelous invention really does work and it is well worth the investment to have one along on the hunt.  Make sure you have plenty of butane refills and repellent pads just in case you ene up sitting the entire week to score your bruin.  And don't forget to bring extra rubber-coated treesteps when hunting with a crossbow.  You will need one to hang your bow from, another for your quiver (I like to remove my quiver while hunting or to carry a non-attached quiver) and a third step for your back or fanny pack.  It is always better to have them and not need them rather than need them and not have them. 

Lighted nocks can be a real asset on your hunt. 

Another suggestion would be lighted nocks for your arrows.  A lot of bear movement, especially for the larger bears, happens right at dark.  Lighted nocks are a new tool in my arsenal and I am really impressed with how they enhance the moment of truth.  You know exactly where your arrow entered the bear and usually exactly where your arrow is after the shot, as most shots are pass-through.  Although spendy, if a lighted nock helps you recover just one arrow that would have been lost, it has paid for itself.

Scents and lures can assist in the success of the hunt. 

Cover scents, bear lures and scent eliminators can be beneficial to your hunt.  Scent eliminators remove some of you scent, but it is impossible to remove it all even if you bathe in the stuff.  Cover scents will assist your efforts, but in the end wind direction will be the dominant factor.  There are some really great attractants in an assortment of flavors like blueberry, bacon, and fish.  There are even some that burn like incense which cover your scent and attract the bears, but can also be used right in the stand to help you monitor wind direction.


A KneePod or some other form of shooting rest can be a real asset when adrenaline hits your system.   

One more thing that you will want to bring is some form of bow rest to help you support the heavier weight of a crossbow for long periods of time.  Movement is a key factor when hunting bears so fumbling around, trying to get your bow off the hanger when the bear comes into the bait is not a good thing; especially if you are hunting a really large bear that is more cautious and careful then its younger clan members.  As the day begins to come to an end, you should have your crossbow resting on a Kneepod, a Steady-Edy or some other form of shooting stick.  This handy little device, which ever one you decide best meets your needs, will support the weight of your bow allowing you to take a steady shot when the moment of truth arrives.  It also stabilizes the tremors that are known to afflict the bear hunter, especially when Mister Big enters the arena of death.  And experience has taught us that at that magical moment even the smaller bears in the forest have been known magically seem bigger, making the steadiest of hunters begin to quake.
Your list may be longer, but the above items are all things that should be on you equipment inventory for your crossbow bear hunt. 

A great plan makes for a great hunt!


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