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by Steve Flores 1. May 2012 10:16
Steve Flores

In Part 1 of this 2 Part series, we discussed the importance of choosing a quality pro-shop when making a new bow purchase or when simply adding upgrades to your current rig. There is no denying the “networking” value of an archery pro-shop, not to mention the fact that finding a good one can drastically shorten your learning curve. However, as I alluded to in last month’s article, finding one can sometimes be difficult. When searching for a quality pro-shop, be mindful of the presence or absence of the following traits: 

Good pro-shop’s not only help speed up the learning process for those who are new to archery, they also help veterans make sound decisions in equipment, shooting form, and everything else “archery” related.

Additional Clues
Years in business
–- Consider how many years the potential shop of interest has been in business before making a commitment. Undoubtedly, a pro-shop that is brand new is perfectly capable of providing quality service. Nonetheless, don’t assume that to be the truth merely because the sign on the front door says so. On the other hand, some businesses may not provide the best service, even though they have been around for quite some time.  
Variety -- Some say it is the spice of life. To an archer searching for a good place to take his equipment, it is a symbol of foundation. Simply put, oftentimes a good pro-shop, one that is committed to the happiness of the customer, will not only carry a wide variety of bows, and accessories, but will generally have the necessary equipment on hand to “test-drive” products of interest.  
Word Of Mouth -- When all else fails, hopefully you will know someone whom you can trust enough to point you in the right direction. If you happen to know an individual that takes their bowhunting and archery seriously, odds are good that he/she has already waded through the quagmire of imposter “pro-shops” and can quickly and easily tell you exactly where to start; or quite simply….whom to avoid.  

Take a good, hard look at your pro-shop of interest and listen to what others are saying and you will most likely know if it is worth walking through the front door or not.

Sign of The Times
We live in a society that demands a quick turnaround. We order food, and we want it in no more than a few minutes; often less. If the wait is much longer, we become irritated. It seems that this attitude has found its way into the world of purchasing archery equipment. The trend these days seems to be to purchase a bow quickly from somewhere other than the pro-shop, thus saving a small amount of money, then, going into the pro-shop to have it set-up. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for trying to save money whenever I can, but to me, this isn’t the way to do it. 

In today’s tough economic times it is understandable to look for ways to save a little money. However, in the long run, pro-shops will not only save you time and money sifting through faulty equipment, most shop owners “reward” their loyal customers in many ways you can’t put a price tag on.

Take my brother for example. Recently, he was in the market for a completely new bow setup.  Devoting an entire afternoon to test shooting each model of interest, he easily narrowed the field down to one. Being the type who always looks for “a deal”, he quickly went online to compare prices with the pro-shop. After a little searching, he was able to find a source that would perhaps save him just enough money to buy a dozen, high quality carbon arrows. When he asked me what I thought he should do, I promptly suggested he forget about the money he thought he was going to save and give his business to the local shop owner. Why?  Because, in the long run, he would gain more than the small monetary sum dangling in front of him.

After a little self-conflict, and despite the fact that the shop owner told him he could not match the prices he had found elsewhere, he chose the pro-shop----lucky for him. A few weeks after receiving his bow and getting it properly set up it was accidentally dry-fired.  As a result, the string and cam both were ruined. Upon returning to the shop, expecting some lengthy downtime, he was pleasantly surprised when the owner informed him that he had a brand new cam on the shelf and would happily replace his damaged one. The bigger surprise came when he tallied up the price. Zero, zip, zilch!

When something bad happens, and your hunt or your season is in jeopardy, it is nice to know you have a resource that can get things fixed and get you back in the field as quickly as possible. How much is that worth to you?

Apparently, the owner had acquired the part for the same price through an arrangement with the company and decided it was only fair to pass along the savings to his customers. My guess is he now has a customer for life. Sure, it is easy and tempting to sniff out a deal and save a little cash, and I’m not saying one shouldn’t participate in such transactions.  What I am saying, is make sure the money you are potentially saving is really worth it in the long run.  Remember, sometimes the most important part of the deal has little to do with dollar signs. 


In an ideal world, everyone who picked up a bow would have the technical know-how to perform any and every type of procedure necessary to insure optimal bow performance.  However, you and I both know that isn’t the case. For the individuals just getting started in this wonderful sport or the guys who would rather let someone else handle “the technical stuff”----there is hope. It is called “The Pro-Shop.”  Many establishments carry the name, but only a few actually fit the description. Hopefully, by now, you can recognize which ones are which.

Choosing a Quality Archery Pro Shop - Part 1

by Steve Flores 26. February 2012 08:48
Steve Flores

Whether you're looking to purchase the latest bow on the market, or simply want to upgrade your current rig, the road to finding a quality pro-shop, one that knows how to set you up right, can throw more twists and turns at you than the track at Laguna Seca; but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, consider the following advice, and the next time you walk into an establishment looking for excellent service, you’ll be walking out with a smile.

Why Pro Shop?
There are several reasons why the beginning to mid-level archery enthusiast should choose a Pro-Shop. Perhaps one of the chief reasons would be a familiarity with bow “set-up” procedures; or better yet, a lack there of. Given the wide array of compound bows available today and the mind staggering number of equipment options being offered, choosing the products that will work best with you, your bow, and your style of hunting or shooting can be a daunting task; especially if you, like the majority of bowhunters, are not schooled in the “technical aspects” of archery. In which case, “properly” setting-up your new rig will be a difficult goal to accomplish.

To combat this harsh reality you will need to find someone who knows what works, what doesn’t----and why. You need to find someone with the experience and mechanical proficiency to do things the right way. To put it simple, you need to enlist the help and guidance of a quality pro-shop.


In archery, confidence can go a long way toward success. And nothing will give you more confidence than knowing your bow-rig is set up correctly. A quality pro-shop can make you an accurate, self-assured shooter by setting you up with the right gear.

A Good Start
One of the most critical issues faced while attempting to correctly set up your bow revolves around the arrow rest. Today’s rest of choice is almost unanimously the “drop-away” version.  While this style of arrow rest most often represents the most accurate choice, it only works when installed correctly. Simply adding one to your bow doesn’t exactly mean that you will automatically achieve “laser-beam” type arrow flight. Unless you know how to set one up and what to look for when determining whether or not it is functioning properly, you’re most likely not going to get the added performance you paid extra money for; perfect arrow flight after the shot with no contact between the rest and you’re arrow’s fletching.

 Most Pro-Shop experts will say the a critical starting point when setting up your bow involves choosing a quality arrow rest. Pictured here is the new NAP Apache Carbon drop-away mounted to a 2012 Mathews Helim.

Properly tuning a drop-away style arrow rest sometimes requires a lot of tinkering and technical “know-how” in order to get things just right. Some models simply do not match well with certain bow brands, some do not match well no matter what brand of bow you shoot, and some even require the shooter to orient the fletching a particular way. For example, some rests simply will not tolerate a cock-vane “up” orientation, conversely, others do. Some may call for a rotation with the cock-vane to the side in order to achieve good results, some may not. Unless you know which fall-away rest your bow prefers and how to correctly set it up, you could spend hours and hours trying to tune it. This is where a quality pro-shop can make all the difference. They’ve been there, done that. They know which rests work and what type of bow and arrow system they work well with. Obviously their knowledge can save you valuable time and money, but more importantly, they will insure the job is done right”.

Learn from the Best
Another significant reason for choosing a pro-shop is a shortening of the learning curve. Most aspects of archery are rarely cut and dry. Consequently, in order to avoid the many pitfalls facing a newcomer it pays to find someone who has been around the block a time or two. A quality pro-shop is the ideal place to find such an individual. In one afternoon, you can learn valuable insight with regards to shooting tips, equipment choices and bowhunting wisdom in general; things that otherwise may have taken you years of trial and error to figure out on your own. Talk about an advantage!  When you consider the valuable information available at top notch establishments and the immediate affects it can/will have on your success as an archer and bowhunter, it is clear why finding a quality pro-shop is so important. The “networking” potential in these venues is immense. 

 Anytime you can be around other bowhunters or archers is a great time to learn something new. No other venue offers as much opportunity for this than a quality pro-shop.

Added Benefits
In addition to insuring that your equipment functions as it should, along with the ability to speed up the learning process, pro-shops offer several added advantages over the DIY (do it yourself) route. For instance, good shops will often times offer their customers “free” shooting lessons and advice after purchasing a new bow-rig. Most often, at the really good shops, a certified IBO pro shooter will be on hand to assist with the lessons. Obviously, this type of professional attention is invaluable. Not only does it insure that proper shooting habits are instilled from the start, it also guarantees that the majority of bad habits that plague archers all over the country are immediately recognized and avoided.

Also, don’t overlook the fact that most quality shops will be happy to provide their loyal customers with “perks” so to speak.  These gestures of appreciation can come in many forms.  Most often minor adjustments are made to your rig at no charge. Sometimes hats and shirts are given away as well; providing advertisement for the shop owner and perhaps a means of showcasing favored equipment and/or facilities for (you) the shooter. 
Another nice benefit of the pro-shop is the option to go in and “test” drive new equipment before actually putting down your hard earned cash and then realizing you made the wrong choice. Without a doubt, pro-shops are a bee-hive of knowledge, experience and camaraderie just waiting to be discovered. 

Most good shops will have a place to “test drive” merchandise before actually buying it. This is an essential part of the process that ensures you leave with a smile on your face; the right set-up in the right hands will often cause such a reaction.

Making the Right Choice
When choosing a pro-shop one of the most important things to remember is that the devil is in the details. What I mean, is that there usually isn’t one or two defining characteristics that will reveal that you are in the wrong place. Rather, there will most likely be a number of little things that, while seeming trivial at first, could reveal clues too much larger issues.For example, be cautious of shops that try to push a certain piece of equipment into your hands.  Having said that, let’s make clear that in order to accurately judge the true intentions of the guy behind the counter you must first understand that there is a difference between pushing a product and eagerly suggesting one. If a certain piece of equipment really is better than the one you initially went in to purchase, the guy selling it to you should be able to explain exactly why it is better. If he can’t, then that might be the first clue that your best interest aren’t what he had in mind. 

Suggesting certain equipment options is fine as long as the reasoning behind such advice can be validated. If the transaction doesn’t ultimately benefit you the shooter, then it’s probably not a good investment. A reputable shop will do nothing without your best interest in mind.

In contrast, guys working at shops that are the “real deal” will often have their own personal bows on hand and can readily show you exactly what equipment they are using. More importantly, they can also tell you why they are using it. If that happens to be the case, pay close attention to what these individuals are telling you because odds are good that they have already sifted through the “low-grade” stuff and have found the best of what the market has to offer. Essentially, they can save you time, money and in the end make your set-up the best it can be.

Post-Sale Service
Another indication as to whether or not you have made a wise choice lies in what happens after the sale. Is that where the service ends? Are you no longer ministered to like customer #1? If things seem to drastically change after you’ve spent the last of your piggy bank funds, then you’ve probably made the wrong choice. Case in point, even though it has been a few years since my last bow purchase, if I were to walk into my pro-shop today, the owner (Frank) would treat me like I was the most important guy in the building. Frank Addington and his wife Kathy, own and operate Addington’s Bowhunter Shop in Winfield, WV, and have been providing customers top quality service for over 25 years. When it comes to knowing what the consumer wants and needs, they are masters. 

 The benefits of any good pro-shop shouldn't stop once a purchase has been made. In fact, service typically gets better and better if you’ve selected the right shop for your needs.

In addition, if I was having a problem with my bow-rig he wouldn’t hesitate to fix it for me. Now you might be thinking that I receive special treatment for being a “writer” or something along those lines ….wrong! Frank treats everyone the same---like a close personal friend.

To Be Continued

Of course, there are other important aspects that go into selecting a quality pro-shop. In Part 2, I will delve a little deeper into the process and offer some final tips that will get you pointed in the right direction.

Bison by bow Part 1

by Josh Fletcher 13. February 2012 14:45
Josh Fletcher

The North American Bison also called the buffalo once roamed in the eastern forests, the oak savannahs of the Midwest, in the vast prairies and mountains of the west.  The Bison population in the early 1800’s was estimated at approximately 50 million strong.  It was common for trains to be stopped for hours waiting for the immense herds of the thunder beasts to cross the railroad tracks. Herds would stretch miles wide by miles long, turning the prairie black from a distance with their shaggy coats. The bison were Mother Nature’s cultivators of the prairie. With so many bison with their massive weight, the hooves would tear up the prairie, stirring up dormant seeds in the soil, buffalo chips were natural fertilizer to help jump start the new seeds growth, to provide new and fresh forage in the years to come. They were the perfect balance between fauna and flora on the North American continent.

The Native Americans survived off the large thundering beasts. Natives would do large buffalo drives, luring and funneling bison to stampede off an edge of a cliff, ultimately falling to their death. Quickly the members of the tribe would all work together at cutting up and utilizing the dead beasts. The bones were used as tools, hides as shelter and cloths, dried meat for food and the bladders for water bags. Nothing was left to waste; the bison provided life to those who depended on them.

The author making his final preparations before the hunt

After the Spanish introduced the horse to North America, Native Americans developed new and more efficient ways of feeding their families with buffalo. They utilized this new animal that carried man on their back while running at the speed of the bison. Native Americans began chasing bison on horseback. They were equipped with spears and the bow and arrow. The arrows were often equipped with flint sharpened to a razors edge.

As the early settlers began expanding their way west of the Mississippi River, the bison began to compete with the settler’s crops and cattle for the valuable yet vulnerable land.  The settlers had no concept of conservation, and believed that they would never eliminate the herds in their life time.
As the railroads worked their way west, buffalo were shot to feed the workers. These buffalo hunters were hired by the railroad companies to supply fresh buffalo meat to their workers. One of these buffalo hunters became known as Buffalo Bill Cody.

The bison hunters would use the modern technology of the time with their long range guns. They would look for the herd leader. By taking out the leader of the herd first, the remainder of the bison would stand there not knowing what to do. They would just keep dropping the bison one by one until they ran out of shells. I was once written by a buffalo hunter that his hunting partners shot so many bison that they had to urinate on their guns to cool the barrels.
As railroad’s made their way west, the hide of the bison became popular, along with the bison tongue as a delicacy in fancy restaurants. The hunters turned from shooting for meat to shooting for hide and tongue. Thousands of carcasses would be left to waste in the blood stained prairies. The vast herds of approximately 50 million strong were decimated to less than a 1,500 in North America. As the bison disappeared, early conservationists realized that the bison were on the brink of being extinct.

Citizens lobbied the United States President Ulysses S. Grant to help save the buffalo. President Grant replied that the Indians depend on the buffalo to live, with the elimination of the buffalo, means the elimination of the Indians, leaving them subject to reservations. President Grant refused to save the bison.

Several private organizations along with concerned citizens captured and raised several of their own herds to prevent them from becoming just a page in the history book. Other remaining herds sought refuge in the remote Canadian wilderness.

Today the bison are no longer in danger of becoming extinct. The population that was once approximately 1,500 animals has been brought back to approximately 500,000. This is still a far cry from the once 50 million that roamed North America. Out of 500,000 bison today, half is found in the United States. Out of approximately 250,000 animals in the US, over 90 percent are privately owned bison on farms and ranches.
I began my quest for taking a buffalo with the bow just this winter. Being intrigued by the history of the North American Bison, I too wanted to take part in a hunt that dates back centuries ago. I began my quest looking for a free ranging wild buffalo.  After doing research on places to go, I quickly felt the impact of the early settlers over a hundred years ago. There are only several select areas in North America that true free ranging bison exist. They are Alaska, parts of Canada, Utah, Arizona, along with smaller herds in several other states. I learned that some of these tags may take a life time to draw, or the price of the tag was too high for me to afford in my life time. I was determined to hunt bison by bow and was not willing to except that this hunt may take years before I could get a chance. I realized that my best option was to begin looking at hunting with the 90 percent private herds for a hunt this year.

I began calling outfitters and ranchers. The first one I called offered the quality of hunt I was looking for. I wanted to fill my freezer with good clean high quality protein at a reasonable price. With all things there are the pluses and the minuses. This ranch offered a great hunt, however by the time I paid for the hunt and the gas to get out to South Dakota I would have maxed out my wallet for this years hunt.

Again being determined to find the right place to make my dream hunt come true at a reasonable price and at a very short notice, I contacted another ranch. This ranch offered a bison hunt at a reasonable price and was close to home. When I asked how big of an area I would have to chase down my dream bison, I was told it was a vast 70 acres! That’s not vast! That’s a pasture! Was my reply as I quickly hung up the phone trying to be polite to the rancher.  I know that the majority of buffalo are privately owned on ranches but I still wanted a real experience, not a walk up to your animal and kill it experience.
Just when I thought there was no hope for a buffalo hunt this year, and that it may take me many years to draw a wild herd tag, I found a ranch located in north east Iowa. The ranch is called Scenic View Ranch, located near the little town of Monona, Iowa. I quickly called the owner, Lloyd Johanningmeier. As I asked Lloyd questions about his ranch, I quickly realized this is where I am going to try and take my first buffalo with the bow.
Scenic View Ranch has over 300 acres of beautiful hard woods bluffs with the fastest running river in Iowa, the Yellow River running through the property. As I talked with Lloyd it became quickly apparent that Scenic View Ranch’s main goal to show the hunter a good time in a very relaxed atmosphere. Some ranches I contacted did not even allow archery hunting for buffalo, but not Lloyd, he actually encouraged it and his hunts were close to home at a very reasonable price.
I have never hunted on a ranch a day in my life, so I have no clue what to expect.  My biggest concern was that I did not want a “canned” hunt. I truly wanted to match wits with one of these big thunder beasts. Lloyd reassured me that this will truly be a hunt. 300 acres in the wide open prairie may seem small, but 300 acres in the large rolling hard wood bluffs means they can be any ware. Also some ranches would not let you keep your entire animal that you killed. Being a do-it yourself style of hunter, I didn’t feel that this was fare. If I’m paying for the hunt, shouldn’t I get to keep the entire animal that I killed? At Scenic View Ranch you keep what you shoot, and you don’t pay unless you shoot what you are looking for.

A recipicating saw does an excellent job at cutting through large bone

Lloyd was patient with me and all the questions that I was inquiring about the hunt, and every time I talked with him, the conversation started out about the hunt but quickly we found ourselves talking like we have known each other for years. It didn’t take me long to book my buffalo hunt at Scenic View Ranch.

With the hunt booked, I immediately began preparing for the hunt. I will be using the Mathews Helim bow set at 68 pounds of draw weight. My arrows are Carbon Express Maxima Hunters and the broad heads will be the NAP two blade Blood Runners.

I quickly started hitting the range, fine tuning my archery skills. The best part about shooting outside in the winter time is that I’m practicing at the range wearing the heavy bulky clothing that I will be wearing during the hunt.

While practicing daily under cold weather conditions, I also hit the web and books learning about the anatomy of the buffalo. The key is a well-placed shot. You can shoot 80 pounds with the  best broad head, but if you don’t hit your mark, or if you don’t even know where that mark even is, that high powered bow doesn’t do you any good. I quickly learned that the vitals in a buffalo sit very low in the chest cavity, I also learned from reading forums of different hunters that most people shoot too high in the buffalo’s chest. The mark that I am looking for is the top of the heart or both lungs. If I find the buffalo’s elbow joint and draw a horizontal line until I hit the shoulder crease, ware those two lines meet will be my mark. Hopefully I can be presented with a quartering away shot to lodge the arrow up into the kill zone of the big thunder beast.

It takes alot of preperation to process a 1000 pund animal yourself

Next I had to figure out what I’m going to do with the buffalo if all goes right and I get him on the ground. Again being a do-it yourself hunter, I’m choosing to process the buffalo myself. To transport the meat we are using an elk hunting trick, by placing a freezer in a trailer and trailering it to the hunting location. This works great for handling a large animal such as an elk. Once back at camp, you cut the meat up and vacuum pack the meat prior to placing it in the freezer. Then just plug the freezer into a portable generator and let it run over night to cool and freeze the meat if you are in a remote location. If the meat is frozen solid and the lid stays closed, the meat will remain frozen in the freezer for days. Also a chest freezer has the capabilities of holding several hundred pounds of meat.

For cutting the meat we will be bringing knives of varying sizes. A handy trick for cutting large sections of bone, such as splitting a carcass in half, is using a reciprocating saw with a fine tooth blade. We will also have a hand bone saw for the smaller bone cuts. I also have two vacuum packing machines; two meat grinders, 200 one pound bags for holding ground burger, 12 boxes of vacuum bags, freezer paper, and don’t forget a good knife sharpener.
The weather looks like it is going to be warm, in the mid 30’s for the hunt which is going to take place in less than a week, on February 17. We will be packing all the camera gear to bring the action into your home right here at Be sure to check back for part two of this blog to read about how the hunt unfolded, and the end results.

2012 Mathews Retailer Show Round-Up

by Bow Staff 6. February 2012 01:53
Bow Staff

After my trip this past December to the Mathews Archery Retailer Show I was amazed at how innovative archery companies can be.  With each passing season the new bowhunting and archery equipment that hits the market gets lighter, stronger and more versatile than ever before.  Below are thirteen items from the show that I thought every diehard bowhunter would want to know about.

The 2012 Tight Spot Quiver shown here is lighter than previous models which will work perfectly with the new Mathews Helim The Tight Spot quiver attaches and detaches from your bow quickly and fits snugly against the riser of the bow, reportedly eliminating bow torque issues often caused by a bulky quiver.

Another item that caught my eye is a Mathews bow display called WeaponRax. This classy looking display holds one bow and a few arrows and turns your Mathews bow into a piece of artwork that you can display in your living room, den or dead animal room. The WeaponRax is available in black or oak. Many retailers were purchasing them at the show to show off Mathews bows in their retail stores.

Hot Shot Manufacturing’s new Infinity release is available with a leather Lost Camo wrist strap. The Infinity features a “Lever-Link” trigger that replaces traditional roller bearings, creating a crisp shot and less trigger creep, resulting in tighter arrow groups. The extra-tough actuating mechanism features less friction than roller bearings so the release will work flawlessly for years without getting stiff or difficult to pull due to harsh weather or dirt from spending hours in the woods.

Carbon Express has long been considered a leader in arrow technology. Mathews is a leader in bow technology so it makes sense for these two industry leaders to team up. The Mathews Edition Carbon Express Maxima Hunter comes in Lost Camo and has the great features you are accustomed to from the Maxima Hunter including weight forward technology, Buff Tuff carbon weaving and the extra strong BullDog nock collar.

If you are a diehard turkey hunter, you will want to check out the Turkey Nightmare Lost Camo blind. This unique umbrella blind mounts to your bow and has a shooting window in the center of it. The umbrella blocks the turkey from seeing you draw your bow but the window allows you to see and aim at the turkey. One of the most difficult things about bowhunting turkeys is getting your bow drawn without being busted. This blind will make bowhunting turkeys much easier.

Pine Ridge Archery makes a variety of archery products. For 2012, they have all kinds of new products that come in Lost Camo and bright colors for all the archers who want their bow and everything on it to be color coordinated. Their new Nitro Stabilizer is available in Lost Camo. They have brightly colored wrist slings, peep sights, peep sight tubing and a variety of other products. For more information, visit

American Leather Klassics has teamed up with Mathews to produce fine leather products. In this picture, you can see the Mathews leather belt. They also make Lost Camo picture frames, wallets and are even producing Lost Camo dog collars and leashes for your favorite dog. They offer a wide variety of Lost Camo leather products.

Invisible Hunter makes a variety of scent eliminating products including Invisible Hunter Fresh Earth spray. This product comes in a Mathews Lost Camo spray bottle. Invisible Hunter uses enzymes to destroy human odor, not just mask it like many odor eliminating sprays do. Almost all deer hunters use scent eliminating sprays of some kind; now you can try one based on science, not smoke and mirrors.

Schaffer Performance Archery has given the Opposition Arrow Rest a facelift. The new Opposition Lite is 20% lighter than the previous model, comes in Lost Camo and comes with unique technology like Glide Away jaws that pinch the arrow so your arrow can’t come off the rest as you draw. A button on the rest allows you to lock your arrow into position before you draw or allow the jaws to lock the arrow in place as you draw. When you shoot your bow, the jaws glide to the right and left for total arrow clearance. The Opposition rest has been tested at 418 FPS!

Mathews Archery fans love to tell the world how proud they are to shoot a Mathews Bow. Camo Wraps make unique Lost Camo vehicle wraps and Mathews stickers that look great on almost anything. Their accessory wraps can be used on cameras, phones and anything you want to deck out in Lost Camo.

Blacks Creek Guide Gear makes great backpacks, duffle bags and bow cases. Here you can see the new Blacks Creek Helim bow case that looks almost as cool as the new Helim and protects your favorite bow from getting nicks or dings while traveling to your favorite hunting spot. Blacks Creek displayed some great new duffle bags at the Mathews Show that are perfect for the traveling hunter.

Grim Reaper Broadheads is offering the Mathews Edition mechanical broadhead. This razor-sharp killing machine has a gold feral that will look great flying out of your favorite Mathews bow. My favorite Grim Reaper Mathews head is a 3-blade head that offers a razor-cut tip and has a whopping 2-inch cutting diameter.

Axion Archery is offering some great products for 2012 including the new Zone drop away wrest and the GLT Triad Stabilizer that is very sleek and innovative and will look great on any Mathews bow that has the Grid Lock riser.

About the Author: Tracy Breen is a full time freelance writer and works with several companies in the outdoor industry including Mathews Archery, Schaffer Archery, Hot Shot Manufacturing and Pine Ridge Archery.

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

2011 Mathews Retailer Business Show Keeps Growing

by Todd Graf 2. January 2012 03:09
Todd Graf

Even before I saw the attendance figures for the annual Mathews Retailer Business Show, I knew I was witnessing the company’s biggest, most successful show in its four-year history. This exciting three-day event has grown big-time since its launch in 2008.

It’s a heck of a show for archery retailers. It’s very business-oriented, and it’s held in early December each year at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. This year it attracted more than 400 retailers and 150 exhibitors, including more than 100 Lost Camo licensees. That’s nearly a 50 percent growth in show exhibitors from a year ago, and a whopping 112 more exhibitors than the inaugural show drew in 2008.

Companies such as KTech Designs make a variety of high-quality accessories specifically designed to compliment your Mathews bow.

It's great to see new companies like Archer Xtreme pushing the sport of archery to new heights with their cutting edge designs and materials.

Matt McPherson, Mathews’ founder and president, reminded us of the company’s philanthropic work, too. “Not only do Lost Camo licensed products give Mathews retailers a unique and exclusive product to help their business, but 100 percent of the Lost Camo proceeds help people less fortunate around the world,” Matt said. “That’s in addition to the funding Mathews and Mission have been doing for years for those less fortunate."

I attended the show all three days with Justin Zarr and several other staff members from our crew. Let me tell you, we scrambled the entire time to make sure we saw the latest bowhunting gear from Mathews and all the other exhibitors. In fact, this year’s show was so large it was held inside “the bubble,” a giant building with an inflatable roof. This mammoth building is the Chula Vista convention center’s largest venue.

A view from inside "The Bubble", where several hundred people spent nearly 3 days conducting the business that keeps our industry running.

During the show we worked extensively with Corrine Bundy, Mathews’ marketing communications specialist, on several video promotions for Mathews’ products. By the show’s final morning on Day 3, Corrine knew without doubt that the show was Mathews’ best yet.

“It was a great success for us,” she said. “This was the fourth straight year of growth for the show. That kind of growth helps us carry out our mission for the show, which is to give retailers the tools they need to be as successful and profitable as possible.”

Here Justin and I are working with our cameraman, Nick and Brandyn, along with Corrine Bundy to film a Holiday Gift Guide for the Mathews and Lost Camo websites.

While walking the show we saw a variety of innovative new products that will be hitting the market for 2012.  Many of those products are geared towards accessorizing, and colorizing, your bow setup.  Mathews has done a great job at offering colored accessories for their bow for several years now, and many manufacturers are following their lead with colored accessories of their own.  One of the companies leading the charge in that arena is Pine Ridge Archery, who now has a variety of bow accessories in 8 different colors.  From peep sights to kisser buttons and even a new stabilizer, it's never been easier to customize your bow setup any way you please.

Another interesting new product we came upon is the iBowsight.  If you want to talk about innovation and technology in archery, this is it!  The iBowsight uses a custom-designed bracket to hold your iPhone 4 or 4s and turn it into a full-fledged bow sight.  Simply purchase and install the app on your phone and then mount it to your bow and you're off.  The iBowsight may not be for everyone, but there's no doubt it' sure to fuel plenty of conversations.  Click here to read a full review of the iBowsight.

In addition to a busy show floor, Mathews also delivered an impressive seminar lineup featuring industry experts to teach everything from bow tuning to retailing tips. And for evening entertainment, Mathews provided plenty of laughs from comedian Tim Hawkins.

Love it or hate it, the iBowsight is certainly a unique product.

As always, I was impressed with both the Mathews and Mission bow lineups, and think everyone will be impressed with the Heli-m. This bow gives you a super smooth draw and is the lightest bow ever offered by Mathews. Plus it’s loaded with Mathews technology like the Reverse Assist Roller Guard, Harmonic Damper Lite, Harmonic Stabilizer and Geo Grid Lock Riser.

But I gotta tell you, one of the most amazing spectacles was the shoot-off tournament where about 500 people tried shooting bull’s eyes with Mathews’ Genesis bow. This is the bow used by thousands of youngsters nationwide in the National Archery in the Schools Program.  Each show attendee was given one arrow, courtesy of Easton Archery, and had to try and shoot the foam bull's eye of a metal target.  If you made it into the foam you advanced to the next round.  If you missed, you were out.  And no, I didn’t win the event! I missed my first shot to earn an instant disqualification. Justin made it to the second round, but failed to advance to the third round. After 4 rounds of shooting we finally had a lucky winner, who got a free antelope hunt from our good friends at Table Mountain Outfitters.

The aftermath of the Iron Buck challenge. 

It's always great to see kids who are enthusiastic about archery and hunting.  Remember, they are the future of our sport!

Our next stop will be the ATA Trade Show, which runs Jan. 10-12 in Columbus, Ohio. As always, we'll be doing our best to cover the hot new bowhunting and archery products that are hitting the shelves in 2012.  So be sure to keep an eye on as we'll be updating the website directly from the show to bring you the hottest new products before anyone else.

Persistence Pays - Big Buck Down in Virginia

by Cody Altizer 5. December 2011 17:24
Cody Altizer

Disclaimer: Okay, let me preface this blog by stating that, like my previous blog, this blog is dedicated to another gun kill.  Yes, obviously this is a bowhunting website, but I (and many of our other staff members as well) equally enjoy taking to the woods every fall with rifle and/or muzzleloader.  After all, we are all hunters and we must support one another, regardless of choice of weapon.  Disclaimer over, read on for the actual blog!

Quite frankly, this has been one of the slowest, most frustrating hunting seasons I have ever been a part of.  I went into this season more prepared and more excited than I had ever gone into a previous season.  Food plots were prepped and planted in the spring and maintained throughout the summer.  Stands were hung during the dog days of summer, and my Mathews was shooting darts.  I was ready to rock n’ roll! 

Here is one of literally hundreds of photos I got of High n' Tight after the season last year.  He certainly wasn't shy as a 2 year old, but it's funny how a whitetail wises up between their second and third birthday.  During the spring, summer and fall, he became a ghost.

I had trail camera photos of two different bucks I was going to be on the lookout for.  The first was a 4 year old buck we had decided to call Clyde.  He was a mainframe 10, and the best we could tell from trail camera photos he would score close to 150 inches.  The second buck, and quite honestly, the buck I thought I would have the best chance at shooting, was a buck nicknamed High n’ Tight.  High n’ Tight was a frequent visitor to our food plots last winter as a 2 year old, and I was excited about hunting him this season as a 3 year old.  His brow tines were high and tight (hence the nickname) and we had over 100 photos of him feeding in our food plots.  He was so visible in our food plots and on trails to and from bedding areas, that I was sure I would get a crack at him early this season.

High n' Tight on his way back to bed in early February.  I searched for hours on end for his sheds, but to no avail.

Unfortunately, as you may have read here, my season got off to a rocky start immediately.  I regrouped after my opening day misfortune, and hunted relatively hard the entire month of October.  As you may have read in my previous blog, I hunted mostly afternoons near food sources as to not pressure a certain buck I had my eyes on.  As the month of October neared its end and November quickly approaching, I was excited about the thought of hunting rutting whitetails.   I had plenty of food available on the property; the deer I would be hunting hadn’t been pressured, and rubs and scrapes and were popping up over night on trails leading to and from bedding areas.  My goal this season was to hunt exclusively with my bow.  I knew it would be tempting to swap the bow for my muzzleloader or rifle once their respective seasons came in, but I wanted, no, needed, to harvest a buck with my this year.  It would be fantastic to harvest a 3 year old buck with my bow in the mountains I hunt, and I was going to be relentless in my pursuit of that goal.

By the time November rolled around, I was a lot like the bucks that were maxed out on testosterone at the same time, it was go time!  Clyde had been captured several times on trail camera, but High n’ Tight was nowhere to be found.  He was so visible during the winter, I simply couldn’t believe he just up and vanished.  Was he poached during the summer?  Did he establish a new home range?  Had Clyde scared him completely out of the state of Virginia?  I was pretty disappointed that the buck I thought I had the best chance of shooting had completely disappeared.

High n' Tight with his older brother, Clyde in January of this year.  I actually didn't know it was Clyde until my brother shot him in early November.  A small cut in his left ear let me know that it was in fact him in this photo.

Nevertheless, on November 1st I checked my Stealth Cam that was overlooking one of my mock scrapes on a field edge, and it revealed Clyde had visited just two days prior.  The next day I took down my Lone Wolf Assault and sticks, packed it on my back and moved it a half mile east to the location of the mock scrape.  The next morning I was 15 yards from that mock scrape and ready to arrow Clyde at 15 yards.  That morning was an exciting morning to be on stand to say the least.  I didn’t see Clyde, but I did see a handful of does and had a close encounter with another one of my target bucks, a tall racked 8 pointer I call Mr. Two Bits.  I have quite a bit of history with Mr. Two Bits, including still photos and video footage of him in velvet in July, and a handful of trail camera photos of him throughout September and October.  He walked out past me at 60 yards, but he busted me as I was trying to get my camera situated and get some footage of him.  So close!  I got down that morning optimistic about what the rest of the month would hold, but I was oblivious to the tough hunting I was about to endure.

In the following weeks I got served a huge dose of bowhunting reality.  The weather for bowhunting the rut was simply terrible.  The following weather pattern repeated itself for almost the entire month: three days of rain, a day of high winds, and then warming temperatures until the next storm system blew in bringing more rain.  It was incredibly frustrating, but I kept hunting hard.  In fact, I was hunting harder than ever.  My Lone Wolf Sit and Climb and I got to be exceptionally close, and I took down and moved my Lone Wolf Assault at least 6 times during a span of 10 days when I thought the bucks would be rutting the hardest.  My efforts were futile.  The terrible weather partnered with a full moon in mid-November and forced me to go deer less on more hunts that I would care to admit.  My brother shot Clyde on November the 12th with his muzzleloader, but that was the only buck activity we experienced the first couple weeks of November.  Exhausted, I took a handful of days off from hunting to get a change of scenery, recharge my batteries and get re-focused for the second half of the month.

My Mathews Z7 Xtreme and Lone Wolf Assault and Sticks at the ready.  I logged a lot of stand time with this combo during October and November.

My first hunt after my vacation from hunting was a lot like the first two weeks of November.  Dumping rains kept me in bed the morning of November 17th, and I elected to get in my stand around noon to see if I could catch any bucks up on their feet before the high winds moved.  At 12:45 I heard a deer running behind me to the east and quickly threw up my Leupold Acadia’s to see what causing the commotion.  Shooter buck!  I counted 10 points, good tine length and estimated the buck to score around 130 inches.  Unfortunately, he was downwind of me and a little jittery with the blustery winds.  I wanted so badly to throw him a couple of contact grunts to gauge his interest and aggressiveness, but thought better of it.  Being downwind, he would pick me off in a heartbeat.  Helpless, I spent the better part of 5 minutes glassing him out through my binoculars.  I saw a good right main beam, and 4 tall tines shooting into the air.  He was a great buck, but I had to watch him turn around and trot off in the direction from which he came.  I’m not sure if he winded me, or was more interested in some does.  Nevertheless, I settled back in and enjoyed another deerless afternoon. 

I checked a trail camera on the way out that afternoon and was excited to find a lot of good deer, including a couple shooters moving through the area.  I keep a running file of all the bucks I have gotten on trail camera over the years, and as I copied the new entries into the “Bucks” file, I couldn’t help but notice High n’ Tight.  I had honestly forgotten about him because Clyde and Mr. Two Bits had stolen my attention the majority of the season.  As I sifted through the 50 photos that I kept of him, I couldn’t help but smile.  He was quite the clueless little two year old, who seemed to enjoy having his picture taken.  He was never far from the camera and offered several good looks of his rack, almost as if to say, “Look at me, Cody!  Just think of how big I will be next year!”  I laughed to myself and shut off the computer.

This photo was snapped after I hung my Lone Wolf in some of the nastiest cover on our property.  Warm temperatures and a full moon forced me to get right in the deer's bedroom.

My luck over the next week never improved.  One hunt, I forgot my binoculars.  The next, my safety harness.  Yes, my safety harness.  Don’t worry, I dropped my gear and made the long walk back to camp and put it on before returning to my stand.  I simply couldn’t catch a break.  The bad weather ensued, but I kept pushing on.  I continued to move my stands trying to get closer to the bucks I was chasing.  That plan, like my others, failed me.  There were many instances where I would move my stand from location “a’ to location “b” only to have deer walking right by the tree where my stand was hung at location “a.”  It got quite comical at times, but I couldn’t convince myself that I wasn’t going to catch a break sooner or later.  Fortunately, it proved to be sooner.

The morning of November 26th found me perched in one of my favorite stands.  In fact, it was in this stand that I shot my first deer ever when I was 6 years old.  It was creatively called, “Cody’s Stand” and is a great stand to not only see deer from, but watch the woods wake up as the sun rises.  About 8:00 the sun is high enough in the sky to just barely peak over the mountain to the South of me, and you can literally watch the sun rays shoot through the tall pines in front of the stand.  The frost dances in the forest openings, and I have never seen a deer look so pretty in the sun when they cross a trail 60 yards in front of my stand.  It's poetic.

Like always, I was in my stand over an hour before first light.  With plenty of time to spare, I tightened up my safety harness (I remembered it this time) and took a nice nap.  Getting up at 4:15 in the morning got harder and harder to do with each passing day during November, and these naps weren’t uncommon.  I have an incredible internal clock, and wanted to sleep not a minute past 6:30.  Sure enough, I woke up, checked my watch and it read 6:28.  I was alive, refreshed and ready to hunt!

Sweet November had finally arrived!  Unfortunately, the bucks didn't get the memo until later in the month.

It was a beautiful morning.  It was cold, calm and clear.  The sun had yet to rise, but there was enough light to make out my surroundings.  I was situated halfway between 1 acre of clover, 1 acre of turnips and a known buck bedding area.  The wind was out of the South.  I was expecting to see deer working their way in front of me walking East to West (left to right) back to bed after feeding in the food plots the previous night.  Right at 7:00 am I saw a flicker of movement about 100 yards to my south east.  There is a painfully annoying autumn olive bush at that exact location that always looks like a deer moving with the breeze blows, so I assumed that was what caused my heart to skip a beat.  Wait a minute, why is that autumn olive bush walking?  Bam, it’s a deer.  Up go my Leupold’s and I see a good buck coming my way.  He stops and I have just a couple seconds to determine he has a great rack but wasn’t a big bodied deer.  Just like that, he had disappeared into the timber and I lost him.  He was coming from my turnip food plot, and I was confident he would walk the trail 60 yards right in front of my stand, but I had a decision to make.  Is he a shooter?  He had a beautiful set of antlers, but wasn’t a big bodied deer.  I had to make up my mind.  I decided, “If he takes this trail right in front of my stand, I am taking this deer!”

There was only one problem; I still couldn’t find him in the thick timber!  I was looking frantically with my binoculars, but just couldn’t find him.  Finally, I wised up and let my ears find him for me.  I heard consistent footsteps and my eyes trusted my ears and I spotted him walking on the trail that would take him right in front of my stand.  He was in a hurry to get back to his bed, so I quickly grabbed my rifle, waited for him to walk into my shooting lane and stopped him with a soft grunt.  He threw his head up in my direction, and I settled the crosshairs right behind his shoulder.  My rifle rang out, and I saw him buckle up hard before racing straight down below my stand.  I knew he was hit, and hit hard, so I obviously started talking to myself, “That buck is hit hard, that buck is hit hard!”  I had just lost sight of him when I thought I had heard and saw him fall, but I just couldn’t tell.  I welcomed the shakes and adrenaline rush, removed my lucky orange beanie, stuffed it in my pocket, and took a deep breath.  

I texted my brother and dad saying, “Just took a shot on a good buck.  Think I made a good hit, didn’t see him go down.”  My brother responded, “Can I come up?!”  I replied, “Yes, but take your time.  I held right on the heart and he buckled up pretty good, just didn’t see him go down.”  I sent that text at 7:21, no more than 20 minutes later my brother was underneath my stand.  He was just as excited as I was.   

Persistence pays! I was finally able to catch up with High n' Tight the morning of November 25th.

I knew exactly where he was standing, so my brother and I went to recover my blood.  There was blood all over the place at the point of impact.  I’m surprised I didn’t break my brother’s hand when I gave him a fist pound and blurted, “That’s what I am talking about!”  He now calls me Stan Potts, go figure. 

I saw High n' Tight's right main beam a little over a week prior to me taking him.  Having history with a buck you eventually end up harvesting is a sweet feeling!

We took our time following the trail, and as I peaked up over the small hill where I last saw him, there he lay.  I saw a gorgeous right main beam with 4 tall tines, the same buck that slipped past me just a week before!  I walked up to him, lifted his head, looked him over in admiration and was surprised yet again, it was High n’ Tight!  The tall, sharp brow tines gave him away.  I immediately looked up at my brother, who was filming the recovery, and just stared at him blankly.  The buck that I thought I had the best chance at shooting this year, had evaded all 6 of my trail cameras, managed to hide from me all season despite my best efforts and nearly snuck by me again.  

Meet High n' Tight, my biggest buck to date, and the deer I am most proud of!

My dad got down out of his stand early, met my brother and in the frosty timber where High n’ Tight fell, and we celebrated like only a father/son hunting team can.  My brother graciously took a couple hundred photos of me and High n’ Tight, and we taped him out at 126 7/8”, my biggest buck to date, and quite frankly the buck I am most proud of.  I hunt harder than the majority of the guys I know.  The amount of time and effort I spend in preparation, hanging stands, trimming lanes, moving stands, mock scraping, food plotting, etc. is mind boggling, and it would have been easy for me to give in after the rough start to the season I endured and chalk it up to bad luck, but I stayed persistent, kept my nose to the grind stone just waiting for something good to happen, and it did.  I’m still amazed at the irony with High n’ Tight.  I had ran 6 trail cameras all summer and fall, hunted countless stands, moved those stands and moved them again trying to find this guy.  All the while, he was feeding in the same food plot the night before I shot him that he was so visible in from January to March.  

After countless hours of preparation, scouting and time in the stand, giving Thanks is the most appropriate way to honor and give respect to the animal.

This buck, and this hunting season really, also means a lot to me on an emotion level.  My brother, and hunting partner, Damin, will be getting married next spring, and while we’ll still get hunt with each other, our brotherly relationship will take a back seat to him starting a family, as it should.  My brother was right alongside me the majority of this hunting season, which to us began back in January, the day the 2010 season went out.  We shed hunted together, planted the food plots together, hung and moved stands together and, like the previous 20 years of our lives, we were inseparable.  It made for a special season that we each got to be in the woods when the other shot the biggest buck of his life.  To add to the irony, High n’ Tight and Clyde actually grouped up and ran together after the 2010 season.  Where there was one, there was the other.  In the food plots, traveling on trails, they trusted each other. They were, ironically, inseparable.  Just like my brother and I.  Who would have thought that two lucky brothers would be so fortunate to harvest such awesome whitetails that were, in a very real sense, brothers as well?

The Rut Finally Comes To Illinois

by Justin Zarr 22. November 2011 15:16
Justin Zarr

First off, let me start by saying I wasn't complaining in my last Blog entry. By all accounts, had my season ended on the evening I wrote that very entry I would have been extremely pleased with the outcome. My Blog was more or less expressing my frustrations that the amount of rutting activity I had seen this year was very sub-par compared to years in the past. For me, the thrill of those classic rut hunts is really what defines my season. The cold mornings with bucks grunting and chasing does, seeing deer on a flat-out run across a field during the middle of the day, the tales of hunters having multiple big buck encounters in a single sit. Those are the things that had been lacking from my season so far.

That brings us to this past weekend here in Northern Illinois. With gun season open across much of the state many bowhunters had their archery gear put away temporarily. However, being a resident of the Chicago suburbs where many of our counties are bow-only, I was fortunate enough to be able to take to the woods with my Mathews in hand. Saturday morning found me perched in a tree where I shot a nice buck last fall, hoping for a November repeat. This time I had good friend, and cameraman, Mike Willand with me.

Over the course of the morning Mike and I saw a total of 8 deer, including two small bucks who were clearly out on the prowl looking for does. Now, I know this doesn't seem very substantial to a lot of people but keep in mind there's times when I don't see 8 deer in a MONTH of hunting on this farm. To see 8 in one sit is pretty incredible, and really helped fuel me for the rest of the weekend.

That same morning the coyotes were also out and about as we saw two of them, both within bow range of our stand. Fortunately for the 2nd coyote, my shooting was a bit off as he came by at 30 yards and I launched an arrow about an inch over his furry back.

My shot was a touch high as this big Illinois 'yote ducked my arrow and escaped unscathed.  These little buggers sure do move quick!

Saturday afternoon I was back in the same stand, this time self-filming as Mike had prior committments. Although I only saw one nice 2 1/2 year old that came by and offered a 10 yard shot, I heard the sounds of a good buck chasing a doe in the timber to my West. Branches cracking, leaves crunching, a buck grunting, roaring and snort-wheezing. Now THIS is what I was looking for! The buck and doe never showed themselves before darkness came, but I knew for a fact I had to get back in there the next morning.  If that does was hot there's bound to be one, if not several, good bucks competing for the right to breed her.

This busted up 2 1/2 year old paid me a visit on Saturday afternoon.  He worked a licking branch and urinated on his hocks just 7 yards from the base of my tree.

4:15 came awful early on Sunday morning, and despite my body telling me to stay in my nice warm bed, I got up and headed out. Knowing it could be my last good morning hunt before the rut was done for the year I was determined to get in a stand before daylight.

As the sun just began to peak over the horizon I spotted my first deer of the day, a young spike buck, making his way behind my stand. About an hour later I heard a deep grunt in the field behind me and turned around to see a doe flying across the field at break-neck speed. I knew a buck wasn't far away and kept my eyes peeled. A minute later I spotted the source of the grunt, a nice buck feeding in the cut corn. After looking him over with my binoculars for a minute or two I determined he was a shootable deer and tried to formulate a game plan for how I was going to get a shot at him. He was 100 yards away from me and straight down wind. Not a good sitaution.

The first thing I did was take out the bottle of Tink's 69 from my backpack and spray some into the air. Not only did I want him to get a whiff of doe estrus to try and attract him, but I wanted to cover up my scent and prevent him from spooking. During the peak of the rut a buck's desire to breed will often cause him to make mistakes he wouldn't normally make, and I was hoping that today this would be the case. So after a minute or two of letting the scent disperse, I broke out the grunt call and let out a series of short buck grunts. The minute he picked his head up and looked my direction I immediately stopped calling and grabbed my bow.

On queue the buck came in on a string, straight down the path I had walked into my stand that morning. With the camera rolling at my side the buck hung up at 18 yards and would not come a single step closer. With a steady North wind at 10 mph blowing both my scent and the Tink's straight into his nostrils the buck didn't know what to do. He looked and looked and looked some more, several times looking right up in the tree at me. I thought for sure I was busted, but thanks to my Lost Camo he never spotted me.

Eventually the buck turned and began to circle around my stand at about 22 yards. Unfortunately this particular piece of woods is extremely thick and wasn't trimmed out quite as well as it should have been so I never got a good shot opportunity at the buck. I had one very small window of opportunity, but when I grunted to stop him he took two steps before stopping and was directly behind a tree, effectively blocking any shot I had. After a second the buck continued on his way, out of bow range and eventually out of sight.

After I grunted in an attempt to stop this buck, he took two more steps before pausing behind some trees where I couldn't get a shot at him.

At this point I couldn't believe it! I had a shooter buck within 20 yards for well over 5 minutes and could never get a shot at him. How does that happen? So as I'm feeling sorry for myself, I do a quick interview and talk about what just happened before sending a text to Mike to let him know what's going on. Just as I put my phone away I hear something and look up to see the buck headed back my direction. So I quickly grab the camera, turn it on and get it positioned, grab my bow and get ready.

The buck steps out in the wide open at 30 yards when I grunt to stop him, settle my pin, and touch off the shot. With a "SMACK" that echoed throughout the woods the big bodied whitetail turned and ran only 5 yards before stopping and looking back to see what just happened, acting like nothing was wrong.  I could see my arrow protruding from his side with what looked like only 2-3 inches of penetration and my heart sank. A direct hit to the shoulder, forward and low, is rarely a good sign.

My buck just milliseconds before the arrow impacted him directly in the shoulder.

Over the course of the next 20 minutes I watched the buck slowly hobble his way through the woods before finally losing sight of him. Although I could see his tail twitching rapidly and see him stagger from time to time, I was very unsure of the hit and decided to back out.  An hour later I climbed down from my Lone Wolf stand and slowly made my way back to the truck. After talking it over with Mike we decided to wait 4-5 hours just to be safe before returning.  In my experience is always better to wait it on on a questionable hit, regardless of whether or not it's too far forward, or too far back.  The way this buck was acting I had a feeling he wouldn't travel far before laying down, and I hoped to find him nearby upon our return.

Not the type of reaction we all hope for after shooting a nice buck.  Making a questionable shot on a deer, buck or doe, leaves a sick pit in the stomach of any bowhunter.

Over 5 hours later at 1 pm we returned to the woods and immediately found good blood. In fact, the blood trail was much better than I thought it was going to be, which was encouraging. Roughly 30 yards up the trail we found my busted Gold Tip arrow and confirmed that penetration was only around 4 inches. My optimism faded a bit. However, as we continued on the blood trail was very easy to follow and at times very good. Then, right where I had last seen him, I spotted rack sticking up over a fallen log. My buck was down!

Finding blood like this is always an ecouraging sign when trailing a wounded deer.

Moments after spotting my buck laying just feet from where I last saw him hours earlier.  What a relief!

The feeling of relief was like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. There is nothing worse in the deer hunting woods than shooting and not recovering an animal, and I was honestly sick to my stomach thinking about not finding this deer. Knowing that he went down within 100 yards from the shot is a great feeling.

As it turns out, I believe that I may have hit one of the major veins or arteries that runs up the deer's neck, because on inspection my arrow never actually penetrated the chest cavity. The lack of penetration was caused because I did hit the front shoulder, but luckily I had enough power behind my arrow to push in far enough to get the job done. I give all the credit to the NAP Hellrazor broadhead I was shooting. In this particular case the solid one-piece stainless steel broadhead was the difference between my success and failure on this hunt. Proving yet again why I favor a durable, tough-as-nails fixed blade head over a massive expandable head any day of the week.

After not having any good bucks on trail camera all summer and fall, it was nice to catch up with this guy.  A solid 3 1/2 year old buck, he may not score much but he's a great trophy and a wonderful way to end my 2011 bowhunting season here in Illinois.

With all of this said, my 2011 season is officially in the books and it's time to start thinking 2012 already. I plan on continuing to run several Stealth Cams on my various hunting properties to inventory the bucks that are still around, and of course shed season will be here before we know it! In between those two we've got several trade shows to attend so I'll certainly stay busy.

Look for the full video of this hunt on an upcoming episode of Bowhunt or Die. We still have 6 more exciting buck hunts to bring you over the next several weeks, including mine. To those of you still hunting out there remember to be safe, shoot straight and most importantly have fun!

Big Buck Down - The Taking of a Mock Scrape Buck

by Mike Willand 22. November 2011 15:00
Mike Willand

Bowhunting is detective work. If you’re like me you have many different stand sites set up across numerous different properties covering a handful of different regions of your home state - sometimes over several states. Taking clues that are left behind by deer, revisiting past sightings and experiences, all the while trying to piece together the big picture to make that next move on where the buck you’re looking for will be hiding. Sometimes you guess wrong and sometimes you guess right.

On Monday, November 14th, I guessed right.

For weeks leading up to that Monday I had been grimacing at all the bucks falling to friends of mine across the country. Not in jealousy mind you, but in regret that the days I was pleading to take off from work would be too late into November and past the peak of the rut throughout northern Illinois.

My decision to take the 14th-17th off was based on this year’s poor crop of what I call shooter whitetail. Older deer just never seemed to start expanding their home ranges till after Veterans Day. That’s what I was looking for on that Monday - a buck searching for love far from where he typically calls home.

For weeks, my good friend Justin Zarr and I had been capturing nothing but younger deer on our Stealthcams. Together, we have nearly twenty of them, scattered over four different farms, covering a hundred miles in between. Going into the 2011 season we only had one buck that either of us really wanted to take on camera. Justin would end up the lucky hunter on Halloween weekend, with me behind camera, and a buck called “Hitch”. Two weeks had gone by and we still had nothing else to chase. 

All three of my mock scrapes were flourishing with whitetail activity. The problem was all three of them had a regular onslaught of 100 - 120 inch bucks calling them their own. For Justin and me, once “Hitch” was taken, there seemed to be a major gap between age groups.

Although not the quality of buck I was hoping for, pictures like this are testimonials of a well planned mock scrape. Here, a young buck stands on his back legs to work the above licking branches.

My only chance was to await the days I believed older bucks would begin to stretch their home range, and this is why I chose the 14th -17th of November. Figuring if I failed to find a buck during this time frame, the following week yielded more days off for the Thanksgiving holiday and yet another chance to find a cruiser buck that Justin and I hoped existed. It was a shot in the dark.

Sunday night, November 13th, found me staring at the Scoutlook Weather website for what seemed like eternity, finally making the decision to sit my favorite mock scrape all day beginning the following morning. I shut off my computer and went to bed.

I awoke the next morning especially early. I wanted plenty of time to make and pack a solid lunch for the more than 10 hour sit that I was already dreading. Two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, no less than thirty carrot sticks, a large bag of animal crackers, an apple, and nearly 50 ounces of water were going to be my only sources of comfort for the remainder of the day.

The drive in was uneventful, a far cry from the morning before when no less than four different deer nearly ended up on the hood of my truck. A couple days past full moon, I was hoping the deer were returning to late morning movement again. The past several days had deer on their feet just after legal shooting light, something every deer hunter loathes to witness - myself especially.

Once dressed, I made the trek to my treestand. The moon was so bright I never turned on my headlamp that morning. I could easily make out the woods as it lay before me. When I hit the pond, which is what I used to creep into this set-up undetected, I noticed the water had risen several inches after the recent rainfall. Several steps later and I found myself in too deep – literally! After a false step, a small amount of water had gotten over the top of my 18 inch rubber boots, enough to soak my feet and cause me to curse in the dark! I stepped back a few feet and ended up getting out of the water forty yards short of where I normally step out from. I decided the pond was too dangerous to navigate in the dark, fearing a fall would send me and my video camera into the drink. A fall I surely could have lived with, but my camera may not have made it through. With my camera dangling around my neck I took another way in, trouncing through a section of tall grass that skirted the pond. With each step I took, the frosted stems sounded like firecrackers in the once soundless woods.

Once in stand I readied myself for the day. I hung my bow, my pack, and set up the camera for the self-filming session I was sure to receive as the day waned on. Not ten minutes into my sit and I heard the dreadful footsteps of deer in the dark. I turned and looked in the direction they were coming from, and made out what appeared to be two deer in the loud grasses I had just walked in from. No doubt as I peered at their faint images, they had heard me walking in. Immediately I thought my day was already beginning badly. These two deer were surely going to bust me!  And – I thought, if they heard me walk in, they were already in an area deer don’t typically show up in until about an hour after shooting light. The full moon had foiled me again – I thought!

After a few moments, the two deer ran away to the other side of the woods. I couldn’t tell if their tails were up, but I knew they had cut my trail in. I looked up into the starry sky wondering if my decision to not walk the pond all the way in would cost me the entire day’s sit.

The remainder of my sit in the dark anticipating the sunrise was silent. Only a far off cry of an owl could faintly be heard.

I turned my video camera’s power on just at shooting light, something I’ve done for much of the season so I wouldn’t have to fumble for it once the moment of truth arrived at first light. Standing up now, I faced the direction of my mock scrape. It laid just over twenty yards from me. It was not uncommon to hear the deer at the scrape before seeing them. The soft ground surrounding the scrape often made deer nearly impossible to detect if not for the fact that they would often stop to hit the licking branches which strung out from every which angle above it. The overcast sky kept the earth dim as I anticipated the hours ahead.

Just before sunrise I heard loud, drawn out doe bleats coming from the direction I had seen the two does run to about 45 minutes before. I reached for my grunt tube immediately as experience has taught me that when deer are vocal – you are vocal. I quickly threw out four or five short grunts and then stopped, wondering what I was thinking. I didn’t want to scare the potential bait away, and began to bleat loudly and drawn out, just as I had heard. I did this six or seven times, then silenced my grunt, shoving it back into my pocket from where it came.

I heard the running of a deer in the marsh behind me and turned my entire body to make out a buck advancing quickly on me. Without even throwing up my optics I saw that it was a good buck, at least 130-class! As soon as I recognized who the buck was I heard a very faint stick snap from the direction I was previously looking – over toward my scrape. I turned my head and came eye to eye with a shooter buck not more than twelve yards away and peering into the cattails waiting to see what all the commotion was about.

I believe the buck who was approaching from the marsh was this handsome 3 year old I called "Larry Bird". Here "Larry" works my mock scrapes licking branch.

With his eyes fixated on the bog, I turned back quickly and grabbed my bow, even glancing into the camera screen at the same time to see if the buck was in frame. All I saw was the weak outlines of the trees as the image was still too dark – camera light had not yet begun. I forgot about filming and drew!

With the buck slightly quartering in, I found my pin and settled it on his shoulder. Within moments I released! The buck took off through the timber but didn’t make it far, crashing a short distance away. The sounds of the surrounding woods quickly hushed once again. I could see two does in the distance, their tails showing white. The buck in the marsh slopped through the water traveling further and further out of earshot. I calmed myself, waiting for the earth to return to silence.

I could see a small section of my arrow, bloody and broken, laying where the buck once stood. Reaching for my phone I called my wife and daughter to tell them the news – Daddy is done!

A special thanks to Bowhunting.Com president Todd Graf for coming out to take these great pictures.

I would wait another twenty minutes before getting down from the tree to pick up the blood trail. Figuring the buck had made it into the cattails which surrounded my stand I didn’t want to take anything for granted. I was quiet, calm, and ready to put a second shot in him if need be. I took just three steps from where our encounter began, looked up and could see his body just off in the distance. I approached slowly, eyeing the buck up and down to make certain he was expired, and all the time grinning from ear to ear.

On the first day of my four day hunting vacation, within just a few minutes of light, my season was over. I knelt down beside the buck and looked to the sky once more.

My smile says it all! The buck from unknown origin showed up at my mock scrape the same day I did - ending my 2011 deer season.

October Bowhunting Success | A Buck Named Hitch

by Justin Zarr 31. October 2011 16:14
Justin Zarr

This particular tale begins in the spring of 2011.  After one of my most successful bowhunting seasons to date, I decided it was time to move on from the lease I had come to call home the past three seasons.  The days of chasing Dope Ear and Schafer were over, and it was time to find some new ground.  Preferably something closer than the 250 mile drive I had been making almost every weekend during the fall.  So with mixed emotions I let the landowner now that we would be moving on, and the search for a new hunting spot began.

Through some hard work, and some much needed luck, my good friend and hunting partner Mike Willand found just such a spot.  Located in far Northwestern Illinois, this small slice of heaven hugs the bluffs of the mighty Mississippi River and looked to be very promising.  After a brief conversation, confirming that we both agreed that this was our new spot, we signed the paperwork and began preparations for the fall.

Our first trip to the new farm was on a hot summer day in Mid-July.  This was the first time I had ever stepped foot on this farm in person.  Those of you who are big on pre-season scouting know how nearly impossible it can be to scout effectively during the summer months.  The foliage is thick, the bugs are horrible, the temperatures are hot and the humidity is suffocating.  In light of this, Mike and I did the majority of our scouting and planning of stand locations before ever heading to the woods.  Aerial photos and topographic maps are without question your best friend when it comes to scouting new ground.

Having a general idea where we wanted to hang our Lone Wolf stands before heading into the field helped tremendously and allowed us to hang several sets on our first trip that July day, and finish up the remaining sets during a return trip in August.  The 2nd set we hung was located nearly in the center of the farm along what we figured would be a good travel corridor during the rut. 

The dog days of summer may not be the optimal time to hang stands, but sometimes you don't have much of a choice.  One of the keys to being successful is being prepared, not just in hunting but in all aspects of life.  Here Mike is making his way down the field edge to hang one of our Lone Wolf stands in preparation for fall.

Located on the side of a ridge we had a corn field to the North of us and a creek to the South.  To most people this stand doesn’t appear to be anything special, and probably wouldn’t be a spot many people would put a stand.  However, the topography doesn’t lie.  If a deer wanted to move from the big timber to our West through our woods to check does in the bedding area to our East, he would most likely come through this spot.

While hanging stands that warm July day we also set out a trail camera on a fence crossing, hoping to get an inventory of the resident deer herd.   On our return trip in August we checked the camera and much to our liking we had captured several pictures of what appeared to be a nice buck.  The date on the first image was 7-27-11, which was Mike’s 4 year wedding anniversary.  This prompted us to name the buck in the photos “Hitch”.

Our first photo of Hitch, taken in late July.  The forked brow tine on his left side is a dead giveaway.

Fast forward to October 1st, our first day in stand on this farm.  Opening Morning was relatively uneventful as we only saw one small buck and a doe.  During the middle of the day while killing time before our evening hunt we checked our trail camera again, this time on a different fence crossing, and once again captured several photos of Hitch – this time out of velvet.

The next, and last, photo captured of Hitch on this farm.  This photo was taken in late September and we never got another photo of him on this farm.  Although we weren't getting pictures of him, we were confident he was still around.

Over the next several weeks we only hunted this farm a total of 3 days.  While we knew the farm was holding some good deer, we didn’t want to ruin our hunting before things were getting good.  At just over 100 acres it’s easy to put too much pressure on the deer early and decrease your chances of shooting a good buck.  We’ve made that mistake in the past and didn’t want to make it again.  So we bit our tongues and we waited.

The weekend of October 29th it was time to get serious.  Instead of leaving home at 2:30 am like we had done previously, we drove out on Friday night and got a hotel room.  Some extra sleep and a shower were in order now that the bigger bucks were likely on their feet during daylight hours. 

Our plan for this morning was somewhat different than the previous 3 trips to the farm.  Instead of circling around the edge of the property and coming in from the West, we were going to sneak straight up the middle and approach the stand from the East.  You see, earlier in October during our morning walk into the stand we had spooked what sounded like a big deer in the standing corn field.  Upon closer inspection of the area we found several big scrapes, some rubs and a definite “smell” of buck.  Whoever it was, that deer had been marking his territory when we so rudely interrupted him.  Not wanting to make the same mistake again, we altered our entry route accordingly.

Upon entering the woods on Saturday morning we once again encountered the distinct smell of buck.  Many of you likely know what I’m talking about.  The musky smell of rutting whitetail buck is unmistakable and running into that during late October likely means you’re in a buck’s core area.  Also during our trip into the stand, which was our first to this stand for the year, we found several big beds that reinforced our theory that we were in a buck’s bedroom.

As the sun rose on the chilly 29 degree morning, the daylight revealed several rubs and a scrape all within 30 yards of our stand location.  Although we had hung this stand in preparation for a good travel route, it appears that we ended up in a buck bedding area.  In late October in Northern Illinois there are certainly worse places to be!

The first hour of our morning was relatively uneventful until a small button buck made an appearance.   Showing up almost directly downwind of us the young buck was nervous, but unsure of just what he was smelling.  This is until he busted us up in the tree, trying to have a little fun at his expense.  I supposed that’s what we get for screwing around.

Our first visitor of the day, a young button buck.  Anytime you start seeing yearlings out on your own you know the rut is getting close. 

Roughly 45 minutes later, shortly before 9 am, I heard footsteps on the ridge to our West and shortly after I spotted a deer moving through the brush.  I told Mike we had a deer on the opposite ridge working our way, and we both stood up.  As the deer moved out from behind a tree the glimmer of white antlers could be seen and my heart rate quickened.  I put up my Vortex binoculars to size the buck up, to which Mike responded “Put away your binoculars and grab your bow, it’s a shooter!”

Of course I didn’t listen to him as I wanted to make 100% sure this buck was a shooter before I switched my brain into kill mode.  I’ve made the mistake before of not taking time to confirm the buck’s age and rack size and buck fever has gotten the best of me.  However, that wasn’t a problem this time.  As soon as my glass hit his rack I said to Mike “It’s Hitch”.   I immediately put down the binos and reached for my Mathews.

A shot of Hitch as he approached our stand location.  Here at roughly 35 yards I have no good shot opportunities.

Over the course of the next several minutes Hitch crossed the ridge and made his way in front of our stand.  He crossed broadside at just over 30 yards, but I had no shot.  The problem with hunting these hilly areas is that often times you can’t get high enough up in the trees to trim long shooting lanes, which was the case here.  Most of my shots were within 20 yards so he was going to have to close the distance before I could get an arrow headed his direction.

After passing in front of the stand Hitch took an abrupt left and began heading away from us.  Immediately, a small feeling of defeat began to set in.  He had come so close, but was now headed in the wrong direction.  While part of me immediately wanted to reach for my grunt call in an attempt to turn him around, the veteran deer hunter in me knew better.  The buck was still within 40 yards and grunting too soon would sure do nothing but send him in the opposite direction even faster.  My plan was to let him get out to 80 yards or so before hitting the call.  But before that could happen, a little bit of luck headed my way.  Hitch decided to turn around and come back towards us.

As the buck approached our stand and got to within 20 yards he had two trails to pick from.  Both crossed well within shooting range, but one went into an open area that would make for great video and the other behind a small tree holding on dearly to its leaves.  At this point my luck had started to run out, as he picked the trail shrouded by fall foliage.

When Hitch stepped into the open at just 18 yards I grunted to stop him, settled the pin on his shoulder, and sent an NAP Hellrazor tipped arrow his way.  The arrow slammed into the brute’s shoulder and he tore off up the hill, stopping just 50 yards away.  After just 20 seconds the mighty warrior staggered, and despite his best efforts, fell over as Mike continued to roll footage.  Nearly 3 months to the day after showing up on our trail camera, Hitch was dead.

The post-shot celebration was much as you would expect.  Mike and I were in somewhat of a state of disbelief as to what just happened.  You see, things just never seem to work out like this for us.  We hunt harder than most people we know, put more time into our stand setups and preparation, and yet rarely do our plans seem to go, well, as planned.  In this case, our plan was thought out and executed to perfection.  In just the 7th sit on a brand new farm the #1 target on our Hit List was down.  What a way to end October!

My initial reaction after the shot.  I can't believe I just shot Hitch!

Once the shock wore off and text messages were sent out we climbed down to retrieve our trophy.  Despite seeing him fall we still followed the blood trail, which was incredible.  Both deer I’ve shot with the Hellrazor this season have left great trails, which is a testament to both good shot placement as well as razor sharp broadheads.  You don’t need a 2 inch cut to put a deer down quickly provided you hit them in the right place.  My shot on Hitch was about 3 inches further forward than I would have liked, however my arrow penetrated completely through the big-bodied whitetail thanks to the ultra tough Hellrazor broadhead.  I know a lot of guys like big cutting diameters, but I'll take a small, accurate, tough-as-nails broadhead any day no matter how big the cutting diameter.

There are few better feelings for a bow hunter than the first time you wrap your hands around the antlers of a buck you just shot.

Guessing Hitch at 225+ lbs on the hoof we enlisted the help of our friend and other hunting partner Mr. Kenny Tekampe to help us drag the brute out.  Luckily we only had about a 60 yard drag to the field edge, where we were able to drive the truck and pick him up.  After a photo and video session for this week’s episode of Bowhunt or Die we loaded him up and headed to the deer processor.

I didn’t have a chance to put a tape to him, but I would guess he scores somewhere around 145 inches, which makes him my best buck to date.  I’ve yet to enter any of my qualifying bucks into the P&Y record book, but I just may with this one.  He is a great example of what the Midwest has to offer when it comes to high quality whitetails.

My best buck to date, and first buck shot with my Mathews z7 Xtreme.  If my luck continues it won't be the last either.

One thing I want to point out before I end this Blog is that this buck wasn’t a result of just my efforts alone.  It was a team effort that required of hard work, planning, and sacrifice by my friend, hunting partner, cameraman and partner in crime Mike Willand.  Mike and I dedicate nearly ½ of our season each year to film each other, which is not only a lot of work but a huge sacrifice.  For those of you who have never done it, imagine sitting in a tree on a cold November morning with your bow in the truck and a camera in your hand.  

So a big Thank You goes out to Mike for all of his help.   From finding this farm for us to hunt, to battling with me about treestand locations to filming one of the most memorable hunts of my life, you’re a great friend and not a half bad cameraman.  Hopefully I can repay the favor before the season is over!

Be sure to check out our online show, Bowhunt or Die, this Friday as the full video of this hunt will be featured in this week’s episode.  And if you missed last week’s show, but sure to check it out as it features Mike’s hunt for a great suburban whitetail from earlier this October.

The end of a successful hunt is always bittersweet.  The thrill of the hunt is mixed with the disappointment of knowing this particular adventure has come to an end.  However, knowing that the season is young and the peak of the rut is still ahead of us gives me hope that there are more exciting hunts to come before the 2011 season is over.

Humbling Beginning to My 2011 Bowhunting Season

by Cody Altizer 5. October 2011 07:17
Cody Altizer

It’s no secret that bowhunting teaches ones many lessons and can provide a hunter with as many emotions over the course of the season.  Obviously, before the season begins we are about to explode with excitement and anticipation about the season that lies ahead, and can’t wait to get up a tree.  This year was no different for me, however; I was quickly brought back down to earth after self-inflicted difficult first hunt.  If bowhunting hasn’t taught you about humility, allow the recollection of my opening weekend to be a brief introduction.

Bright red blood with bubbles staind the forest floor in Virginia early Saturday morning, but no deer were recovered.  I have only one choice now, learn from my mistakes and keep moving forward!

I had predicted that I would shoot a deer on opening day in my blog back during the spring due the success of my food plots.  When opening morning rolled around, I was as confident as ever that I would accomplish that goal.  My food plots were booming with as many as 15-20 deer feeding in them regularly each and every afternoon.  With temperatures in the upper 30s opening morning, I elected to go to my best stand site with the hopes of arrowing at least a mature doe.  I had turnips to my west, clover and oats to my Northwest, and acorns due north; I was downwind of all of it.  I had a good feeling.

My Mathews Z7 Xtreme waiting patiently...

I welcomed the early season tranquility like a long lost friend, and patiently waited for the deer to wander past my stand on their way to bed down for the day.  Around 8:00 I had two mature does and their little ones meander their way toward my stand before a deer about 100 yards to my North began to blow nervously before finally trotting off.  Even with my scent control regimen in full force, the deer must have crossed my entrance path and picked up my scent.  The two does and fawns trusted their sister’s warning blows and casually began feeding in the opposite direction.  No worries I thought, the morning is still young.  About 8:30 I happened to look directly behind me in the forest opening and saw two fawns chasing one another back and forth about 40 yards away, playing and enjoying the warm sunlight.  I looked even closer and there was their mother 20 yards downwind of me and closing quickly.  I grabbed my Mathews, but thought for sure she would wind before I could get a shot.  My Scent Blocker suit performed admirably in the situation, as she continued on.  In less than 30 seconds from the time I first saw her, she was underneath my stand and walking away on a mission.  I waited until she got 15 yards (I hope I never shoot straight down on a deer) from my stand, stopper her, and released my arrow.  She mule kicked and tore down into the steep creek bottom below me out of sight.  “Yes!” I thought to myself.  Mission accomplished; doe down on opening day.  The thick foliage kept me from watching her too far from the point of impact, but I was confident she was down close.  Then, my excitement turned to worry.  I glassed down to look at my arrow and saw no blood on it.  This made me nervous.  I waited a half hour, got down, retrieved my arrow and found only muscle on the arrow.  I immediately backed out, texted some friends, and decided to give her a couple of hours.  I had hit her forward, but was still confident I would find her.

There are few things better in this world than a Mathews bow and the beautiful fall colors!

After waiting a couple hours, I dressed down, grabbed my bow and camera and headed out to pick up the trail.  I found blood about 20 yards from the POI and it became easier and easier to follow as I headed down the steep ridge I was hunting.  My hope strengthened when I found bubbles complimenting the bright red blood trail.  “She can’t be far,” I thought.  The blood trail weakened as she started making her way up the steep ridge adjacent to my stand, but it was still consistent enough for me to follow without much difficulty.  I took my time; meticulously following the blood trail and marking my trail so I could better figure out which way she was headed and how badly she may have been hit.  I followed the trail some 500 yards over the course of 3 hours before it abruptly ended.  It wasn’t a great blood trail, but I could follow it easily enough and its consistency led me to believe me she may bleed out soon.  Each time I crested a knoll or entered some fallen trees, I thought for sure I would find her, but no luck.

Opening weekend wasn't a TOTAL bust, as I got a picture of this buck on my Stealth Cam.  This buck is the biggest buck that I have ever gotten on trail camera on my property, and would be the biggest buck ever harvested if I, my brother or dad can harvest him.

I decided to back out again and wait for my dad to get home, 2 hours later, and we would pick up the trail together.  Sure enough, roughly 200 yards from where I lost blood, my dad picked up the trail.  Again, decent blood with bubbles (they had dried by this point).  After I lost blood earlier, I wasn’t confident we would find her.  But she was bleeding badly enough and heading straight down into the steepest creek bottoms Millboro, Virginia, has to offer.  My dad and I followed the blood another 100 yards through the creek bottom, confident we would look up and find her dead trying to get out of the steep ridges.  Again, no such luck.  As we pressed on I told dad, “If she’s going to die, she’ll die in these bottoms.  Trying to get up and out of here would be enough to kill her.”  It didn’t.  We lost blood and scoured the ridge tops and bottoms looking for a dead deer another 2 hours, but we never found her.  I can only hope she made it out alive, but I am afraid that’s just wishful thinking.

Daytime photos of shooter bucks are always exciting!

Very rarely do plans come together as perfectly as they did opening morning on my hunting property, and it truly sickens me that I made a bad shot on the deer.  She came in quickly and I rushed the shot, no excuses.  However, given the opportunity, I would likely handle the situation the same.  In fact, in 2009 I harvested a doe in the exact same scenario from the exact same stand at the exact same spot I shot this doe.  She came in quickly; I grabbed my bow, stopped her at 14 yards and put an arrow through both lungs.  She died within 50 yards.  Bowhunting is a game of inches and I missed my spot by just inches.  

I now have two photos of the same buck (pictured above), at two very different locations.  I now have a general idea of where he is spending his time and luckily, I can hunt travel routes that he'll likely use once the rut approaches.

I am sure that a blog dedicated to the wounding of a deer and not recovering it is about as unexciting and buzz killing as it can get for a deer hunter this time of year, but I felt the need to tell the story, because it is real.  Refusing to do so would be unfair to you, the reader, who will follow my blog throughout the fall.  I feel it would also be criminally disrespectful to the deer and nature to neglect sharing my unfortunate experiences due to pride or arrogance.  When it comes to hunting whitetails, I want to be held accountable and responsible for all the decisions and experiences I have in the woods.

Losing a deer is tough, but it’s real, and I must move on.  Fortunately, there is a lot of season ahead of me and I have a lot to look forward to.  My trail cameras captured photos of two different bucks that I will spend a lot of time trying to kill this fall.  What’s even more encouraging is that the bucks in the photos were feeding in my clover food plot, close to a handful of my stands.  Granted, the photos were at night, but it’s still early and those bucks are getting more and more restless by the day.  I encourage you to follow my blog throughout the season to see how my fall progresses.  Sure, I hit a small bump in the road early on, but I plan on making this a season to remember, so you’ll want to keep checking back for more updates!

Bowhunting Elk in Colorado

by Justin Zarr 25. September 2011 11:31
Justin Zarr

Nearly two years ago our good friend and forum member Dan Mater (130Woodman) asked Mike Willand and myself if we'd like to go elk hunting with him in Colorado. Having prior obligations for the 2010 season we decided as a group that 2011 would be the year we headed West to chase elk together. So on Friday September 16th we packed up the truck and hit the road. Some 17 hours later we rolled into town and without sleeping, hit the mountain.

After 6 straight days of walking 8 to 12 miles a day (mostly uphill I believe) we returned home defeated this past Friday. We're not entirely sure what the problem was, but it seems like a very late spring has turned into a very late fall with the majority of the elk not bugling much. Those of you who have hunted elk on public lands probably know that when the elk aren't talking, the hunting can be tough. We only heard a handful of bugles during our trip, and most of those were far away and were unresponsive to Dan's calling. The lone elk who responded and came into calling was on the 2nd to last night of our trip, and the only night where Mike and I split off on our own to hopefully cover more ground. So while Dan had an angry bull at 40 yards, Mike and I were a mile and a half up the mountain watching nothing but squirrels and birds. Figures!

I'm no expert, but I don't think late September in the mountains of Colorado is supposed to be this green.

So instead of spending most of our time trying to coax an angry bull into bow range, we spent the majority of our time simply trying to locate elk to hunt. Many of the typical spots where Dan has has success in years past were nearly void of elk sign. So we scoured the mountains as best as our Midwestern legs and lungs would allow us, and in the end came up emptyhanded.

Mike and Dan listening for a response after letting out a bugle during our Day 3 climb to nearly 11,000 feet.

Mike and I were all geared up to capture some exciting footage for "Bowhunt or Die", but the elk just didn't feel like cooperating.

Although none of us bagged an elk on this trip, I have to say it wasn't a complete bust. The three of us shared more laughs than I've had in a long time, experienced some amazing scenery and breathtaking views, and solidified our friendships which will most assuredly spend more time in the field together in the future. I'm not going to say I'm not disappointed that none of us got a shot opportunity because I am, but hey, that's life!

Sunset on the last night of our trip.  It's not an elk in the truck, but not a bad way to end the week.

For those of you who have never elk hunted before, here are just a few tips that I learned during my hiking adventure, which was disguised as a hunting trip.

1. Make sure you have good-fitting, comfortable, waterproof boots. Us Midwestern guys may think we're used to walking a lot up some of these "hills", but trust me it's NOTHING like climbing 2,000-3,000 feet in elevation up a mountain side which takes sometimes 2 to 4 hours. Having boots that fit well, are comfortable, and waterproof will make your hunt 100x better. If your feet get wet, sore or blistered on the first couple of days you're in for a LONG week.  My boot of choice on this trip was the Rocky Lynx, which worked out great.

2. Bring plenty of food and water. During this trip I typically went through about 2-3 liters of water per day. 2 liters were in the water bladder in my pack, and the other in bottles I brought with me. Hiking up these mountains all day is tough work, and you'll be glad you brought the extra water. I also packed 2 sandwiches, 2 Nutrigrain bars, and 2 granola bars for the day as well. When you leave the truck at 5 am and get back at 8 pm you'll need the food.

Peanut Butter & Honey?  Don't mind if I do...

3. Have a good pack. Although after the first day or two I took out everything I didn't need, I still found myself bringing a lot of gear up the mountain with me. Whether it's extra clothes, 1st aid kit, water, food, binos, rangefinder, GPS etc you'll be taking a lot of stuff with you each day. Having a pack that is light weight, adjustable, comfortable and big enough for all of your gear is a must. On this trip I used the Blacks Creek 3:16 Lumbar pack, and it was awesome. Roomy enough to hold all of my junk, and comfortable enough not to bog me down. I'll be doing a full write-up on this pack in the next week or so. IMO, it's the best pack I've ever personally used/owned.

Mike glassing for elk.  Keep looking buddy!

4. Dress appropriately. Unlike some of the short walks to your treestand on a cold November morning where you can get away with wearing most of your layering clothing, you can't do that when hunting elk. After my first day of trying that, I learned my lesson pretty quickly. By the 3rd day I was walking up the mountain in the mornings in nothing but a t-shirt, with no hat. Once we got up the mountain and slowed down I would then add my Scent Shield Merino Wool insulating layer and top if off with a Lost Camo hoody from Gamehide.

Even though we didn't so much as lay eyes on an elk, I still had a great trip.  A big thanks to Dan Mater for bringing Mike and I out for our first elk hunt, and dealing with our ridiculousness all week!

So with our elk hunt now officially over, Mike and I are turning our attention towards our true love - chasing whitetails here in Illinois. Our season opens up next Saturday and you can bet we'll be perched up in a tree somewhere. After last week's bowhunting frustration I feel sorry for the first doe that wanders within bow range of us!

Bowhunting Wisconsin Whitetails and Wyoming Elk

by Todd Graf 14. September 2011 14:32
Todd Graf

‘Tis the season, folks!  As I write this blog, I am washing my clothes, fine tuning my Mathews Monster, cleaning out my truck and doing anything bowhunting related to pass the time before the Wisconsin archery opener this Saturday!  Ah, bow season is finally here!  After a terribly long offseason, I can’t wait to get up a tree Saturday morning and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Central Wisconsin has to offer.

After a slow start to the offseason with my Camtrakkers, I was finally able to get some Wisconsin shooter bucks showing up on my cameras, just in time for the season!   Honestly, while getting pictures of big bucks on trail camera during the summer is fun, it does little to help me kill them come fall, because I know their patterns will change drastically.  However, knowing where mature bucks are spending their time on my property during late August and early September can really help me get a bead on those bucks heading into the hunting season.  

I am hoping that any of these nice Wisconsin whitetails will make the mistake of walking under my stand this fall!

With the bucks seemingly coming out of the wood works in the last couple weeks, I have decided to try and implement a new strategy this fall to better my chances of harvesting a mature buck: hunting out of a ground blind.  I recently set out a hay bale blind that will enable me to hunt (successfully, hopefully) off the ground this fall.  This is a new tactic for me and one I am excited about trying.  Normally, my hunting strategy consists of me hunting out of a Lone Wolf Hang-On and set of sticks and staying mobile to keep the deer from patterning me.  In fact, my 2010 Illinois buck was a result of moving my set to get closer to the action.  However, sometimes there simply isn’t a tree suitable for a treestand of any sort where the deer are congregating, and hunting out of a ground blind is the next best option.  One thing is for sure, I can’t wait to get up close and personal with the deer this fall!

Hopefully this hay bale blind will allow me to get up closer and personal with some monster bucks this season.  

It’s hard to believe, but in just a couple of days, I will be up a tree hunting whitetails.  Even harder to believe is that following my first couple hunts in Wisconsin, I will be making a trip out to Table Mountain Outfitters in Wyoming to hunt with longtime friends Scott and Angie Denny.  I am particularly excited for this trip, and am hoping to duplicate the success I had last year antelope hunting.  If you remember, Justin Zarr and I both shot good antelope bucks hunting with Scott and Angie.  I am hoping that Table Mountain Outfitters can turn into my little Western honey hole!  

My little man, Craig, standing next to some native grasses.  If I were a deer, I would definitely want to hide in there, then come out for an afternoon snack on some clover, wouldn't you?

Craig and his friend, Sammy, are looking forward to hunting together out of this comfortable condo.  In fact, when those brutally cold Midwest temperatures arrive late season, I may even sneak up there for a hunt or two.  

I genuinely wish each and every one of you the best of luck this fall, but more importantly, wish you safe travels and time afield.  I’ll be spending a lot of time in the woods between Illinois and Wisconsin, so if you see me out there keeping the roads hot, stop by and say hello!  I always have a little free time to talk hunting!  If you guys are hunting out of a tree, please be sure to wear your safety harness, and remember you have a family waiting for you at home.   No buck, regardless how big, is worth risking your life over!  Also, if you are fortunate enough to enjoy some success, we here at want to share in your success!  Please send us your trophy photos to this link here!  Good luck this fall everyone, stay safe and happy hunting!

Countdown to Wyoming Antelope Hunting

by Dan Schafer 11. August 2011 17:33
Dan Schafer

The anticipation of an upcoming hunting trip can seem to slow down the hands of time.  Your mind starts to wander; you have a hard time concentrating on everyday tasks.  All you can think about is the game you will be chasing.  You picture your trophy standing there, you’re at full draw, hearts racing and you settle your pin.  As you’re about to release your arrow, you smell smoke.  Smoke?  You’re burning the steaks, your wife is yelling at you and you snap back to reality.  Actually, this was me this evening! 

I’m having an extremely hard time concentrating just to write this.  All I can think about as I sit here is endless skies, the prairie and the animal we will be chasing in less than one week, antelope.

Concentrating on everyday tasks has been tough lately.  My mind continues to wander as I daydeam of my first antelope hunt.

This trip is a very special one for me, as I’ve never had the opportunity to hunt antelope before.  What makes this trip even better is that I’ll be making it with my good friend, and fellow antelope rookie, John Herrmann.  John and I will be making the 900-mile trip from Wisconsin to Wyoming to meet up with another great friend, our guide and fellow staff member, Dustin “The Nomad” DeCroo.  To top it off, two days after our arrival, we’ll have the privilege of spending our first hunting camp with another couple staff members, Neal McCullough and Grant Jacobs. 

Preparing for this trip has been unlike any whitetail trip I have been on.  The biggest difference has been in my shooting routine.  When practicing for whitetail hunting here in the Midwest, I rarely shoot past 40 yards.  For this antelope hunt, I was doing more shooting with my NAP Spitfire Maxx at 50 and 60 yards than I was under 40.  Though it is very unlikely that I will attempt a shot over 50, the shooting at 60 yards has given me the confidence that I can extend my effective range, if the conditions are right.

Shooting groups like this at 50 and 60 yards will give me the confidence I need when the moment of truth arrives.

The NAP Spitfire Maxx will be my head of choice for Antelope.

One reason that I have been practicing at longer ranges is because we are going to try our hand at spotting and stalking them.  Though it will be too early to decoy rutting bucks, Dustin has assured us that we should still be able to get into bow range.  One new product that we will be using on our stalks is the Hide-A-Bow.  The Hide-A-Bow screws into the front of your bow where your stabilizer would normally be and allows you to shoot through the opening on the attached blind without having to expose yourself to the sides or above.  The Hide-A-Bow comes in Lost Camo as well as photo realistic animal blinds, including an antelope, which will give us a bit of an edge on sneaking in close.

The Lost Camo Hide-A-Bow will help to conceal movement when drawing and shooting.

The antelope Hide-A-Bow should give us extra time to shoot.  Though we're not hunting the rut, this would be a blast when the bucks start decoying.

Being physically prepared is another thing a lot of guys overlook on a trip like this.  No, there are no big mountains that we will be climbing, but crawling on your hands and knees, as well as belly crawling, can be physically tiring.  I’m not ready to chase any mountain goats right now, but my light workouts will help make the physical aspect of the stalk much easier. 

Honestly, my mind is wandering back to Wyoming again.  Time to get the last few things packed; throw the Mathews Z7 Extreme in the truck and get ready to head down west.  To see how our hunt turns out, be sure to look for it on a future episode of Bowhunt Or Die right here on

Bowhunting Get Together a Huge Success

by Justin Zarr 24. June 2011 05:51
Justin Zarr

Building on the tradition of the past 2 years, the staff here at was extremely excited about our 3rd annual Get Together. Much like deer camp, this event has become an annual tradition that we all look forward to. Each year we dedicate quite a bit of our time and energy to making the event bigger and better than the year before and this was no exception.

As you may have read on Cody Altizer's blog, the event started for us on Friday June 10th with our Hunting Network staff meeting. Seeing as though many of our team members are located all over the country this is a great opportunity for everyone to get together and go over a few of the finer points that help make the finest bow hunting website in the world. We were also fortunate enough to have several of our Sponsors pay us a visit to inform everyone about their companies and their products.

The following day, June 11th, the official Get Together was held at Coon Creek Hunt Club in Garden Prairie, IL. This even is open to anyone who wants to come out and enjoy a day of good old fashioned fun. Which means if you haven't been to an event yet, you better be there next year!

We started the day off with getting everyone signed up and assigned to a team, then it was time to start shooting. As always we had numerous shooting events set up for everyone to participate in.

A group of shooters getting signed up the the day's events.

Yours truly giving some basic safety instructions before beginning the shoot.

The gang from Pine Ridge Archery making their way out to the course.

Thanks to our friends at Rinehart Targets, our 3-D course was better than ever! We had a dozen new archery targets that were in tip-top shape which made both scoring and arrow removal inifinitely better than in previous years. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of shooting a course with Rinehart targets I highly recommend you do so as soon as possible. Having shot at just about every 3-D target on the market I can unquestionably say these targets are the best. In fact, we threw awal all of our non-Rinehart targets simply because they had fallen apart to the point they were unusable.

And you thought a wounded bear was dangerous?  Here Steve Flores finds out what happens when you don't put a Velociraptor down on the first shot!

A great shot of an arrow in flight, courtesy of Jason McKee.

Clinton Fawcett taking aim with his Z7 Xtreme Tactical on the practice range.

Jared Schlipf from Lone Wolf Treestands showing off his perfect shot on the elk from 60 yards.  Luck, or is he just that good?

A group of shooters tallying up their scores after shooting at the 30 point buck.

When all of the scores were tallied up it was 1st time attendee Tony Platt who went home with the 1st place trophy. Pro Staff members Dean Krueger and Dustin DeCroo came in 2nd and 3rd place respectibly.

Our long distance shoot for this year was set at roughly 70 yards, which made it pretty challenging for a lot of our shooters. Personally speaking I only have pins out to 50 yards for my bowhunting needs so it was an "aim high and pray" moment! Although my long range skills weren't very impressive, some of our shooters were remarkably accurate. In the end it was none other than Jared Schlipf, President of Lone Wolf Treestands, who went home with the RhinoBlock target for this long range accuracy. Nice shooting Jared!

John Mueller taking aim at the Rinehart RhinoBlock.  How far is that again?

Jared showing us how long distance shooting should be done.

In the Iron Buck Challenge we had quite the competition this year. In the end, after some fancy one-foot shooting and quite a few busted arrows it was Forum member Steve Renner (Dawg007) who went home with the $100 cash prize. Congrats Steve!

"Rusty" certainly claimed his fair share of arrows over the course of his two days spent in Illinois.

Todd with the lucky winner of the Iron Buck Challenge.

We also had the 5 target pop-up 3D Challenge back again as well. Although Dustin and I both turned in scores of 56 out of 60 on multiple occassions, it was the shoot operator Mark Wagner who turned in a perfect score of 60/60 to take top honors. I'm calling an unfair home-field advantage on this one, but it was good shooting regardless!

The big winner of the day was long-time friend, supporter and target-builder Dan Richardson (aka bloodcrik) who went home with a brand new Mathews z7 Xtreme. Congrats to Dan, he definitely deserved it! Dan already has his new bow set up and shooting great - check out his Forum post here.

Our friends at Lone Wolf donated a new Alpha Hang-On II treestand to our raffle, which was won by our friend Ryan Culvey. I know he's extremely excited to get that stand hung before October rolls around. I have to admit that I'm a little jealous of Ryan. Even I don't have a new Lone Wolf stand yet!

A big extended THANK YOU goes to all of our Sponsors who attended the event and donated prizes for the raffle! That includes Mathews, Lone Wolf, New Archery Products, Tink's, Monster Raxx, Pine Ridge Archery, Rinehart Targets and Rut Junkie Apparel.

All in all, the day was a huge success with over 90 of our best bowhunting friends in attendance. Everyone had a great day of shooting, hanging out with good friends, and enjoying the great outdoors. We can't thank you all enough for coming out and we're hoping to see you all again next year!

We'll be ready for next year.  Will you?


Summer Bowhunting Preparations and Activities

by Todd Graf 2. June 2011 05:50
Todd Graf

As the month of May slowly burns away into June, I can’t help but think that the hunting season begins in just three and a half months.  Before I know it, I will be sitting in a tree in my swamp property of Wisconsin waiting for a mature buck to make the fatal mistake of wandering by my position.  That being said, there is still a lot of work to be done before I can convince myself I am ready for another season, and I am looking forward to an exciting and eventful summer. 

The cool, rainy weather we have had here in the Midwest has been great for my clover and chicory plots!

One of my favorite offseason activities is prepping food plots and other habitat management projects for the upcoming season.  My ultimate goal is to provide the whitetails that visit my property with enough food sources that they don’t need to leave my property.  It may sound like a losing battle, but I welcome the challenge!

These apple trees are only in their second year of growth, however, they are growing beautifully.  Once they begin to produce fruit they will provide another food source for the deer on my property.

The cool rainy weather has been perfect for my clover and chicory plots so far this spring; a few spots measured over 20 inches of growth!  I hate to have to mow it this week, with it looking so beautiful, but it is the best option for weed control.  This time of year also means corn planting time in the Midwest.  When it comes to late season food plot attraction, it’s tough to beat corn.  My corn plots got absolutely hammered last winter during the late season.  The deer are worn down for the rut and crave the carbohydrate rich kernels of corn that keep their bodies warm during the winter cold!  I have also been very pleased with the apple trees I had planted.  They are now in their second year of growth and have almost doubled their size.  

Here I am getting ready to plant my corn.  I can't wait for the late season when the deer will really hit my corn plots hard!

Despite the fact that I killed this field with Round Up and most of the grass was dead, the ground was still pretty hard and the corn was not getting into the ground.  I made a few adjustments and was back in business!  Persistence pays!

This time of year is also my favorite time to get out in the backyard and fling some arrows.  Just recently, I have taken the time to get my little man, Craig, involved in the sport of archery.  If you have little ones that are interested in bowhunting or archery, I strongly recommend you look into the Mathews line of kids bows.  From Mathews to Mission Archery to the Genesis line of bows, they have the flexibility and specifications to get your kids started bowhunting.  With the number of kids hunting decreasing every year, it is important that we get our youth involved in the sport we love so much so that one day they may experience the rush and thrill of deer hunting!

Here's my little man, Craig, getting set up with his new Mathews Craze!

Craig was having a little trouble pulling back the Craze, so I ordered the Mathews Menace.  The Craze was a great bow, but the specs on the Menace fit Craig better physically.  At this point, it is all about keeping Craig interested and having fun!

I first set up Craig with the Mathews Craze, but the draw length was about two inches too long and Craig was having to lean back to hold up the weight, so I decided to go ahead and order the Mathews Menace.  The Craze was a great bow, however, with adjustable draw lengths anywhere from 15-70 pounds and 80% let-off; it can be enjoyed by beginner archers or all skills and age levels.  The Menace weighs about .6 pounds lighter than the Craze and the draw length is two inches shorter than the Craze, so it fits Craig much better physically which will allow for a better overall experience.  But above all else, the goal is to make sure that he is having fun! Staff members Richie Music and Tom Alford also came over for a friendly bow shooting competition.  We enjoyed a day of dialing in our Mathews and preparing for the upcoming Get Together and Bow Shoot at Coon Creek Hunt Club in Garden Prairie, Illinois.  This is going to be our biggest and best shoot yet, and I encourage everyone who is able to make it to come out and enjoy a fun day of shooting, prizes, food and beverages.  If you are looking for more information, visit this link which will direct you to our forum where you will find all the information you need.  Every one is welcome hope to see every one of you there!

A shot of my backyard practice range.  

Here I am prepping for the 3rd Annual Get Together and Bow Shoot.  I think that would kill a turkey, don't you?

Richie's last shot before he lost the competition to Tom and I.  Now he owes us a pizza!

Richie just couldn't pull it off after 4 shots.  Oh well, stick to hunting those giant sub-urban whitetails, Richie!

To makes things interesting we spiced up our shooting with a little competition, and my buddy Richie Music came out on the losing end.  He may be an expert when it comes to shooting giant bucks from the same tree stand, but he was no match for me and Tom!  He was unable to shoot the Rinehart target in the head above the red line at 30 yards, so he has to buy both Tom and I a pizza!  Better luck next time, Richie!  

Before we all know it we’ll bow hunting our favorite spots in the bitter cold of sweet November.  It’s an exciting thought, but be sure you enjoy yourself this summer.  Get a kid involved in archery or have your buddies over to the house for a night of shooting and friendly competition; it’s equally as rewarding as harvesting that mature buck you’ve been patterning!  Okay, maybe not, but it does make the summer go by more quickly! 

Mathews Z7 Xtreme Tactical Bow Review

by Justin Zarr 20. May 2011 14:52
Justin Zarr

Z7 Xtreme Tactical

Late each year as fall gives way to winter the big names in archery begin releasing the details of their upcoming bow lineup. With much anticipation bowhunters across the world take to the Internet to get a glimpse of next year's offerings, often speculating about the new innovations that will soon be available for their shooting pleasure. Much of that chatter and anticipation always surrounds the new bow lineup from industry leader Mathews. Since the early 1990's Mathews has introduced dozens of technologies that have changed the face of archery as we know it and kept archers everywhere scrambling to find out what's new from year to year.

In 2010 Mathews introduced the Z7, which featured a myriad of new technologies and eventually became their best selling bow of all time. With the all-new Gridlock riser, reverse-assist roller guard and Z7 cam this bow has all the features a bowhunter could possibly ask for. So how did Mathews improve their lineup for 2011 you ask? The answer to that question is the Z7 Xtreme. A short axle-to-axle bow that is surprisingly agile, forgiving and a pure joy to shoot.

When my Z7 Xtreme Tactical showed up back in late February my first impression was that this is unquestionably the sharpest looking bow I've ever owned. Being the industry leader that they are, Mathews didn't want to just offer their customers another black bow. Instead they took it to a whole new level with a variety of accents that make this bow stand out. From the carbon fiber dipped limbs to the phantom gray anodized cam this bow is a flat out looker. Judging from the reaction it got while on display in our booth at both the Illinois and Wisconsin Deer classics there's no doubt it's a hit. But the important question is - how does it shoot?

The carbon-fiber dipped limbs give the Z7 Xtreme Tactical one of the sleakest looks of any bow on the market today.

Being just 28 inches from axle to axle, the Z7 Xtreme is one of the shortest hunting bows on the market today. For many years archers have shied away from shorter ATA bows as they tended to be less stable and less forgiving, making them harder to shoot. What many archers forget, however, is that was yesterday and this is today. Modern bows are infinitely more stable and forgiving than their counterparts of yesteryear and the Z7 Xtreme is a testament to that. Thanks to parallel limb technology and long riser designs, today's short bows are extremely stable and pleasantly forgiving.

One of the reasons for the forgiving nature of this bow is the generous 7 3/8" brace height. Over the past several years many bowhunters have settled on a brace height of around 7 inches as the "sweet spot", if you will. Anything less than 7 inches is usually considered somewhat less forgiving and "speedy" while anything over 7 inches is often considered slow and forgiving. At just over that magical mark the Z7 Xtreme is certainly forgiving, but it is anything but slow. In fact, thanks to the smooth-drawing ZX cam this little rocket fires arrows at an impressive 330 fps IBO. Not bad!

As many archers have experienced over the years, single cam bows such as the Z7 Xtreme generally have a very smooth draw cycle. In fact, this is why many bowhunters prefer them over the many variations of the dual cam system that are on the market. Having owned two other single cam bows in my life I can tell you the ZX cam is extremely smooth on the draw and has a great valley. When the cam breaks over there isn't a noticable "thunk" or bump, but rather it slides right into full draw where, thanks to the 80% letoff, you feel like you can hold all day.

With accuracy like this there's no doubt the Z7 Xtreme is going to bring home the bacon (or venison) for more than a few bowhunters this fall.

Another great feature of this particular bow is the new Focus Grip. Unlike traditional grips that are flat on the surface, the Focus Grip has a patent-penting "Focus Ridge" down the center of the grip. This ridge allows you to make sure that you are aligning your hand correctly. Additionally, in the event of an uneven or torqued grip it allows the pressure to be focused on the center of the grip which minizes side to side torque. Having shot this bow for several months now I can say I really like this grip. Its very comfortable and allow me to achieve consistant hand placement to help my accuracy.

The Focus Grip combed with Gridlock riser and Reverse Assist Roller Guard make the Z7 Xtreme one of the most techologically advanced hunting bows ever made.

The proof is in the pudding!

Of course many bowhunters have asked the question "Why shoot such a short bow?". Personally I think the answer to that question is simple - maneuverability! Anyone who has bowhunted for any length of time can atest to the fact that bowhunting is a game of inches. In many cases those few inches can mean the difference between success and failure. The Z7 Xtreme's compact size allows you to maneuver this bow easier while in a ground blind, while sneaking through brush, or while trying to squeeze around branches to make a shot. Much of my hunting philosophy is based around maximizing the opportunities that present themselves to me, and I feel the Z7 Xtreme allows me to do just that.

A great view of the Gridlock riser - one of the many innovations Mathews has introduced to the archery industry.

If you're in the market for a new bow, I would highly recommend you visit your local Mathews dealer to shoot one of these bows and make the decision for yourself. I have a very good feeling you won't be disappointed!

Hopefully this is the last thing a big buck sees come October....

Dominant Bucks TV - Behind the Scenes

by Brenda Potts 19. March 2011 12:08
Brenda Potts

After winning the Golden Moose Award from Outdoor Channel during the most recent SHOT Show in Las Vegas for Most Educational/Informative TV show, the crew from Mathew's Dominant Bucks with Stan Potts are more inspired than ever. Producer, Tom Miranda met with his team of Solo Cam Pros and cameramen on the night before studio shoots began this past week to let them know he expects to raise the bar yet again when the show begins airing later this summer.

The crew worked to set up a great studio back drop to film the interviews and spines that would frame the story of each episode.  During this portion of the filming each Solo Cam Pro answered several pages of questions detailing their techniques and philosophies on hunting dominant bucks.

The Solo Cam Pros are a collection of top hunters from around the country with many combined years of experience hunting mature whitetails. They each bring a unique perspective to the common goal; and share their advice and opinions on how you can become better at outsmarting big bucks with bow in hand.

When not in the studio "hot seat" it was time to head outdoors to film hundreds of in-field tips that will be used to support the theme of every episode. Topics covered use of scents and lures, scent control, optics, trail cameras, rattling, calling, rub lines, decoying and much more.

During the process of photographing the work in progress I noticed how awesome the Mathews Lost Camo looks in every set up.  Just check out the pictures. And for more information on how you can become a Solo Cam Pro on Mathews Dominant Bucks TV visit their website.

A Bowhunting Offseason Begins- Food Plots and Shed Hunting!

by Todd Graf 22. February 2011 04:43
Todd Graf

  The offseason has officially begun for this Illinois bowhunter, but that doesn’t mean that I am kicking back and taking it easy.  In fact, I am as busy now as I am during the fall chasing mature bucks!  But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  A lot of exciting times are ahead for and our entire Hunting Network, and I can wait to see how 2011 unfolds!

My little man, Craig, and our dog, Drake doing a little February shed hunting.  They each found sheds and I wasn't able to find a single one!  Hopefully my luck will change sooner rather than later.

In the midst of preparing for the Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics, I am particularly anxious waiting for the arrival of my new Mathews bow.  I am counting down the days until my Mathews Monster shows up at the office, and I can’t wait to get it setup and start shooting.  I haven’t gotten a new bow for several years, so I am like a little kid on Christmas Eve waiting for my new Monster.  The Monster is one of Mathew’s fastest bows, and if you are a speed guy like I am, I encourage you to look up the Monster on Mathew’s website.  While you are at it, be sure to look at their new Z Series family of bows as well!

Not a single kernel of corn left!

Now is the perfect time to start planning for your 2011 hunting season, and I am in the process of looking for new acreage to hunt.  I am a firm believer in having multiple properties to hunt throughout the course of the season.  This allows you to keep your properties fresh for an entire season and prevents you from educating the deer too badly thus making the deer “easier” to hunt.  My search for new land is in its infant stages and there are several resources available to the hunter who is willing to dig deep enough for the right information, however, I have had TREMENDOUS success already with  If you are looking for new hunting ground for the 2011 hunting season, check them out on their website!

A shot of one my turnip plots that backs right up against one of my corn plots.  The deer are really hitting these plots hard!

Despite the craziness of trying to find a new hunting lease, patiently (or more like Impatiently) waiting for my new bow, and preparing for the upcoming Illinois and Wisconsin Deer Classics, I managed to sneak out to my property with my son, Craig, to do a little scouting and shed hunting.  The hard work I put in during the late summer on my turnip plots is definitely paying off because the deer are really hitting these particular plots hard!  Spring is just around the corner, and now is the perfect time to start planning for this year’s food plots and giving your deer some added nutrition!  I also learned something about food plots; you can’t plant too much corn!  I made an assertive effort to establish and maintain quality corn plots to give the deer a food source rich in carbohydrates for the rough Northern Illinois winters, but I couldn’t find a single kernel left.  They really cleaned up my corn this year!

The deer are pawing through the snow to get to my turnip plots.  It feels good to know that I have a sustainable food source on my property this late in the winter.

I was, however, pleased with how well my native grasses were doing even after heavy snowfall and bitter cold temperatures.  Even in late February they are still providing excellent cover, and I even found several beds on the South facing slopes just like I thought I would!  It feels good when all the hard work and planning in land management comes together and it feels even better when you can see the deer are benefitting from your work.

My Native Grasses are doing especially well despite the heavy snow fall.  In this particular stand, I found several fresh beds that tell me the deer are still bedding in the grasses, which is a great sign.  I can't wait to see how these grasses take off this Spring and Summer!

After investigating my food plots and admiring the work of my Native Grasses, my little man Craig and I tried our luck at a little shed hunting.  When it was all said and done Craig had found two sheds, my dog Drake had found one, and yours truly had found zero.  That’s right; this dedicated bowhunter got skunked by a dog and a first grader when looking for antlers.  Hopefully, I’ll have a little better luck at finding antlers this fall than I’ve had this winter!  Nevertheless, it was fun to get and enjoy the outdoors with my son and no matter how busy I am, I will always make time for that.

I hope you guys are as excited about this year as I am, I can hardly sit still I am so anxious about the opportunities and changes that are going to be happening in the coming months!  With the snow melting, it’s time to continue looking for sheds and start thinking food plots.  Turkey hunters, it is almost time for you to get out there and starting chasing those Toms!  Bring on the warmer weather! Your Resource for Live Updates from 2011 ATA Show

by Todd Graf 4. January 2011 02:09
Todd Graf

 Since January coincides with the end of deer season here Illinois, you would think that I would be pretty depressed right now.  Well, that’s not at all the case, because with the 2011 ATA Show begins this week!  Tomorrow our staff will be heading to Indianapolis, Indiana to cover the show live from the show. will be reporting live from the show with live blog updates and exclusive videos of all the cool new bowhunting gadgets and gizmos.  Check regularly to keep up to date with all the new information being released!  This year the ATA will be showcasing 500 exhibitors spaciously spread out on a 300,000 square foot show room with 300 media representatives on sight.  The 2011 ATA Show is the place to get a sneak peak of all the cool new products for 2011.  I myself can’t wait to hit up the shooting lanes and test out the new bows for 2011, especially the new Z series by Mathews! 

There will be several seminars being conducted this week including some by John Campbell and Jeremy Leu of the Campbell Outdoor Challenge.  John and Jeremy are the hosts of the Campbell Outdoor Challenge and are the industry experts in the sport of filming hunts.  I can’t wait to learn a thing or two!  If the name Jeremy Leu sounds familiar, that’s because he was featured on Episode 4 of Bowhunt or Die this season.  Jeremy harvested a beautiful 150+” buck on film.  Be sure to check out the footage if you haven’t already.

If you aren’t able to make it the 2011 ATA Show, will be your resource for all the latest updates and information the entire week so make sure you check back with us often; it's going to be fun!

The 2011 Bows are Here... Pick the Right One!

by Dustin DeCroo 14. December 2010 19:17
Dustin DeCroo

The 2011 bows have arrived and if you’re like me, you’re always excited to see what our favorite companies are putting on the shelves. The 2011 line-up is as impressive as it has ever been and it is up to us to choose the one fits the best. Selecting a bow that fits both our body and our application will help make us the best shooters we can be. Axle-to-axle length, brace height, draw weight, draw length and mass weight are a few of the first items that need to be considered for a proper fit.

These are a few of the new Z7 Series for 2011 from Mathews!

The first step in determining which bow is best for anyone, is to determine what the primary use of the bow will be. For instance, will it be used predominantly out of a tree stand or will it spend more time being packed around on spot and stalk type hunts? Do you want a longer bow that is more stable and forgiving or something shorter that is more compact and easier to pack around?

Hoyt's Carbon Element and the CRX 32 are only a couple of the additions for 2011!

Next, the draw length must be correct and the draw weight should be comfortable. I’m amazed on a regular basis at how many people attempt to draw more weight than they should or how their draw length is a complete misfit. It is a very common misconception that a 65 or 70 pound draw weight is required to kill most big game animals in North America. In reality 50 or 55 pounds is sufficient to kill even large animals like elk or moose. If you cannot draw your bow straight back without having to aim at the sky or “sky draw,” you are attempting to draw too much weight. With a proper draw length, the anchor point of the string (D-loop or the corner of the string) should sit at the corner of your mouth and the end of your nose should touch the string between the anchor point and the peep sight (if you use one)… all this with your bow arm slightly bent. I see lots of people with the string on the side of their face and sometimes all the way back to their ear, both are examples of a draw length that is too long. Make sure that both your draw length and weight are correct and your shooting will only get better.

After you determine your draw length and weight, it’s time to consider how you like a bow to feel. Do you like a very light weight bow, or something a little heavier? Perhaps you prefer a hard wall at full draw as opposed to a spongy wall when you are at full draw. Smooth draw or maybe a bit more aggressive draw cycle? Sometimes the only way to figure out what “feel” you like is to shoot several different bows on the market.

Now that you have a properly fitting draw length and weight, know what you’ll use your bow for and you know how you want your bow to feel… it is time to make sure that you understand what specifications to look at that will accommodate your needs and preferences.

Axle-to-axle length (commonly referred to as ATA or axle length) is the distance between the axels in the middle of each cam. Generally speaking the longer the ATA distance, the more forgiving a bow can be. A long ATA is also beneficial to shooters with long draw lengths because it has a larger string angle at full draw which will prevent nock pinch. A long ATA is also beneficial to finger shooters that do not use a release. Short ATA’s lengths are generally more light weight and less obtrusive in a tree stand. A short ATA may be something like 31” or less, while a long ATA might be 35” or longer. The new Mathews Z7 Extreme sports a 28” ATA length and their Z7 has a mid-length 32” ATA. Most all bow manufacturers have something that will fit the needs of every shooter.

The z7extreme from Mathews is a compact bow with a short axle-to-axle length of 28 inches but a forgiving brace height of 7 3/8".

Brace height is probably the most overlooked spec on any bow, specifically for new shooters. The brace height is measured from the string (at rest) to the center of the riser or the inside of the grip. A long brace height like the 8 ¾” on the Mathews Z9 generally produces a little less speed but is much more forgiving to poor form or an unsteady release. On the contrary, a 6 ¾” brace height like that of Hoyt’s Alphaburner produces much more speed but will most likely be less forgiving. Most people opt for a happy medium with sometime like the Bowtech Destroyer 340 or Mathews z7 which both have a 7” brace height.

Hoyt's Alphaburner

The z9 from Mathews has a long brace height for smooth shooting and is great for archers with long draw lengths.

The IBO speed is often times the first spec that bowhunters notice. The IBO speed is a “bottom line” speed that levels the playing field in speed calculation. IBO speed is calculated by shooting a 300 grain arrow out of a bow with a 70lb draw weight and 30” draw length. Speed is important but regardless of how fast a bow is, an animal will always hear the bow go off before the arrow arrives. The speed of sound is 1,126 FPS and the fastest bows on the market can only safely sling an arrow slightly over 350FPS.

Back in the 2011 lineup for Bowtech the proven Bowtech Destroyer 340 is a complete package!

Finally, one of the specifications that I pay much attention to, is the mass weight of the bow. For the type of hunting I do, I prefer a light weight bow something that is under four pounds (bare bow weight) whereas lots of tree stand hunters prefer a heavier (often times more steady) bow. Don’t forget that the weight of your bow can be doubled by the time all the accessories are in place.

Pick a bow that fits and you’ll be sure to shoot better and be more successful in your bowhunting adventures!!!

Mission Archery by Mathews Introdcues the Maniac Bow

by Bow Staff 10. November 2010 06:27
Bow Staff

Without a doubt, it's safe to assume that Mathews knows the world of archery and bowhunting and it's members.  With years of leading innovation and design to back their reputation as the industry leader, Mathews and it's brother company Mission archery have conlcuded the following about bowhunters.  Bowhunters are the real McCoy- genuine woodsmen that don’t care if their belt doesn’t match their boots or if the paint job on their truck has a few scars.  But when it comes to the hunt, their attention to detail maniacal.  They obsess over which way the wind is blowing, where the best food sources are and the size of the racks roaming their territory.

The all new Maniac is a testament to bowhunting savvy, with parallel limbs, string suppressors and an adjustable dual cam system that reaches up to 310 fps all in one compact, light-weight package.  The Maniac by Mission Archery is simply the best bow in it's price range. 



- IBO Rate- Up tp 310 fps

- Physical Weight- 4.12lbs

- Axle to Axle- 31"

- Brace Height- 7 1/8"

- Let-off- Up to 77%

- Riser- Fully Machined

- Draw Weight- 20-70lbs

- Draw Length- 22-30"

- Silencers- D-Amplifiers

- Suppressors- String Suppressors

- Cam (s)- Dual/ Adjustable

- Cable Guard- Carbon Rod 

- Bow Strings- Zebra Hybrid

- Grip- Composite

- String Length- 57 1/4"

- Cable Length- 34 1/8"


The Mission Maniac- a safe bet when hitting the woods in pursuit of trophy animals.


Mathews Archery Introduces New Customizable Accessories

by Bow Staff 8. November 2010 10:01
Bow Staff

Bowhunters around the world differ on many archery topics.  Fixed blade vs. mechanical broadheads, scent control techniques, timing of the rut; the list goes on and on.  However, at the end of the day the general consensus among archers is this: Mathews has always led the way in archery technology.  Likewise, Mathews accessories are a perfect fit for your bow.  Outfit your bow with all of these great accessories including a great selection of quivers, rests, grips, bowstrings, and more!  Introducing new accessories that enhance performance and give a unique look to your bow, only from Mathews!


Custom Damping Accessories: Customize your bow the way you want.

Customizing and creating a unique look are a symbol of creativity and individualism.  Mathews believe archers have both!  So give your bow a makeover with a variety of colors that show spirit and attitude.  Mathews Custom damping Accessories are available in 7 colors for Harmonic Dampers, String Suppressors Dampers, Dead End dampers, and Mini Harmonic Dampers.  Whether you want to accent your Mathews bow, Arrow Rest, Quiver or String Stop, you’ll find a look that’s perfect for you.  Time to put your game face on your bow!


 Focus Grip: Optimize hand placement and minimize torque

The new Focus Grip helps minimize hand torque in the event of poor hand placement by keeping pressure concentrated in the center of the grip, unlike typical flat top grips that move pressure to the outside edge which increases hand torque.


Monkey Tails: String dampers you can install without the need of a bowpress.

New colors for 2011! Monkey Tails are now available in 8 different color options (including black)! This string accessory is a must have and comes standard on the Mathews Z7! Four Monkey Tails equates to a minimal speed loss of 1-2 fps total with virtually all string and cable sound and vibration eliminated.

Categories: Current News

Tim-Buck-Tu Outdoors, The Perfect Archery Pro Shop

by John Mueller 16. March 2010 14:22
John Mueller

Tim-Buck-Tu Outdoors has everything an archer could want in a pro shop. Knowledgeable staff to work on your bow, open lanes for trying out new bows or shooting leagues, a new 3D Pop-Up System, and a Techno Hunt video screen. Something for everyone and plenty of new stuff to keep you coming back again and again.

The staff at Tim-Buck-Tu has training in setting up new equipment and knows how to take care of your older bows too. They have an excellent pro shop selling Bowtech, Diamond, Mathews, Mission, PSE, and Alpine bows. And all of the other equipment you need for the sport.

They have 14 well lit lanes of space to try out the new equipment or to shoot leagues in.

They recently purchased 8000 square feet of additional space behind the store and now have their own 3D Pop-Up System along with the Techno Hunt Video Shooting system to shoot. You shoot the 3D Pop-Up from an elevated balcony, just like you are in a tree stand. I believe they have about 10 animals that pop-up and 1 runner across the back wall on tracks. For those of you who haven’t tried this yet, it is a blast. The new video system is also fun to shoot, with many different discs to try, and any animal that you would like to hunt.

They are currently running leagues for both systems.

Behind the pop-up balcony is an area to relax and have a few beverages of your choice.

This coming weekend, March 20 and 21 is a big weekend for the store. On Saturday they are hosting a swap meet for anything outdoor related, $10 for a table to sell your items and no charge to shop. Doors open at 11:00 and goes till 4:00. Then on Sunday they are holding theirannual banquet to show their appreciation to all of their customers. Mark Dowdy and his family really know how to run a business.

For those of you in the greater St. Louis area, you need to check these guys out. I wish I had more free time so I could shoot in a few leagues there, but I’m just too busy lately. Tim-Buck-Tu Outdoors is located in Maryville, IL about 15 minutes from downtown St. Louis. If you can't make it, check them out on the web!

The Best New Bows For 2009

by Bow Staff 16. March 2009 11:37
Bow Staff

Here we bring you the top bows from each of the many bow companies on the market. While several of these companies have more than one new bow for 2009, (you can go to their websites to see the others) we didn’t have enough room here to mention them all. We hope this gets you fired up for the bow season that is (unfortunately) still several months away.


Bowtech’s newest bow, the Admiral, features all four of the concepts that we have defined the company. It has a Binary Cam system for easy maintenance. It won’t go out of time easily. It features the center pivot riser and limb system. It has parallel limbs and it is a pleasure to shoot – fast and stable.

The Center Pivot riser system moves the pivot point of each limb toward its center so the limbs can still be long enough to spread stresses, but positioned in such a way that it they are parallel to each other even with a moderate brace height. Binary cams are hybrids that look like conventional dual cams but with the harnesses from each attached to the other cam so they can’t easily go out of time. The Admiral has an amazing seven inches of draw length adjustability and a carbon string suppressor that lines up with the stabilizer to maximize recoil reduction.

Model: Bowtech Admiral
Brace Height: 7 1/2 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 31 inches
Letoff: 65 to 80% adjustable
Advertised IBO speed: 312 to 320 fps
MSRP: $829


First off, the Cat Hybrid Duo Cam is a binary cam style for which the cams are slaved to each other; they cannot easily go out of time. Martin also amp’d up the speed of the Firecat from last year’s version with this new cam. It has an adjustable hard draw stop allowing you to create a super-solid back wall right where you want it. Finally, the new Firecat also has a roller cable guard to reduce bow recoil.

As far as features go, you will find a rubber-covered rest shelf and a custom string and harness system that promise to offer low-stretch reliability. You will also find a leather grip for warmth, vibration reducing modules in the riser and a string suppressor. The Firecat has every one of Martin’s top features.

Model: Martin Firecat
Brace Height: 7 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 32 inches
Letoff: 80%
Advertised IBO speed: 335 to 345 fps
MSRP: $629 



Mathews is now making two cam bows. While they have selected a very narrow band of products (two bows – the Monster and Monster XLR8) to carry the new system, it is huge news from the company that pioneered the single-cam. In no way is Mathews saying that the two-cam is better than the single-cam. They are just using their version of the two-cam for a specific purpose.

The AVS cam system is short for Advanced Vectoring System. This technology revolves around the way Mathews anchors the end of the cable to the opposite limb. The harness comes off one cam and then loops around two eccentric shaped elements, one on each side of the cam, on the other cam. Both cams (top and bottom) function the same and are mirror images of each other, just like a traditional two-cam bow. As the cams turn, these sidecar elements turn inside the looped harness ends so the cable can actually cross from one side of the axle to the other giving designers more ways to make the bow fast and smooth. The result is shocking.

Model: Mathews Monster
Brace Height: 6 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 33 1/2 inches
Letoff: 80% Advertised
IBO speed: 350 fps
MSRP: $899


Rytera’s new Alien X is one of the coolest looking bows on the market. It also has a smooth draw and is low maintenance due to its binary cam system. Many of today’s bows look roughly the same and essentially shoot the same. They are all good, much better than anything we shot back in the 1990s. It is hard to stand out in this crowd except in a negative way. But the Alien X impressed with its lightweight, smooth draw, solid feel and fast arrow delivery.

By the way, Martin makes Rytera. The Alien X owes its good looks to a large number of cutouts in the riser that give it a very distinctive appearance. These cutouts also make the bow very light. It is one of the lightest bows on the market. It also has a moderate brace height and a roller cable guard. There isn’t much else you could ask for with this bow except maybe a guarantee that a big buck will walk past this fall.

Model: Rytera Alien X
Brace Height: 7 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 32 inches
Letoff: 80% Advertised
IBO speed: 330 to 340 fps
MSRP: $699


Matt McPherson calls the Reezon’s new cam the most efficient, fastest single-cam system ever developed. Dealers will also love the cool Quick Change Axle that makes swapping out cams much easier. Since Mathews uses draw length specific cams, being able to swap out cams quickly makes the bow much more dealer friendly.

The Reezon 6.5 has many of the features that have made Mathews bow famous: narrow, parallel composite limbs for light weight, a roller cable guard for reduced recoil, harmonic dampeners in the riser and a professional grip.

Model: Mathews Reezon 6.5
Brace Height: 6.5 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 32 inches
Letoff: 80% Advertised
IBO speed: 340 fps
MSRP: $869



Not everyone wants a low brace height with a super aggressive cam system. In fact, there aren’t that many situations where you really need that much raw speed. That is where the Bow Madness comes in – it is ideal for bowhunters looking for smooth shooting and moderate performance. Inspired by the relationship between Drury Outdoors and PSE, this bow shares its name with a television show the Drurys are producing for the Outdoor Channel.

The Bow Madness is one of the lightest adult bows on the market, weighing just 3 1/2 pounds. It features a smooth single-cam design and limbs that go well past parallel when you draw the bow. This limb geometry reduces recoil and hand shock.

Model: PSE Bow Madness
Brace Height: 7 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 32 inches
Letoff: 80% adjustable to 65%
Advertised IBO speed: 318 to 326 fps
MSRP: $599


Darton is the originator of the hybrid cam and the binary cam. Seemingly, everyone in archery has licensed these technologies from Darton’s Rex Darlington. So, there is no reason to expect that Rex’s own baby would be without these advanced cams. The Pro 3500 features Darton’s version of the binary cam system.

The G2 system balances the forces acting on the limb tips by splitting the harnesses and running them on both sides of the cam. The forces acting on the limb tips are balanced and that prevents cam lean that can result from limb tip torque. As a result, the bow produces very good nock travel for easy tuning. The Pro 3500 has a string suppressor near the middle of the string to eliminate any whip action that might occur when the string stops. This bow is fast and feels good in the hand.

Model: Darton Pro 3500
Brace Height: 6 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 33 3/4 inches
Letoff: 75% Advertised
IBO speed: 338 to 343 fps
MSRP: $866


Diamond’s Black Ice wasn’t super fast but it was very smooth, had a great back wall, was quiet and fast enough. It was one of the best bows on the market when it cam out in early 2007. The Iceman has the same qualities but also exhibits Bowtech’s Center Pivot riser design owing to the fact that Bowtech makes Diamond bows. If you are wondering why this design is significant, refer to the write-up we did on Bowtech’s new Admiral.

We shot the Iceman at the ATA show. It is hard to remember every single bow when you shoot 30 or 40 of them in two days, but this one did make an impression. It had an aggressive draw, but was stable, fast and quiet. The single-cam used on the Iceman permits seven inches of draw length adjustability in 1/2 inch increments. It will probably fit everyone you know, making it easier to sell it or trade it or give to your children when you eventually upgrade.

Model: Diamond Iceman
Brace Height: 7 1/8 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 31 1/2 inches
Letoff: 65 – 80% Advertised
IBO speed: 310 to 318 fps
MSRP: $770


Bear Archery has a very understandable product mix. They basically have bows for every price range. You can find a new Bear with a suggested retail price all the way from $330 up to $700. They are all good bow, but the top end bows simply have more features. The Game Over fits right into the middle of this range. These bows have string suppressors, single-cam systems and a smooth draw cycle. All carry a set of flared split limbs that give them a snappy, futuristic look. And all will a truck bed with whitetail deer.

The grip of the Game Over also has a very distinctive Bear graphic that looks great. This bow has a single string suppressor below the grip and is a bit slower than the top of the line Truth 2, mostly due to its higher, more forgiving brace height.

Model: Bear Game Over
Brace Height: 7 3/4 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 33 inches
Letoff: 80%
Advertised IBO speed: 303 fps
MSRP: $480


The new AlphaMax 32 impressed us with its quiet performance, low hand shock, light weight and excellent speed. Really, that is the whole story for this bow, in a nutshell. It is the best bow Hoyt has ever made. If you like Hoyt bows, you will love the AlphaMax 32 or its big brother the 35.

You will find a new ZTR Cam & 1/2 system (a hybrid cam), parallel split limbs and a riser design with more cutouts – hence the drop in weight. The XTR cam permits easy draw length adjustment via rotating elements (no bow press required) and has a draw stop to assure a solid back wall. A spacer between the limbs assures precise limb alignment for consistent shooting. A string suppressor eliminates string vibration after the shot.

Model: Hoyt AlphaMax 32
Brace Height: 7 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 32 inches
Letoff: 75%
Advertised IBO speed: 321 fps
MSRP: $800 to $849


The Mission bow line is produced by Mathews Archery so it can offer lower priced products to consumers who want to own Mathews innovation and manufacturing, but can’t afford all the bells and whistles. The Eliminator has everything you need on a hunting bow: parallel limbs, solid performance, a moderate brace height, a good grip and string suppressors for reduced string noise after the shot. But it is much less expensive than top-end bows.

With an MSRP of roughly $480, the Eliminator is at least reasonably affordable. If you don’t need more, and can’t really afford more, don’t pay more.

Model: Mission Eliminator
Brace Height: 7 1/8 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 30 1/4 inches
Letoff: 80% Advertised
IBO speed: 310 fps
MSRP: $479


Quest bows are made by G5 Outdoors, a very good machine shop in Michigan that also makes broadheads, sights and rests. There are some very neat features on the XPB. One is the revolutionary cable guard system. It is a very simple, efficient design. The harnesses run through ceramic-glazed holes in the cable guard bar. It is like a roller guard but without the rollers.

Additional features include a Metrao custom string and harness system, factory installed limb and string silencers, a two piece laminated wood grip and a string suppressor. When G5 Outdoors (who makes the Quest bow) got into the bow market, they didn’t mess around. It is as good a bow as there is on the market.

Model: Quest XPB
Brace Height: 7 1/2 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 32 inches
Letoff: 80%
Advertised IBO speed: 320 to 324 fps
MSRP: $675


Bowtech purchased the Ross brand last year and is now producing a very nice new model called the Carnivore that has one very intriguing feature that sets it apart. This feature is called the Krank.

The Krank is a pulley at the end of the harness that would otherwise attach to the bottom cam in the hybrid system. Instead, a separate short mini-harness attaches to the cam, loops over the Krank and then back to the axles of the bottom limb. This gives the cam designers another pulley to play with as they create the ideal force versus draw curve and it also spreads the force of the harness equally to both sides of the limb tip for perfect balance and no draw-induced cam lean. The result is better nock travel and better arrow flight.

Model: Ross Carinivore Website:
Brace Height: 7 3/8 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 31 inches
Letoff: 65 to 80% adjustable
Advertised IBO speed: 310 to 318 fps
MSRP: $650 to $700


APA bows have odd-looking risers with carrying handles built into the grip section. The handle serves a more utilitarian purpose beyond simply making it easier to hold onto the bow. We never found that particularly hard before. Actually, the handle makes the riser stiffer and stronger in its midsection permitting the designers to make the grip itself smaller.

APA has been making fast bows longer than almost anyone. The new Black Mamba MX1 is fast; it features an advertised IBO speed rating of 352 fps. APA’s new King Cobra is even faster with a brace height a shade over five inches; it blasts out advertised IBO speeds of 362 fps!

Model: APA Black Mamba MX1
Axle-to-Axle Length: 34 inches
Brace Height: 5 1/2 inches
Letoff: 75% Advertised
IBO speed: 352 FPS
MSRP: $799.00


Alpine employs a version of the hybrid cam called the Velocitec Hybrid. Both cams are slaved to each other in this binary style cam system. It has two harness take-up tracks on both cams, like the Darton and Bowtech systems. This produces a very balanced limb because the forces acting on the limb tips are equal on both sides of the cam. As a result, the cam won’t torque to the side when you draw the bow and this promotes good arrow flight.

The Silverado Ventura is the first new bow from Alpine in the past three years that features a conventional riser instead of Alpine’s multi-part risers that have been the standard offering on most recent bows. The Ventura is for those who simply prefer a conventional design. Other features include Alpine’s VX Pocket that allows you to tightly clamp the two split limb halves together in the pocket for total security and zero movement during the shot. I shot the bow at the recent ATA Show and it was smooth, very quiet and exhibited virtually no hand shock. It was a pleasure to shoot.

Model: Alpine Siverado Ventura
Brace Height: 7.75 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 35 inches
Letoff: 80%
Advertised IBO speed: 320 fps
MSRP: $699


We had a chance to shoot the new GT500 at the recent ATA Show and were very impressed. The bow is fast (we knew it would be). But what surprised us was how quiet it was how little hand shock it exhibited. It produces amazing speeds of up to 346 fps with a forgiving brace height of 7 1/8 inches.

As mentioned, the bow is nice and stable in the hand with good balance. We also liked the narrow grip which we are certain will help reduce bow hand torque making the bow even more forgiving.

Model: Elite GT500
Brace Height: 7.125
Axle-to-Axle Length: 35 Advertised
IBO speed: 346 fps
MSRP: $850


The DZ-30 is super short, that much is clear by the name (the “30” kind of gives that away). It also features a limb pocket that moves the limb forward (called the Rolling Fulcrum System) so that the bow can produce a modest brace height with reasonable length limbs that are parallel and a straight well-balanced riser. In many ways this pocket serves to have the same affect as the Center Pivot riser from Bowtech. You have to shoot the bow to appreciate how all these elements come together.

Other features include a fast hybrid cam, Winner’s Choice Custom bowstring and harnesses, many bow silencing, rest silencing, arrow silencing and string silencing accessories (what else would you expect from the company that pioneered modern bow silencing). The bow was surprisingly stable and quiet when shooting a lightweight IBO arrow.

Model: Sims DZ-30
Brace Height: 7 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 30 inches
Letoff: 80% Advertised
IBO speed: 320 – 325 fps
MSRP: $700


We were not able to shoot the new Addiction at the ATA Show because it was still a work in progress. However, we did get to look at it – and study it. It has cool vulcanized rubber in the string slots of the cams. This reduces vibration in the bow and makes it quieter. It also has a hinged cable guard that lets the cables move sideways slightly at full draw to reduce side load and friction.

The Addiction also has machined aluminum tip overlays on the limbs to protect them from cracking. The string suppressor is spring loaded so it moves forward slightly when the string bottoms to fully cushion and dampen the string. It is not a hard stop. It is a great looking bow. I look forward to the next opportunity when I might be able to shoot it. It is due to be released in March of 2009.

Model: Full Force Addiction
Brace Height: 6 3/8 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 31 3/4 inches
Letoff: 75%
Advertised IBO speed: 337 to 342 fps
MSRP: $749

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Review: 2008 Mathews DXT Bow

by Staff 9. December 2008 15:34 StaffA season in with the new Mathews DXT has got me hooked on the new design that Mathews put out for 2008. The DXT is very compact and extremely light weight only weighing in at 3.75 lbs and measuring 29.75 in axle to axle. If you’re a hunter who like myself who moves around a lot this bow is a must try for you! The DXT has an IBO rating of 326 fps which will give you the perfect balance of power and accuracy. This DXT is designed with slim limbs (1 1/8” wide) which give the DXT its light weight frame.  The limbs are constructed of SE4 composite and will outlast traditional composite limbs twice as long. The DXT has a brace height of 7” comes in a 40 - 70lb draw weights, draw lengths of 24” - 30” and has an 80% let off.

Here my DXT is ready for some late season action.

The DXT comes with many features such as parallel limb design, harmonic dampers, string suppressors, and a roller guard. Although with a dinky frame this bow is as tough as they get!

I set my DXT up with the Rip Cord fall away rest and HHA 5500 Optimizer sight (which contains 5ft of wrapped fiber optics and also contains a wind adjustment and accepts lens kits B-2, 4, or 6 power) and a Super Hunter peep sight with a 3/16” opening.

The HHA Optimizer 5500 sight contains 5 ft of wrapped fiber optics for super bright pins even in low light conditions.

The Rip Cord fall away rest provides almost complete containment and fletching clearance, which is a deadly combination for us bowhunters.  I have not had any problems with it in 2 years!

I also set the bow up with the new Mathews Arrow Web 5 Quiver. (Which also comes in 3 or 6 arrow versions).  It is a bit on the pricy side running around $100 but well worth the money. It is constructed of machined aluminum and built with dampers inside the quiver for extreme quietness.  Believe me, this quiver when shot attached to the bow makes no noise. Along with its smooth and quiet attachment and detachment this quiver has a sure grip on your arrows that are placed within.  I love the cutting of the foam which fits my 4 bladed 100 grain Muzzy heads very well.  This design will hold 3 blade along with mechanical heads Just as well.

This shows the pre-cut foam which fits all types of broadheads and not only helps to hold your arrows securely in the quiver, but helps keep your broadhead blades from dulling as well.

I set my Mathews up for around $1,050 when it was all said and done. A bit pricy for a pencil thrower but it is my main weapon for hunting whitetails and I also plan on bringing it this winter when I am out chasing coyotes, then have it by my side this spring when the turkeys are on my mind. All in all this bow does the job and does it well. When trying to slip in to a bedding area, a long haul to a stand or even carrying a stand in to setup for a hunt the DXT is never a hassle. Mathews is definitely putting bows out that perform as well fitting the requirements of the run and gun bowhunter.

The 2009 Hyperlite by Mathews is supposed to be even lighter and faster, so if you're in the market for a new bow I would highly recommend checking them out!

Bryce Kish - (Yes, I am the one who missed a doe on film with Todd a few weeks ago)


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