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New Crossbows for 2012

by Daniel James Hendricks 7. May 2012 01:46
Daniel James Hendricks

   Each at the Archery Trade Association Show, the manufacturers from around the world unveil their new products to archery dealers.  Crossbows and crossbow accessories are garnering a larger share of the archery market every year and this year there were some wonderful new kids on the block at the trade show in Indianapolis.  As a matter of fact, there were so many new models that the ones included here are just some of the more prominent additions to the long and growing list of crossbow options for the horizontal bowhunter.


 01-Arrow Precision’s Inferno Hellfire II 
  The Inferno Hellfire II crossbow by Arrow Precision has a 185 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 310 feet per second.  It comes equipped with a 4x32 Multi Reticle Illuminated Scope, Quick Detach Quiver, 4- 20” carbon arrows, padded shoulder sling, rope cocking device and anti-dry fire mechanism. It comes in a camo pattern and has an ambidextrous auto safety with anti-dry fire Mechanism.  It has a Lightweight Machined Aluminum Riser, Precision Machined Aluminum Wheels and a large boot style foot stirrup.  It weighs just under 7 ½ pounds, is 36.5” long and 28” wide.  The limbs are made of Compression Fiberglass, the barrel is machined aluminum and the riser is case aluminum.  The best thing about the Hellfire is that the entire package is delivered to you for under $500.  For more information visit their website at:

02-Carbon Express Covert SLS
  The Covert SLS crossbow by Carbon Express has a 185 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 355 feet per second.  The Covert SLS measures 36” long by 17” wide, but is only 13” wide when loaded.  Precision Aluminum Alloy Cams, the Picatinny Rail system, adjustable forearm and tactical foregrip help to make the Covert SLS a comfortable fit for anyone.  It has a compact CNC machined aluminum riser and Compact Bull-Pup stock with custom adjustments.  It has an Anti-Dry-Firs System and ambidextrous safety.  The Covert SLS kit includes a Rope Cocker, Quick Detach 3 Arrow Quiver, 3 Maxima Hunter® 20" Crossbolts, 4x32 Deluxe Multi-Reticle Lighted Scope, Rail Lubricant and 3 Practice Points all for under $600.  For more information about the Carbon Express Covert SLS, visit their website at


03-Darton FireForce
  The FireForce crossbow by Darton has a 185 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 395 feet per second.  It had larger axels, sealed oversized Quad Ball Bearings, wide/stronger laminated Quad limbs, all combined with a compact front riser and redesigned Tactical Darton Stock first introduced in 2011. With Darton’s DualSync cams you have added performance and accuracy in a crossbow bow that is flat out fast, durable and accurate, shooting a 400 grain arrow a blurring 395-400fps. The FireForce is equipped with an integrated riser/string suppressor system and new Barrel Dampener [Patent Pending] to help reduce noise and vibration.  It has 17 ¼” power stroke, weighs 8.6 pound in weight.  It is 36” long and 24 3/8” wide.  For more information about the FireForce visit the Darton website at


04-Excalibur Eclipse XT
  The Eclipse XT from Excalibur has a 200 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 330 feet per second.  It has a thumbhole stock in a black gun finish and has Excalibur’s fine trigger, the S5 Sound and Vibration Control System as well as a matching cheek-piece.  It has a 15 ½ inch power stroke and weighs only 6.3 lbs.  Its overall length is 37.4” and it shoots a 400 grain, 20” arrow.  The Eclipse XT comes in a complete package including our Shadow-Zone scope and mounting hardware, four Firebolt arrows with target points, the Excalibur quiver mounting bracket and a matching quiver.  For more information on the this and other fine bows from Excalibur, visit their website at

05-Horton Fury
  The Fury crossbow by Horton has a 160 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 360 feet per second.  With its CNC-machined riser and lightweight aluminum barrel it produces incredible balance and accuracy. Precision CNC-machined cams and advanced laminated limbs optimize speed, integrated stumper arms maximize stealth while our custom Viper X strings deliver ultimate speed and durability.  It is 35 1/4” long and 17 ½” wide with a 15 3/8” power stroke.  When it is loaded it is a mere 13” wide.  It weighs 8.1 lbs and shoots a 20” arrow.  For more information on the Horton Fury, visit their website at


 06-Maximus Crossbow’s Ergo
  The Ergo crossbow by Maximus Crossbows  has a 175 lb draw weight and launches its arrows at right around 330 feet per second.  It is 31¼ inches long and 18¾ wide, axel to axel and weighs 8 lbs with optics installed. Unique features include an under-mount stirrup, a handshake pistol grip, elevated comb height and a winged and vented barrel for forehand safety.  It has a vented forearm, extended scope rail (for eye-glass wearers), an ambidextrous safety with anti-dry fire device and a 100% metal trigger with only a 2.5 lb trigger pull.  The efficiency of its design is also complimented by a 50% rear-of-center balance point for fatigue free shooting.  The package comes with an innovative 20 to 100 yard, 3-power scope with regular or illuminated reticle.  Cushioned scope rings, flip-up scope caps, 3-arrow side-mount quiver, 3-Maximus 100% carbon Slayer Arrows with field points and the new 102 grain Hammer inserts and a Universal rope cocking aid featuring their new safety hooks and T-handles.  For more information about the Maximus Ergo visit their website at


07-Parker Tomahawk
  The Tomahawk crossbow by Parker has a 160 lb draw weight and launches a 20”, 400 grain arrow at right around 320 feet per second.  The Tomahawk is 34.25” long, 20.375” wide and weighs in at 6.5 lbs.  It has Advanced Split Limb Technology, a G2 Bull-Pup Trigger, an auto-engage, ambidextrous safety and an auto-engage anti-dry fire mechanism.  The Tomahawk has a machined aluminum riser with a ballistic Polymer stock.  It has a vented forearm with safety finger flange comes with an option of regular or illuminated 3X Multi-Reticle scope.  All packaged include 4-Arrow Quick Detach Quiver and four arrows with field tips.  For more information about the Tomahawk visit the Parker website at www.

 08-SA Sports Vendetta
  The Vendetta crossbow by SA Sports has a 200 lb draw weight and launches a 20” arrow at right around 375 feet per second. It has a 14” power stroke and is only 19” wide when loaded.  Some of the top shelf features included as standard equipment are a finely crafted machined riser, a lightweight extruded and machined barrel, an ANTI Dry-fire trigger mechanism, 3.5lb trigger pull, high performance machined aluminum cams, illuminated red/green/black reticle 4x32 multi range crossbow scope, quiver with 4 carbon arrows, padded shoulder sling, ambidextrous auto safety, lightweight skeletal stock, and crank cocking device compatibility. It comes standard with a rope cocking device, an Integrated Step Through Foot Stirrup and is clad in Next G1 Camo.  It also includes assembly tools and hex keys for quick assembly and maintenance.  For more information about the Vendetta visit their website at

09-Scorpyd Ventilator
  The Ventilator crossbow by Scorpyd has a 150 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 400 feet per second with 140 lbs of kinetic energy.  The new Ventilator is only 19.5 inches wide, axle to axle, and only 12.75 inches wide when cocked which makes this crossbow easy to maneuver in a treestand or the tight quarters often found in a pop-up ground blind. The Ventilator is a mere 35.75 inches long and comes with a folding stock which makes cocking the crossbow easier in the seated position.  It weighs in at 7.9 lbs thanks to the vented barrel and a lightweight forged riser. The solid limb Ventilator is built with top notch components including Barnsdale limbs which are considered some of the toughest, longest-lasting limbs in the archery industry.  The Ventilator is available in draw weights 100, 125 and 150 lbs.  The 150 draw weight produces 140 lbs of kinetic energy and will throw an arrow up to an incredible 400 FPS. Like all Scorpyd crossbows, the Ventilator comes with reverse draw limbs and has a generous power stroke of 18.75 inches thus producing more kinetic energy with less draw weight than other crossbows. As a result, the Ventilator is extremely quiet when shot because large amounts of weight aren’t needed to produce extreme speeds. The Ventilator also comes with a light three pound trigger.  Find out more about the complete line of Scorpyd Crossbows by visiting

10-Stryker  StrykeZone 380
  The StrykeZone 380 crossbow by Stryker has a 160 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 380 feet per second.  The StrykeZone 380 measures 34.375” long by 19.2” wide axel to axel and weighs just 7 lbs.  It has a 15.5” power stroke and 123 foot pound of kinetic energy.  It has a double jaw string capture and the Killswitch Trigger of less than 3lbs.  It has the Auto-Flip™ magnetic safety that clicks into the safe position every time the bow is cocked and is engineered to click back into safe mode if the crossbow is dropped or the bolt is removed.  The Cease-Fire™ safety plug is a double barred insert that slides into place, locking the jaws and immobilizing the trigger until you remove it and are ready to shoot. The StrykeZone 380 is available in Mossy Oak® Treestand™ or Optifade® Forest. For more information about this bow, visit

11-TenPoint’s Carbon Elite XLT™
  The Carbon Elilte XLT crossbow by TenPoint has a 185 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 360 feet per second.  Like all XLT models, the Carbon Elite XLT’s bow assembly measures 13.5-inches from axle-to-axle when cocked and weighs just under 7 lbs.  The riser comes with a detachable, lightweight, coated aluminum foot stirrup and its 11-inch IsoTaper Limbs™ are double laminated for improved strength and durability and are equipped with NEW MRX™ cams and D-75 string and cables.  The Carbon Elite XLT also features TenPoint’s patented DFI™ (dry-fire inhibitor), highly regarded 3.5-pound patented PowerTouch™ trigger and patented GripSafety™. Equipped with the ACUdraw™ or ACUdraw 50™, TenPoint’s patented cocking units, and the RangeMaster Pro™ variable speed and power scope, the Carbon Elite XLT is double-dip fluid imaged in Mossy Oak’s® popular Break-Up Infinity® camo pattern.  The model is sold only as a complete package that includes a soft case, carbon arrows, silencer kit, and quiver.   For more information, contact Randy Wood, Vice President of Sales (800) 548-6837 or


12-Wicked Ridge Raider CLS
  The Raider crossbow by Wicked Ridge has a 180 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 330 feet per second with 101.6 fp of kinetic energy.  The Raider features an economically executed variation of TenPoint’s powerful Compact Limb System™ (CLS) bow assembly. Unlike TenPoint’s one-piece CLS riser and foot stirrup, the Raider comes with a detachable, lightweight, coated aluminum foot stirrup. Its 12-inch IsoTaper Limbs™ are fitted with MR™ cams and D-75 string and cables. Together, these features create a smooth-handling, high-performance crossbow that shoots 330 fps with 101.6 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.  With its NEW CLS bow assembly and an injection-molded composite semi-skeletal Verton® stock and ACRAANGLE™ barrel assembly, the Raider weighs in at 7-pounds. In addition, the stock is fitted with a safety-engineered winged fore-grip designed to help prevent finger and thumb injuries.  The Raider CLS comes equipped with a TenPoint™ 3x Multi-Line™ Scope and, like all Wicked Ridge models, it features TenPoint’s patented DFI™ (dry-fire-inhibitor) and patented 3.5-pound PowerTouch™ trigger. Equipped with the patented ACU-52™, the Raider CLS is double-dip fluid imaged in Mossy Oak’s® popular Break-Up Infinity® camo pattern. For more information, contact Randy Wood, Vice President of Sales (800) 548-6837 or



13-Winchester Stallion 
  The Stallion crossbow by Winchester Archery  has a 165 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 350 feet per second with 110 fp of kinetic energy.  It has a 12.5” power stroke and measures 17” wide axel to axel.  The Stallion crossbow highlights the patent pending 12/277,860 Accu-Speed Technology (AST-X) cams to the patent pending Ultra Match stainless steel trigger.  It has a padded pistol grip, forearm and cheekpiece and weighs 7 lbs.  The Stallion has a retracted cocking platform, a bull-pup stock configuration, along with a fully machined barrel and riser.  It has limb and string dampeners, and our sophisticated dual 3K carbon rod string stop system making it one of the quietest crossbows available.  For more information about the Stallion visit the Winchester website at










Another Lighted Nock Advantage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Baiting Wisconsin Black Bears

by Marshall Kaiser 29. July 2011 09:26
Marshall Kaiser

Although this time of year is spent getting ready for whitetails. There are several hunters out their holding a golden ticket or black bear tag.  Ursus Americanus or commonly known as the North American Black Bear are a popular game animal with a lot of archers.  But how much studying of the bear do we do before setting up a bait stand or hiring someone to run their dogs after a suitable bear to harvest.  There are many interesting facts about this particular game animal that I didn’t know before I set in the attempt to arrow one of these prized animals in central Wisconsin.  After 10 years of applying I finally got a bear tag and was able to set up a bait station with game cameras in hopes to take a big bruin with my recurve.

In setting the bait station depending on where you hunt make sure you check out rules and regulations for proper and legal baiting procedures.  In Wisconsin I was not able to use any meat from any animal.  So dohnuts, cookies, frosting and condensed milk was the bait of choice.  I set the bait with 4 foot logs piled in a V shape forcing the bear to come into the bait giving me a quartering away 12 yard shot. The logs would help me determine a quick estimation of the size of the bear.  I placed sand around the bait station (hollowed out log) to measure the pads of the bear that were coming in for their daily bread.  The inner soft pad of a bear that is at least 4 inches in width is generally a 250lb plus black bear. In other words that is a very nice bear especially with archery equipment.

For 2 months I had a very active bait station that was being hit several times a day.  The trail camera photos and videos were proof of this also the empty stump was a great sign.  The stump was approximately 150 lbs, and they would roll it around like it was an empty coffee can.  My research in the bear world was very interesting.  I didn’t realize they have extremely good eye sight.  Some scientists' even feel the black bear can learn visual discrimination faster than chimpanzees and just as fast as a dog.  Their dominance is displayed by the height of their claw marks on trees.  They can reach speeds of 25-30 mph.  Yes that is faster than a human.  Their nose is also a good attribute for the black bear.  I tested this theory by placing one of my old sweatshirts around the tree that I had the logs placed against to form the V.  Within 24 hours the sweatshirt was torn to shreds.  The next day it was gone.  My purpose was to get them use to my scent coming in and out while hunting and freshening the bait.  The second sweatshirt I placed was taken over by a trio of cubs with their mom.  They would visit the bait several times a day carrying my sweatshirt around like it was their nightly blanket.  I witnessed this for several weeks the shirt would be gone for a few days then it would show up again for a day or so and then the cubs would take it back to wherever they came from.  The trio of cubs and their sleek nosed sow gave me lots of entertainment while on stand.

My goal of the hunt was to harvest a boar that was carrying a nice white bib.  Only 25% of black bear in the Midwest will carry a white crescent or bib on their chest.  As luck would have it I would not get a chance to see this bear during shooting hours.  Hopefully in another 5-8 years I will get another chance if he is still around.  Black bear can grow as old as 18 years in the wild.  The current record is 33 years.  The picture below is an Albert record book bear I shot in the spring of 2006.  The bear stood 7’10”, weighed approximately  560lbs, and the skull was over 20 inches in width.





The Koda-Express Leaves Lasting Impression on Canadian Bear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The ambidextrous safety automatically engages on the Kodabow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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















Crossbow Accessories for Bear Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lighted nocks can be a real asset on your hunt. 

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

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

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


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

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

A great plan makes for a great hunt!


Summer Trophy Shots

by Daniel James Hendricks 24. June 2011 00:56
Daniel James Hendricks

The summer months are a great time slot to hone your photography skills with a bevy of occasions that afford the serious camera buff an opportunity to capture some great trophy shots.  One just needs to have their camera ready and then be observant enough to recognize a good photo op when he or she sees one.

Carrying your camera in your car could provide a photo like this one that will be captured rather than remembered as an occasion that you wished you had your camera.  

 With the advent of digital photography, any concern about cost and wasted shots should be permanently shelved, since they are no longer relevant.  One should never be accused of taking too few photos, however, that is still one of the greatest errors most shooters make.  You have the camera and should have a spare disk so use them!  Shoot everything and shoot often, keeping in mind that the more photos you take, the greater the chances of shooting a real winner.  As with so many other things in life, photography is a numbers game.

Watch for interesting character-study shots like the furrowed brows of this little fellow at a community art festival.  

A serious photographer should have his camera close at hand for that special shot wherever he or she goes.  But if you leave it at home hidden in a drawer and are presented with that classic “once in a lifetime shot”  all you will have is sad memories of what could have been.  Even if your camera is in your vehicle, you can make a mad dash to the car if an opportunity presents itself.  The best remedy, however is to purchase a camera case with a shoulder strap or belt loop and carry it with you at all times.  Definitely make sure that it is close at hand if you plan an outing of any kind, be it a reunion, a trip to the lake or a jaunt to a summer community event, which is almost a mandatory happening in most towns.  Even a road trip can provide countless photo opportunities that will dress up anyone’s photo morgue.

 Candid shots, often using a telephoto lens will allow you to catch people reacting without the pressure of knowing they are "in focus".

Family outings are great for humorous shots as it seems that someone is always clowning around and they provide one with a great opportunity for “people-photo” practice.  Try to capture as many candid shots as possible as shots of people doing what they do naturally always seems to make for better photos.  Even as common place as cameras are, there is something about pointing one at a person that just seems to drain the “natural” vitality from your subject.  Very few people will remain true to their form when being zeroed in by the lens.

Never go to a flea market or fair without your camera to record the colors, the sights and the vast array of poeple you will find there.

While at these social gatherings, don’t forget to look around for other subjects that may catch your eye.  Pets, landscapes, flowers, a grill full of food, and street scenes are just a few of the things that could possibly provide the sharp eye with a rewarding image caught in the right light, the right time or with the right activity taking place there.  And always look beyond the main area of activity.  Sometimes a great frame will present itself just around the corner of a building or as close as fifty yards from where the main center of activity is.  Don’t be afraid to wander away towards something that catches your attention, it may very well provide you with the shot of the day.

 Keep your eyes peeled for subjects that are clowning around.  You never know what clicking your shutter at the right time can capture.

Community events are a natural for a camera.  It seems like each community has its own summertime celebration filled with special events, parades, good food and lots of people activity.  County Fairs, the State Fair, a carnival or sporting event are all excellent opportunities to hone your photographic skills.  Record the meetings with your friends and neighbors at these centers of activity by taking their pictures, which can later be used as a framed hostess gift or included in a personal Christmas card.  There is no one who does not openly or secretly appreciate a copy of their image doing whatever they do.  Again, if you are walking down the street during a community celebration, don’t forget to keep you eyes open for a planter filled with beautiful flowers, a unique angle shot of the geometric layout of a handsome brick wall or an interesting cloud formation that is framing an interesting skyline.

 If you go to see fireworks and you don't bring your camera, you're missing an  opportunity to learn more about your camera and collect some great shots.

Animal shots abound especially in the early morning and late afternoon if one takes a drive in the country.  Most shots can be taken from the car window, others require a stop and stalk procedure.  In the earlier part of the summer, it is easy to find areas where families of Canadian geese are tending their young affording some great shots for the naturalist photographer.  It is also common to see young deer that have yet to be taught the danger of human beings, as well as young animals of a multitude of species.  Spend a couple of hours camped out at a humming bird feeder.  You will be surprised what you will be able to capture.

 Keep you camera handy becuase you never know when you will be presented with an opportunity for a family photo like this one.

Over 90% of all living things are insects and with the macro capabilities of the latest cameras, this is one area that will provide some really great shots and bugs are everywhere.  This is one more area that provides countless photo ops if the photographer has not limited his vision to the big stuff.  Butterflies are some of the most obvious, but there are kinds of colorful, crawly-stuff that will provide interesting snapshots of a world most folks are oblivious to.  I don’t let bugs bug me, I shoot `em with my camera.

Moving slowly and using your zoom can produce shots like this one when you are ready with your camera and perhaps a monopod.

 There are far too many opportunities to list individually in a short article, but hopefully this short piece has given you some ideas and will serve as a reminder that every day is hunting season when you are carrying your camera.  And remember that there are no limits, no gut piles and the outstanding trophies that you shoot will adorn your walls and the walls of others for years to come. 

Remember to think small and look for the littlest of subjects.  Make learning to use the Marcro feature of your camera a priority.




Categories: Blog | Current News

It's Never Too Late to be Scouting for New Hunting Land

by Marshall Kaiser 25. April 2011 03:18
Marshall Kaiser

Spring is the time of year to get out and scout for new hot spots: look over maps, talk to farmers, landowners, DNR biologists, anyone who can give you information or access into some great hunting land.  We have all been there: driving around checking out fields, watching some nice looking deer grazing on the fresh greens, or longbeards struttin’ on the backside of an old cut cornfield.  Whose land is it?  I wonder if I could hunt it? How much land is available?  Is it public, private, Forest Crop Land (FCL- possible huntable land?) Who owns it and where are the boundaries?  How do you go about getting these questions answered?  Simple: plat books.  They have been around for years and have been getting more and more user-friendly as the time passes.  I have been using plat books for over 20 years, and they have gotten me into some very nice hunting land.  You would be surprised at how many people will allow you to hunt if you just ask. As hunters we need to represent the sport in the best ways possible, by asking permission, offering help on the property or being willing to pay a lease fee, are some great ways to keep up a positive image with landowners.  If you are denied, so be it.  Politely say thanks and move on to the next possibility.

As far as my home state of Wisconsin, our plat books are divided into the 72 counties.  Each county is then divided into separate townships.  As you can see in the picture, a township is a six mile by six mile square piece of land.  The squaring off of the land allows these imaginary lines to be our lines of longitude and latitude to help define a specific location.  Out of the 36 sections in each township, they are divided into one mile by one mile parcels which make up 640 acres in size.  The sections are then quartered into four 160 acre quadrants.  Thus the land can be broken down even further.  The confusion begins in trying to name the location of the section by using the description technique found in the front of every plat book.  I have shown a picture of how this can be done, or you can just follow the directions; starting backwards and working your way from specific description out to the section number tends to be the easiest. 

Here is a picture of how townships are divide into 36 sections each 1 mile by 1 mile.


The 1 mile by 1 mile section is now divided into 4 quadrants and broken down even further if needed

A real advantage of the newer plat book is the topographical map it includes as well as the ownership map on the opposite page.  This allows you to look over the land from above to find rivers, funnels, hidden fields, boundary lines etc.

This is a copy of a section that is open to public hunting in Marathon county.

Most Midwestern states have plat books for their counties.  Here is a list of just a few other states that have RMP (Rockford Map Publisher) plat books: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and of course Wisconsin.  These little books can be a huge help in finding some great hot spots. They also make great gifts. 

North Dakota Mulies and Whitetails.

by Marshall Kaiser 15. April 2011 14:16
Marshall Kaiser

Late October I found myself with some good friends south of the Missouri River Breaks in the southwest corner of North Dakota, hunting whitetails and mulies with our traditional bows. We hunted food plots, travel routes, ridge tops, and round bails.  The rut was a few weeks away, and deer seemed to be on their natural feeding patterns with a little bit of chasing by the smaller bucks.  


Definately not a shortage of deer.

The landscape was not the typical, flat, open country with scattered duck ponds; we hunted pine, cedar and juniper ridges, as well as sandstone, shale, agate draws, and river bottoms, all within a 6000 acre, free-range ranch.  The territory was a great place to spend a week of hunting.  Not only were there plenty of deer, but the population of coyotes, pheasant and even badgers was also very high. 

North Dakota Badger trying to figure me out.  I was in a homemade ground blind 5 yds away.

The hunt was action-packed yet frustrating at times. Just like when you hunt anywhere else, once you seem to get the animals figured out, they out-smart you and show up out of bow range.  Little did I know my luck (or lack thereof) was about to change.  On the fourth day, my hunting partner and I were doing a little spot-and-spook when we came upon a mulie doe.  We split up and thought our odds would be better if one of us could get the deer’s attention and the other move in for a shot.  The events that happened next will forever be etched in my mind.   

As luck would have it, the doe focused its attention on my partner allowing me to close the distance.  I got within about 40 yards of the doe when I noticed another doe and two bucks just over the rise.  I was pinned down, but not busted.  I waited it out until all eyes were on my partner.  I slowly got to my knees and estimated the shot on the bigger 4 x 4 mulie at around 34 yards.  Everything that happened next was a blur.  Before I could take back my arrow I found it sailing toward the target.  With the thud of an arrow hitting its mark, I looked up and saw the mule deer tip its head back and bound down the draw. For a brief moment I actually thought I had just shot my first mule deer.  But as I looked back to where the buck had stood, I noticed the bright white fletching of my arrow stuck in a dead tree about 30 yards from where I stood.  As I did the math, that was about four to five yards short of my intended target.   

A gorgeous place to hunt.

As most of us who hunt have experienced this pain, frustration, confusion and embarrassment all rolled up in one, we have to try to keep our heads together . . . yeah right!!!  For the rest of this trip my focus was shot.  I had launched a few more arrows trying to fill my tag with some venison; however, that did not happen.  But even with my lack of luck, the trip was still well worth it.  In fact I’ll be back out there in the middle of November hoping to meet up with a lovesick buck; anyway, my hunting partner ended up arrowing a nice whitetail before we packed up and headed back to Wisconsin to hunt the rut and get my head back in the game.  Lesson learned: it’s not always about the kill! 


My hunting partner with a nice North Dakota whitetail.








Bowhunting Internship Is Over- Until Next Time Illinois!

by Cody Altizer 28. January 2011 10:41
Cody Altizer

The afternoon of September 17, 2010 found me sitting in a treestand in Northern Illinois, dripping with sweat from the late summer heat and fighting off nasty mosquitoes left and right.  I had just finished hanging a second treestand on a piece of property Todd Graf allowed to hunt, and remember watching an endless Midwestern sunset thinking to myself, “I am 800 miles from home, sitting in a treestand with no clue what the next 5 months have in store for me.  What have I gotten myself in to?”  Well, this past weekend, January 22nd, I took that same treestand down in over 6 inches of snow and a wind chill of 5 degrees.  As I took down that same stand and watched the same sun slip beneath the horizon, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past 5 months.

When Todd Graf offered me an internship at the office last June, I accepted the position almost immediately and was anxious to make the move from Virginia to Illinois.  The opportunity to live in Illinois for an entire hunting season seemed too good to be true, but it was very real and I promised myself to make the most of it.

My first weekend on the job consisted of me filming Todd on his property in Wisconsin for the archery opener.

Todd and I wasted little time getting to know each other as we climbed in the tree for the first time together my first weekend on the job for the opening weekend of the Wisconsin archery season.  That first weekend was a nightmare.  Todd and I were clumsy with all of our hunting and camera gear, got busted several times on stand by wary whitetails and our communication in the stand was atrocious.  My first weekend on the job, and I was already questioning whether or not I worthy of the position.  Fortunately, with little time to sulk, Todd and I headed back to Wisconsin the following weekend and I was able to film him harvesting a big, mature doe.  The ice had been broken and I was ready to climb in the tree myself!

I was able to film Todd harvesting this doe on a late September bow hunt in Wisconsin.

The following weekend marked the beginning of a new chapter in my bowhunting career.  October 1st meant the first day of the Illinois bow season and I couldn’t wait to get settled in the stand and hunt those famed Illinois whitetails.  My first two hunts as an Illinois bowhunter yielded frustrating results; I didn’t see a single deer!  On Sunday afternoon October 3rd, I went to my best stand on one of the properties Todd granted me permission to hunt, and was optimistic about my chances.  About an hour before sunset, a mature doe snuck up on me, but I was able to harvest my first Illinois whitetail on film.  I was pumped!  Follow this link to view the footage of my first Illinios whitetail!

After a slow first couple of days in Illinois, I was able to film myself harvesting mature doe on October 3rd.

The weeks that followed were a little bit of a rollercoaster ride.  My site broke while in the stand on a morning hunt in Central Illinois on Justin Zarr’s lease, however, that same weekend I was able to film Justin’s friend Jeremy Enders harvest his first deer which was a cool experience.  I remember Jeremy shaking like a leaf when that doe walked in at less than 10 yards, but Jeremy made a perfect shot on her and I was able to capture it all on film.    My luck then turned sour again, as I was in a minor car accident the following weekend that forced me to take precious time out of the stand to get the car repaired.  I was thankful to not have been injured, but I wanted to be in the woods!

My view from behind the camera just seconds before Jeremy shot his first deer.

While I was thrilled with the harvest of my first Illinois whitetail, I was still driven to get my first Illinois buck as well.  It was Halloween weekend and Justin and I were headed down to his lease in Central Illinois in Pike County for a three day hunting adventure.  He and I struck up a deal. I was to film him for three hunts and then I had three hunts to get it done myself.  After seeing some awesome buck activity filming Justin three times, I couldn’t wait to try my luck on a Pike County buck.  I didn’t have to wait long, because on my first hunt, again about an hour before sunset, a shooter buck stopped perfectly broadside in my shooting lane and I put an arrow right through his heart.  On the afternoon of October 30th, you would have been hard pressed to find happier bowhunter.  It was literally a dream come true, harvesting a good buck in Pike County, Illinois, and I couldn’t have been more thankful.  Click here to view the footage of my buck harvest as seen in Bowhunt or Die.

My Halloween Weekend buck that I was fortunate to harvest on Justin's lease in Pike County, Illinois.  This is not only my first Illinois buck, but my biggest buck to date.  I am super proud of this buck!

Harvesting that buck was a bittersweet moment, because it meant I was tagged out in Illinois.  As a non-resident I was only issued one buck tag and one doe tag.  But given the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I was able to hunt back home in Virginia for a week over the Thanksgiving holiday, but just couldn’t seal the deal on a Virginia whitetail.  I was bound and determined to shoot an Illinois buck and a Virginia buck in the same season, but I just couldn’t pull it off.

I went home for the Thanksgiving holiday and was thankful to do a little hunting with my brother, who doubled as a camera man.

When I got back to Illinois after a blessed week at home for Thanksgiving, Mother Nature smacked me in the face with some brutally cold weather.  But cold weather means usually means good hunting and Todd and I hit his property hard several times hoping a giant buck would visit one of Todd’s food plots.  We saw several does during those hunts, a couple younger bucks and one nice buck that was a borderline shooter, but Todd elected to pass.  I was, however, able to film Todd’s good friend Dr. Ali Shaibani harvesting his deer.  Ali was the second hunter I was fortunate enough to film harvesting their first deer in 2010, which was pretty special!

As December faded into January, my primary focus wasn’t on bowhunting anymore, but on the annual ATA Show in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I had heard several bowhunters talk about the ATA Show and how cool it was to hang out with all the pros and see all the new gear, but I never thought that I would actually be able to attend.   Just like the majority of my experiences in Illinois, the 2011 ATA was another first for me.  I couldn’t believe how big the show was!  Every time I turned around I saw one of the pro hunters I grew up watching on TV just carrying on a casual conversation with a dealer.  It was a bowhunter’s paradise!  However, like my Halloween Weekend buck harvest, the ATA Show was a bittersweet experience because after the show, I had just a couple weeks before my internship was over.  Just like that, 5 months had flown by and it was time for me to go home.

Here I am posing with Jim Shockey at the 2011 ATA Show.  Jim was a cool guy to hang out with and meeting him was one of the many highlights of my first ATA Show experience.

Todd asked me just the other day what my favorite part of the internship and living in Illinois was.  It was a cliché question, but it completely caught me off guard because I honestly hadn’t thought about it.  It would have been easy to say the ATA Show, or harvesting two Illinois whitetails on film, or even being with Jeremy and Ali when they shot their first deer, but those thoughts never entered my mind.  I simply answered, “The relationships.”  In the future when I look back at my time as an intern at, I’ll think of the great friendships I had made, particularly those with Todd and Justin.  I can’t thank them enough for all that they did for me over the last 5 months and all they taught me.  Not to mention everything I learned from them by just hanging around them in the woods and in the office.  I’ll never forget the famous motivational speeches Todd gave me when he sensed I was lagging behind or getting discouraged, and the laughs I shared with Justin when hunting with him on his lease are irreplaceable. 

To Todd and Justin, I can only hope that one day I will be able to return the favor, and I look forward to the adventures we are sure to share in the future; thank you!



by Daniel James Hendricks 16. January 2011 11:19
Daniel James Hendricks

     As the snow continues to deepen, the rigors of the northern winter become harder for the wild things of our part of the country.  Deer traffic has been reduced to simple trail-traffic for weeks now with the aimless wandering that whitetails are so famous for no longer an option for the snow-bound deer.  December in Minnesota witnessed the greatest snowfall since weather recording began, I am told and sadly it is taking its toll on the creatures of the wild. 


     I have been feeding corn throughout the fall, hoping to supplement the animal’s diets and better prepare them for the winter.  The golden grain has been consumed not only by the deer, but squirrels, rabbits and song birds all dine together at the pile consuming as much as they can.  This type of feeding benefits all wild things in spite of the fact that it is frowned upon by some.


     This past week, I contacted a member of our church, a farmer, and had him deliver two square bales of rich clover hay to my back yard.  I placed it in the back of our pickup, cutting the strings on the first bale and removing the first two slices of the dark green, leafy forage.  I placed them on either side of the mineral lick that has been a permanent fixture in our backyard for the past two decades.  The hay remained untouched for several days as the deer-traffic, diminished by inclement weather, has been light if any at all.  Then we had nighttime visitors and the first two thick slices of clover-pie disappeared into thin air, or perhaps into thin deer; nevertheless it was gone.


     Even though we live within the city limits of Glenwood, the deer traffic through our yard is constant and heavy in volume, year-round.  For the past ten years the winters have been mild and there has been no real need to supplement the diets of our local herd, although I have offered hay at our backyard salad bar, regardless.  The need this winter is critical due to the harshness of the cold temperatures and deep snow.  


     The hunter is portrayed as the villain by the Animal Rights Fanatics (ARF), yet when a hard winter like our present one occurs, who is it that comes to the rescue of the hungry wild things?  It certainly isn’t the ARF’s.  They believe in letting nature take its course and allowing starvation to naturally thin the herds.  Instead, it is the villains, the hunters that come to the rescue of the wild things that they believe they have been entrusted to care for and manage.  It is the game harvesters that reaches into their pockets and pay for the forage to save the herd and then go to the trouble to get those foodstuffs to the needy creatures that suffer from the rigors of nature.


     How interesting that those who claim to love the animals do nothing to assist when assistance is needed.  And the ones that are demonized for managing the herds by regulated thinning to an acceptable carrying capacity are the first and only ones to answer the call to save the herd.  The rich coffers of the ARF’s are held in reserve to save the hapless animals from the only true friends they have, the hunter. Oh, what cruel irony, with one breath to claim love for the wild things and in the next say, “Let them die.”
     For those of you in areas where winter is taking its heaviest toll, I hope that you will do all that you can to relieve some of the stress being experienced by the creatures that are being most victimized by this harsh winter.  It is our responsibility as hunters and every animal we save is a critical building block to the future of our sport.  If we don’t do it, it won’t get done.



A Few New Products to be on the Lookout For

by John Mueller 8. March 2010 07:30
John Mueller

While walking around the Iowa Deer Classic this past weekend I spotted a few new products that may soon be stocked here on Some of these could be very useful for us bowhunters. There are always new products at every show, some make the grade and last for years, some are never heard from again. The following are are few I think just might make it in the industry.

The Ready Arrow is a simple device that clamps to the side of your stand and holds one spare arrow at the ready. You can position it anywhere on the outside rail of your stand to make it convenient to reach if a second arrow is needed. After all, how many times do you get the opportunity to empty your quiver at a deer?  Be on the lookout for our video gear review of this product which will be posted this week.

Next are a couple of trail camera mounting systems from Prarie Manufacturing LLC. The first one screws into a tree and has a ball swivel, so you can get just the right angle you need for the camera. This could be very useful if you want to mount your camera up high out of reach of potential thieves. It will allow you angle it down at a scrape or mineral lick. Then you simply attach it to your camera and you'e done.  This is an example of a product that is simple, well made, and can be very useful to just about anyone who uses a trail camera.

The second version is designed specifically to be used on T-type fence posts. It has a round piece of aluminum with the center machined to slide over the standard T-Post shape and tightens with a screw. This model also has the ball swivel to allow for easy positioning on the target. I'm pretty sure you will soon see these in's shopping cart, as I know Todd picked up a couple at the show.

Next is the TriVane Contour Static Rest. This is a new twist to an arrow rest on a proven design. The arrow is held in place by 3 brushes, and at the shot the brushes rotate out of the way leaving zero contact with the arrow and total vane clearance. This allows you to have the best of both worlds; full containment as well as dropaway brushes for total clearance.  There are 3 models to choose from. 

Next we have 2 products from TruCarbon. One is a carbon powder in a shaker bottle that you can rub on your skin or shake in your boots and gloves. Or just sprinkle it on your clothes to absorb odors without having to buy the expensive carbon clothing.

The second is TruCarbon H2O. This product allows you make your own carbon clothing at a fraction of the cost. It is a carbon powder specially formulated to mix with water. You mix the powder in a bucket of water, soak you clothes and hang them to dry. Then place them in a scent proof container until you are ready to hunt.

Silver Scent Products has the new Laundry Ball out on the market. The all new Vanish Laundry Ball contains natural ceramics which emit negative ions weakening the adherence of soil on fabrics so that garments can easily be cleaned. Most importantly to hunters, the Vanish Laundry Ball contains antibacterial properties which eliminate organic and non-organic odors. In addition there are no UV brighteners and the life expectancy is over 1000 washes.


Bad River Outdoors has the Tagged Out ranging system on the market. This is simply an attachment to your bowsight housing which allows you to range your target through your bow sight. It consists of steps that you fit the deer's body into. Yardage is determined by which bracket the deer's body fits into.

Finally, for the turkey hunter we have the Strutt'n 360* Decoy Stand. This device is a remote controlled stand you mount your turkey decoy to. With the push of a button, you can add realistic movement to your strutting decoy.  Just be sure to check your local regulations first, as electronic decoys are illegal in some states.

Keep your eyes open for these and many other new products coming to's shopping cart in the near future. It will be interesting to see which of these products are around in a few years.

Valentine's Day Bowhunting Pig Hunt 2010

by Jessica Edd 8. March 2010 06:15
Jessica Edd

With our flight to Dallas cancelled due to snow and our hunting arrangements fast becoming unarranged, I began wondering if this Valentine's Day hog hunt was actually going to take place. Although things began looking up when we booked a flight into Oklahoma City, Mother Nature was not cooperating as easily as the airlines. Anyone who has ever hunted hogs, know they don't move much when it's cold and this proved to be true on my first hog hunting experience.

Our first early morning hunt took me to a snow-covered oak tree landscape far different from my hunting homeland of the Rocky Mountains. Even without seeing a single hog, experiencing a new area in such a surreal setting satisfied my need to get out of the office and into the woods. After calling it quits for the morning, we tried to catch up on sleep after a night of sighting in our bows through Dustin's living room. While we slumbered, the snow covered forest floor turned into a mud bog that would be an ideal setting for a demolition derby. As we sat in the stands that night, the feed floating in a pool of water and mud, the pigs proved again, to have found forage opportunities elsewhere.

Day 2 consisted of getting up late due to a late night dinner of barbequed dove wrapped in bacon, garnished with jalapeno slices and one too many Sprittles (Sprite, Vodka and Skittles; highly recommended). Instead of sitting the stands, Will and I walked through a creek bottom, hoping to push a hog out to Dustin and Paul. As I dropped farther back from my line up with Will due to losing a wrestling match with a pile of greenbriers, Will spotted a huge boar but was unable to get a shot. Disappointed that I hadn't even seen a hog yet, we headed back to the truck in order to get on the road to the River View Ranch, outside Ada, Oklahoma.

That afternoon we got settled into our new cabin home and soon discovered that the previous tenants had left us some beer which we gladly drank. We met up with the owner, Keith West, who took us to the skinning shed where we could sight in our bows and get acquainted with the ranch before taking us to our stands. On the ride, the sun came out for the first and only time during the whole trip. I was beginning to think the sun had simply retired from shining in Oklahoma altogether and the snow was its hired replacement. As we sat in the stand, I soon realized I wasn't the only one enjoying the break in the weather. A lonely boar decided he better get out for some feed before the snow got back from its vacation and took a drive by the feeder, only to keep on moving. Seeing this hog only fed my excitement to stick my first one.

Shortly thereafter, another lone boar decided he better get some dinner, not realizing he would soon become breakfast in the form of spicy sausage that's great for burritos. As he sucked up corn from the ground, I waited high in the tree for a good broadside shot. It didn't take long for him to give it to me and when I let my arrow fly I was stunned to see it hit the mud behind him; and not because of a pass-through. I realized my string slapped the sleeve of my jacket and in an attempt to regain my composure after the disappointing shot, I knocked another arrow. No sooner did the little boar give me another perfect opportunity, he turned away in search of more corn. I held at full draw until he turned back and this time when the arrow flew, it connected with both of his lungs. The Rage 2-Blade broadhead performed as optimal as it usually does and stuck the hog deep in the opposite shoulder. The boar run uphill about 30 yards before losing the arrow and kicking up leaves, only to lose the good fight and lay still on the forest floor. Dustin videoed the miss, the hit and my excitement, as well as some extra commentary that will likely be edited out with some good tunes.

After a little celebratory dancing in the stand, it was on for Dustin to get his hog. As we waited and the sun went down, three came in from different directions to meet the feeder. With little to no light left and the evening turning fast into night, Dustin made a perfect shot on one of the boars. When his arrow hit the pig we knew the bacon was coming home as we heard the blood running out of both the entry and exit holes. The NAP Blood Runner broadhead passed through the heart and left the hog expired less than 50 yards from the feeder.


When the rumble of Keith's truck came to a rolling stop down the trail, Will greeted us with a quote of a lifetime. Seeing my hog, he skipped all congratulatory speeches and simply said, "Well, get it in the truck and let's go." That was it and it was fantastic feeling like one of the guys. I stacked mine on top of Will's who was swarmed in hogs letting him be pickier as to what pork chop he chose. After we got Dustin's squealer in the truck we headed to meet Paul at his stand. Although Paul had made a good shot on one just before dark and the hog left a good blood trail, we were unable to retrieve it. The blood drops got smaller as it fled from the site of impact and eventually quit altogether. This hog appeared to have the latest version of Fix-A-Flat installed and was able to carry on farther than we were able to track him.

Keith's set up at the skinning shed allowed us to easily and conveniently skin our hogs that night and get them ready for processing. After explaining to Keith that I wanted a piglet to make a piggy bank out of he suggested that I make coin purses out of the boar's you know whats. I politely declined his suggestion through my laughter and over the hysterics it caused throughout the shed. 

Day 3 started out with fresh doughnuts hand delivered by Keith on his way to pick us up. I believe it may have been a form of apology for forgetting to put mattresses on the bunk beds. We were unable to decide if the bunks contained only a box spring or possibly a box of rocks, but it was definitely something to chuckle about in the morning as our sore backs and already exhausted bodies revolved against us. No sooner had we loosened up were we back in the stands at the River View Ranch. The clouds were right back on top of us and we didn't wait long for the snow to fall and wind to rage. Will and Paul bailed out of their stands early but Dustin and I stuck it out waiting for a pig to get hungry enough to bare the cold. As we were about to crawl down from the stand, one hog started snorting down the trail in search of food. Maybe it was the weather or the thoughts of being alone on Valentine's Day that made him lose his appetite but he never came in to the feeder and didn't stop running around long enough to present a shot. With our last shred of hope lost and time running out, we reluctantly called it quits and headed back to the ranch where Will proceeded to mock us and take "proof pictures" of our commitment to sit in the snow for a pig.

My hopes and expectations of having an incredible hunt were met whether the snow liked it or not and I had one of my most memorable Valentine's Days to date while three little piggies are headed to market. It looks as though my tradition of spending this corporate holiday with pigs is continuing on in 2010, only to be substituted with a different breed of swine and much better people.

StringSnot, The Latest Protection for Your Bow String

by John Mueller 3. March 2010 07:46
John Mueller

            StringSnot is the latest product on the market designed to protect your bow string from wearing and from the elements. It has been scientifically designed to be superior to ordinary bow string waxes.

Some of the features of StringSnot are:

*Weatherlock Technology

*100% Odorless

*Reduces string flaring and feathering

*Heat Displacement Technology (HDT)

*Waterproofs compound and crossbow strings and cables

*Prolongs bow string life

*Retractable glide on container

*No clumpy, waxy buildup

*Will not freeze

*Non Flammable

*Increases bowstring speed vs. traditional waxes

*Made in USA




            I had the opportunity to test StringSnot out on my bow. Their slogan is “StringSnot Nothin’ Slicker”. I have to agree, I have not used anything slicker on my bowstrings. StringSnot comes in a retractable container much like chapstick. It is also about the consistency of soft chapstick. It glides on the bow string very smoothly unlike some of the stiffer waxes which clump up or need to be heated to use. It’s very easy to work into the string and cables on your bow. And once applied it leaves a smooth, even  coating of protection on the string and cable.



            StringSnot really repels the water off of my bow string. What doesn’t roll right off beads up and will not soak in. Being very soft the StringSnot works deep into the individual fibers of the string, not allowing water or dirt to penetrate.


            While claiming to increase bow string speed, I did not find this to be the case in my test. I started out with my Bowtech Captains string in an unwaxed, but not badly frayed condition from last hunting season. I shot 6 arrows just to get everything loosened up. I then shot 3 FMJ arrows weighing 460 grains and 3 Gold Tip arrows weighing 405 grains at 60 pounds of draw weight through a chronograph.

The speeds were:


  1. 253 fps
  2. 255 fps
  3. 253 fps

Gold Tip

  1. 267 fps
  2. 266 fps
  3. 268 fps

I then lubricated my string and cable with the StringSnot. I shot a few rounds of arrows the let the snot work into the string. After shooting 24 arrows I did the crono test again.


  1. 251 fps
  2. 250 fps
  3. 250 fps

Gold Tip

  1. 263 fps
  2. 262 fps
  3. 265 fps

So adding the StringSnot actually slowed my bow down a small amount. Which to me kind of made sense, after all I had added weight to my string and adding weigh will slow down your bow string. If applied to a badly frayed string it may help to increase speed as a frayed string is not very aerodynamic. Not much to worry about in a couple of fps loss.


            Over all I was impressed with the StringSnot, it is much easier to work into the bow string than the old stiff waxes. Water repellency is great and this stuff is slick. The company also produces ArrowSnot and RailSnot. The ArrowSnot is an arrow lubricant to ease arrow pulling and the RailSnot is a lubricant for crossbow rails.

You can now order StringSnot from Click Here!

NAP Blood Runner 3-Blade Passes the Hog Test

by Dustin DeCroo 22. February 2010 07:55
Dustin DeCroo

As the population and range of wild (feral) hogs increases across the country, bowhunters are given new opportunities to chase these animals with very liberal hunting regulations.  Hogs present excellent opportunities for spot and stalk hunts as well as hunting them from stands at a food source.  It has been my experience that hogs can be one of the most difficult animals to shoot and recover with a bow for a multitude of reasons.  The layer of fat that encompasses their body has the ability to seal up a broadhead wound in record time, the heavy bone sturcture of their shoulders protect the forward lying vitals and create a challenge for almost any broadhead on the market.  In a hog, the diaphragm which separates the heart/lung cavity from the liver, stomach and intestines sits just a couple of inches behind the shoulder.  This type of anatomy makes it difficult to make a clean heart or lung shot from the broadside position without penetrating the shoulder.  It sounds ridiculous, I know, as we're all taught from a young age to shoot a deer, elk, antelope or any other game behind the shoulder... not into it.

I've killed hogs with Slick Trick, Muzzy, Eastman Mechanicals, Montecs, Crimson Talon, and Magnus heads.  Of those broadheads, none of the mechanicals could ever be used again and several of the fixed heads met their match as well.  The second weekend in February I was able to try the NAP Blood Runner 3-Blade head that I picked up from  For a full video review on this head, you can click here.  Briefly, the Blood Runner 3-Blade 100gr. appears to be a fixed blade head with a 1" cutting diameter, upon impact the blades "open" and add another 1/2" of cutting diameter.  There is physically no way that the blades will not expand and if there was, you'd still have a 1" fixed blade head on the tip of your arrow.  As with any NAP product the blades are extremely sharp out of the package.

Valentines Day eve found me sitting in a treestand in South Central Oklahoma awaiting my first shot attempt with a Blood Runner tipped Easton Axis.  As the darkness quickly set in, fellow staff member Jessica Edd and I were in the process of calling it quits when three black hogs materialized in front of us.  I came to full draw and waited for several seconds for a shot opportunity, one sow turned broadside and I strained to make out the green glow of my 20 yard pin.  I centered the almost silhouetted pin on her shoulder and touched the release.  It was dark enough in the trees that I couldn't see my arrow impact the animal, but we could hear the arrow hit and as the animal ran past our tree we could hear the boiler room was flooding.  Seconds later we could hear the pig expire not 50 yards from the point of impact.  We gathered our gear and moved to the spot where my hog was last standing.  The arrow had passed through and there was blood where the animal stood at the shot.  From there, the most incredible blood trail I've ever witnessed led us directly to my pig.  At the time, I didn't have the foresight to use an arrow or anything else in the photo to show how wide the blood trail was but it was never less than 12" wide.

Still photo of the blood trail created by the NAP Blood Runner

Still photo taken down the blood trail.  If you look closely you can see blood spatter all the way across this photo.

We eventually hauled our pigs back to the skinning shack and I was able to do a bit of an autopsy.  The arrow entered directly in the left shoulder joint, passed through the rib cage cutting the top half of the heart and exited through the armpit and leg bone on the opposite side.  I was somewhat shocked to see the amount of bone that was contacted after seeing that my broadhead showed almost zero damage.  The only visible damage is two very small nicks on one of the three blades, small enough that any sharpening stone will do the trick.

Damage through the rib cage, notice how far forward the heart was sitting

Close up

Exit wound through the leg

You can see the "nicks" here is the lower blade

Still operates perfectly!

The NAP Blood Runner has passed one of the most difficult tests in the hunting world, with flying colors.  This is by far one of the best heads I have shot to date and I will have one in my quiver for many hunts to come. 

Verifier Peep, Like Putting Reading Glasses on Your Bow

by John Mueller 19. February 2010 06:34
John Mueller

The Verifier Lens by Specialty Archery in my Super Ball Peep has definitely improved my shooting in the last couple of years. It was like putting reading glasses on my bow. What were big fuzzy blobs are now crisp and in focus sight pins. For all of you older bowhunters out there with eyes that just aren’t what they used to be with regard to close up vision, you need to try the Verifier Lens out. I guarantee it will help your accuracy.

The Verifier comes in 5 powers just like those reading glasses in your local pharmacy. I use the #8 lens in my peep. Hopefully your shop will have all of them so you can try all of the powers to see which one helps you the most. There is no magnification with the lens it just clears up your sight pins.

The Verifier Lens screws into the Super Ball Peep and come in either 1/8” or ¼” aperture size. When installing the lens, it’s best to put a little bow string wax on the threads before screwing it in the peep. This keeps it from backing out due to the vibration of the bow. The ¼’ is better for hunting, allowing more light to pass through for those low light shots when the big guys like to show up. For those of you who like to center their sight housing in the peep instead of a single pin, you will need a sight with a small outside diameter. The ¼” verifier works well with sights of 1 ¾” diameter and smaller.

The Super Ball Peeps come in many styles and colors, with or without tubing attachments. I’m getting the red one for my Black Ops Destroyer 340. They also come in 2 different angles, 37* for bows 40” and shorter and 45* for bows longer than 40”.

You young guys might not have a use for this product just yet, but when the time comes, just remember it can save you a lot of headaches trying to hold that big blob of a pin on target. All of us more experienced bow hunters need every advantage we can get to stay on target. And the Verifier Lens is a tool not too many people even know about. Everyone I let look through my peep is amazed at the difference it makes.

Hunting; A Woman's Perspective

by Jessica Edd 18. February 2010 22:59
Jessica Edd

The author on a recent elk hunting tripGrowing up in a family who hunts and a community who gives “hunting holidays” at school, it was only natural that I would start hunting. My dad had more of a challenge than most considering he had my mom, my sister, and me to deal with but he figured it out and made successful hunters out of all of us. I attribute most of my success in this sport to him for getting my mom involved early on in their marriage (even though she too was from a hunting family) and allowing them to pass on the tradition together.  As we all well know, the word “hunting” encompasses so much more than simply stalking and killing an animal.

With the world of hunting growing larger every day, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the increase in population may be, in part, due to more females picking up weapons. It seems as though women have always been riding along in the truck with the men of their lives, but it’s only been recently that we began to see the shift of them getting out of the truck and going out on their own. For decades the men who look at hunting as something more than just “time with the guys” (and I applaud them for this) have tried to get the ladies in their lives into the world of hunting. Some of which follow and fall in love, some who end up being assistant butchers at the end of the day and some who make their “Honey Do” list just long enough to prevent hunting all together. I believe the brave huntresses of the world have been out there all along and we have just now tapped the resources of finding them. At any rate, it is something that cannot, will not, and, most importantly, should not be ignored.

After reading the blog “Big Kansas Buck Falls to the Bow” I was thrilled to read on and find it was a female who took the 200+ inch deer. However, the part about it being “not often heard of” disappointed me. Why is this true? Is it because there simply aren’t as many female hunters, or maybe we just don’t hear about their big kills, or maybe females just aren’t as good at hunting. I believe the first statement is true and the second may have some validity but the third is only something that is reasonably assumed with little to no evidence backing it up. Why wouldn’t a woman be every bit as good as “one of the guys?” I will be the first to admit that some females lack in certain physical attributes needed, but most of us give it all we’ve got.

We’re starting to see “Women Only” hunting groups as well as forums and workshops targeted specifically to the outdoorswoman. This is not because we need special training or attention; more so, we want the same companionship that comes along with an all women’s camp that accompanies the All American Men’s Deer Camps.

After several years of being uncomfortable in the field due to wearing oversized men’s clothes, I’m also starting to notice more and more women’s gear companies. The pants, jackets, gloves and boots are made specifically for women and yes, if you can believe it, we are built much different than the skinny hipped men of the world. If you’ve ever wondered why your girlfriend/wife lags behind you, have you ever thought it could be due to the crotch of her pants riding down to her knees and straps of her pack being too wide for her shoulders? We already have steep slopes, rough terrain, high elevation and the cold on our search for that bugling bull so we definitely don’t need to be fighting our gear too. Thankfully companies like, Prois, She Safari, SheHunts, and High Maintenance Camo have come along to save the day (and our cute little hineys too).

Only recently have I begun to hunt in different groups other than my family and I am starting to get a very good picture of how women are viewed in the field. Some guys simply won’t have it where others welcome women openly, but not for any reason regarding hunting (animals, that is). For the most part, however, I have found that most hunting circles enjoy having women in camp and don’t see it as a problem. I have met handfuls of wonderful people from all over the country that I have either hunted with or have hunts planned with and most of them have no biases. Until, that is, the girl in camp gets the biggest buck!

The Heater Body Suit Keeps You on Stand

by John Mueller 1. February 2010 05:07
John Mueller

            I have the perfect solution for those bitter cold late season sits on stand. The Heater Body Suit will keep you warm no matter what the weather brings. I used mine quite a few times last season and I never got cold while I had it on down to -6*.


            I purchased my suit after the season ended last year, so it took me a while to give it a thorough testing. I used it this season when the weather got really cold and windy. I wore a base layer of Under Armor with an insulated Scent-Loc Liner over that and a Cabelas Fleece Outfit while walking to my stand. After I was safety strapped to the tree I put on the “booties” that come with the suit, these help keep the inside of the suit clean and also help your boots slide into the legs. Then I put the Heater Body Suit on. The suit resembles a sleeping bag with legs sewn into it, with suspenders to hold it up when you remove it to shoot. Getting cold while wearing the suit was never an issue, I was out in temps as cold as -6* with a steady wind. The windproof liner kept the cold winds out and my body heat kept the temps up inside.



            I was a little worried about hunting out of my Lone Wolf Sit and Climb while wearing the suit, but I fit down inside the arm rails just fine and didn’t feel cramped. It was fairly easy to get into the suit on the small platform too. But then again I am 6’ 3” and 180#, so I can maneuver around in tight spaces.


            Using it in late season with the woods wide open, I always saw the deer coming in plenty of time to get stood up and slide the suit off of my shoulders. Once the suit is off your shoulders it is no problem at all drawing your bow. In fact it’s easier than drawing with the bulky layers you would need to be wearing if it weren’t for the suit. The material is very quiet, making no noise while drawing your bow.


            While traveling to and from the stand the suit rolls up to about the size of a sleeping bag and has straps so you carry it like a backpack or over one shoulder.


            At first the zipper was a little loud, but I rubbed some wax on it and if you keep outward pressure on it as you move it it’s really pretty quiet.


            If you live where the temps really get down there or if you just don’t like the cold.   The Heater Body Suit will definitely keep you on stand longer. It will also make it easier to draw your bow once you slip it off of your shoulders and only have the lighter clothes on underneath. Check out their website at . They have a special field test opportunity going on right now on their website with a big discount if you buy one and do the field test.

A Mid-Season Break to Finish Strong

by Dustin DeCroo 5. January 2010 10:10
Dustin DeCroo

Bow season is my most awaited time of each year; the winter, spring, and summer months are "passed" by predator calling, waterfowl hunting, 3D archery, fishing and turkey season. My bow season began in early September and encompassed four states in pursuit of both whitetail and mule deer.  After countless hours on stand and thousands of miles of travel, I began to feel the burnout coming on strong.  During my sits I began to get impatient and had trouble staying focused, specifically when deer movement was slow.  In an effort to salvage my mental state on stand for the rest of the season, I decided to take a break from bowhunting and work with my German Wirehaired Pointer pup appropriately named "Hoyt."  We had the opportunity to hunt pheasants, quail, chukars, ducks and geese in Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma... so far it's been a great time.  I've also been able to share the majority of these hunts with my dad which has made them all the more enjoyable.

I'll be back in the whitetail woods soon for the remainder of the season, to try and fill an empty buck tag or two in Oklahoma.

We began our Christmas trip in Kansas for one day of pheasant hunting with some friends


I was knocked down the first rooster that stopped for Hoyt to point


The waterfowl were plentiful


Dad and Hoyt with Wyoming roosters, a few days prior to Hoyt's 6 month birthday


Subzero air temps and scenery were both breathtaking

All in all, it was a great opportunity to take a break from the whitetail woods and spend time with family and friends.  Don't be afraid to take a mid-season break from your season to make sure you stay sharp and enjoy each and every outing!

Energizer Night Strike Compact Light, The Perfect Bow Hunting Light

by John Mueller 20. December 2009 07:41
John Mueller

The Energizer Night Strike Compact Light just may be the perfect bow hunting light. It’s compact, light weight, has multiple lights built in and has a hands free detachable clip. This light is so versatile; I know I can find many uses for it around home or hunting camp. I may need one for both.




            The Night Strike is very small and compact. It fits in the palm of your hand or is barely noticeable on the bill of your cap.



 It runs off of one AA battery, with the Energizer Lithium the recommended power source. Even though it is small in size it produces a very powerful beam of light. It has 4 different light options built into its small frame. The first is a very bright 40 lumen white LED in the center front which has 3 power options, high, medium and low. You can toggle between the three by pushing the on/off button on the right side of the unit. This light is great for using around camp or map reading.




The second is a red LED on the front left which also has 3 power options. This light is excellent for finding the way to your stand in the morning darkness, since red light is not supposed to spook game. The switch for the red light is on the left side of the light.




 Third is a blue, blood tracking light on the right front operated by a switch on top of the light. Blue light is supposed to make the blood trail stand out from the background.




 Last is a green strobe light on top of the Night Strike. The strobe is operated by pushing the same switch that turns on the blue light in the opposite direction. The strobe light is designed to alert searchers to your location in the event of an emergency.


            The versatile swivel clip makes hands free operation of the light simple and quick. The light slides onto the clip from either direction and by swiveling you can clip it onto your cap, pocket, collar or sleeve and light your way, or use it without the clip as you would any other flashlight.


            The white and red lights have 3 power settings but once the light is set in one position for 3 seconds one push of the switch shuts it off without having to toggle the switch more than once. When switching from one color to another just push the next colors switch and the first light is powered off, using only one color light at a time and conserving power. Runtime varies by the light used, but the light will last 8 hours on high power of the white LED. Other lights use less power and will run for longer times.


            Some of my favorite features of the light are.

  1. The 3 power settings of the red LED. Some mornings are brighter than others and you just don’t need a lot of light, however on those really dark mornings it’s nice to have full power.
  2. The powerful white LED is great around camp or when the power goes out.
  3. The detachable swivel clip allows you shine the light exactly where you need it hands free.
  4. Very light weight and small size.
  5. Battery cap is attached to the light by a cord.
  6. Operates on 1 AA battery.

All in all I am very impressed with the Energizer Night Strike Compact Light. I can’t think of one negative thing to say about it. I actually plan on leaving one in my hunting pack and having one at home for use there. It’s that good. It might also be a good idea to have one in each vehicle. These lights should be available soon here at But in the meantime you can check them out as well as the rest of Energizers Lights here.

Tracking... After a Less Than Stellar Shot

by Dustin DeCroo 15. December 2009 11:00
Dustin DeCroo

The deer you've been waiting for all season steps out of the thicket at a mere twenty yards.  As if he was reading from a script he enters your lane and turns broadside looking the other direction... you settle your pin behind the shoulder and watch your arrow disappear over a foot farther back than you were aiming.  Sound familiar?  Maybe not the scenario, but the result is something that 99% of the bowhunting will or has experienced.  It's what you do after a poor shot that can determine whether or not your deer is recovered.

Understanding the "why" of any given hunting situation, not only makes me better, but is something that I owe to the animal I'm hunting.  Understanding "why" a deer may do something after the shot increases your odds of finding that deer.  For instance deer that are "gut shot" lose body fluid internally and naturally they become thirsty, the natural way to replenish fluids.  In the event that a blood trail is lost on a poorly shot deer, the nearest water source is the first place I'll look.

All the images below represent actual deer that were shot poorly and recovered.  A couple of them I shot, others were buddies that I was part of the tracking expedition.  Notice the similarities between the tracks.  The "J" or "hook" shape is present on nearly every deer, notice the proximity to the nearest water source (water is not marked).  These are things to keep in mind in the event that you find yourself on the trail of a gut shot deer.  I will add that probably the most important factor in the recovery of all these deer, is that they were not pushed (to my knowledge) and the majority of them were found dead in their bed.

The use of tracking aids truly are incredible at helping you see a pattern or a patch when tracking in the dark.

This buck was shot one evening in 2005, left overnight and recovered the next morning.

This doe was shot one evening in 2005, left overnight and recovered the next morning.


Justin's buck killed in 2009


This buck was shot one evening in 2007, left overnight and recovered the next morning.


This buck was shot one morning in 2004, left all day and recovered the same evening.


This doe was shot one morning in 2004 and recovered the next morning.


This doe was shot one evening in 2003, left overnight and recovered the nex morning.

As simple as these concepts seem, they're overlooked time and time again throughout the archery season.  The best tools we have at our disposal are our past experiences or those of fellow hunters.  It's my hope that what little bit of information this provides can help you in your next tracking journey.

Nothing Goes to Waste in Nature

by John Mueller 13. December 2009 08:56
John Mueller

            Some of you may remember the doe I shot a few weeks back. Here is a link to the video.   Even though I wasn’t able to use the meat it certainly didn’t go to waste. I did however use one of my doe tags and called her in, I felt it was the right thing to do since it was my arrow that killed her. I set up my Moultrie GameSpy I45 trail camera on the carcass to see what would show up.  Lots of critters took advantage of the doe I killed but wasn't able to find for a couple of days.


            Mother natures best know scavenger, the coyote had a few meals of venison.



            Another well known carrion lover made a few visits to the kill site.



            Even a house cat couldn’t resist a free meal.



            Most people probably don’t realize it, but our Nations Symbol the Bald Eagle also is a bit of a scavenger. On more than one occasion I have seen Bald Eagles sitting on deer carcasses in the middle of fields in winter.

You can check out the Moultrie GameSpy I45 in the shopping section of

Bad Boy Buggy Qualifies for $5950 Tax Credit

by John Mueller 9. December 2009 08:17
John MuellerBad Boy LSV Equipped Models - Street Legal and Safety Equipped

As a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) the XT LSV, Classic LSV and Stretch LSV meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards required for LSVs (49 CFR 571.500). LSVs may be operated in most states on streets with a posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less!

The regulation of LSVs differ from state and state. You must comply with all registration requirements and rules of the road for your specific state. Prior to operating a LSV on the streets of a particular state you will need to register the LSV with the applicable state department or division as a motor vehicle, and must follow all rules of the road for that state.


On October 27, 2009, the Department of Treasury notified Bad Boy Enterprises that the Bad Boy XT, Classic and Stretch Models equipped with a LSV (Low Speed Vehicle) package qualified for a $5,590 tax credit in 2009, meeting the requirements of the Qualified Plug-in Electric Vehicle Credit as a Qualified Plug-in Electric Vehicle.

What do you need to do to take advantage of this offer? Simply contact your local dealer and they will assist you in taking advantage of this limited-time tax credit.

(MSRPs for the LSV Bad Boy Models: XT: $12,994.99 Classic: $10,994.99 Stretch: $12,994.98)


Bad Boy Enterprises, LLC makes no representation or assertions, implied or otherwise, as to your eligibility for any tax credit. BBE does not offer tax advice of any kind. Consumers should consult a professional accountant pertaining to tax credit questions regarding the purchase of a qualified Bad Boy Buggy LSV.

A Late Season Date With an Illinois Giant

by Dan Schafer 3. December 2009 22:20
Dan Schafer

Some of you may recall Johnny and I chasing a buck in IL this fall, who we fittingly name Bill Brasky. He may have won the first three rounds, but we haven't given up yet.  Barring any set backs, or my wife Jill going into labor, we'll be heading back down on December 14th for one last shot.

Here's the story so far.....

We first got pictures of him when Johnny walked into his treestand one morning and heard a deer walking away from him. A minute later, the flash went off on one of the Moultrie trail cams and took this pic....


We hunted a few more days after this, with no sightings of him or his buddies, so we decided to head home for a few days as more rain was setting in.

We left in the wee hours of the morning on November 9th and got down there early enough to get an afternoon sit in. We were only sitting about 140 yards apart and had a 135"ish buck, named Hans, inbetween us for about 30 minutes before dark. He never presented us with a shot.


 Before jumping in the stand that night, Johnny pulled the card on the camera inbetween us. When we got back to the trailer that night, we popped it in and....

BAM......Bill Brasky staring back at us......


 We keep scrolling through the pics.....a few more of Mr. Brasky and his buddies. As we get near the end we see a blurry daylight pic taken the day before we went back down.

Upon further inspection.....its definately him. Look in the tree to the right of his rack....Yep, Johnny's stand.


The stand was 70 yards from that scrape, but who knows which way this bad boy came from, or went. Had he been there, would he have shot him?  I guess we will never know!

Johnny did see and film this buck later in the week. He had him at 70 yards with a doe at 9:30 am. After waiting all day, the buck never got out of its bed before dark.  That was the last we saw of him.

After talking to the landowner, it sounds like Mr. Brasky is waiting around for us to come back and play a little more chess with him, as no one shot him during the first firearm season. Hopefully he makes it through this weekend and we get another chance to see him again.

To Bill Brasky!!!!

Destroyer 350 and Destroyer 340 Lead BowTech's 10th Model Year

by Scott Abbott 2. December 2009 04:27
Scott Abbott

Eugene, OR (November 2, 2009)-For their 10th Model Year anniversary, BowTech is pleased to introduce their most advanced bow ever produced. It's called the Destroyer for a reason.
"From concept, this bow was designed to be easy to draw, quiet, accurate and forgiving. As it turns out, the bow happens to be fast," Craig Yehle, Principle Designer explains, "We believe it is important for our flagship offering not be construed as a speed bow, but as a truly exceptional all around offering. We believe we have achieved this."
The Destroyer is offered in two models; Destroyer 350 and Destroyer 340. Both are accurate, shock-free, easy to draw and fast...very fast. While most archers have to trade shootability for speed, the Destroyer delivers both. This balance is accomplished using three new technologies; OverDrive Binary™, HardCore Limbs™ and FLX-Guard™. 

OverDrive Binary™ synchronized dual cam system gives the perfect synchronization of a Binary while allowing split buss attachment to both cams for best-in-class cam stability and tune-ability. Premium alloy composition allows for a strong, lightweight design which diminishes noise and vibration.

The high modulus carbon core of the HardCore Limbs™ puts the core to work, storing energy not only near the surfaces, but inside the limb. Distributing stress through the limbs increases overall limb response, efficiency and durability.   

The new FLX-Guard™ cable containment system addresses the tuning affects of extreme cable tension and inflexible cable guards found on today's bows. As the bow is drawn, it flexes inward, isolating the riser from unwanted cable guard torque.
The Destroyer 350 and Destroyer 340 come standard in Realtree Hardwoods HD®. Alternate riser finishes include BlackOps, APG HD, Mossy Oak® Infinity™, OPTIFADE™ Open Country or Forest and Next FLX™. Any alternate finish will have black limbs. All BowTech bows are protected with an InVelvet™ top coat.
BowTech manufactures and distributes the world's finest compound bows and archery equipment. Founded in 1999, BowTech's corporate offices and manufacturing facilities are located in Eugene, Oregon. With a worldwide distribution network, BowTech's family of brands include: BowTech, Diamond, Octane, Stryker and WaterDog Surface Technologies. BowTech is a subsidiary of Savage Sports Corporation, located in Westfield. MA. Brand names include Savage Arms, Stevens, Fox, Savage (Canada), Savage Range Systems and PortaTarget.
©2009 BowTech


214" Whitetail Bowkill in Illinois

by John Mueller 30. November 2009 08:26
John Mueller

            My taxidermist friend just finished mounting the largest whitetail brought in to his shop so far this season. A 214” gross, 209” net non-typical that looks very typical. This beast is a main frame 10 point with split G-2’s and a small sticker off of one brow tine. The G-2’s are 14” long and the mass measurements contribute a lot of inches to the total score on this buck. What really helps this bucks score is the fact that his typical rack is very symmetrical, there are very few deductions from side to side.


            The monster was killed by a bowhunter to remain nameless in West Central Illinois in early archery season. Congrats on a fine trophy.

Trail camera photos can lead to one night stands.

by Scott Abbott 27. November 2009 05:20
Scott Abbott

Trail camera setups can be as complicated or simplistic as you choose to make them.  I personally stay on the simplistic side of things as I am not trying to "pattern" bucks with their use, but rather get a better look at them after I locate a buck I am interested in from summer glassing. For me it all starts in the summer.... I will spend countless hours and evenings glassing the areas I hunt looking for big whitetail bucks.  Once I locate some bucks of interest I move in and set up cameras and leave them up anywhere from two weeks to a month on the property. 

Leaving cameras up and checking them over and over again all summer is pointless to me.  Once I get a better look at the buck(s) in question, I know right away if he is an animal I am interested in or not.  Once my curiosity is satisfied I pull the cameras not to return with them again, unless a new buck is found on that land I need a better look at.  I err to the side of caution by only placing them on field edges or just into the timber. Deer are used to activity in these areas so you can get away with a little bit of human scent around these setups from your trips in and out.  If you are trying to setup trail cameras on their travel routes or bedding areas I feel you are setting your self up for early season failure.  With my personal focus on early season success, I do not want to tip anymore of the odds in the whitetails favor. 

I used summer glassing to locate this buck this past July.  I then moved in and set my DLC Covert II Assassin trail camera up for 2 weeks and got the photos I was looking for. He turned out to be the largest buck I located on land I can hunt.

October 17th found me in a particular stand for the first time this year with a strong, and very rare for my area NE wind.  I was setup just outside of his bedding area (beds located during shed season) and was able to capitalize on my preseason efforts in a big way!  Chances are I may not have been setup in that area had I not known this guy was in there. 

If you do your summertime homework by locating the bucks, move in and setup the trail cameras on their food source, pull the cameras out after you get the info you need and save those bedding area stand locations for the perfect wind and conditions I bet you will have a better shot at success this fall.


Monster Mulie Killed in Montana

by John Mueller 25. November 2009 21:28
John Mueller
Montana 2009
Remi Warren MT Typical Mule deer
September 25, 2009

Remi Warren of Conner MT drew one of the premier deer tags in his home state this year and took this great buck on Sept 12th. With an unofficial green score being roughly 214, the early archery kill will rank very high in the overall state rankings. While this buck appears to have great mass and symmetry, preliminary reports have indicated significant deductions, Whether the current state record is in jeopardy of dropping down a spot will be left up to speculation until the 60 day drying period has passed. Remi has indicated he will have the buck measured for B&C in addition to P&Y when the 60 day requirement is met.

Early Season Success

by Bow Staff 19. November 2009 04:05
Bow Staff

Ask yourself one question, “am I maximizing my preseason efforts?” Though you may think so, your back may feel so, and your wife may say so; there still may be a few rocks left unturned. My Father, Uncle, Grandfather and I have prepared for each bow season similar to the last and the recipe had yielded success. We had our routines and were following the “If it aint broke don’t fix it” methodology. At the close of the 2008 Illinois archery season however, we decided to add two new tactics to our arsenal and boy am I glad we did.

Tactic 1: Trail Cameras
This is the first year we’ve set trail cameras around our property, and it only took one check of the SD cards to get us hooked. There is no better way to get the pre-season buzz going than to catch a buck in velvet on camera and watch him grow into a shooter. For the first time, we were able to establish a “hit list” from the shooters that were making multiple appearances on our cameras. The list then focused our attention on a few mature bucks that we took interest in. One in particular, which we named Guthook, began to show patterns.

We have several trail cam pics of Guthook on one side of our farm and with his numerous appearances; his early season pattern was exposed.

Without the trail cameras, we would not have identified Guthooks home range and may not have even known this deer existed prior to the season. We also would not have realized how effective our second pre-season tactic is.

Tactic 2: Food Plots
I’ve read about food plots all throughout various hunting magazines and websites, but it seemed out of reach for the “average Joe” bowhunter like myself. I was dead wrong. My Father and Uncle planted two plots this year without any major farming equipment. Though both plots were under an acre, they attracted bucks like Guthook and kept them coming back.

Guthook makes an appearance at the “secret spot” food plot which my Father and Uncle planted in July.

This plot is 30 yards long 15 yards wide and sits only 70 yards off of the farms bean fields. If you find that mature bucks won’t enter the open fields till after legal shooting time, try planting a small pot tucked away in the woods. The secret spot gives mature deer a (false) sense of security making it the perfect ambush spot to harvest a buck before sundown.

The “Secret Spot” setup.

The treestand location where I harvested Guthook, a 140 class buck the first weekend of Archery Season.

This is the other food plot planted which is just off the main bean field. This is where I was able to harvest Guthook on October 4th, 2009. The buck entered the field from the spot the picture was located and traveled along the winter pea’s path. He was munching on the Brassica and Clover blend when he didn’t know what hit him.

If you have become comfortable with your routine, try challenging yourself next season by adding some new tactics to your arsenal. Ask yourself whether you are “maximizing your pre-season efforts”? My family and I did this year and it led me to early season success.

Bucks Locked Up

by Bow Staff 19. November 2009 03:05
Bow StaffThis was just sent into us and this is all the information that we have...

Mike Herrin a man I have been training lives in northern Calhoun county. That county is deer heaven, I have never seen so many in herds. Anyway he called last night and said that in the little creek in front of his house, 2 deer had been fighting up the hillside and became locked together and ended up going down the hill and into the creek. Mike said that over the years, this is the third pair of deer he has found locked up, although the other 2 were dead when he found them. He and a neighbor were attempting to save one of the deer, both of which were nice trophy deer. They shot one with an arrow (they both have bow permits) and then they tried to separate them and release the other one. In the process Mike got injured when the live deer was bucking around. Mike had bone chips in his wrist and elbow, and got gored twice. They then had no choice but to shoot the second deer. They tried to separate the horns and couldn't. They then skinned out the deer and took the heads to a local taxidermist and they still could not get them apart. Amazing that they could become that entwined. They are having the heads mounted, that should make a very interesting mount. Below is a series of pictures that they took of the ordeal.

No Excuses

by John Mueller 16. November 2009 07:48
John Mueller

            I’m not going to make excuses as to why I have been hunting hard in Illinois for nearly a month and a half now and still don’t have a deer down. I’m just going to try and explain how it can happen.


            I guess I’ve entered into a different stage as a hunter. I used to be all about killing the animals. I have killed as many as 10 deer in a season and enjoyed the hell out of it. I doubt I will ever do that again, no reason to really. I have also killed some really nice bucks and hope to again soon. It seems a lot of the hunting was about the competition of killing a big deer.  Now it feels like more of a chess match. Waiting for a particular buck or one that meets my own personal standards. Like these guys.




            But right now I am having just as much fun managing my property for the deer and turkey that call it home. I have really gotten into food plots in a big way. Hopefully to help out the local deer heard in the harsh winter weather and also to make the hunting a little easier. But so far that hasn’t happened. You would think with a smorgasbord of food available whenever they want it there would be deer out in it any time of day. It just isn’t working that way this season. Some of that may be due to the fact that with all of the rain this fall the farmers haven’t been able to get their crops out of the fields. In normal years all crops should be out by Halloween, this year they may not be out by Christmas. Still my plots should be a good draw for the late season.




  These 2 seem to be enjoying my efforts.


            I have also planted my CRP field in Native Warm Season Grasses such as Big Blue Stem, Indian Grass and Sideoats Gramma. In a couple more year as these get established they will create a wonderful bedding area for the deer and a nesting area for the turkey and other ground nesting birds. This will help hold more deer on my property and keep the neighbors from killing too many of the ones I’m trying let grow older.


            I have also been sharing my treasure with friends that appreciate what I am trying to do with my piece of Whitetail Paradise. Last year Matt/Pa and Greg/MO were out and we hunted hard for a good buck, but that never happened. So on the last evening of our hunt we decided we needed a deer for our trophy shot. We ended up taking 3 does in the last hour of the hunt. This year Matt couldn’t make it with his new job and Greg ended up killing this buck on Halloween evening. Mobow is also hunting out there with me this year. He has killed a button buck (by mistake) and is still waiting on the wall hanger to offer a shot. My taxidermists’ son has also harvested a mature doe while hunting on my place.

A good evening of hunting


The Halloween buck.


            Now don’t get me wrong. I haven’t stopped trying to kill deer, but I have become more picky in the ones I do shoot.  I can afford to there are some really nice ones living around me. I may not kill a good buck every year but that will be ok with me. I don’t go out with the intent on shooting every doe that walks within range and I have a certain hit list of bucks that I’d like to put a tag on. But to just kill a deer, I think I am past that stage. I still get the same adrenaline rush every time I see a deer materialize from the woods. I just don’t have to kill every one to make it a successful hunt any more. I have also starting taking my video camera along, weather permitting, and am enjoying some of the things I am getting on camera. Still not a pro at the video thing, but maybe that will be the next stage in my hunting career.

I still like this side of hunting a lot.





But this side is gaining fast, maybe I'm getting soft in my old age.

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