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Stealth Cam Introduces the New Trail Camera Field App

by Todd Graf 23. January 2012 08:55
Todd Graf

If you know me personally, have followed my blog over the years, or regularly watch Bowhunt or Die, you know by now that I am a trail camera junky.  Over the years I have amassed an impressive (or embarrassing, if you ask my wife) number of trail cameras of nearly every brand.  There technology simply allows me to scout and monitor bucks without putting added pressure on them.  Trail cameras are a useful tool for bowhunters that promise to increase your success rate.

That being said, trail cameras have come a long way since their inception over a decade ago.  They now take crystal clear images, record HD video and can send your images wirelessly from the unit to your e-mail account (see Stealth Cam’s new Drone system).  Well, Stealth Cam, the trail camera I rely on most in the field, has taken scouting technology one step further with their new Trail Camera Field App.  This hunter friendly mobile app costs only $1.99 and is available for both Apple and Android powered devices.  

It comes packed with a boatload of innovative features that can assist hunters in a variety of ways.  It comes integrated with GPS mapping technology that not only allows you to mark your trail camera locations, but also other important marking points such as tree stands, water holes, scrapes, rubs, you name it!  You can save and share these markers to your Facebook page or your friends via e-mail as well.  Or, simply save them to your personal gallery.  

The app also has built in functionality that can help you plan out your hunts better as well.  Hunters can get weather forecasts by entering their city, state or zip code, or by letting the location based feature on the camera precisely identify your location.  Not only weather forecasts, DETAILED weather forecasts including 24 hour, 3 day or an extended 10 day forecast while not only providing your usually weather information, but also hunter friendly info such as sunrise and sunset times, moon phase and barometric pressure.  The Trail Cam Field App also has a built in photo managing / sharing function that allows hunters to fully customize their photo gallery by location, date, weapon or species.  You can then share your photos via social media and receive comments in real time.  You can also get video tips and information straight from the Stealth Cam Pro Staff as well. 

If this app is something that intrigues you, feel free to contact the Stealth Cam team for tech tips or general information regarding this app, I encourage you to check out their website here.  Happy off-season everyone! 

ATA Show Day 2 Live Update

by Cody Altizer 11. January 2012 06:53
Cody Altizer

Day 2 of the 2012 ATA Show is well underway here in Columbus, OH and I can say with full confidence two things: there are some seriously cool products hitting the shelves for 2012 and my legs are painfully heavy and sore.  But, what the heck, it’s all worth it, because it’s all fun!  I’ve been busy running around gathering information for future posts and articles, e-mailing photos back to the Bowhunting.com headquarters, and the minute this blog is posted I’ll be back on the show room floor, so I hope you enjoy the photographs!

New for 2012 is the Lone Wolf Wide "Flip-Top" Climber Combo.  I just recently purchased a Lone Wolf Sit and Climb for this past hunting season and was thrilled with it, so I am excited about possibly using this stand this fall.  Where I hunt in Western Virginia, it's predominantly big woods mountains with a lot of mature pole timber.  Often times, hunting from a climber is my best bet at getting high enough to avoid the wary eyes of the whitetail.  The Flip Top Climber Combo functions like a climber in every regard except the seat, which looks like it belongs on a hang on.  This feature gives hunters more room to position themselves on the platform for a shot.

Yesterday I was drooling over a world record Mule Deer.  Today, a world record moose caught my eye.  What a giant, beautiful animal!  Who wants to plan a mule deer / moose combo hunt with me?!

Pine Ridge Archery is offering several accessories in custom colors allowing hunters to completely trick out their bow in 2012.  There are numerous possibilities and options that allow you to make your bow look truly unique.  Pine Ridge Archery really hit a home run with this line of products.

I've always enjoyed the Rocket Broadheads commercial on televisions, you know, the one with the giant chainsaw lined with Rocket Broadheads.  It's visually appeaking and I think it does a fantastic job of selling the effectiveness of Rocket Broadheads.  Nevertheless, when I saw the real life version of the vicous machine, I had to take a photo.

I find myself faced with quite the dilemma: shoot the new NAP Armor Rest or the New Apache Carbon?  I've shot the Apache for two years now and am excited about this new lightweight, carbon design (4 ounces is a featherweight!) but the new Armor Rest looks pretty cool as well!  Help!  Someone decide for me!

Bowhunting.com is well represented both at the NAP booth...

...as well as the Stealth Cam / Epic Action Cam booth!

I'll leave you with an image I found pretty funny.  I happened by The Block Target Booth while filming John Dudley doing a commercial spot.  It sounded like a pretty simply commercial, but John kept repeating his name over and over again (multiple takes to get the perfect shot, of course), but I just couldn't help but laugh and feel sorry for him.  Here he was, standing in front of a camera, with lights beating on his face, and he was asked to repeate his name over and over while a substantial crowd simply watched.  Talk about awkward!

The show is still going strong and out staff guys are hard at work getting photos and information to releases on the site as quickly as possible so you can be the first to hear and read about the new products for 2012.  Check back often because you don't want to miss out on the upcoming updates and photos!

Stealth Cam Archer's Choice Edition Game Camera Review

by Josh Fletcher 27. December 2011 11:34
Josh Fletcher

This fall we had the opportunity to run the new Archers Choice TV Signature Edition game camera by Stealth Cam through an in-depth series of tests.  We didn’t just want to do a quick review on game cameras, we wanted to give you, the readers the best understanding and quality review, so that you can make your own decision on what game camera is right for you, and be confident in that decision.
 
In this review we break the camera down, from the size of the camera, factory specs on the camera, to the warranty and operators manual. We will also look at the cameras mounting system, ease of use, trigger speed, sensor distance, sensor width, IR (infrared) distance test, battery life and many more series of other tests and features of the camera.

The author using the compact Archer's Choice edition game camera by Stealth Cam

Under each category I list a score. The score is based on a system of 1 through 10. The score of 1 being the worst, and the score of 10 being the best. To understand the means of scoring we were very strict about how good a 10 really is, basically a 10 means it is perfect with no room for improvement.  We also used feet as well as yards to measure distance. The reason for this is most people have a hard time picturing how far 24 feet is but all bow hunters can picture how far 8 yards is.

At the end of the review we will give you an easy to view break down of the good vs. the bad of the game camera reviewed, along with our overall impression of the game camera. So let’s literally break the new Archers Choice TV signature edition game camera by Stealth Cam down to the nuts and bolts.

Test Conditions:

Controlled testing was done on September 20th 2011 in the evening hours with temperatures that averaged around 70 degrees.
Battery life test was conducted in a range of temperature from 70 degrees down to 10 degrees, along with rain and snow.

Make and Model of Game Camera:
 
Stealth Cam Archers Choice TV Signature Edition Game Camera. Model #: STC-AC540IR

Game Camera Size:

This camera has dimensions of 6 inches tall, 4 inches wide, by 2 inches deep. It is very small, compact and light weight.

Factory Specs features of the Game Camera:

Stealth Cam was really thinking when they designed this camera; it shows by the locations of the LCD screens, along with ease of use. Stealth Cam equipped the Archers Choice edition with the option of selecting 3, 5, or 8 megapixels. It also can capture video along with audio at 640x480 resolutions.  The photos are all stamped with date, time, moon phase, and temperature.  All of this data can be stored on a SD card with up to 16 GB of memory. With the camera set to take 5 megapixel pictures, you can store 5440 black and white photos, or 3264 color photos. With the camera set to take 30 second videos, you can store 544 black and white (night time) videos on a 16 GB SD card or 224 color videos. (Note that these are approximate number of images)

The Archers Choice edition is equipped with a generous 1.85” black and white LCD Display. This display is located inside the camera and shows you your different settings and menu. There is also a LCD display on the outside face of the game camera that shows the number of pictures taken. This is a great feature so you do not have to open up the camera to view how many pictures have been taken.

Stealth Cam designed the Archer's Choice edition to be easy to use and user friendly

This camera also has the capture options of 1-9 image burst mode. The burst mode takes the selected number of photos in a row. This feature is designed to capture several different angles of your buck’s antlers to provide a better judgment of the animal.  The pictures are saved to the SD card in a standard JPEG format. The time that each trigger is taken by the camera or also known as the time out feature can be set from 0 seconds to 59 minutes.  This is the time in between each event before the camera takes another picture(s).

This camera is also equipped with a time lapse mode. This feature is designed to provide a constant monitor of an area; the camera will bypass the passive infrared sensor (PIR) and take photos (not video) during the programed time frame.  For example , it will snap a photo every 10 seconds from 8am to 8pm. Then the entire days’ worth of data can be viewed in a short period of time. This feature is handy for monitoring food plots or field where the deer may be out to far to trigger the PIR but can still be captured in the picture.
 
On the front of the camera it had a red LED low battery light that indicates that the batteries need to be changed without having to open the camera to check the battery status. There is also a green test LED light on the front of the camera to test the range and angle of the camera.

Next, the camera has five buttons under the inside LCD display, these buttons are-the test, confirm, menu, and the up and down buttons for setting up the camera’s modes. On each side of those buttons there are two switches, the power on/off and the Posse Mode/ custom switch.

This camera is has a 1.85" B&W LCD display

The posse mode is a pre-set mode for the camera’s ease of use. If you’re not a very technologically advanced individual, all that you have to do is flip the switch to on, then flip the other switch to posse mode and walk away. In the posse mode the camera will automatically take 5 megapixel photos, with a two picture burst and a one minute delay until the next event.  Or you can flip the switch to custom and program the camera to take video, time laps, or photos.
 
Both the photos and videos are illuminated by infrared LED’s giving it a 50 foot or approximately 16.6 yard range.

Ok, now that we have a good back ground on the specs and features of the new Archers Choice edition game camera by Stealth Cam let’s start breaking it down and seeing how it scores.

Initial Impressions of the Camera:

Upon receiving the game camera we noticed that the camera had a very durable housing.  The camera is sealed tightly by two heavy duty plastic latches with metal C-bar.  Compared to other game cameras that we have used the Archers Choice edition game camera was more durable that most others on the market, and is able to with stand the abuse that the average hunter will put it through. This camera is a camera that can take a licking and keep on clicking.
Initial Impressions of the Camera score: 8.5

Operators Manual and Lay Out, Tech Support, and Warranty:

Stealth Cam’s game cameras come with an in depth operators manual.  If you lose your manual to your Stealth Cam you can go to Stealth Cam’s web site at www.stealthcam.com and print off the manual to your model of Stealth Cam.

On the first page of the Archers Choice edition game camera is all the customer support information for the Stealth Cam Company. Not only does it provide the web address for the website, but also the companies mailing address, customer service number along with the email address to technical support.

The Stealth Cam Company has a one year limited warranty on parts and labor. The warranty covers defects in workmanship and materials.
Operators Manual, Tech Support, and Warranty score: 9

Camera’s Mounting System:

The Stealth Cam comes with a nylon web strap. On the back of the camera there are two molded slots for the web strap to slide through to secure the camera to the strap. These molded slots can also be used for other ways of securing the camera to a tree or fence post.  An example of this would be if you wanted to secure the camera using bungi straps instead of the supplied nylon strap.

The Archers Choice edition also has a tree screw mounting option on the bottom of the camera. This is designed for use with a tri pod to place the camera on if no tree is available or if you wanted to use a tree screw to mount the camera to a tree and not the strap.
Camera’s Mounting System Score: 9.5

Trigger Speed:

Independent test have been conducted on the Stealth Cam Hunters Choice model and has shown to have a trigger speed of approximately 1.5 seconds.

With a 1.5 second trigger speed Stealth Cam is not the fastest camera on the market. This is one area that I would like to see Stealth Cam improve on. On field tests this slower trigger speed didn’t affect the number of deer that we were able to capture on the field test as much as I had expected.  If a deer was feeding his way or even walking past, the camera does a good job at capturing the deer. If the deer was trotting through or on a run, the 1.5 second trigger speed may have a hard time capturing that image.
Trigger Speed Score: 6.5

Camera Ease of Use:

When the Archers Choice camera was designed you can definitely tell that ease of use was priority number one.  All it takes to get this camera going is a flip of two switches.  If you’re not person who likes to read owner manuals, just flip the power on and flip the second switch to the posse mode.  The camera preprogramed to take 5 megapixel photos with two picture bursts and a one minute time out. That’s it, just set it and forget it. It’s that simple.
 
If you wish to set the camera to your own custom settings, just preset the different features in the menu mode prior to heading out to the woods. Once in the woods just flip the power switch to on and walk away. Unlike some cameras on the market, you don’t have to go into the settings and manually arm the camera; with just a flip of the switch you’re ready to start taking photos.
Camera Ease of Use Score: 10

Camera Noise:

We wanted to add this topic into the review because we have tested several cameras that make a “clicking” noise while it is taking the photo.  This can be a major problem because it will tip of a mature buck of the cameras presence.  Once that buck is spooked and realizes his home has been invaded chances are he will shy from the area of the camera.

No camera noise is improtant so an animal close to the camera does not hear when the picture is taken

While testing the Stealth Cam and taking hundreds of pictures with it, not once did we notice any noise from the camera, so much so the only way we knew the camera took a photo was by picture counter on the front of the camera, or under low light the LEDs lighting up.
Camera Noise Score: 10

PIR (Passive Infrared) Sensor Distance Test:

Under a low light condition we set the camera up and began to walk towards the camera, once the LEDs light up we would measure the distance to the camera.  We conducted this test numerous time to be sure we got the most accurate results.

The maximum range we were able to get the PIR to take a picture was 14 yards or 42 feet


The camera would trigger at a distance of forty two feet or fourteen yards.  The most effective range for best results is thirty feet or ten yards.
PIR Sensor Distance Test Score: 8

PIR Sensor Width Test:

Again under low light condition we used the distance of 24 feet or 8 yards from the camera.  I then walked across the plane of the camera marking the location that the PIR sensor first picked up my motion.  We copied this from the other side of the camera.

The PIR sensor width at 8 yards is 5 yards or 15 feet wide

At 24 feet or 8 yards from the camera, we had a PIR sensor width of 24 feet or 8 yards wide. 
PIR Sensor Width Test Score: 8

Infrared Distance Test:

We used a 3-D target to represent our deer at the given distance to judge the picture quality and the effective distance of the Infrared flash.

The above picture shows the IR capabilities at 30 feet or 10 yards to the deer target

The above picture shows the IR capabilities with the deer target being 50 feet or 16.6 yards

After testing the infrared at the distances of 30 feet and the recommended maximum range of 50 feet we reviewed the photos.  This test showed that we could still identify antler characteristics all the way out to the 50 foot maximum range with good quality.
Infrared Distance Test Score: 9

Picture Quality:

To decide the score for the picture quality we reviewed photos that were taken under both the black and white infrared night pictures and color day photos. We also compared and reviewed both photos taken during the tests and in the field photos.

Stealth Cam takes great night time photos and has an excellent IR range

Some of the color pictures taken in the morning have a blur to them

The Stealth Cam took great quality night time photos, both in the field and under testing conditions. The day time photos taken under the testing were of good quality, however some of the day time photos in the field had a haze to them. 
Picture Quality Score:  (9 for infrared) (7 for day time)

Special Feature Test:

In the PIR mode the Stealth Cam has different zoom levels to achieve a close up picture at a further distance.

 

The above picture showing the quality picture set at the two power zoom

 

 

The above picture shows the picture quality of the camera set at the four power zoom


During the testing the zoom modes is a great feature, especially when using the camera for home security. The zoom at 4x (the maximum) showed a little bit of blur.
Special Feature Test Score: 8.5

Battery Life Test:

This camera runs off of 8 AA batteries and has the optional connection for an external 12 volt battery pack. Using the AA batteries we had the camera in place set on the PIR photo mode taking 8 megapixel photos. The camera battery life was monitored from the last week of October to the last week of December.

We wanted to test the battery life through this time frame since this is the time when most hunters have their cameras in the woods. Also this time frame gives us a wide range of temperatures. During this test we had temperatures ranging from 70 degrees down to 10 degrees, we also had sunshine along with snow.


We started with full battery power at the end of October, the last week of December we were down to ¼ battery power.  Given the weather conditions which this camera was tested in, we were very impressed with the battery life using the AA batteries.
Battery Test Score: 8.5

Final Impressions of Camera:

After running this camera through a strict series of tests, we are very impressed with the Stealth Cam’s Archers Choice Signature Series game camera.
This camera is small and compact in size, light and easy to transport. It has many great features that are useful for many different applications. It also has a good battery life, which has shown to be reliable under a variety of weather conditions.

The trigger speed is slower than we would like, however it is not the slowest on the market nor is it so slow that you’re going to miss animals walking through.

The picture quality and IR range at night is excellent, we were very impressed with the IR range. The day light photos were good quality with some of the early morning pictures having a slight blur to them.

We were also impressed with the durability of this camera. Stealth Cam did not make a cheap quality camera here; this camera can take a licking and keep on clicking with the quality and durability of the camera body.
 
Also this camera is very reasonably priced.  You can buy several of these cameras for the price of a different company’s camera.

If you are looking for an easy to use camera that does not require reading the owner’s manual from cover to cover and days to learn, this is the camera for you. You will spend less time reading and learning the camera and more time having the camera in the woods scouting for you. Stealth Cam designed this camera to be a no brainer and is super easy to use.

Over All Score: 8.5

Hopefully this review will help you with deciding which camera is right for you this year. All cameras have their strong points along with their weak points. There is no perfect camera on the market, and we hope that this review helps to assist you in picking out your next camera to get you on the biggest buck of your life.

 

Q&A With the Pros: Camera Equipment For Filming Hunts

by Justin Zarr 13. December 2011 03:22
Justin Zarr

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeremy Leu of Campbell Cameras about camera equipment and methods for filming your very own hunt.  There is a lot of information available in regards to the equipment and tactics of filming hunts, these are answers for just a few of the most common questions we hear... 

Q: If you’re a bow hunter looking to film your own hunts, what are the bare essentials that you’ll need to get started?   

A: A good mid range compact HD camcorder package like the Canon HFS30 Whitetail package will have everything you need to get started.  The bare essentials would include a camera, camera arm, camera case, recording media and a spare battery.  From here you can add to and upgrade your camera equipment.

The Canon HFS30 is an excellent package to start filming your hunts!


Q: Assuming you have a partner with you to run the camera while you hunt, is there any additional or special equipment that you should consider purchasing?

A: If you can budget for it I would scale up on everything if you have a dedicated videographer. Most of us operate on a budget so the items would definitely suggest are a LANC controller and wireless microphones.

 

Q: When picking out a camera to use, what do you believe are the most important features to look for?

A: The things I would look for are; Low Lux rating, 10x to 20x Optical zoom, manual focus option and 1080 HD recording format.

 

Q: What do you think are the most important technical features that every amateur videographer should learn about their camera and other equipment? 

A: Learn to use manual Focus!! Also don’t over use your zoom!  Zooming in and out can  be nauseating for an audience, only allow the subject to fill up about 1/3 of the screen.

 

Q: What camera and camera arm combo is the best bang for your buck right now?

A: The Sony NX70U and the 3rd Arm Bandit is a great setup.

Jeremy picks the Sony NX70U as the best "bang for your buck" camera.


Q: What are your feelings on Point-of-View (POV) cameras like the Epic Cam and GoPro?

A: Point of View cameras are a necessary tool for all videographers now days, solo hunt videographers especially. It allows the self videographer to set up multiple views from their stand live as they happen. I don’t go into the field without at least 1 but usually have 2 or 3.

This is a still photo taken from a video recorded by my Epic Cam.


Q: When filming by yourself where is the optimal location to mount your camera?

A: I prefer to have the camera on a small tree arm in front of me, centered but down low. That way when I stand up to get ready for the shot I can shoot over top of the camera and get full range of motion for filming.

 

Q: When filming with a partner, where should the cameraman be located in relation to the hunter?

A: Of course opinions vary and there is no true right or wrong way, I like to position the camera stand 90 degrees to my right and high enough to not affect my shot but low enough to allow the camera operator to get that perfect over the shoulder shot.

There is no "perfect set" for every situation, but this is one we strive for.

 

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see amateur cameramen make while filming hunts?

A: Using auto focus and zooming in too tight or zooming in and out too much. Also audio can be over looked by beginners.

Using manual focus is key when it comes to filming quality hunts.

Q: What are the top 4 things you should check on your camera every time you go into the woods?

A: Make sure the batteries are charged, card or tape capacity checked, lens is cleaned and free of scratches and the audio is operating properly.

 

Q: Is the extra time and money really worth it in the end?

A: Depends on what level you are at or what you plan to do but any HD camera will provide good quality footage, the difference is in the lens size, low light capability, and size and number of sensors for color processing.  

Sometimes cameras, equipment and everything that goes with filming a hunt can be quite overwhelming for something that most of us do as a hobby.  If you have questions about camera gear don't hesitate contact the guys at Campbell Cameras and they'll be sure to give you sound advice, whatever your goal may be.  Also, don't forget to check out the photo/video forum right here at bowhunting.com!

A Buck Named Clyde: A Testament to Food Plots, QDM and Mock Scrapes

by Cody Altizer 3. December 2011 09:39
Cody Altizer

There are a bevy of emotions we as hunters are fortunate to experience throughout the course of a deer season.  There is the rush of seeing your arrow bury itself behind your prey’s shoulder.  Then there are the uncontrollable shakes that violently rock your body before, during and after the shot at that big buck.  And don’t forget, the most humbling of all, the feeling of thankfulness and gratefulness experienced when you kneel over your trophy, be it a buck or doe, be it big or small.  Finally, there is the camaraderie experienced between you and your hunting buddies.  A couple weeks ago, I got to share an extremely memorable time in the woods with my brother, Damin, as he shot a true giant Virginia whitetail, a buck named Clyde.  

One of the first pictures we got of Clyde.  This image was taken in early January in our clover food plot.

The story for this buck actually begins in 2007, ironically, the birth year of Clyde.  It was that year that my brother, my dad and I really decided to commit to Quality Deer Management (QDM) and try to improve the health of our deer herd and our property’s habitat.  We began planting food plots, established mineral stations and decided to take at least 5 does off our 260 acre property every year.  The mineral stations attracted deer to our property during the summer, and shooting does increased rut activity immediately.  However, I was still unhappy with the amount of food we had on our property during the hunting season.  I simply wasn’t content with the small, secluded food plots we had planted in the past.  Every year, I urged my dad to consider planting two one acre fields in clover.  I was convinced that having a consistent, centralized food source would make a world of difference in holding deer on our property during the hunting season.  During the rut, I was exicted about the amount of rubs and scrapes that would appear in the runways and funnels leading from the fields to bedding areas.

 

Clyde all but disappeared during the spring and summer, except for visiting one of my mineral stations in mid-June, when this photo was taken.

Fast forward to February, 2010, we had finally gained the resources to plant the two large fields, and I can still remember cruising along in my neighbor’s borrowed 40 horsepower tractor and plowing up the field.  By the time I had finished, it was well after dark and the headlights of the tractor were synonymous with a bright future on our hunting property, a future I was extremely excited about.  

This trail camera photo was captured on a frosty night in late September.  The long sweeping right main beam told me who this buck was.  It was this photo that earned him the nickname "Clyde."

That spring and summer I sprayed and tilled, sprayed and tilled, to keep the weeds and have a clean seed bed for the 2010 hunting season.  In August I planted some Imperial Whitetail Clover and oats into the food plots.  We have found that planting clover in the fall and allowing it establish a strong root system in the winter will allow it to explode the following spring.  Obviously, both forages would be attractive to the deer during the season, but the oats were more of a cover crop to keep the deer from overbrowsing the clover.  

Fast forward to this past January, I was in Huntley, IL preparing for the 2011 ATA Show at the Bowhunting.com office and my brother sent me a couple of trail camera images of a buck feeding in our food plot the night after the season went out.  The buck was a 3 year old, had several busted tines, but was clearly a shooter and had the potential to balloon into a true giant the following season.  Our winters in Western Virginia don’t pose serious threats to a whitetail’s life, even worn down bucks, so my primary concern keeping him on our property that following year.  With two acres of lush clover just waiting to explode with a little sunlight and warm weather, I was confident we would regularly catch him on camera feeding in our food plots during the summer.

By mid-October Clyde was convinced their was an intruder buck in his territory thanks to my mock scrapes.

As is often the case with deer hunting and habitat management, things don’t go as expected.  The food plots exploded all right, providing a nutritious, tasty food source to our local whitetails all spring and summer.  Unfortunately, however, we only captured the buck on camera just once during the entire summer, and it wasn’t even in our food plots.  On June 19th he made a brief stop at one of my Monster Raxx mineral stations.  I knew it was the buck from the previous winter, by a cluster of abnormal points on his right main beam.  While he didn’t spend as much time in our food plots, I wasn’t overly concerned.  I knew where he was bedding and knew that having several does feeding in our food plots during the actual hunting season would greatly benefit us.  

As hunting season quickly approached and the temperatures began dropping quickly, I was anxious to see if the buck had began visiting our food plots.  The two clover food plots were planted right in the center of our property, so to visit them, either to feed or check for does, he would have to walk right by several of my stand sites.  Nevertheless, when I checked my cameras on October 1st I was thrilled to find the buck feeding in our food plot just two nights before.  I sent a picture to my brother via cell phone with the text reading, “huge buck in upper field, 140+."  A long sweeping right main beam and the abnormal points on the same side made Clyde an easy choice for a nickname (See Clint Eastwood’s famous flick, “Every Which Way but Loose”).    Let the chess match begin.

This trail camera photo revealed to us Clyde's bedding area.  This photo was taken two nights before Halloween about 30 minutes before sunrise.  

I knew it would be unwise to dive right in after this buck after a handful of nighttime trail camera photos.  I knew where he was bedding, I knew how he accessing our food plots, I just had to be patient and not over hunt him.  I immediately made a series of mock scrapes along his access trails to and from the food plot using Tink’s Power Scrape.  The idea was to paint a picture of another big, old buck  moving into his territory.  He didn’t like the thought of that.  He began working over those scrapes within days, and the giant rubs and scrapes that dotted the edge of the food plots could only have been made by him.  This was his food plot, the clover belonged to him, the does belonged to him; no other bucks were welcome.

After seeing the massive rubs and watching the scrapes being freshened up nightly, I took extreme measures as to not pressure the buck.  The only problem with the location of our two food plots is location.  Yes, they were centrally located, but they were also right beside our hunting camp, which sees a lot of human activity.  During October, I likely only hunted 3 mornings so I didn’t push him off the food plot on my way to the stand.  My dad and brother would have liked to kill me because I was constantly reminding them to be quiet around the camp and to walk on the far side of the camp to hide our existence from deer feeding in the food plot. I probably took it too far in some cases, but there was a giant buck living very close by, and I was determined that one of use was going to kill him.

Throughout October we captured Clyde on trail camera in the food plot, at mock scrapes, and on trails heading back to his bed in the late morning.  My brother had two weeks of vacation planned for early November and we were going to exhaust every opportunity we had to close the deal on the giant.  Unfortunately we got slammed by two weeks of bad weather.  Dumping rains, high winds and warm temperatures made hunting very difficult.  At the end of every unsuccessful day of hunting my brother would ask me, “Where in the world Clyde?”  My response was always the same, “Not far.”

Multiple rubs of this size began popping up in trails and runways from the food plot to bedding areas.  Clyde was becoming more and more vulnerable with each passing day.  We were onto him, we just had to play it smart.

Friday November 11th was again a terribly slow day of hunting.  A full moon and high winds and warm temperatures had shut down all deer movement, but there was hope in sight.  The first clear, cold night in several weeks was forecasted that night.  That night I remember my brother asking me yet again, “Where is Clyde?”  But this time I responded, “Not far.  He’s got to be covering some ground at night, if we can get a good, hard frost tonight, that should keep him on his feet longer into the morning on his way back to bed for the day.”  It wasn’t much to go on, but was it was a hopeful thought, and that was all we needed.

I had been bowhunting like a madman the first two weeks of November, so I elected to take my muzzleloader that morning for a change of pace.  We had got the hard frost we were hoping for and we had got into our stands over an hour before first light.  I had seen a couple does filtering back to bed right at first light, and was hopeful a buck would soon follow suit, but I never got the chance to find out.  At 7:14 I heard my brother’s muzzleloader ring out.  Since it was my brother’s last day of vacation, we both decided to try and shoot a couple does if the opportunity presented itself, so I just assumed he had shot a doe.  However, his “13 pointer down!!!!!” text eliminated that theory.  My mind began racing, “Did he really shoot a 13 pointer?  Maybe he did shoot a doe and is just joking around.  A 13 pointer?  Clyde was only a 10 in the trail camera photos.”   Anxious to see what he had shot I responded, “Can I come up?”  His response, “Clyde!!!!”  I gathered my gear, got down out of my stand and all but ran through the woods to see the fallen giant.

My brother and hunting partner, Damin, admiring the legendary buck known as Clyde.  Mission complete!

When I finally met up with my brother, he had his coat draped over Clyde’s rack.  As he unveiled him, I simply couldn’t believe the massive antlers coming off this buck’s head; a true giant.  I must have hugged and high fived Damin a good 20 times in a span of 5 minutes.  Damin relived the hunt for me, and I was happy as could be for him.  It turns out that cold, hard frost kept Clyde on his feet just long enough this morning, because my brother shot him working one of the mock scrape lines I had built back in early October.  My brother stopped him at 50 yards broadside, and made a perfect shot, and Clyde died within sight.  

Clyde is by far the biggest buck ever taken off our property.  The hard work we all put in over the past 4 years finally paid off with a dandy buck.

I offered to drag Clyde out of the woods for Damin, we met up with my dad and mom at camp and thus began the day of celebration.  We took well over 100 photos, put a tape to him, weighed him, caped him out and readied him for the taxidermist.  Clyde ended up scoring 148 6/8” as a mainframe 10 with 5 kickers.  He had three abnormal points sprouting at the base of his right G3 and had an inch and a half kicker at the base of each antler.  He was 220 pounds live weight and dressed 185, which makes for a giant bodied whitetail in Western Virginia.

The fallen giant and the lucky hunter who harvested him overlooking the mountains and food plot the massive buck once called home.

While Clyde scored well, and was the size of a small cow, his statistics do very little for this buck's legacy.  When I think of Clyde I will think of the countless hours spent running trail cameras, planting food plots, freshening mineral stations, and scouting since 2007, the year he was born and the year we started QDM.  I will think of the discussions I had with my dad and brother about when, and how we should go about trying to harvest this deer.  But ultimately, I will remember walking up to the fallen buck with my brother standing over him with a contagious smile and the brotherly emotions we shared in the woods November 12th.  That, I think, is what Clyde most represents and what an animal of his caliber should be remembered for.

Where Have All the Bucks Gone?

by Justin Zarr 18. November 2011 10:18
Justin Zarr

I don't know about the rest of you bowhunters out there, but this year's rut and poor hunting conditions have about got me beat! I've been hunting relatively hard, when time and work permits, since the end of October with very little success since my last Blog entry.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, I don't get to hunt every day. Like most of you who read this I have a regular job that keeps me occupied from Monday to Friday and the vast majority of my hunting is done on the weekends. That usually leaves me enough time for about 20 to 30 sits per year in stand, with only a third of those being during prime time. So when the sun is shining, I've got to make hay!


Sometimes I wonder why I even bother rattling.  It never seems to work for me.

The weekend of November 6th & 7th should have, by all accounts, been pretty good. We were just approaching the full moon and the weather was decent. However, after three hunts that weekend I had seen a grand total of 5 deer. The only bucks that showed up were a couple of love sick year and a half olds. Certainly not the caliber of deer that Mike and I are looking for.  Although they make for some entertaining hunts, after the first few you start to question whether or not a bigger buck is ever going to show up.


This little guy was right under my stand as I filmed him.  He had no idea Mike and I were perched just 15 feet above him.


I really nice 1 1/2 year old buck that Mike grunted in last weekend.  Give him a few years and he may be worthy of a shot.

The following weekend was much of the same. 4 sits yielded a total of 9 deer and again nothing with antlers older than a year and a half. High winds, a nearly full moon and warming temperatures certainly didn't help deer movmement, but I thought I would have seen SOMETHING moving around.


When you're sitting in your treestand in the morning waiting for the sun to come up and the moon is so bright you can almost shoot, it's usually not a good sign.

On Friday evening (11/11), at the end of a frustrating sit I did shoot a nice big doe that came out into a corn field in front of me. With shooting light fading and a 35+ yard shot I never saw exactly where my arrow hit her, but I was 99% confident the shot was good. However, after not seeing the deer drop in sight and not finding much blood I elected to wait until the morning to recover her. Unfortunately the local coyotes had different plans in mind as they found my doe, just over the rise out of site from my stand. Figures.


Although I double lunged this doe, the entrance and exit holes were both high which resulted in a poor blood trail.  Electing to let her lay overnight I was disappointed to find the coyotes got to her before I did.  Ironically, she was only 40 yards away from where I had followed the blood trail, but was unable to find her after dark.

Besides the lack of buck sightings from stand, it's been a tough year for trail cameras too. My trail cameras are working hard for me, but the big guys just don't seem to be cooperating. Despite my best efforts to local another shooter buck, I haven't found anything that really gets me excited for these cold November (and soon December) mornings.


Bucks like the one seen here have been frequent visitors to my Tink's mock scrapes, but the big guys have been eluding me so far.


This big guy we nicknamed "Goldberg" has been a frequent visitor in front of our Stealth Cam Prowlers, but with a busted main beam he's off the hit list for this year.  I just hope a neighbor doesn't get him during gun season.  If he makes it, he'll scare you next year.

Now that gun season is on here in Illinois I'll be limited to hunting my spot in bow-only Lake County, which unfortuantely isn't holding many trophy bucks this fall. The biggest buck I have on camera is a spindly 10 point that may have grossed in the mid 120's before he busted off a few of his tines!


"Spud Webb" before he busted off his right G2 and possibly several other tines.  Not a bad buck, but not exactly the caliber of deer I'm looking to put my 2nd buck tag on.

Okay, I guess I shouldn't be complaining too much here. All things considered I've had a really good season. I've harvested 3 deer, all on film, one of which is my biggest buck ever. That buck, which you can read about by clicking here, ended up gross scoring just over 158 inches which is far bigger than I originally thought. Although I'm not looking forward to another taxidermy bill, I won't mind admiring him for years to come.

So with all of that said, it's certainly not time to give up now! There's nearly 2 months of season left here in Illinois and if I want to fill my 2nd buck tag I'm going to have to keep hunting hard. So tomorrow morning when I'm in my Lone Wolf stand with Mathews in hand, I'll try to picture my tag wrapped around 150 inches of antler I know could be around the next tree.

 

Mid-October Bowhunting Update and Trail Camera Scrape Tips

by Todd Graf 14. October 2011 11:21
Todd Graf

Well everyone, it’s mid October which means a couple things for us bowhunters. First, we are likely still stuck in that dreaded mid-October lull.  Although some people don't believe in the October Lull, my deer sightings and Stealth Cam photos have sure been way down over the last 10 days.  However, on the good side it also means that the rut is just around the corner and the best hunting is still ahead of us.  With the recent cold front that moved through the Midwest and the full moon finally behind us, it won’t be long until we're seeing bucks chase does across the open fields and through the timbered ridges. I don't know about you but I can’t wait!


This view of my Lone Wolf treestand is a one that I will be seeing more and more of as the season progresses. For those of you with the new 2011 model stands, I hope you're finding the new in-cast bow holder helpful.  I've been using it quite a bit and it works great.  A definite improvement over the previous model stands.

Through the first half of October I have been hunting pretty hard but just haven’t had the caliber of buck I am looking to shoot come into range.  As you saw in Episode 11 of Bowhunt or Die I had a great buck come in front of me opening day in Illinois, but I elected to pass him up.  I know he's a nice deer, but I'm after a couple of giants that have been spotted in the area and my heart is set on one of them.   You can see the footage of me passing on that buck by clicking here.

Although I haven't seen a shooter buck from stand yet, I have seen deer just about every time in stand so I can't really complain too much.   I believe the key to getting in close to deer is the ability to adapt to the changing conditions of the fall.  As the weather and time of year change, so do the deer's patterns.  So when it was hot, I hunted near water and saw several small bucks coming in for a drink.  When the winds were blowing hard I got down in a hollow where I was out of the wind, and saw some good deer movement.  By analyzing what's happening around me and hunting different stands accordingly I'm able to get close to deer just about every time out.   Remember, if you're hunting the same couple of stands every day regardless of the time of year or weather, you're probably hurting your chances for success.


This young buck decided it was too hot to move, so he found a cool shady spot to spend his afternoon. He and I shared a warm 4 hours in the woods together one afternoon this past week.


Filming yourself is tough business!  Here my Sony AX2000 from Campbell Cameras is all set up and ready to record some footage for Bowhunt or Die! If you aren't already, I highly suggest filming your own hunts. It's fun, rewarding and you can relive your adventures for the rest of your life.

This time of year is also a great time to fire up your mock scrapes, or freshen up natural scrapes. I’ve had tremendous success using the Tink’s Power Scrape on my mock scrapes and in the natural scrapes on my hunting properties.  Remember, the key when applying scents to deer scrapes, whether they are natural or man-made, is to reduce the amount of human scent left behind while you're applying the lure.  Always wear rubber boots and if possible rubber gloves as well. The less human scent you leave behind the more successful your scrapes will become.

Also, I strongly recommend you shifting your trail camera strategies to scrapes this time of year as well.  Over the next couple of weeks the bucks will be scraping quite a bit, and there's no better way to get an inventory of the bucks in your area.  Additionally, this increases your chances of getting daytime photos of the bucks using the scrapes and will thus help you put the pieces of the puzzle together more quickly.  Once you start seeing your mature bucks checking and working scrapes during the day you know it's time to get out there and really start hunting.  For those of you with limited time off work, this can really come in handy.  So if your trail cameras aren't on scrapes already, get out and move them as soon as possible.  Just make sure your memory cards are big enough to hold all of the pictures you're going to get!

I also suggest using video mode on your trail cameras (if they are capable) because you are able to collect more data from each shot. You can get a better look at the buck’s rack, and have a better idea of how old he is. Plus, you can get the precise location where he came from and is going to after working over the scrape. Simply put, you can gather far more intelligence from video mode than you can a couple pictures. 


My Stealth Cam set up on a scrape and ready to reveal the patterns of a monster buck!

Well, that is all I have time for now. I wish each and every one of you safety and success while out hunting this weekend. And don’t forget, if you do get a deer we would love to see it and your trophy may be featured on an upcoming episode of Bowhunt or Die. Follow this link to send us your trophy! Happy hunting everyone!

Humbling Beginning to My 2011 Bowhunting Season

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

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

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

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

My Mathews Z7 Xtreme waiting patiently...

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

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

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

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

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

Daytime photos of shooter bucks are always exciting!

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

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

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

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

Trail Cameras Don't Always Have Good News

by Justin Zarr 26. September 2011 16:18
Justin Zarr


With the price of today's trail cameras well within reach of most bowhunters, you're hard pressed to find a hunter who doesn't own at least one or two. Most of us put these handy little devices out during the mid-summer months in hopes of catching a monster buck lurking within our hunting areas. Just one photo is all it takes to get your blood pumping and cause many nights of lost sleep leading up to the hunting season. However, this isn't always how it plays out in the whitetail woods.

Heading into this summer I was admittedly anxious to find out what would show up on my trail cameras at one of my primary hunting areas here in the Chicagoland suburbs. Last year was one of the worst years for getting pictures of good bucks on this farm, despite the fact that I was able to connect on a very nice whitetail in mid-November. Having taken out the lone buck that was a consistant resident of this area I was unsure who would take his place come this fall.


After shooting this buck last fall I was somewhat concerned to see what bucks, if any, moved in to take his place.  During the course of the fall he was the only buck that showed up with any consistancy on my trail cameras.

With 6 trail cameras running since early July, my fears have somewhat come true. I have yet to get a single picture of a buck I would consider a shooter. In fact, it took several months before I got a picture of a buck at all! If anyone is proof that there isn't a Booner behind every tree here in Illinois, it's certainly me.


This up and coming 2 year old has been a regular on two of my cameras this summer.  He's nice, but not a shooter.


It seems like each year I have a plethora of these messed-up yearling bucks running around.  I have no idea what happens to them after the fall is over.  They seemingly disappear.


I'm pretty sure this buck is a 3 year old, but his jacked up left side doesn't exactly get my heart pounding.


I believe this the the oldest buck I've captured on my camera this summer at 4 or 5 years old, but he won't score much over 100 inches with that rack.  If I see him, there's a very real chance he'll get an arrow flung his way...


Another up and coming 2 year old who will probably disappear after this season.


Possibly the best buck I have on camera so far, I think this buck is 3 years old and will be lucky to hit 125 inches gross.  A nice buck, but not what I'm looking for this season.

Despite my lack of targets for this fall, I'm not worried yet. Every year there's always a few bucks who move through this area during the end of October and into November when the rut kicks in. I know my stands are hung in the best spots to catch one of these cruisers when they make the mistake of coming through, so there's no need to panic quite yet. The same goes for those of you out there who are in a similar situation. Just because the big bucks are eluding your trail cameras right now doesn't mean they won't make the mistake of moving into your area later in the year. The key is to hunt hard, hunt smart and be ready when he shows up! After all, you just never know what's going to happen in the whitetail woods.


I captured several photos of this buck, nicknamed "Big Mac", last season but nothing after November 18th.  I didn't find his sheds and don't have any photos of him so far this year.  Although I have no idea if he's alive or not, I'm still holding out hope that he's around and until I know otherwise he is my #1 target on this particular farm.

With that said, heading into opening weekend Mike and I will be hunting a new farm that we picked up roughly 2 1/2 hours from home. We know there's at least one shooter roaming those woods and we're pretty sure there's a few more where he came from. This weekend we plan on putting out a few mock scrapes using our Tink's Power Scrape and seeing what our new Stealth Cam Prowler trail cameras can pick up. I have a feeling we'll be pleasantly surprised the next time we check our trail cameras.  The Prowler shoots great HD videos so I'm excited to see what shows up.  As most of you know, scrapes are possibly the single best place to get a lot of photos/videos of the bucks in your particular area. 


The angle of this photo is deceiving, but with a few weeks left to grow I'm hoping this buck topped out well into the 140's, which makes him a shooter in my book.

Good luck to those of you who are heading out for October 1st this weekend. Remember to always wear your safety harness and shoot straight!

 

More Bowhunting Products - ATA Show Day 2

by Justin Zarr 10. January 2009 05:00
Justin Zarr

The 2nd day of the 2009 ATA Show found me wandering the halls with several members of the Bowhunting.com staff, looking for any cool new products that caught our attention.  While there were definitely a lot of new products to look at, not too many of them really wowed us.  However, we did find a few that we think are going to do very well this year.

One of the first products we saw was the StepBrother from SwiveLimb Treestands.  Another extremely simple product that serves a great purpose, the StepBrother is a durable injection-molded handle that slides over your screw-in tree steps and provides a secure handle that rotates for screwing them in.  No more gloves getting caught up as you turn the step, and no more sore hands from screwing in steps all day.  With an MSRP of only $9.99 this product is affordable, and should be part of your stand-hanging gear for this summer.

SwiveLimb also had another cool little product called the TreWinch.  Designed specifically for hunters who go into the woods on their own, the TreWinch ratchets securely to a tree  and includes a 30 foot rope and carabineer that supports up to 300 lbs.  This can be used for a variety of tasks including hosting deer to let them hang overnight, lifting animals from the bottom of a ravine or ditch, lifting a feeder, or anything else you may not be able to lift on your own.  The next time you're out hunting on your own and you need to drag that 250 lb buck up a hillside you may be wishing you had a TreWinch with you!

The next item that caught my eye was a big Jim Shockey banner hanging down from the Alpine Archery booth. I’ll admit that I’m a Shockey fan (how can you not think the guy is cool??) so I figured I would check out what was going on. What I found was a new Jim Shockey Signature Series bow from Alpine, in Jim’s signature flat black riser and camo limbs. Unfortunately this bow isn’t finalized yet so there were no specifics available. As I learn more this spring I’ll make sure to bring you an update.


The Jim Shockey Signature Series bow from Alpine - more details coming soon!

Speaking on this product not being ready yet, I still don’t understand why the ATA show is so early in the year. People are just finishing up their busiest time of the year, some of us are still hunting, and manufacturers barely have time to get working prototypes available to show to dealers and the media. Why this show can’t be moved until February or March, I have no idea. It would give everyone time to get things in better shape before releasing them to the public. The only thing I can think of that benefits anyone are the print publications who are 3-4 months out from the time they get the info until it hits the press. But since print is dying, who cares? The Internet is the future of everything, and why the hunting industry keeps fighting that is beyond me!

But alas, I digress. Two other items I found at the Alpine booth that are new for this year are fully camo cover Soft-Loc quivers (no more black rods or mounting brackets), and a cool little wind checking device on a stretch cord with a handy carabineer. The quivers are available in a variety of camo patterns including Mathews exclusive Lost Camo for you Mathews fans.

After I left the Alpine booth I headed over to Stealth Cam to check out what’s new for this year. Todd has really sparked my trail camera curiosity as of late so I couldn’t resist.

The first thing that caught my eye is the new Prowler HD. This is the first trail camera (that I know of anyways) that takes HD video – both in day and night. Although it’s not full 1080 HD, it is 760 which is a lot better than the standard 640x480 that we’re used to. The Prowler HD also features an 8.0 mega pixel sensor for still images that are in a widescreen format. And the best part? Both the physical size and the price of the Prowler unit have been reduced for 2009!

Also new from Stealth are two new Jim Shockey Signature Series cameras. I guess Mr. Shockey has his hands in a lot of things these days! The new Sniper Pro is a standard flash 8.0 mega pixel camera while the Sniper IR is an infrared camera with 30 foot flash range and a 5.0 mega pixel sensor. The Sniper IR also does standard definition video (640x480) as well, which the Sniper Pro does not.

Around the corner from Stealth Cam I ran into my buddy Scott Bakken at the Bohning Archery booth. Scott and his brother David finished 2nd in this year’s Campbell Outdoor Challenge Whitetail Archery Qualifying event, taking the largest archery whitetail in Challenge history. I’ve seen the footage, and let me tell you it’s AWESOME! Check out the new episodes of the Campbell Outdoor Challenge airing on Versus now, Wednesdays at noon Central Time. You can also see Scott’s footage on the upcoming Bowhunting.com promo DVD which will be out later this summer.

New from Bohning for this year is a fletching jig that allows you fletch your Blazer vanes at a perfect 3* right offset every time. This jig is super easy to use and features an oversized rotational knob with a secure locking mechanism so you don’t have to guess whether you’re locked in or not. Yet another simple product that’s cheap, easy to use, and very effective. That certainly seems to be the trend in bowhunting gear this year.

Speaking of easy-to-use products I stopped by and visited with Andrew Hooyman at Hooyman Saws for a bit as well. The original Hooyman saw was one of our biggest sellers for this year, and we’re really excited about the improvements they’ve made for this year and the new 10’ model that will be released shortly as well. Todd is going to bring you more information about that product, but I did want to mention the new carrying case that’s available for the original units. This handy case can be attached to your belt, your pack, or even to your treestand so your Hooyman is always within arm’s reach.

After Hooyman my next stop was to see James and Barbara McGovern over at Rinehart Targets. New for this year is a Polar Bear target which has been added to Rinehart’s already huge lineup of popular 3-D targets. The Polar Bear is 60" tall, 23" wide, and simulates a 300 lb live animal.

One cool thing about the ATA show is the ability to shoot a variety of new bows that you may not get to shoot at your local shop or dealer. I took advantage of the lanes to shoot a few bows and one of my favorites was the new Ross Carnivore. As you may know, Ross archery was acquired by Bowtech several months back and the two companies have combined their technologies to improve their line of already impressive bows.

The most unique feature of the Carnivore is the hybrid cam system featuring the "Krank" system which provides an ultra-smooth draw cycle. I originally picked up my Diamond Marquis because of it’s smooth-drawing single cam but I think the Carnivore has it beat. This bow shoots great, is available in 3 different axle-to-axle lengths, 50/60/70 lb peak draw weights, and has an IBO rating of 310-318 fps. I’m hoping to get my hands on one for some additional testing and reviews so check back for more info on this great new bow.


Good friend, Bowtech staffer, and Bowhunting.com member Greg Staggs showing off the new Ross Carnivore.

Another product that I really liked, even though it’s not "new" (it was released last year) is the String Splitter from Sterner Duttera. The String Splitter is a peep-sight with an open bottom end which allows in more light during those critical low-light bowhunting situations. You simply line up the top of your pin guard with the arch of the String Splitter, settle your pin, and shoot. The String Splitter is available in 6 different sizes and 4 different colors so there’s something for everyone. The most popular version is the "Mini" with a ¼" opening. The Mini weighs in at 20 grains so it may be a bit on the heavy side for your speed freaks, but I’m willing to sacrifice a few FPS for better low-light shooting any day.

Trophy Taker, best known for their popular line of dropaway arrow rests, has acquired Shuttle T-Lock broadheads and released a new straight-blade head for this year called the Terminal T-Lock. The coolest thing about this head is that it uses the same ferrule as the popular T-Lock so all you need to do is purchase new blades if you want to switch heads. It’s only available in a 100 grain version with a 1 1/16" cutting diameter for this year, with more options likely to be available in 2010.

Another new product I have really enjoyed the past several seasons is the odor-eliminating storage products from ScenTote. For this year they have improved their entire line of soft storage bags with a new rip-stop material, which is good for those of us who are hard on our gear!

Also new for this year is an odor-eliminating bow case that is designed to allow storage of a bow with quiver attached, and features plenty of pockets to carry additional gear with you.

The changing mat from ScenTote is another great new product that is simple and to be honest I’m surprised someone didn’t think of this earlier! It’s a simple waterproof mat that you can stand on when getting changed in the field, which means no more standing on your storage bin lids, floor mats, old jackets, or trying to do a one-legged balancing act in the dark! The changing mat comes with all new ScenTote soft storage bags which have an external zippered compartment for storage, which is good considering it will probably get pretty dirty throughout the course of a season!


The ScenTote changing mat - ingenious!

The last product I want to mention in this blog is the new apparel from Sitka Gear. Since it was released a few seasons ago I’ve always wanted to get some of their stuff, and this year I just might. Sitka has teamed up with W.L. Gore (as in Gore-Tex) to feature their new Omnifade camo patter. This pattern was digitally created to blend into any terrain and be nearly invisible to ungulates (like deer). I won’t go into too much detail in this blog, but check out their videos at www.thescienceofnothing.com to see for yourself. They’re a bit long, but they’re well worth the watch. I have to admit, it’s nice to see camo technology evolving to be more effective in the field, not just on the store shelves!

New for this year from Sitka are several new lines including the StormFront gear for severe weather protection, and the Kelvin line featuring Primaloft insulation. Primaloft is super lightweight and extremely warm. I also have to mention the new line containing Ardica technology, which utilizes a lithium-ion battery to heat panels of the garment and keep you toasty warm on stand. Although I’m not so sure about the new "Dutch Oven", this looks like a pretty nice vest!

Now for two honorable mentions to some cool people we met during this year’s show.

First, noted outdoor writer and TV personality Mr. Greg Miller. Greg is a super cool guy who can kill big deer with the best of them, and has a great sense of humor. He didn’t even mind us razzing him a little about a buddy of ours who is a Greg Miller impersonator on the side. And the scary part is, they only live 10 miles from each other! Coincidence, or long-lost relatives? You decide!


Mike with the REAL Greg Miller.


Johnny "Fake Greg Miller".  Scary, isn't it??

And finally this guy, I’m sorry I have no idea who he is even though he was signing autographs at the Muzzy booth, with one of the coolest sweatshirts I’ve ever seen. I have no idea if he knows Jim Shockey or not, but just the premise of "Jim Shockey Mows My Lawn" makes me laugh.

I do have more info to post on new cameras from Cuddeback and Moultrie, a cool new broadhead called the "Reign", some more info on the new Muddy Outdoors climbing sticks and improvements to their safety harness, new Aftershock broadheads, a new sight and improved Montec from G5, and cool new flashlights from Primos but I’ll have to do that tomorrow. Check back for updates!




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