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Gadgets, Widgets and Booger Retrievers

by Brenda Potts 26. April 2011 09:03
Brenda Potts

Yes, he named his invention a booger retriever. I asked the CEO of Walnut Grove Hunting Products why he named his gadget the "booger retriever" and he laughed and said, "If you drop it, this booger will get it!" And it certainly does.

Fortunately I have not needed to use the patented device while in the treestand yet, but have had a lot of fun just playing with it. It will pick up all kinds of stuff of different sizes, weights and shapes. If you drop something from your treestand this will most likely save you from having to climb back down.

The booger retriever is one of my favorite finds at the small shows. Our jobs take us to lots of trade shows and consumer events like deer classics or sportsmen's banquets, which gives me the opportunity to walk the show floor looking for the latest and greatest new products. You expect to see new products unveiled at the big trade shows like the Archery Trade  Show or SHOT Show in Las Vegas, unfortunately I miss things at these shows. They are just too big and I end up spending too much time in my client's booths to get out and see everything. But sometimes you can also find the coolest inventions in a little 10 x 10 booth at a local deer classic. Here are some more of my favorite finds from all the shows and a few hunting trips.

The Hunt More Chair is a really great invention. I came to appreciate all the features of this chair after spending several hours in a blind deer hunting in Wyoming. We only had one spot to put the blind to intercept the bucks we had been watching. It was on a steep hill in the only point that jutted into the field where they could come close enough for a bow shot. My cameraman, his tripod, all of our gear and I settled in to the blind. I had the Hunt More Chair and he had a stool which we had to prop up to get it level. The legs on my chair could easily be adjusted to keep me level and the height could be adjusted to make it easy to shoot through the window of the blind. It also swivels silently so I could shoot in more than one direction. 

I have used a couple of GPS units and so far, the more features one of these things has, the less I like them. I had two GPS units in my pack while elk hunting a few years ago. One of them had all the bells and whistles and an instruction book half an inch thick. The other one was easy to use and I relied on it most of the time. One morning we decided to follow an elk track high into the Colorado mountains in the snow. The track meandered all over the mountain and finally took us to secluded pond with elk all over the hillside above. We decided to wait for the elk to come to the water that afternoon.

Unfortunately, we were hunting public land and a couple of yuppie hikers spooked the entire herd. We were able to head in a straight line for the truck using the GPS unit. At the time I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have something that was so simple to use, with very few buttons that would just get you back to the truck or camp when you were done hunting.
A couple years ago, while attending a writer turkey hunt I was given a Bushnell Back Tracker. I love this thing. It is so simple to use it can sit on a shelf for a year and I don't have to get the instruction book back out and relearn how to use it. (Ok, I know there is eye rolling taking place among some of the younger crowd, but surely a few of my generation can relate to my anti-technology rant). 

In the past few years I have started to get more of my deer done as European mounts. While hunting with some friends in southern IL they showed me a similar type mount done with an artistic flare. Mountain Mike's Reproductions offers a dipped kit in fall foliage or wood grain that makes the mount a work of art. 

The Trophy Skull Hanger from Skip Enterprises makes it easy to hang your European skull mount.


In the last few years I have sent more time taking kids hunting. This past spring I took my granddaughter on her first turkey hunt. She had seen wild turkeys from the road but never up close. When I opened up the Natural Series Turkey Target Kit from Caldwell Shooting Supplies, the first thing she said was, "Wow, turkeys are that big!" The target features a life size photograph of a turkey and was beneficial in teaching her where to shoot.  Forty five mile per hour wind gusts on the only day we had to hunt during the Il youth-only season kept us from seeing a turkey, but she will be ready next year! 








European Skull Mounts; The Shoulder Mount Alternative

by Justin Zarr 1. February 2011 13:53
Justin Zarr

For many bowhunters the pinnacle of their successes in the field often end up as a nice shoulder mount on the wall in their den (or in the living room in some lucky cases).  Up until just recently I never gave a second thought to what I would do with my trophies when they were picked up from the butcher shop.  They were put in the back of the truck and delivered to the local taxidermist - along with a hefty deposit check!  Several months later after agonizing over which pose I wanted my new trophy to assume for the remainder of his days, I would write that second painful check and then ride home alongside my new mount.

After some spirited talks with the wife about where the new addition to our family would reside (and I ask, what's so wrong with the bedroom anyways?) I would pick out a spot in the den, office, basement, or garage and proudly display the result of my hard work.  Eventually friends, family and my hunting buddies would come over to stand around and discuss the finer points of my new mount.  In most cases the talks would always center around the fact that I thought he was bigger when I first saw him..  But alas, I digress!  As my walls have begun to fill up and my attempts to convert the bedroom into a new trophy room have failed, I have begun to discover the elgance (and affordability) of a nice European skull mount.

My first Euro mount came about after harvesting a nice mid-October Illinois whitetail.  Unfortunately due to a single-lung shot I was unable to recover the buck right away.  By the time I luckily stumbled upon the buck the next day, laying in a creek not 40 yards from my truck, the meat and cape had both been ruined.  Although it's not the optimal outcome I was glad to have recovered the animal.  Not wanting to go through the hassle of finding and purchasing another cape for the buck, I decided to get a Euro mount done.

Roughly a month later I got a call from my taxidermist that my buck was ready to be picked up.  In comparison to the standard 12 month wait on a shoulder mount this was some quick turnaround!  I picked up my skull a few days later and was amazed to see just how good it looked.  It had been professionally cleaned and looked great.  A friend of my dad's made me a nice wood plaque to display the skull on, and shortly thereafter it was hung up above the computer I'm sitting at right now.  And to be honest, even though it's probably the smallest rack of any buck I have in my office, its the one I look at the most.  I'm not sure what it is, but the beauty of the mount is quite intriguing.

From the creek...... the wall.

My 2nd European mount was done on the antelope I harvested this past summer in Wyoming while hunting with Table Mountain Outfitters.  Although it was my first antelope and a very memorable hunt, the buck didn't meet P&Y minimum requirements so I decided to get another skull mount.  My reasoning for this is that at just 30 years old I plan on shooting a whole bunch of animals before I hang up my bow including a few more speed goats.  After all, that was a fun hunt!  Knowing that, and hoping to score on a bigger buck one day I opted for the Euro mount. staff member Jessica Edd actually handled the mount for me and much like my whitetail from the year before, it turned out great!  I haven't gotten a plaque for it yet, but it still looks great on the wall by itself.

From the field..... the wall.  Thanks again to Jessica Edd for the great job!

Having been fortunate enough to harvest two nice whitetails with my bow this fall I opted to only get a shoulder mount on one, while getting a Euro mount on the other.  This decision was partially monetary (hey, saving almost $400 in taxidermy bills is never a bad thing) and partially because I want to continue to fill out my European mount collection as I get older.   I should have my newest addition to the family back from the taxi before too long, and I'll make sure to post an update when he arrives!

If you're looking for an economical alternative to a shoulder mount for your next harvest, I'd seriously consider a European Mount.  I was skeptical how much I would like them at first, but the more I look at them the more I like them.  Perhaps you'll feel the same way!

The Skull Master | Antler Mounting Kit

by Justin Zarr 3. May 2009 05:34
Justin Zarr

Many bowhunters will agree that traditional European skull mounts are a great way to show off your trophy.  However, most of them will also agree that making a European mount can be a pain in the butt.  Boiling and bleaching can be a messy, smelly job.  Flesh-eating beetles, while pretty cool to talk about, aren't a viable option for most bowhunters to keep around the house either (I know my wife certainly wouldn't be a fan).  Most bowhunters I know take their skulls to their local taxidermist, or send them out to a professional, to have them cleaned.  Of course the issue there is two fold - first you have to wait to get your trophy back, second you have to pay someone to do this for you.  Mountain Mike's reproductions has come up with a great alternative to the traditional European mount called the Skull Master.

Todd showing off the Skull Master kit along with his 2nd Illinois bow harvest from the 2008 season.

The Skull Master kit includes everything you need for a do-it-yourself European Mount that only takes minutes to put together, and will last a lifetime.  We recently put one of these kits to the test in the office with a nice buck that Todd Graf harvested this past fall.  Much to our surprise, and delight, the process was amazingly simple.  We took the skull plate of the Todd's buck, and sawed both antlers off at the base.  Of course if you are going to have your trophy scored for the record books DO NOT cut the antlers off the skull, as it will no longer be viable for entry.

After sawing the antlers off we lined them up on the Skull Master mounting plate (which detaches from the main skull).  We marked the proper location on the bottom of the antler and then drilled a hole in the bottom of each antler.  Once that was finished we lined the antlers up and attached them to the mounting plate with the included screws.  After the antlers were securely mounted to the base you use one more set of screws to attach it to the skull and you're finished.  It's literally that easy.  You can now use the included mounting hole on the back of the skull to mount your new trophy to the wall where it can be admired by friends and family alike!

We used the supplied white epoxy to seal around the antler base for a more natural look.

You can purchase this great new product right here in the shopping cart by clicking this link here.  For only $39.99 it's a great alternative to a traditional European skull mount that is quick, easy, and will last a lifetime.

Yours truly showing off the finished product.

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