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by Brenda Potts 21. February 2012 10:34
Brenda Potts

For the past few months we have attended several shows (including ATA, SHOT and Eastern Sports Show) and reviewed hundreds of products. Many great innovations caught my eye but two are at the top of my list. I cannot decide which is my favorite so I am declaring a tie. First place is shared by X-Steps from JWJ Outdoors and the TreeBlind from Nature Blinds.

TreeBlinds. Combine the creative talents and imagination of a Hollywood set designer with his passion for hunting and you get one of the coolest ground blinds ever created. Nature Blinds is producing a ground blind that looks so much like a tree, even its creator has been fooled when taking hunters to the stand. The outer surface mimics the texture of real bark. Animals don't seem to notice the blind as Mr. Whitetail, Larry Weishuhn attested, "Deer were just a few feet away from us and never even looked at the blind."  Texas Outfitter Mike Stroff also believes in the blind's qualities stating," It's so quiet and soundproof inside, we can talk on camera with deer 10 yards away... incredible!" The folks from Nature Blinds also explained how the insulating qualities of this blind can bring the temps inside the blind up to a comfortable level with just the body heat of the individuals inside, while the outside temps are near freezing. The patented window system is one of the best I have ever seen in a ground blind.

While we are on the subject of ground blinds there were a couple more worth noting.

D.I.R.T. (Do It Right Treeblinds) If you are looking for a semi permanent box blind but don't want to build the thing from scratch, try ordering one of the "pre-fabricated" blinds from D.I.R.T. Many times, once a big box blind like this is built and set in place, it never moves. Which may or may not be a good thing. But with these blinds you can take them apart and rebuild them without having to be a carpenter. Which is right up my alley since my carpentry skills are a bit lacking, but after looking it over inside and out, I'm sure I could easily put this together with a little help. They attest that "If you can carry a sheet of plywood to your hunting spot, you can set up a D.I.R.T."

Snap Lock Hunting Blinds. For those interested in a relatively portable ground blind that is a step up from the fabric pop ups, the Snap Lock Blind has weather resistant, insulating qualities. This blind can easily be assembled without tools. It is lightweight and comes in 2 sizes. The blind can be fastened to a wooden floor for even more stability.

Several other products make my list of new and notable.

Night Com UV. Although they don't advertise this potential use, the Night Com UV flashlight  from  Streamlight has an ultraviolet LED that enhances blood trails. It works best when the blood is fresh. The flashlight is super bright on its highest setting, water resistant and of rugged construction. I have been a Streamlight flashlight fan ever since receiving one of their keychain lights called the Nano Light. This tiny flashlight has "saved the night" many times and is practically indestructible, made of machined aircraft-grade aluminum with anodized finish. I know I will never be without one!

Little Mule. How many times could I have used this! When it comes to deer hunting, I can do pretty much all of it on my own with the exception of dragging the deer out of the woods. This product makes that arduous task a breeze. The inventor has loaded the Little Mule with features including Kevlar tires, a built in winch, front and rear lights and an optional hitch making the cart capable of attaching to the back of your ATV once you get the ensemble back to the vehicle.

The Turkey Nightmare. I would love to try this invention for bowhunting turkeys. I also have a young grandson who hasn't quite grasped the concept of "Don't move." Maybe this would help!


My "Oh No!" Antelope at Table Mountain Outfitters.

by Brenda Potts 25. January 2011 03:22
Brenda Potts

My "Oh-no!" Antelope at Table Mountain

My guide slowly opened the window flap of our ground blind to check for antelope. "Oh-no!" wasn't exactly what I expected to hear him say.
I was on an early season bowhunt for antelope in Wyoming with Table Mountain Outfitters. It was my first experience hunting antelope from a ground blind on a waterhole with my Mathews bow. Everything went as I expected for the first 2 hours, then my hunt took an odd turn.

We had arrived the day before at Table Mountain Outfitters in time to check the bows after a long plane flight. Our hosts, Angie and Scott Denny greeted us and showed us where to put our gear. They have a roomy lodge with different wings that give you plenty of space. Vicki Cianciarulo and I settled in to our assigned room and proceeded to organize our gear for the next morning's hunt.

Vicki and I were filming our hunts for SHE's Beyond the Lodge TV. We decided that our cameraman would go with Vicki and Angie. Scott would be filming me, so we piled into the trucks shortly after daylight and headed to a separate blind. Scott and I were hunting on a waterhole supplied by a spring. A solar powered pump assured that the waterhole was always full of fresh water making this spot very attractive to thirsty animals on hot days. And it was predicted to be a very hot sunny day, with temps in the 80s by late morning and heading into the 90s in the afternoon. Just the right conditions for our chosen method of hunting.

Scott told me that the antelope usually don't begin coming to the waterholes until mid-morning when the temps rise, so we didn't have to be in position before daybreak. This would be positive-point-number-1 on my list of why I like bowhunting antelope from a ground blind over waterholes. Positive point number 2 (PPN#2) = comfort. We were in a big pop-up blind with a nice breeze coming in the front window, sitting in comfortable chairs with a beautiful view. I could get used to this. PPN #3 = close range set ups. If everything went as planned my furthest shot would be to the opposite side of the waterhole, a mere 20 yards, down wind.  It appears that Scott and Angie certainly know how to set up locations for bowhunters. Hunting well managed private property makes it on my list as PPN #4. The folks at Table Mountain Outfitters have long term leases and know their properties well. My opportunity at a speed goat should good.

PPN #5 = preparation. I am not talking about practicing with your bow, which is a given. I am talking about the bag of books, videos, magazines, playing cards, or whatever else you may need to occupy your mind to pass the time, along with the big cooler filled with plenty of cold water, lunch and snacks.  If you didn't bring your own, the folks at Table Mountain have a pantry full of food, and a shelf full of books etc. ready to go with you to the blind. Sometimes your hunt goes quickly, and other times, not so quickly. They recommend staying in your blind all day as the animals may suddenly appear on the horizon coming for a drink, at any point during the heat of the day. Vicki's hunt lasted about 2-3 hours. Her antelope arrived at mid-morning and she was tagged out quickly. Mine took a bit longer.

The first to arrive, were sheep. Scott said this was a good thing, as the antelope considered the sheep sentinels that all was well at the well. A few antelope filtered in from across the vast terrain from all directions throughout the morning. Some approached quickly and deliberately. Others stood like statues, staring at us from a safe distance, before finally deciding to come closer. They did not make a bee-line for the water as I expected, instead they meandered around, bedding behind us, mixed in with the sheep. Apparently they were not thirsty yet, but wanted to be in close range the second they got thirsty.

We spent a couple hours carefully peering through 1/4 inch cracks, slowly moving the window flaps just enough to get a visual on the antelope, but not enough to spook them. Scott said they would bolt if they saw any unusual movement from the blind. And with their excellent eyesight, could easily see through a window opening that exposed movement inside the blind. As long as we stayed back in the darkness of the blind we were fine when the antelope looked into the open windows in front, but any light that filtered in through a crack could give us away.
Scott was looking for antelope through a small crack in the window on his side of the blind, as he had done dozens of times. This time, he uttered a quiet moan and said "Oh-no" quietly, almost under his breath. I waited, wondering what might be the problem. He turned and said, "It's a Great Pyrenees, and he is coming our way." "Huh?," was my intelligent response.

Scott moved the window covering just enough for me to get a look. I was surprised to see a giant white dog walking across the prairie, his eyes glued to our blind as he closed the distance. The dog was huge, and his demeanor was that of a predator, with a wildness about him that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Now, I am not afraid of dogs, I like dogs, but something about this dog was different. Scott told me this breed of dog is used to protect the sheep from coyotes. They will attack anything that they perceive might harm the sheep. Scott said one of these dogs had chased him on a4-wheeler once, nearly biting his leg. I immediately began trying to think nice thoughts about all the sheep surrounding us, lest this giant long-legged, half lion-like creature decided we were not good for the sheep population. Scott was sure this particular landowner did not have these dogs on his property, so this one must have been a wanderer. He certainly looked unkept and homeless.

The dog came to the water, giving us a closer look. He appeared half-starved and dirty. Between drinks he would look carefully at our blind, assessing us. When he finished drinking the dog came to the blind, creeping slowly like a feline predator. He moved to the front of the blind and had no trouble peering inside as his head was eye level with the windows. His nose was an inch or two from Scotts camera lens. We held our breath and didn't move. I had my Nikon camera focused on the dog's face less than a foot away but was afraid to press the shutter in case the smallest of noise might startle him. After several tense minutes the dog decided we were no immediate threat to his sheep. He circled behind us, walking through his herd, looking for trouble. We breathed a sigh of relief as the dog continued on his way, presumably looking for coyotes, doing his job.

It wasn't long before I began to notice a sort of "thermocline" in the blind. The temps in the bottom half were comfortable. The temps in the top half were getting hotter by the minute. A thermal stratification was taking place where an invisible line separated the lower section of the blind identified as, "Ok, I can survive in this area," from the upper half known as, "Wow, I just stuck my head in the oven." My phone told me the outside temperature was in the upper 80s. Thankfully we did not have a thermometer because I did not want to know how hot it was getting inside the blind. It was approaching the noon hour, and it occurred to me that another 6 or 7 hours in the blind with rising temps might not offer anything to add to my positive points list.
Super hot, sunny days offer excellent conditions for hunting waterholes. The animals have to drink in these conditions. But, the same weather can be tough on humans, both physically and mentally.


 Finally, I spotted antelope bucks headed our way. They were behind the blind and walking fast toward the waterhole in front of us. Scott noticed one antelope would appear on his right so he moved the camera in preparation. Just as he did, another goat came in from our left. He was at the waterhole and stood broadside, head down, drinking at 20 yards. Staying far back in the darkness of the blind enabled me to draw my bow unseen. When Scott gave me the ok, I released the arrow and sent it through the antelope in the perfect spot. He ran less than 100 yards and went down just out of the camera's view, disappearing over a slight rise in the terrain. The Great Pyrenees was within sight as we recovered the antelope but fortunately he did not feel the need to chase us.  It was an easy recovery, and a great ending to my first bowhunt for antelope.

The Curse Continues

by John Mueller 3. January 2011 14:50
John Mueller

This has been one of the worst seasons for bowhunting luck I can remember. It started off by me having a doe jump the string on opening day and I hit her high in the shoulder neck area. I did not recover that deer, but believe my hit was not lethal. Then it seems every buck that came in range was smaller than what I wanted to take off of my property. Most were 1-1/2 years old with a few up and coming 2-1/2 year olds thrown in. The big guys were there, I just could not get them to show up at a stand while I was in it. Got plenty of trail cam pics of them although mostly at night. I did see a few in daylight but never in range.

Fast forward to my Christmas weekend hunt. I arrived on Sunday afternoon and hunted a creek crossing that leads to my neighbors soy bean field. About a half hour before dark I see some deer in the bean field. Checking them out with my binoculars I could see there were 3 small bucks feasting on the beans. They slowly made their way in my direction. They were headed for the little creek crossing. When the first one was at 20 yards I shifted the camera arm to adjust the angle and he spotted my movement. All I saw after that was tails. I wasn't planning on shooting one of them anyway but it would have made nice video.

After hunting Monday morning in the middle of a group of beds in the snow and not seeing a deer, I went to check my trail cameras. I was happy to find a group of bucks in my soy bean plot just 3 days earlier during daylight. It just so happens one of them was this guy.


A nice tall 8 pointer who used to have really tall brow tines. He has broken one of them in the last month. He is still a shooter. I have my Ameristep Intimadator ground blind brushed in about 6 yards behind the trail camera.

I will be there in the evening with hopes the group of bucks shows up in daylight again. This time of year the deer don't stray too far from a food source. They have to eat to maintain their bodies in the cold weather.

I'm tucked in my Ameristep Intimadator Blind a little before 2:00, figuring they won't show up much before dark. I like hunting out of ground blinds in the late season for a variety of reasons.

1. The trees are all bare and you are extremely exposed hunting from treestands.

2. I can get out of the weather hunting in the ground blind. Especially the wind, which makes some hunts almost unbearable.

3. I can get close to where I think the deer will be. There doesn't have to be a perfect tree for a stand. Plus close shots are easier with all of the extra clothes on.

4. I am completely hidden in the blacked out blind as long as I wear black clothing. You can get away with a lot of movement in a ground blind.

5. It's really cool being on eye level with the deer.

About 4;30 I peeked out the back of the blind and see 5 does/fawns heading my direction in the food plot. I t will be dark soon and I see no sign of the bucks. I decided to go ahead and take a doe if the shot presented itself. I get the camera and all of the mics turned on and pointed the direction they will enter from. The first one slips by without offering a shot, but the second one, a nice doe, offers a slight quartering away shot. I zoom in and come to full draw. I take carefull aim and touch off the release. I hear a good thump, but my Firenock fails to light. So I didn't see exactly where the arrow hit the deer. I waited a few minutes and gathered my things. I wanted to look at the impact sight and try to find my arrow while there was still a little daylight. I found some hair and a few drops of blood where my doe was standing. I could not find my arrow. I took up the track hoping my aim was true and i would see my prize just over the hillside laying in the snow. As I followed the trail I wasn't seeing as much bnlood as I had hoped for. And what blood there was is hard to see. It is falling through the fresh powdery snow and not showing up very well. Luckily she is staying on one of the many trails leading to and from the food plots. Within a hundred yards I see where she had bedded but she is nowhere in sight. By now its getting pretty dark. I try to find more blood after the bed but can't seem to pick the trail back up with my light. Since the temperature was going to be around 20* that night I made the decision to back out and come back the next day to look for her.

I had to be at work for a meeting in the morning so I didn't get back in the woods until almost noon. I stopped on the way and picked up my buddy Bob to help in the search. The trail was much easier to follow the next day. The blood in the snow had sort of blossomed like coloring in a snow cone. We found the bed from the night before. She had taken a different trail and headed down the hill instead of continueing across it. The blood was really starting to show itself now, making it easy to follow at a walk. We hit the bottom of the hollow and I noticed some fresh coyote tracks. Then Bob said, there's whats left of your doe. The coyotes had picked her clean. There was nothing left but the hide and most of the bones.

After examining the carcas I could see where my Rage had exited through the 3rd rib from the back. We figured I got liver and at least the back of one lung. All in all she traveled about 200 yards to where the coyotes found her. As the saying goes, when in doubt back out. Except when the woods are full of hungry coyotes. I know what I'll be doing once the deer season is over. Time to fire up the predator call.

I definately have plans to move some stands and clear out some new shooting lanes for next season. I'm going to reevaluate my approach and see what needs changing to be in the right spot at the right time to kill some of the good bucks roaming my woods. My luck has to change.

If you want to give ground blind hunting a try. Check out the Ameristep Intimidator Ground Blind and the rest of the Ameristep lineup here at

Antelope Down! Bowhunting Success in Wyoming

by Justin Zarr 7. September 2010 14:19
Justin Zarr

A few months back Todd and I decided we should go on a bowhunting trip this year.  Most of our bowhunting time is spent chasing whitetails in Illinois or Wisconsin and we figured it would be good to get out and experience something new.  After all, life is short and if you don't do it now who knows if you'll ever be able to.  So with that said, we settled on an antelope hunt with our friends Scott & Angie Denny at Table Mountain Outfitters.

The next few weeks we got our flights booked, rental car reserved, and tags ordered.  All that was left to do was wait for August to come and make sure our bowhunting gear was ready to go.  When August 26th finally showed up we were Wyoming-bound.

After a full body scan at O'Hare we boarded our plane and headed for Salt Lake City.  Unfortunately a mechanical failure with our connecting flight to Casper caused a 12 hour delay in our trip, but we managed to pass the time by working out at the local Hyatt hotel, watching a movie on Pay Per View, and of course getting in a nice relaxing nap.  We finally flew out of Utah at 10 pm and landed in Casper, Wyoming at around 11:30.

Our good friend and Pro Staff member Dustin Decroo was nice enough to pick us up from the airport and drive us up to camp.  Being a Wyoming resident Dustin had already filled his antelope tag earlier that week and volunteered to run the video camera for me during my hunt.

Six a.m. came all too quickly the next morning, and after a cup of coffee and making sure our bows were sighted in we headed into town to get our archery licenses.  By 9:15 our guide, Mr. Scuba Steve, was dropping us off in our blind which was located roughly in the middle of nowhere.  So Dustin and I packed our gear into the blind, got set up, and began our wait.

The terrain in Wyoming in quite different than Illinois!  Beautiful country though, I love it.

Within 2 hours we had our first visitors of the day as a group of 3 mule deer does paid us a visit.  This was my first hunt out of ground blind and with these deer at eye level a mere 15 yards away I thought for sure we would get busted.  But low and behold they never knew we were there, even as I snapped photos with my Nikon DSLR.  Eventually they moved off into the vast expanse of sage brush and cactus.

Our view from the ground blind.  Exciting, I know!

Dustin ready for some action with our new Sony HDR-AX2000 that we picked up from Campbell Cameras.

Our first visitors of the day.

Yours truly, watching for goats to show up.

Awhile later another mule deer doe approached with a fawn in toe, also looking for some a drink of water.  Around this time Dustin spotted a group of 5 antelope bucks on the horizon about 1,000 yards behind the blind.  Over the course of the next hour the bucks made their way slowly toward us as we munched on some cookies, drank some Ginger Ale and relaxed with our boots off.

Eventually the 5 antelope made their way directly into the water hole and started drinking.  The biggest of the bucks, an easy P&Y contender, offered up a perfect broadside shot but I couldn't take it as another buck came in and stood shoulder to shoulder with him.  I was afraid a pass through shot would take out both bucks, so after being at full draw from a minute or so I had to let down.

A few seconds later the biggest buck moved off the water hole and I came to full draw again.  Unfortunately the buck turned quartering into me just as I settled my pin on him and once again I couldn't take the shot.  At this point I started getting nervous that they were going to leave, so I told Dustin to swing the camera onto the 2nd biggest buck who was still drinking. 

When Dustin confirmed that he was on the buck I touched off my release and sent an NAP Nitron tipped Gold Tip straight through the buck's vitals.  He ran a mere 30 yards before tipping over on film - he never knew what hit him!

After a brief celebration in the blind Dustin and I put our boots back on and set out to recover my goat.  I picked up my arrow, which had passed cleanly through the buck, and headed over to where he fell.

My first-ever antelope - taken a mere 3 hours into our hunt.

For my first antelope ever, he's a great buck.  Certainly not the monster that many people hope for, but plenty big for this goat hunter!  To say I was excited was an understatement.  Less than 3 hours into my Wyoming antelope hunt and I was already tagged out.  I'll take that any day of the week!


Dustin and I with our trophy.  A big thanks to my cameraman for coming out and spending some time in the blind with me.  We'll have to do it again soon!

First kill for the Edition Quikfletch.  "James Westfall" did his job well.

Once our guide came to pick us up and we headed back to camp Dustin and I took the opportunity to ride around the area and glass for other animals.  We saw and incredible amount of game including TONS of mule deer, antelope and even a few nice whitetails down in the river bottoms.  Wyoming truly is a hunter's paradise, and Table Mountain Outfitters certainly has an abundance of trophy animals.  During our time in camp we got to hang out with Vicki Cianciarulo from Archer's Choice Media, Brenda Potts, and Joel Maxfield from Mathews who all tagged out on nice antelope as well.  What a blast!

Some WY scenery.

This was a great way to start off our season and I'm really looking forward to October when I can get out and start chasing whitetails.  For now, my antelope high will carry me through the next month!  A big, big THANK YOU to Todd Graf for allowing me to tag along on this trip and to Scott and Angie Denny with Table Mountain Outfitters.  These guys put on some of the best hunts in Wyoming, and I wouldn't hesitate to go back hunting with them.

Gear used on this trip:
(Click the red links to buy any of these products from the store)

NAP Nitron Broadheads - fly like darts and tough as nails.  A very underrated broadhead in my opinion.  I've been shooting them since 2006 and they've never let me down.  Just be careful with the blades, they're scary sharp!

Gold Tip Velocity Pro 400 Arrows - lightweight, fast, and strong.  My first animal harvested with these new shafts and they worked great.  All washed up and ready for the next animal!

NAP Apache rest - you may have read my review of this rest earlier.  It's pretty much bulletproof and deadly accurate.  A great hunting arrow rest. Edition Quikfletch - by far the coolest rendition of the popular Quikfletch products.

Axcel Armortech Sight - much like the NAP rest this thing is pretty well bulletproof and very reliable.  I can't say enough good things about this particular sight.  I'm shooting the 4 pin .019 "HS" (high speed) model.

ScentBlocker S3 Silverback Loose Fit Shirt - a super comfortable base layer that is breathable and kept me cool despite the 90 degree temps.  I'll definitely be wearing this as a base layer come October.


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