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Day One Update from the 2012 ATA Show

by Cody Altizer 10. January 2012 07:16
Cody Altizer

For me personally, there are a handful of exciting days that I look forward to every year as a bowhunter.  Obviously, opening day is one of those days.  The first cold snap that triggers daytime buck movement coinciding with rubs and scrapes appearing in the woods is another.  However, there is one day that I am very privileged and excited to experience every year, and that is the first day of the annual ATA trade show.

A shot of the hundreds of bowhunters at the Outtech party last night at the 2012 ATA Show.

Josh Kelley performing at the 2012 Outtech Party!

The show technically kicked off last night with the Outtech party.  Hundreds of industry dealers, writers, television personalities and bowhunting insiders flooded the convention center to enjoy some sneak peeks at new products, a live performance by country music star Josh Kelley, and of course to watch the Alabama Crimson Tide roll the LSU Tigers in the BCS National Championship game.  It was a perfect way to kick off an exciting week!

Let the festivities begin!

The floor rooms opened this morning at 8:30 and as soon as the gates opened, it didn’t take long for the industry business to begin taking place on the show room floor.  It’s pretty exciting to walk the floor and look left and right see the business being conducted.  You could feel the energy as business was being conducted left and right, new products were being revealed and hunting celebrities smiled candidly for photos and autographs.  

Perhaps what I look forward to most about the ATA Show is catching up and socializing with my hunting buddies that I may only see once or twice a year.  I know, I know I should probably be working and not socializing but hey, swapping hunting stories is just plain fun.  I was fortunate enough to catch up and chat with my pal Jason McKee of New Archery Products and Frank Archey of Lone Wolf Portable Treestands.  It’s always good to catch up and listen to other hunter’s success stories.  

I've always wanted to hunt mule deer and seeing this giant mule deer buck has only made me want to go even more.  Only at ATA!

In between working and socializing, I have been able to locate a couple of products that I especially excited about for the 2012 season.  The first was the 20 feet climbing ladder system from Lone Wolf Portable Treestands.  I’m a big fan of Lone Wolf’s climbing sticks, and this new ladder system looks fantastic.  The ladder stick system will get you 16 feet in the air in no time.  I spoke with Lone Wolf President Jared Schlipf about them and he assured me you could safely (with the aid of a lineman’s belt, of course) attach the ladder system to the tree, strap it down and be safely in your stand in 5 minutes.  This is a great product for the mobile hunter.  

Lone Wolf President Jare Schlipf in the middle of an interview discussing the new innovative Ladder Stick System.

I was also intrigued by NAP’s new Armor Rest full capture drop-away rest.  This little 5 oz. piece of engineering genius has a full rubber Armorshield on the body of the rest that stays whisper quiet in operation.  Titanium arms mean less weight, but added strength.  This rest promises full containment with 100% fletching clearance at any angle.  You’ll definitely want to check out this new rest from NAP!

New for 2012 the NAP Armor Rest.  If you're into full-containment drop away rests, then this is the rest for you.

The 2012 ATA Show is still very young, so be sure to keep checking the blogs to be the first to know about the cool new products for 2012.  


Table Mountain Outfitters - Top Notch Hunting Guides

by Dustin DeCroo 31. July 2011 16:11
Dustin DeCroo

The late summer of 2010 brought with it all the common anticipation of any upcoming hunting season, but with a few new opportunities.  One of these opportunities was to hunt with and film my friends Justin Zarr and Todd Graf of the Hunting Network.  It was a pronghorn hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  It was during this hunt that I was fortunate enough to meet the owners of Table Mountain Outfitters, Scott and Angie Denny. 

Justin and I with his first antelope, taken at Table Mountain Outfitters in 2010.  Click here to watch the video of this hunt!

Fast forward to this Spring 2011.  Knowing I had a fair amount of experience not only hunting out West but also running a camera, Scott and Angie asked if I’d like to film some of their bear hunters at camp in Idaho. The only experience that either one of us had with the other was based on a few conversations at antelope camp eight months prior.  They were taking a chance with a camera man they didn’t know very well and I was committing almost a month of my life to film with people that I barely knew, in a place I had never been.  With that said, it turned out to be an incredible time and allowed me (an outsider) a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run a successful outfitting operation. 

When the general hunting population thinks of “bear hunting,” we typically render immediate images of sitting over an afternoon bait waiting for a bear to make its way to a bucket filled with goodies.  At Table Mountain Outfitters, you have the opportunity to sit at bait sites in the afternoons, but the morning hunts are filled with what can be fast paced, adrenaline filled hunts with hound dogs.  As a long time bird hunter, I have an extreme respect for any type of working dog, but I was still slightly hesitant about hunting bears with dogs. 

On the first morning, my uncertainty had evaporated.  There is no possible way I can explain to any reader how incredible and unique this hunt can be.  It really is something you have to experience for yourself to understand and appreciate.  From the hours of care and preparation that the guides put into 22 dogs before and after the hunt, to the sometimes super steep and long hikes in to a tree where the dogs say, “we’ve won,” to the determination of the dogs and the people involved.  All that work and that’s just for one aspect of one part of the hunt.  That doesn’t include the time spent preparing meals for a whole camp full of hungry hunters, setting bear baits, and maintaining an entire camp in the meantime. 

Here's a few of the bear dogs that Scott & Angie use to track down bears in the remote Idaho wilderness.

It was neat to be a “neutral” party with Table Mountain Outfitters, I wasn’t the hunter or the guide and was able to see both the client side and the business side of this industry.    I was able to form my own opinion about everything I encountered.  Somewhere around 15 hunters were in camp while was in Idaho, I interviewed several of these hunters during hunts and after hunts and to my knowledge there wasn’t a single hunter that didn’t leave with a feeling of success in regards to both; their hunt and their overall experience.

Hunter Mike White killed this beautiful black bear with his Mathews Z7. This was Mike's 7th hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters

Teri and her husband Steve traveled from Tampa, Florida to hunt bears with Scott and Angie.

After seeing all the pieces that must fit perfectly together for an operation like this to be successful, I am amazed at and have an incredible amount of respect for Scott and Angie and the team they’ve put together to make Table Mountain Outfitters atop the list for hunting outfitters.  If you’re in the market for a guided hunt of almost any species in the Western United States, give Table Mountain a shot at your business, I would bet you are not disappointed.   You can visit them online at

Scott & Angie Denny - owners of Table Mountain Outfitters.  These two work incredibly hard to make sure their hunters have the best chance of success on each and every hunt.  Their hard work is what has made them one of the most popular outfitters in the US today.



Mike Lutt's Incredible Season of Nine P&Y

by Brenda Potts 25. February 2011 13:27
Brenda Potts

It is not unusual for a person who hunts for a living to kill nine animals with a bow in one season. It is great deal harder for the guy who works two jobs and can only hunt on weekends or vacations. Being self employed does help, as in the case of Mike Lutt, a taxidermist in the fall and winter, and landscaper in spring in summer. During the 2010 hunting season Mike tagged nine animals, all of which qualify for the Pope and Young record book.

"During a normal year I usually shoot 3 to 4 animals," said Mike. "But with the kids out of the house and an employee who stays behind to take care of the animals coming in to the taxidermy shop, I was able to spend more time hunting this past year."

It started with antelope in the early season. Mike got permission to hunt on some private property in Wyoming. The landowner, Jay Butler has since decided to start an outfitting business and Mike helped him book 20 clients for his new Antelope Outfitters.

In late August he shot a mule deer, still in velvet, on public land in Colorado. It was the second day of the season and he was spot and stalking mule deer coming off private land onto public land. He watched the buck for a couple of days, and was able to sneak up on the bedded buck and make the shot.

Mike shot another antelope, this time using a decoy, while hunting in South Dakota. The buck was in a wide open area of a wheat stubble field. Mike laughs at how they all hid behind a single decoy. "We had a guy who was 6 foot 4 inches tall holding the decoy, a cameraman that was 6 foot 2 inches, and me, all behind this decoy." But the ploy worked and it was all captured on film, as were most of the hunts for the season.

A 33 inch wide hard antlered mule deer was the next buck to wear Mike's tag. He was hunting on private property owned by a friend in South Dakota, in September.  On the first attempt as spot and stalking the buck in a sunflower field, he missed the buck at 20 yards. This did not discourage the hunter.  He kept after the buck and finally shot him 4 days later in the same field.
While hunting another buck in Nebraska that same month, Mike spotted him in velvet . He was hunting on an Indian reservation. Although it was private property you still had to draw the tag for the area. Circumstances did not allow Mike to take a shot until a few days later when he found that same buck, now hard antlered, feeding on acorns. The Hoyt Alpha Max performed as expected and another P&Y was added to the list.

In November, Mike headed to Iowa with a buck decoy. He set up near a spot where a big 160 class buck traveled a fence. The spot where the buck normally jumped the fence was near a scrape and an alfalfa field.  Everything worked as planned and the big buck presented a 4-yard shot. Needless to say, another buck went down.
In late November Mike was in his home state of Nebraska , cold calling for rutting bucks. He rattled in 2 bucks from 80 yards away. The bucks circled each other, but soon left. Mike quickly grunted and brought the buck back within range. The only problem was the buck came in head on to 5 yards. "He saw me and we stared at each other for 5 minutes. I know it was at least 5 minutes because my video camera shuts off automatically after 5 minutes of no activity. The buck turned toward the other buck that was also returning and offered me a good shot." Mike took the shot.

Buck number 8 came from a walk-in property in northern Kansas. "It was 2 degrees," Mike recalled.  "I had the decoy out and saw a buck chasing a doe. I think the doe saw the decoy first. She came closer, then a 150 inch 4x4 crossed the creek and gave me a 5 yard shot.

Mike finished the season on his own property in Nebraska. The year before he had passed on a nice buck that he rattled in. In early December he had another chance at him. "I grunted at him and he stood still for 5 to 10 minutes before finally making his way to 20 yards."  Once again, Mike connected on his trophy.

Most of his hunts from last fall can be seen in the Great Plains Edition of Bill Winke's television show. After the hunting season Mike goes to work in his taxidermy business, mounting about 100 deer between January and April. Then he switches gears and directs 25 employees in his landscaping business until late summer. When fall returns, Mike will be back in the field filming, hunting and working hard for another great season.








Planning Your Out of State Bowhunt for 2011

by Dustin DeCroo 15. February 2011 14:08
Dustin DeCroo

The Fall 2010 season comes to a close and it’s time for many hunters to start planning their Non-Resident Fall adventures for 2011.

While many bowhunters are having treestand withdrawals in February and March, I enjoy the excitement of doing research and planning my out-of-state hunts for the upcoming Fall.  The reality of nonresident hunting is that, generally it is significantly more difficult to be successful (in terms of harvesting an animal) than in the region that you call home.  Let us be honest, it’s expensive, time consuming and can be a lot of work but at the same time it can be one of the most gratifying and memorable experiences you’ll ever have.  As Americans we’re blessed with a plethora of big game animals to hunt and it is up to us to take advantage of it.

I was fortunate enough to film's Justin Zarr as he traveled from Illinois to hunt Wyoming Pronghorn.


My good friend Steve Abbott also traveled to Wyoming to hunt pronghorn

I have been fortunate enough to travel the country to hunt for the last five seasons and the planning can almost be overwhelming.  What do I hunt?  Which state do I visit?  Which unit do I hunt?  When do I apply?  How much will everything cost?  These questions and a million others have to be answered before the ball gets rolling.

There is no doubt that I love chasing whitetails but bugling bulls and spot and stalk type bowhunts are my true passion when it comes to bowhunting.  I would love for everyone to be able to experience those hunts, so let me give a little bit of (hopefully) helpful information.

The real work begins after you decide what you want to hunt and the more research you do, the better chance you’ll be rewarded in the end.  Every state has a DNR or Game & Fish website that will tell you the process for hunting in that particular state.  With that said, I have never found a more frustrating group of websites to visi.  For all of the Western states, I have not found a more useful source than the  MRS or Members Research Supplement section found in Eastman’s Hunting and Bowhunting Journal.  The MRS is found only in subscription issues of the magazine but is incredibly informative.  It provides you with application deadlines and prices, drawing odds, trophy qualit y, percentage of public lands, season dates and non-resident success rates, to name a few.  The MRS includes this information for nearly every big game animal that resides in the Western united states.


My friends Trey Kolar, Tony Stickland and drew Wyoming Elk tags in 2007.


In my experience Iowa, Illinois and Kansas are the three main whitetail states that require you to apply for a non-resident tag.

Starting the planning process now assures that you don’t miss any deadlines, can save some hard earned cash and get your body in the proper physical condition for whichever hunt you choose.


My dad drew non-resident elk and moose tags in 2009 killed this great Wyoming bull.

BBD! Mule Deer Archery Harvest in Wyoming

by Dustin DeCroo 14. September 2010 03:33
Dustin DeCroo

On March 15th of 2010, I had no idea that I would be moving to Wyoming permanently before the commencement of the Fall archery season and I entered the draw for a non-resident deer tag.  In late June I logged on and found the term “successful” listed under the draw results.  At that time I was only hoping that same term would describe my season.


The foothills of Wyoming will test your conditioning.

On opening day I passed on a decent 4x4 buck that would probably have received a broadhead on any day except the opener.  I had a few friends from Oklahoma visit to hunt antelope over Labor Day weekend and while it was deer season, their success and an enjoyable hunt was my main objective.  Somehow my September weekends  had become filled with other activities than I had planned and I knew that the weekend of September 11th was going to be my best bet for “success” before rifle season opened.

A buck for next year!

A few weeks prior to season I scouted two state section of land that my friend Scooter had pointed out on the local BLM map and found a giant mule deer.  Further inspection of the map showed that the county road didn’t touch the section that I had seen the big deer and therefore was landlocked by private land.  My plans changed.

The photo through the binocs is blurry, but the deer on the left is the stuf I was after.

Scooter and I woke up early (him to go to work and me to hunt) had coffee and breakfast in the morning darkness.  Scooter’s oldest son (all of five years old) woke up to the smell of coffee and asked what we were doing, upon me telling him I was going hunting he asked “What kind of broadheads are you using?”  Apparently my answer was sufficient and he climbed back into his camouflage sheets.

As daylight broke the Easter horizon I found myself staring through my binoculars into the steep, rocky and sage filled canyons on Northeastern Wyoming.  Almost immediately a buck stood on the skyline of ridge between two steep ravines and dropped then down the opposite side, I deemed him a shooter at first glance.  He wasn’t anywhere near as big as the buck I had seen weeks before but with my hunting days winding down, the chase was on.  Down one ravine and up the (extremely steep) other side I carried my Badlands 2200 pack filled with a days supplies, my bow and myself.  As I approached the top I took a quick pause to catch my breath and began glassing the terrain.  Naturally I could see the furthest “stuff” first and as I moved higher I could see closer to the bottom.  I couldn’t see what was inside of 75 yards, I knew he had to be close.  I knocked an arrow from my quiver (this one tipped with a 100gr GrizzTrick) and crawled to the edge of the rock ledge.  I spotted tines and could tell the deer was looking in my direction and I didn’t dare expose myself.  My Leupold RX-1000 locked onto a Juniper tree to the left of the deer and told me he was 50 yards.  I came to full draw and when the antlers turned sideways I knee crawled another foot and settled my pin.  I pulled the trigger on my Short-N-Sweet and my arrow sailed down the hill… Unfortunately while my arrow was sailing the buck took a step down the hill and I watched my NAP Quikfletch disappear just behind the last rib and it came out just behind the diaphragm.  The immediate sickness hit me and I knew it was going to be a long day as the buck went down the ravine, up the other side and into another steep draw.

Since I was at the top of a hill I was able to send a text to Scooter and Scott Abbott.  Scooter’s reply to the situation was, “give him time, we’ll go back tonight.”  Scott’s was much the same as he told me, “7 hours.”  Even when you know that backing out is the smart thing, it’s still difficult especially in open terrain.  I proceeded to follow the blood trail for practice as I knew where the deer had gone and that it would take me at least 45 minutes to get to where he went.  As I got close to the last ridge he topped I layed down in a patch of Junipers and had a Caprisun and a granola bar.  I decided that I wouldn’t go after the deer but I’d try to spot him as I was sure he would bed down.  Topping the ridge I found the buck bedded 150 yards facing away but rather than push him over more ridges, or worse yet… onto private land, I backed out and made the long journey back to the truck.

I got back to the truck only to be surprised to see a Wyoming Game and Fish truck parked next to mine.  Long story short a landowner had called me in for trespassing.  In this part of the state, very rarely are property boundaries marked with fences or anything else and it’s extremely important that you can read topographical maps and know how to use a GPS in accordance with those maps.  This piece of state property has literally 50 yards of unmarked contact with the county road which is the only legal place to enter.  The game warden immediately affirmed that I was in the correct location and said he would talk to the landowner.   An hour later I had a new friend, we shook hands and I gave him a DVD.

Back at the house, I passed the time by napping and watching a little college football but I couldn’t wait long enough to catch any of the beat down my Sooners placed on Florida State.  Scooters dad, Ol’ Wil, was kind enough to help me with the pack out if we could find the deer.  The walk back in was quick since I wasn’t trying to be too sneaky through the majority of it.  I crested the hill expecting to see my buck laid over in the sage brush but to my dismay… he was gone.  My heart sank thinking that the last seven hours was plenty of time for the wound to clot making blood trailing in the sage brush nearly impossible.  I never did find a drop of blood, just a little blood where he brushed up against the sage.  The 75 yards I covered in the next 30 minutes took me to the base of a rock cliff and I could finally see antler tips and a nose of my deer bedded in a hole at the base of the cliff.  I sneaked up and around to the top of the cliff to where I could get a clean shot and ran a NAP Bloodrunner through both front shoulders.  It was the only route I had to the lungs, so I took it.  The deer bolted down the draw and piled up 20 yards from the cliff. Eight and half long hours later I got to wrap my hands around his antlers, “success” at last.  The deer was old and definitely on the downhill, his body was enormous.

My 2010 Spot and Stalk Mule Deer.

He’s not a giant, but with a $312 non-resident tag and my days winding down, I was happy to punch my tag.  Getting the buck out was a feat in itself and it would have been horrible without the hand of Ol’ Wil.  Apparently the SD card I brought and my camera didn’t make friends until after the drag.

The uphill climb begins at the truck

My 2010 archery season is off to an incredible start, I hope it continues!  If you’ve never done a Do-It-Yourself, spot and stalk hunt for mule deer on public land… give it a shot.  You’ll find out what you’re made of in a hurry!



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