Most hunters enter the field with equipment that has been chosen carefully based on experience, preferences and proven results from past hunts; dependable tools that are faithfully relied upon at the culmination of an often times difficult and arduous hunt. At that moment of truth the hunter wants to be in possession of equipment that is but an extension of his or her being insuring the best possible outcome of the quest. Most hunters rely on the same equipment for each hunt committing them to a long term relationship with a particular style or brand much like a good marriage. If it works, they don’t try to fix it.
As Editor and Publisher of HBM I find myself in more of a “fleeting affair” situation with hunting gear. In an effort to learn as much as I can about what is available to the modern crossbow hunter, I find myself going through a wide variety of crossbows and accessories; you might even call me a crossbow tramp, if you will. But as with any tramp, as I move from one to another there are favorites that I will occasionally go back to and visit for a guaranteed good time in the field.
A Wyoming antelope hunt gave me plenty of time to choose and prepare my equipment as it was planned for six months once we were committed to go. In that time, several things came together that made the equipment for this hunt most unforgettable, so much so that I would like to share a few of my thoughts about it with you.
The bow that was selected for my maiden antelope hunt was the Scorpyd 165. Jim Kempf has added 40 pounds of draw weight to his already excellent reverse-draw crossbow and moved the speed-bar up to 418 feet/second. With the patented cams and stiffer limbs the Scorpyd 165 is out in front or the pack in arrow speeds, while still maintaining its deadly, pinpoint accuracy. It is an awesome bow that is capable of taking out a Tyrannosaurs Rex.
For sights, enter HHA Sports out of Wisconsin with their Optimizer Speed Dial and Solo X Scope manufactured by Hawk Optics. This set up uses a single reticle with a dial that accurately adjusts the bow from 20 to eighty yards. Just range your target, turn the dial to the exact yard-line, place the crosshairs on your target and squeeze the trigger. Now when I was shooting at 60 yards, my pattern opened up as I was not using a bench rest so this caution is given when making longer shots: If you can’t lock your bow down on a solid bench rest to prevent wobble and weave, shots over 40 yards are not recommended. With the Scorpyd 165 the arrow still has more than enough KE to do the job at 80 yards and the HHA Speed Dial will accurately guide your arrow, but if you can’t hold your bow perfectly still, then you risk a wounding shot and it should not be taken (in my humble opinion).
The arrows I used were Beman Lightingbolts that were fletched with FlexFletch’s Silent Knight Vanes made especially for crossbow. They come in 2” or 3” models (I used the 3” vanes) and are a heavier spine, which is a much better match with the high test crossbows that are coming onto the market. Arrows were tipped with SlickTrick’s Xbow Trick broadhead. This titan is a 175 grain, 4-blade head that carves a 1 1/8’ hole. The heavier weight stabilizes arrow flight and delivers a shocking and deadly blow to your prey.
On the range the above equipment came together like mosquitoes on a fat hog in the middle of a summer swamp. The scope was quickly dialed in and twenty yard shots were dead-on bullseyes, however the greater the distance the wider the grouping became and I mentioned previously. I quickly determined that long shots would not be ethical without a solid or fixed rest. The SoloX scope has a lighted crosshair with five different brightness setting in two different colors; but in the bright sunlight, the unlighted black X is preferable, at least to me.
One other piece of new equipment that went into the field with me for the first time was the BOGgear Q-Stik. The Q-Stik is a heavy-duty, telescoping monopod that comes with a set of attachments that makes it an invaluable addition for serious outdoors peopel, regardless of what draws them outside. The four interchangeable heads include a universal shooting rest good for any weapon, a compass top for the hiker, a binocular rest for the scout or bird watcher and my personal favorite a camera adapter which turns the Q-Stik into stable photography tool. Its swivel mount allows the photographer to quickly adjust the camera to shoot from either portrait or landscape position with no extra effort.
All of the equipment performed flawlessly on the hunt. When the decision was made to take the antelope after the last photo was taken of it and it had been gauged with the range finder at 28 yards; the scope was dialed to the 28 yard hash mark, a bead was drawn on the spot I believed its heart to be and the trigger was depressed. The arrow, flying at 400+ feet/second, tipped with 175 grains of razor sharp steel and completely invisible in flight, entered the animal breaking its front leg, passing through the center of the heart and then slammed into the sun-baked hillside ten yards past its target. The animal slowly hobbled twenty-five yards away from the waterhole and then collapsed, dead before it impacted with the earth.
If there weren’t so much other crossbow related equipment to test out there, this bowhunter would be really tempted to settle down and get married to one fine package of winning archery equipment. But in a true dedication to duty, I must continue to be a crossbow tramp because deep down in my heart, I love `em all.
Thank you to Scorpyd, HHA Sports, SlickTrick, FletchFlex, Beman and BOGgear for sharing their outstanding products with me and assisting in the harvest of my very first Pronghorn Antelope.