UPDATED ON: May 1st, 2015
Allow me to start this blog off with a couple of quick disclaimers. First, the enclosed products are on my personal “hot list” of items I’d like to try out for the upcoming season. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see every single product on display at the ATA show so if there’s something you feel I’m missing then please, let me know.
Second, I’m not going to get into a bow debate here. When it comes to bows it seems like us big macho hunters get our undies all in a bunch if anyone says anything about our favorite brand and before you know it we’re fighting like a couple of middle school kids arguing about the hottest member of One Direction. So I’ll be sticking to the “accessories” in this one.
Finally, some of the products that I will mention are made by companies who Sponsor this website so yes, there is a bit of a bias. However I will say that I wouldn’t put them on my list if I didn’t have a genuine interest in using them, Sponsor or not. Take that for what it’s worth.
So with that out of the way, let’s get to the products shall we?
Hunter Safety System Ultra-Lite Grid Harness
A new light weight and more flexible material makes the Hunter Safety System Ultra-Lite Grid harness tops on my “must try” list for 2014.
Over the past 6 or 7 years I’ve worn and hunted in just about every safety harness on the market and the Hunter Safety System Ultra-Lite has been my favorite so far. However in spite of the fact that the harness is light, easy to use and comfortable I always felt that the foam padding on the shoulder straps was a bit stiff. When seated it had a tendency to “pucker” up a bit which kind of annoyed me. Well it’s almost as if the folks at HSS read my mind (perhaps they got this info from the NSA?) when they designed the new “Grid” series harness. The fabric on this new safety harness is lighter and more flexible than ever which means it will contour to my shapely figure (which way to the gym again?) and be more comfortable while keeping me safe. At around $100 retail you can’t go wrong.
Stealth Cam G Series Cameras
An inside look at the new G Series trail cameras from Stealth Cam show a completely new user interface with quickset options which are great when you’re in a hurry.
Okay I know that some of you have some pretty strong opinions about Stealth Cam and some of their cameras from the past. While I’ve had pretty good luck with last year’s run of ZX7 series cameras they weren’t without their faults. However going into 2014 Stealth Cam has completely revamped their camera line from the ground up. This means nothing in the new G Series camera is a carryover from the ZX7 cameras. From the electronics inside the camera to the new case design and even the new logo this is an all new Stealth Cam. And while we haven’t been able to put these cameras through all of their paces quite yet the first model we got for testing has been performing flawlessly. The new cameras have great trigger speed, great photo quality, take awesome HD video with audio and are a breeze to set up. If things go as well as I think they will I plan on having a full stable of G42NG cameras running by summer time.
The new G Series cameras should be available sometime late this spring with a retail price around $180 for the 42 LED camera and $150 for the 30 LED camera.
Muddy Outdoors Pro Camera Arm
You mean to tell me there’s a silent strap system for the new Muddy Outdoors Pro camera arm? Sign me up!
I’ve been using my original Muddy Outfitter camera arm since I first got it 5 or 6 years ago. I know that camera arm like the back of my hand and I feel like I could set it up in the dark with my eyes closed. We’ve been through a lot together over the years and she’s been good to me. However, like all camera arms, the one thing that’s always annoyed me is the “click click click” of the ratchet strap used to secure the camera to the tree. It always seems like the quieter it is in the pre-dawn darkness the louder the ratchet clicks are. If you’ve ever filmed hunts you know what I’m talking about! Well the new Pro camera arm from Muddy Outdoors solves that problem with their silent ratchet strap. I don’t know how they did it, but I can’t wait to try it! It may not actually solve my problem of not being able to shoot bucks on film, but in my mind it’s certainly going to help. As an added bonus the new Pro camera arm is also 2 inches longer than the Outfitter arm of old for a little extra reach around the tree.
Slip it on, dab some glue and go shoot. WIth the NAP Speedfletch it doesn’t get any easier than that.
What could be easier than boiling a pot of water and dipping your arrows in it you ask? Well I’ll tell you! The new Speedfletch from NAP is essentially a rubber tube with NAP’s Quikspin vanes molded right into it. You simply slip the Speedfletch over your arrow shaft (yes, they’re available in multiple sizes for different arrows) apply a dab of quick set glue on either end and you’re done. I feel like the laziest hunter alive when I tell you how excited this makes me. Although in truth it’s mainly because I no longer have to worry about my wife yelling at me for using her flower vases to hold boiling water when applying my Quikfletch.
Now when we first posted photos of the Speedfletch we had a few folks out there talking about how heavy they looked and how much extra drag they would create. First off, they only weigh about 35 grains apiece. Compared to the 32 grains of the standard Quikfletch the difference in negligible. Secondly, sure, they may have a little extra drag if you look at the “lip” on the front of the Speedfletch. But let’s not kid ourselves here – we are bowhunters not Olympic archers. I’m shooting deer typically under 30 yards so “drag” isn’t much of a concern.
Crooked Horn Crossback Neck Saver
The perfect spot to store my DSLR while filming hunts? Only time will tell.
Another cool product for those of us who film, the Crossback Neck Saver is a great little contraption to hold my DSLR while I’m in the stand. Rather than wrapping it around my neck so it gets tangled in my binos, or taking it on and off a gear hook every time I want to use it, the Crossback will allow me to keep it close to my side for those cool b-roll shots we try to get while in the field. After all, if I can’t kill deer at least I can look cool trying. My only concern is the size of the pouch and if my camera will fit or not. I suppose I’ll just have to get one and try it out.
Danner Pronghorn Boots
Redesigned for 2014 the Danner Pronghorn is lighter and faster than ever thanks to the light weight TERRA FORCE platform it is built upon.
I’ll admit it, I’m not a huge rubber boot fan. I know, I know! In the bowhunting world it’s almost an unforgivable sin to enter the woods without your knee-high rubbers. They’ve been a staple of bowhunting since my first pair of uninsulated black rubber boots my dad made me wear when I was 13. My feet still get cold just thinking about them.
In any case I have two problems when it comes to rubber hunting boots. First, my feet sweat a lot. Second, my feet get cold easily. Combine those two problems and you’ve got a recipe for some miserable hunts. And while my Aerohead boots are without question the warmest and most comfortable rubber boots I’ve ever owned I still prefer a good pair of 400-800 gram insulated hunting boots when the temps start to drop. Queue the new Danner Pronghorn! They’ve been completely redesigned for this year which means I can break them in during summer scouting and trail cam checking and be ready to go come October.
Made from the highest quality Merino wool available, Swiftwick socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters on long hikes.
For my last product I give you Swiftwick socks. Now I know this isn’t exactly a flashy or cool hunting product but let’s face it, our hunts will be a lot more enjoyable if our feet are dry, warm and comfortable. By a sheer stroke of luck I happened to meet Mark, the CEO of Swiftwick, while eating lunch at the ATA show. Within a manner of a few minutes Mark gave Clinton Fawcett and myself the complete story on what exactly makes a good sock, why compression socks are beneficial for hunters, and why his socks are the best socks ever made. After nearly 2 days of 12+ hours on our feet at this show we were about ready to try anything to make our feet feel better so we tried on a couple pairs and, as they say, the rest is history. I just ordered ½ dozen more pairs of these socks to wear at the upcoming Great American Outdoors Show in Harrisburg, PA.
But don’t take my word for it, listen to Mark himself!
Oh and by the way, all Swiftwick socks are made right here in the USA. That’s a hard quality to find in ANY clothing so hats off to Mark for keeping Americans working.
Well that about wraps up my hit list of new gear I’m excited to try for this year. I did see a lot of other cool new products including the new Shack Attack blind from Primos, the Blind Webb netting system for brushing in blinds, and a couple neat turkey calls from Flextone so if the mood strikes and I happen to pick them up to play with I’ll certainly let you know how it turns out.
As always I welcome feedback so please post your comments below!