Roy with wife Shelby and Roys 2006 Alaskan Brown Bear
Well my hunting season is over. Now is the time to reflect back on this year's hunts and evaluate new products I've tried and decide whether I would use them again. So here's a list of some of the new things that I used this year and liked.
This company has brought out a unique system for minimizing scent as you move about your hunting area. The first product is the one I really like a lot. It is a large stocking, for lack of a better term, which fits over your boots and pants much like hip waders. The plastic impregnated material is extremely tough and can withstand the abuse of briars and brush. A plastic sole fits over the stocking and gives you good traction as you walk to and from your stand. It has several straps which allow you to adjust the stocking to your leg size and a belt strap to keep it from slipping down as you walk.
They also offer a gauntlet style glove which is scent free and gives you the ability to move brush out of the way as you walk and then climb into your stand without leaving any scent.
If you're tired of bucks smelling the trail you walked on and spooking, this is one product you should consider. It's an innovative product and it works.
I can't say enough good things about the Patriot bow. BowTech keeps making their bows better and better. The Patriot impressed me so much; it became my number one "go to" bow. The draw is smooth and the wall is solid. Tuning is a breeze and the adjustments this bow allows gives you the ability to set it up to suit your personal preferences. Check out BowTech's new lineup for 2007, I'm sure it will contain more innovations and great bows.
The Mammoth 9" leather, nylon boot was my boot of choice this year. The 1200 gr. of Thinsulate lined boots with a pair of lightweight and a pair of wool socks kept my feet warm in the coldest of conditions. I ordered them a size larger than I normally wear so my toes could move when I was sitting for long periods of time. The boots were comfortable and never leaked once. They are a little pricey but they'll last for years and if your feet aren't happy, it can ruin a hunting trip.
The Venom peep sight really gathers light well when you need it. Bill Connelly the guy who developed this peep did his homework and came out with a good product. He told me he will be bringing out a new version with a smaller aperture for next year. The Rotaflex gives you the ability to exercise those muscles you use when shooting a bow without dragging you bow throughout the house. You can use it while watching TV. It works.
Mounting a trail camera can be a time consuming, frustration job. I'm always trying to find a good tree so my camera is level and secure. A Minnesota company solved my problems. Trail-Pod offers two main products to mount your camera. The Tree Mount comes with a screw in step on which a ball head is mounted. Your camera is then attached to the ball head using a mounting plate which comes with the mount. The ball head is similar to those you've seen on expensive tripods and can be moved to provide you with the angle to level your camera.
If you live where trees are small or scarce their Tri-Pod model will solve that problem. The camera again mounts on a ball head and mounting plate which fits on top of the tripod. The durable tripod is made with legs which allow you to anchor them in the ground with stakes so it doesn't tip over in the wind. It comes is a couple of finishes including camo. I really liked this model since it allows you some much flexibility in placing your camera nearly any place you want.
Both of these mounts can be secured with a locking system which they sell as an accessory. As for quality and durability, I would give both of these mounts a "big thumbs up."
The first time I saw the Renzo decoys I thought, "Yeah right, a paper decoy. That will really work well." The idea of using a decoy that was not truly three dimensional didn't sit well with me. But let me tell you they do work.
This fall I used the deer decoys in Nebraska. Sometimes I used the buck and doe decoys together and sometimes only the doe. Using a decoy is a little touchy. It seems if the conditions are right they're great, but sometimes they spook deer. Pre-rut is a good time to use them. I attach a clean white piece of cloth in the hole near the tail and put buck or doe scent on it. I also spread a little on the body in case I've gotten some of my scent on the decoy.
One evening I had an 8 point buck come in to the buck/doe combination. He stomped and stared at the two of them for over 15 minutes circling trying to decide what to do. In the process he offered me many shot opportunities, but I let him pass. Another day I had a buck venture in to the doe decoy. He stared and advanced to her staring intently and finally bent over to smell her tail. Sensing that she wasn't in the mood for his advances he left. This was another buck I passed shooting but I did capture it on video.
The decoys are waterproof, light weight and set up quickly. Two decoys weight less than a pound. Renzo now offers several species of decoys and they are quite affordable. I'm anxious to try the antelope decoy this year.
I've used Carbon Express arrows for two years. Previously I used the aluminum carbon arrows because I hadn't found a carbon arrow which was consistently straight and durable. That is not the case now that I have found Carbon Express.
The Maxima Hunter model is my arrow of choice and it has served me well. This past year I tagged several animals including brown bear and moose using them. They fly straight and tune easily. And they are durable. The brown bear fell on my arrow and didn't break it.
The finish on the Maxima Hunter is very durable and didn't show signs of wear after shooting them all summer into my American Whitetail target. By the way,
Montana Black Gold has come out with one of the most unique sights I have ever used and I've used a lot of them. The Flashpoint sight is photo-chromatic. The sight pins are made of fiber optic material and are coiled inside a plastic case on top of the sight frame. This has two advantages. The coils collect light much better than the inch long fiber optics found in some sights. The photo-chromatic plastic cover over the coils gets lighter or darker depending on the amount of sunlight its exposed to. It works much like the photo sensitive glasses many of us wear. In dim light the cover is light colored. As the sun intensity increases the cover gets darker. The benefit is that on a sunny day, your sight pins don't blind you and in low light they stay bright.
The aluminum frame of the sight is durable and stood up to a hunting season long abuse test period. Expect to see other companies copy this idea; it's a pretty impressive sight.
You may have watched their TV show and have seen the Scent Web deer lure. I was fortunate to field test it this past fall. I had the vanilla acorn and the doe in estrus scents. The thing that's different about this lure is that it comes in a spray can and shoots a string of scent out several feet from where you're standing. It looks very much like the silly string that kids use. The scent stays in the area while you're hunting and gradually disintegrates.
I used the doe in estrus scent quite a bit and was pleased with it. The scent is very genuine and I liked the ability to spread the scent over tree limbs and brush. It's affordable and you should give it a try next season.
I like to hunt out of ground blinds. One of the disadvantages of blind hunting is finding a seat that is lightweight to carry and doesn't make noise when you maneuver for a shot. The cheap folding seats just don't cut it. I saw the Woodsey Too ground blind seat at a show and knew I had to have one.
The seat frame is made of aluminum and is box shaped at the bottom. This makes it lightweight and not susceptible to tipping over. The boat style seat is solid plastic, durable and swivels.
What do I think of it? Let's put it this way, I won't leave home without it. After you try one I don't think you will either.
One especially unusual item I added to my backpack this year was the Deer Hunter's Edge. This thing does it all except shoot your deer for you. It shows sun/moose position, sun/moon rise and set, barometric pressure, time, date, compass, date, altitude, and even estimates the best time to hunt. It's about the size of your cell phone and is lightweight. An attachment will also measure wind velocity. So if you follow the moon phases and barometric pressures this is a great tool. I initially thought of it as a novelty but quickly realized it can be an effective instrument that deserves your consideration.
I also used one of the Toxonics hunting sights. The strong aluminum frame gave me confidence that it would stand up to hunting conditions well and it did. The fiber optic sight pins are coiled on the side of the sight and protected by a plastic casing. This sight is very light weight and hunter friendly. They now offer a sight with micro adjustment features which I would recommend. All things considered a sight well worth the money.
Hunter Safety Systems (http://www.deerhuntinggear.net) A couple of years ago HSS came up with a unique product to keep hunters from falling out of trees. They eliminated the tangle mess that safety harnesses always presented by incorporating the harness into a vest. It goes on like any vest you normally wear, you click a couple of buckle around your chest and two on your legs and you're ready for any mishap that might occur climbing into your tree or while your in it waiting for the big buck.
It is available in several models and colors including camo and blaze orange; solid cloth or mesh. I like the mesh the best. They also have accessories including a climbing rope to offer you protection as you climb or descend a tree. Since they have introduced the vest there have been several imitations but theirs is still the premier version others copy. The system gives you a great deal of comfort knowing that if some bad thing happens you won't be crashing to the ground breaking or bruising your body in the process.
Summary It's really unfair to call these products gadgets and gizmos, they are all well thought out novel products which I think you should consider when you go over your list of "must have" equipment. I know I'll include them in my hunting equipment next fall.