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Updated: 6 years 29 weeks ago

Bison By Bow The Moment of Truth

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 16:52

On the morning of Thursday February 16th I had no problem getting out of bed, now falling asleep the night before was a different story. I lay in bed running my mental check list over and over again in my head, afraid that I was going to forget something. The next day I was prepared for a once and a life time hunt at the Scenic View Ranch in North East Iowa on a buffalo hunt with a bow.

As Thursday afternoon dragged on I tripled checked my equipment, shot my bow, packed and repacked our hunting rig while waiting for our camera man Bryce, (also referred to as Loo Loo) to arrive before we would depart to Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin where our hotel was located for the night’s stay.
 
Prior Bryce’s arrival I must have worn marks in the floor form the constant pacing as my nerves for the upcoming hunt was getting the best of me.

It didn’t take long and Bryce arrived. As we traveled we talked about the possibilities and the tactics to employ for the next day’s hunt. Neither Bryce nor I have ever hunted on a ranch a day in our life, so we had no idea what to expect. I was towing a trailer with an empty freezer to hall the rewards of a successful hunt back from Iowa. We also had several rubber bins packed with all the equipment and supplies to process a 1,000 pound animal ourselves.

The next morning came early, and both Bryce and I didn’t even wait for the alarm clock to go off. We sprung out of bed like kids on Christmas morning. We scrambled about the hotel room resembling ants in a freshly kicked anthill. We quickly prepared our gear and donned on our camo as we headed out the door.

As we crossed over the mighty Mississippi River and entered Iowa it hit me. This hunt was really happening. We were going to be chasing bison by bow. We would be partaking in a hunt that has taken place thousands of years ago. We would be hunting the great thunder beast that once roamed North America by the millions.

We arrived at the beautiful Scenic View Ranch just outside the small town of Monona Iowa, around 8:00 am. When we arrived we met with Co-owner of the ranch, Rex. He gave us a quick tour of the ranch.

A view from the top deck of the cabin at the ranch

Scenic View Ranch is working on expanding the hunting experience for their hunters. Rex showed us their skinning and meat processing shed that they are currently building for hunters such as ourselves that wanted to process their own meat while on the property. They have a large electric winch to hang your animal up and to assist with skinning; they also have the shed equipped with a walk in cooler and a walk in freezer.

Next he showed us their guest cabin that they are also currently building for guests to stay at to enjoy trout fishing in the summer, or hunting in the fall and winter months. I must say that to me this is much more than a cabin, once complete this would be my dream home. With two large decks that sat on the Yellow River, along with several bedrooms and loft, it is sure to be a hunters dream to spend the night in preparing for the next day’s hunt.

Once complete the cabin will have a rustic feel for the hunters to enjoy

After a quick tour and some final shots with the bow, we were cut loose to match wits with the large baffalo that roam the Mississippi River bluffs.

As we entered the property we felt like we were entering Jurassic Park. As we topped one of the many bluffs on the property it was common to see large white rams, bull elk, and whitetail deer. However for all the animals we were seeing the one we were after seemed to be nonexistent. As we glassed the large bluffs, open fields and down into the deep cuts, we realized that the buffalo could be any ware.

After searching for several hours, luck was finely on our side. As I looked up the hillside approximately 150 yards away I observed a large bull bison bedded, looking directly at us.

A herd of white rams added to the feel that we were hunting in "Jurassic Park"

With Bryce filming every move, I quickly turned to him and asked, “Well, what do you think?” We quickly devised a plan to make a large circle and to approach the buffalo from the back side, for two reasons. The first, being that we were currently staring directly in to the sun. If we circled, we could put the sun at our backs to help disguise our approach. Second with the crusty snow on the ground, we wanted to approach from an area of the ridge that had minimal amount of snow on the ground.

As we circled this bison, only one thing ran through my mind, how big this animal really was! The size of this buffalo just got bigger and bigger with every step we made towards him.

As we got within 70 yards of the buffalo, he spotted us and the gig was up. The massive beast rose to his feet, now alert. Unsure just how spooky buffalo are, or how close the shaggy beast would let us get before he would run or possibly charge, we decided to stay still for a while to allow the buffalo to calm back down before we would begin continuing our stalk.

Bryce (Loo Loo) filming every move of the hunt to share with the viewers

After he calmed back down, we again began our approach. As we got closer, Bryce made several references towards being able to film from a distance while I continue the stalk, along with the fact he was not sure just how quick a 1,000 pound animal can turn and charge. I quickly realized that my camera man did not trust my shooting abilities!  Knowing that if this beast charged, I needed my camera man with in a push-able or trip-able distance to buy time for my escape, I reassured Bryce that everything was going to be fine and to continue our approach.
 
As we cautiously approached the bison, we closed the distance down to thirty yards. I took a minute to regain my composure before drawing back on the slightly quartering away buffalo. As I began to draw my bow is the when the moment that I least expected occurred to me. At that moment I looked into the bison’s eyes. Those big deep eyes locked me in a trance for what was a split second, but felt like minutes. As I looked into his eyes I could see history flashing by. I imagined what the great Native tribes on the prairies thought as they also gazed into those same eyes. They too must have seen an animal that was created for man’s survival. A beast that was designed for sheer power, that once it was killed it would provide hundreds of pounds of food, shelter, and tools.

 I also saw the sadness. The sadness of a great free roaming species that once roamed North America in the millions, that was decimated merely for their fur and tong. I saw the ancestors of this great animal, as they lay in the prairies to rot.

 I also felt the pride that this animal will feed my family with clean pure meat, like its ancestors did for the early settlers and the Native Americans before.
 
After realizing just how amazing this large animal truly was, I needed to provide the purest meat designed by the good Lord himself for my family. I came to full draw, took a deep breath, and picked a spot for the arrow to drive home. As the arrow released from the string, the world seemed to be placed into slow motion. I remember seeing the rotation of the fletching as it glided through the air. I could hear a loud “thwack “as the arrow pierced through the thick furry coat. The arrow drove home perfectly behind the shoulder, assuring a quick and clean kill.

The blood trail made by the NAP two blade Blood Runner 

 
At the speed of sound everything was back playing before me at normal speed. The large buffalo with a kick, took off running down the hill towards a thick brushy bottom. As he ran down the ridge we could see the blood as it streamed from his side. He immediately turned and ran his way back up the ridge towards our direction. This is when Bryce decided he no longer wanted to be in-between me and the running bison. At this time is when the video footage becomes a bit shaky as he and I shuffled for cover.
 
As we were pushing for cover, is when the buffalo succumbed to his fatal wound. In less than fifty yards of the initial shot the 1,000 pound animal instantly fell to the ground quickly expiring.

The Carbon Express Maxima performed flawlessly with a well-placed shot

 
As any hunter knows, this is when the sudden dump of adrenalin pierces through our vanes. I couldn’t stop shaking as my legs became week. The moment of truth was presented and executed perfectly, for I had just provided hundreds of pounds of food for my family and friends.

The animal rights activists and non-hunting community will never understand this moment of truth. Yes we as hunters kill; we talk about blood and quick kills, but we are not barbarians. We study the animals that we hunt. We respect the animal and understand wildlife management, that some must die to provide life for others. We are predators just like the bear or the wolf. As hunters we refused to depend on rich business men and the stock market to feed our family. We refuse to feed our family with imported animals that are pumped full of growth hormones from other countries to produce more meat.  We are conservationists, predators, and providers.

We are predators just like the bear or the wolf

As I walked up to the fallen beast, I knelt down beside him. I said a prayer of thanks, for this big bull made the ultimate sacrifice. He sacrificed his life to feed my family. As Bryce and I admired the fallen bison, we talked about how life must have been when they once roamed in the millions, what the first settlers must have thought when they first laid eyes on a prairie that was black with herds of bison a mile or more long. As we sat there next to just one buffalo, what was life like when so many once roamed our continent?

This was truly the hunt of a life time that I will never forget

The sad reality is we will never know, we can only assume and imagine. One great aspect of history is that like a good book it is up to the reader to paint his or her own picture of what life was once like, the possibilities are in the eyes of the beholder.

As this great beast has fallen, it will provide life. To be a part of this great experience words cannot describe, for that moment in the Iowa bluffs, I was a part of history. It was the memories and the insight of what life was like when times were much simpler and the understanding of life was much clearer. This I am forever grateful for and these are the memories that can never be taken away. For this day I experienced the moment of truth.

Whitetail Deer Herd Health And Using the Winter Severity Index

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 08:42

Winter can be hard on wildlife—deer especially. During the winter months, wildlife agencies and departments in many states monitor the health of their respective deer herds using a system called the Winter-Severity Index (WSI).   This index is a simple calculation based on two key components of winter survival for whitetail deer: temperature and snow depth.  The index is a cumulative sum of the number of days with 18” of snow + numbers of days with temperatures below zero.  These scores are added together between December 1 and April 30.  Any total of 100+ is considered very severe, 81 – 100 is severe, 51 – 80 is moderate and anything lower than 50 is considered mild.  In Wisconsin, for example, the long term average for this index is 55.


The above chart shows this history of the Wisconsin WSI (1960 - 2010)

I spoke with Michael Zeckmeister of the Wisconsin DNR last week and at this point in the year, nearly all stations are in the single digits or teens; meaning this is shaping up to what could be a very mild winter.  This same time last year could have “gone either way” according to Zeckmesiter, with 60% of the stations reporting 16” of snow or more.   But last winter ended up staying around moderate for most stations (Wisconsin State Average = 47 for 2010/2011).  And this year we will probably end up mild or close to moderate unless, of course, we see some drastic changes in the weather.  Typically, the “tipping point” for winter is the 3rd week of February and as of today – we are starting March in a good place.


The above map shows WSI recording stations in Northern Wisconsin.


The above maps shows WSI recording stations in Northern Minnesota with measurements for 2011

Like any index, the WSI is not a perfect indicator of health of the herd; other factors do come into play.  These are a few additional factors that many wildlife managers consider:
•    Annual Summer Rainfall – Good rainfall in the summer and into the fall provides growth of summer vegetation that can help deer build fat reserves for the winter.
•    Arrival of Winter – The earlier arrival of winter (snow and cold in November or earlier) can have a significant cumulative effect on whitetail deer.  The longer winter waits to arrive, the better.
•    Type of Snow – Some snow storms may produce 10” – 15” of very light fluffy snow, through which it is generally easier for deer to travel.  Heavy dense snow or crusted layers of snow can make it difficult for whitetail deer to access food as well as escape predators.
•    Timing Spring Green-Up – This factor is probably as important as any; the sooner spring green-up arrives, the better the chances for herds to rebound after a long winter. 

The WSI is a great tool for wildlife managers to measure the current and/or future health of the whitetail deer herd.  However, it isn’t 100% accurate and they will make adjustments and use their discretion when determining how the deer herd is faring overall.  I always keep an eye out for these full reports in my home states of Minnesota and Wisconsin (typically they are ready at the end of April);  some DNR websites even offer current views of the Index as the winter progresses.


Current WSI (February 22, 2012) for Minnesota

Lets hope this mild season continues for not only whitetail deer but also for turkeys, pheasants, grouse, and all wildlife... Oh and this mild WSI Index also means that I don't have to shovel my driveway as much, which is an added bonus.

See you in the woods,
Neal McCullough

Mathews Heli M Bow Review

Sun, 02/26/2012 - 17:01

For someone living and chasing big-game in the rugged, mountainous backdrop of southern West Virginia, I can honestly say that “excess baggage” is a major liability when it comes to being a successful bowhunter. In order to enjoy any type of consistent success, I am constantly refining not only my hunting techniques, but my physical condition as well. You see, the mountains don’t care if I show up out of shape. They will show me little mercy. Therefore, it is imperative that I strive to stay as lean and agile as possible----if I want to enjoy myself in the timber and fill more tags in the process. These same principles also apply to my equipment. 

In my opinion, it seems counterproductive to focus my efforts on weight training and sheading excess body fat in the off-season, only to turn around and load myself down with heavy hunting gear once opening day arrives. This includes clothing that isn’t hefty and/or bulky, and a treestand system that doesn’t break my back. It also consists of the very weapon I hold in my hand when the moment of truth arrives. Recently, I had the pleasure of realizing that the latest offering from Mathews Inc. is the perfect weapon for that moment.

 

The new Mathews Helim is the culmination of 20 years of Mathews innovation including new technologies and features poised to make you a better bowhunter.

The New 2012 Mathews Helim is the ideal bow for those who choose not to be weighed down by their equipment….literally. It is the answer for bowhunters who push themselves to the limit and expect their bow to be a positive factor in the journey “getting there”; rather than a burden that diminishes their chances of success by slowing them down. As the name implies, this year’s flagship model out of Sparta WI, has to be held to be believed. But hold on! Before you start thinking that an overall reduction in weight is the only highlight of this bow, think again. The new Helim is packed with 20 years’ worth of Mathews innovation; just waiting to make you a better bowhunter and archer.

Light Done Right
Anyone who has followed my writing, either on this site or in magazine print, knows that I am an advocate for a heavy bow. To me, a heavy bow rig is harder to torque and stays on target much easier than a light-weight setup. Therefore, I’ve always made the necessary sacrifices in order to reap the benefits of a heavy bow. However, the new HeliM doesn’t force me to make sacrifices.

 

The accuracy of the Helim is superb, despite the fact that it is so lightweight. Traditionally, a heavier bow is harder to torque, thus making it more accurate. This bow goes against that logic proving it is as accurate as it is light.

Surprisingly, while it goes against my every thought regarding light-weight bows, the Helim still performs much like a heavier setup. In my opinion, that is true innovation; regardless of the name on the bow. Most noteworthy, is how stable this bow feels while at full draw. This inherent stability is indeed a major contributor to the tight arrow groups I consistently experienced while shooting the bow.

Reduction Measures
The moment I pulled the Helim out of the box I was in shock at how light this bow really is. This reduction in weight is due to several factors. However, while each factor may lend a hand in reducing the overall heft of the bow, they do not do it at the cost of functionality. In fact, the same Mathews excellence that has defined their bows for more than two decades can be found in this latest offering.

The new GeoGrid Riser
In 2010, the Z7 introduced us all to the Grid-Lock riser. That same concept takes a leap forward with the arrival of the new Helim. Although this new bow carries a similar Grid-Lock pattern throughout the riser, a closer look will reveal a more rhythmical flow; aptly called GeoGrid. The grids on the Helim riser actually turn in the same direction as the handle of the bow and also the curvature of the riser. This new change not only affects the overall appearance of the bow, it also makes it lighter, while still maintaining structural integrity.  Also, the traditional mounting hardware that allows attachment of the Mathews Spider Web quiver to the bow has been replaced with a lighter composite material; which reduces weight even further.

 

While the rhythmic flow of the new Geo-Grid riser decreases overall bow weight, it also allows the riser, and essentially the bow, to almost disappear when placed in a wilderness backdrop.

Lighter Vibration Innovation
Ever since the Harmonic Dampers were invented, Mathews’ shooters have reaped the benefits of placing a weight inside an elastomer wheel in order reduce recoil vibration within the riser. The result is a bow that is smoother and more pleasurable to shoot. This same technology eventually spawned the Harmonic Stabilizer. Working on the same concept, the weight inside the elastomer wheel is purposely tuned to be out of phase with the vibrations emitted from longer riser, parallel limb bows, such as the 2011 Z-Series line of bows, and can dampen more than 75% of residual vibration. The new Harmonic Stabilizer Lite, found on the 2012 Helim, offers the same performance as the original, yet is nearly 70% lighter!

 

Despite a major reduction in weight, this proven sound and vibration eliminating technology performs just like its heavier predecessor.

Dead and Smooth
Most of us already understand the advantages of incorporating a string stop to squelch noise and vibration when the bowstring jumps forward. For 2012, Mathews took it’s highly effective Dead End String Stop and changed the shape in order to shave the weight. This latest version is noticeably less “blocky” than the original, which results in weight reduction, while still doing the job it was designed to do. Another noticeable difference is the location of the Dead End String Stop Lite. Unlike previous versions, this string stop sits closer to the single cam, rather that slightly below the bow grip. This change allows the bottom String Suppressor to essentially be eliminated; thus, further reducing overall mass.

When it comes to how smoothly a bow draws, one of the main contributing factors has always been cam design. However, Mathews added another factor to smoothness when they introduced the Roller Guard. The roller guard, another Mathews first, dramatically reduces system friction by guiding bow cables with low friction wheels. This technology was drastically improved with the unveiling of the Reverse Assist Roller Guard found on the Z series of Mathews bows. The roller guard on the Helim sports the same benefits as its predecessors (super smooth draw); only it does it on a slimmed down, highly refined support arm. And while this support arm may not carry the same curvature and appearance as previous offerings, the simplified aesthetics perfectly match the simplicity found throughout the string stop as well as the rest of the bow. 

 

 

 Although the Reverse Assist Roller Guard and Dead End String Stop may look different, they still do what there were meant to do….only better.

High Grade Handle
One of the most distinguishing trademarks of a Mathews bow, other than the single cam and the Harmonic Dampers, is the wood grip. And over the years, shooters have watched this handle go through its fair share of refinements. Most notable is a change in the overall shape of the grip in order to provide the most stable, torque-free, shooting experience.

In addition to the signature wood handle, Mathews also offers the Focus Grip which is a synthetic rubber grip made to keep pressure concentrated to the center of the grip, thus reducing hand torque.

For 2012, the Helim grip is the thinner throughout the throat and narrower in the palm-swell area, but it comes in a highly attractive, Gunstock Grade wood. In my opinion, it is the most attractive grip of any Mathews bow to date; and it is a pleasure to shoot. Also available is the “Focus” grip which helps minimize hand torque in the event of poor hand placement by keeping pressure concentrated in the center of the grip, unlike typical flat top grips that move pressure to the outside edge which increases hand torque.

Manageable Horsepower
Historically speaking, speed has always come with a price. Yet, bowhunters seem reluctant to accept this hard truth…myself included. However, thanks to the many technologies listed here, Mathews continues to chip away at the tradeoffs between blazing-fast arrow speeds and an accurate, vibration-free, smooth-drawing bow. 

The power plant for the 2012 Helim comes from the all new Helim Cam. Culminating 20 years of Mathews innovation, this new cam is surprisingly smooth to draw, despite the fact that is propels arrows at an IBO speed of 332 feet per second! I say surprisingly, but in reality this type of performance has become synonymous with Mathews. When it comes to producing bows that are fast, yet easy to shoot, they are at the forefront. The Helim is a testament to that belief.

While the new Helim Cam may be a derivative of the Z series cams, it draws much differently than its ancestors. To begin with, this cam doesn’t hold its peak draw weight all the way through the cycle. Instead, Mathews designed the cam with a subtle slope in the draw. The result is a bow that pulls smoothly from the start and doesn’t feel as though it is “staking” throughout the draw-cycle. 

Manageable horsepower has always been a trademark of Mathews bows and the new Helim cam stays true to that claim. With ultra-smooth characteristics, and a seamless transition throughout the draw cycle, the Helim is speed “done right”.

Even more pleasing, is the seamless transition through the valley and into the backwall; which doesn’t have the sudden “drop-off” or “hump” that most speed bows poses. Having shot those types of cams, I can say that the “hump” in the draw is very distracting (at least to me) and usually requires more effort to pull back. This cam displays none of those shortcomings.

In addition to a super smooth draw cycle, the Helim Cam comes with a draw stop located on the outer edge of the cam. When the cam rotates, this rubber coated draw stop quietly contacts the lower limb which provides a solid backwall. While the Helim does have a short valley, this, along with the draw stop, will actually make you a better shooter because it conditions you to pull “through” the shot; rather than relaxing and letting the string creep forward just before release. This can happen when shooting bows that have a larger valley and allow you to creep forward and then pull back before releasing the arrow.

Final Thoughts
To be honest, I was skeptical with regards to just how accurately this bow was going to shoot. Like I said, I prefer a “heavier” bow and my initial thoughts were that while the Helim might be light as a feather, the downside would be increased noise and vibration along with a reduction in shooting accuracy; especially at longer distances. That simply just wasn’t the case. Arrow groups remained tight, even out to 50 yards and the Helim is as quiet and vibration-free as it is astonishingly light…..Simply amazing. 

 

Like every Mathews I've ever owned, the fit, finish, and overall craftmanship on the 2012 Mathews Helim is superb!

Featured Specs

IBO Rating: Up to 332 fps 
Axle-to-Axle: 30" 
Brace Height: 7" 
Draw Weight: 40-70 & 65 lbs 
Bow Weight: 3.5 lbs 
Let-off: 80% 
Draw Lengths: 26" - 30" Half Sizes: 26.5" - 29.5" 
String/Cable: String: 88"/Cable: 32 3/4" 
Riser Length: 26 1/8" 
Cams: Helim Cam™ & QCA
* All specifications are approximate.

Mathews Technology

Monkey Tails
Limb Turret
Parallel Limb Design
SE5 Composite Limb System
SphereLock Pivoting Limb Cup System
String Grub
String Supressor
Mathews Genuine Bowstring
Ball Bearing Idler Wheel

Choosing a Quality Archery Pro Shop - Part 1

Sun, 02/26/2012 - 14:48

Whether you're looking to purchase the latest bow on the market, or simply want to upgrade your current rig, the road to finding a quality pro-shop, one that knows how to set you up right, can throw more twists and turns at you than the track at Laguna Seca; but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, consider the following advice, and the next time you walk into an establishment looking for excellent service, you’ll be walking out with a smile.

Why Pro Shop?
There are several reasons why the beginning to mid-level archery enthusiast should choose a Pro-Shop. Perhaps one of the chief reasons would be a familiarity with bow “set-up” procedures; or better yet, a lack there of. Given the wide array of compound bows available today and the mind staggering number of equipment options being offered, choosing the products that will work best with you, your bow, and your style of hunting or shooting can be a daunting task; especially if you, like the majority of bowhunters, are not schooled in the “technical aspects” of archery. In which case, “properly” setting-up your new rig will be a difficult goal to accomplish.

To combat this harsh reality you will need to find someone who knows what works, what doesn’t----and why. You need to find someone with the experience and mechanical proficiency to do things the right way. To put it simple, you need to enlist the help and guidance of a quality pro-shop.

 

In archery, confidence can go a long way toward success. And nothing will give you more confidence than knowing your bow-rig is set up correctly. A quality pro-shop can make you an accurate, self-assured shooter by setting you up with the right gear.

A Good Start
One of the most critical issues faced while attempting to correctly set up your bow revolves around the arrow rest. Today’s rest of choice is almost unanimously the “drop-away” version.  While this style of arrow rest most often represents the most accurate choice, it only works when installed correctly. Simply adding one to your bow doesn’t exactly mean that you will automatically achieve “laser-beam” type arrow flight. Unless you know how to set one up and what to look for when determining whether or not it is functioning properly, you’re most likely not going to get the added performance you paid extra money for; perfect arrow flight after the shot with no contact between the rest and you’re arrow’s fletching.

 Most Pro-Shop experts will say the a critical starting point when setting up your bow involves choosing a quality arrow rest. Pictured here is the new NAP Apache Carbon drop-away mounted to a 2012 Mathews Helim.

Properly tuning a drop-away style arrow rest sometimes requires a lot of tinkering and technical “know-how” in order to get things just right. Some models simply do not match well with certain bow brands, some do not match well no matter what brand of bow you shoot, and some even require the shooter to orient the fletching a particular way. For example, some rests simply will not tolerate a cock-vane “up” orientation, conversely, others do. Some may call for a rotation with the cock-vane to the side in order to achieve good results, some may not. Unless you know which fall-away rest your bow prefers and how to correctly set it up, you could spend hours and hours trying to tune it. This is where a quality pro-shop can make all the difference. They’ve been there, done that. They know which rests work and what type of bow and arrow system they work well with. Obviously their knowledge can save you valuable time and money, but more importantly, they will insure the job is done right”.

Learn from the Best
Another significant reason for choosing a pro-shop is a shortening of the learning curve. Most aspects of archery are rarely cut and dry. Consequently, in order to avoid the many pitfalls facing a newcomer it pays to find someone who has been around the block a time or two. A quality pro-shop is the ideal place to find such an individual. In one afternoon, you can learn valuable insight with regards to shooting tips, equipment choices and bowhunting wisdom in general; things that otherwise may have taken you years of trial and error to figure out on your own. Talk about an advantage!  When you consider the valuable information available at top notch establishments and the immediate affects it can/will have on your success as an archer and bowhunter, it is clear why finding a quality pro-shop is so important. The “networking” potential in these venues is immense. 

 Anytime you can be around other bowhunters or archers is a great time to learn something new. No other venue offers as much opportunity for this than a quality pro-shop.

Added Benefits
In addition to insuring that your equipment functions as it should, along with the ability to speed up the learning process, pro-shops offer several added advantages over the DIY (do it yourself) route. For instance, good shops will often times offer their customers “free” shooting lessons and advice after purchasing a new bow-rig. Most often, at the really good shops, a certified IBO pro shooter will be on hand to assist with the lessons. Obviously, this type of professional attention is invaluable. Not only does it insure that proper shooting habits are instilled from the start, it also guarantees that the majority of bad habits that plague archers all over the country are immediately recognized and avoided.

Also, don’t overlook the fact that most quality shops will be happy to provide their loyal customers with “perks” so to speak.  These gestures of appreciation can come in many forms.  Most often minor adjustments are made to your rig at no charge. Sometimes hats and shirts are given away as well; providing advertisement for the shop owner and perhaps a means of showcasing favored equipment and/or facilities for (you) the shooter. 
Another nice benefit of the pro-shop is the option to go in and “test” drive new equipment before actually putting down your hard earned cash and then realizing you made the wrong choice. Without a doubt, pro-shops are a bee-hive of knowledge, experience and camaraderie just waiting to be discovered. 

Most good shops will have a place to “test drive” merchandise before actually buying it. This is an essential part of the process that ensures you leave with a smile on your face; the right set-up in the right hands will often cause such a reaction.

Making the Right Choice
When choosing a pro-shop one of the most important things to remember is that the devil is in the details. What I mean, is that there usually isn’t one or two defining characteristics that will reveal that you are in the wrong place. Rather, there will most likely be a number of little things that, while seeming trivial at first, could reveal clues too much larger issues.For example, be cautious of shops that try to push a certain piece of equipment into your hands.  Having said that, let’s make clear that in order to accurately judge the true intentions of the guy behind the counter you must first understand that there is a difference between pushing a product and eagerly suggesting one. If a certain piece of equipment really is better than the one you initially went in to purchase, the guy selling it to you should be able to explain exactly why it is better. If he can’t, then that might be the first clue that your best interest aren’t what he had in mind. 

Suggesting certain equipment options is fine as long as the reasoning behind such advice can be validated. If the transaction doesn’t ultimately benefit you the shooter, then it’s probably not a good investment. A reputable shop will do nothing without your best interest in mind.

In contrast, guys working at shops that are the “real deal” will often have their own personal bows on hand and can readily show you exactly what equipment they are using. More importantly, they can also tell you why they are using it. If that happens to be the case, pay close attention to what these individuals are telling you because odds are good that they have already sifted through the “low-grade” stuff and have found the best of what the market has to offer. Essentially, they can save you time, money and in the end make your set-up the best it can be.

Post-Sale Service
Another indication as to whether or not you have made a wise choice lies in what happens after the sale. Is that where the service ends? Are you no longer ministered to like customer #1? If things seem to drastically change after you’ve spent the last of your piggy bank funds, then you’ve probably made the wrong choice. Case in point, even though it has been a few years since my last bow purchase, if I were to walk into my pro-shop today, the owner (Frank) would treat me like I was the most important guy in the building. Frank Addington and his wife Kathy, own and operate Addington’s Bowhunter Shop in Winfield, WV, and have been providing customers top quality service for over 25 years. When it comes to knowing what the consumer wants and needs, they are masters. 

 The benefits of any good pro-shop shouldn't stop once a purchase has been made. In fact, service typically gets better and better if you’ve selected the right shop for your needs.

In addition, if I was having a problem with my bow-rig he wouldn’t hesitate to fix it for me. Now you might be thinking that I receive special treatment for being a “writer” or something along those lines ….wrong! Frank treats everyone the same---like a close personal friend.

To Be Continued

Of course, there are other important aspects that go into selecting a quality pro-shop. In Part 2, I will delve a little deeper into the process and offer some final tips that will get you pointed in the right direction.

Late Winter Is The Best Time To Scout Your Deer Woods

Wed, 02/22/2012 - 17:49

Just as the title says, “Late Winter Is The Best Time to Scout Your Woods”. There are many advantages to scouting this time of year. From sign being more visible to not spooking the deer you are hunting to just getting out and curing a bout of cabin fever, get out and scout.

Scouting this time of year is low impact on my hunting grounds. I’m not hunting them any more so I don’t mind if I spook a few deer.  They will be long over the intrusion by the time hunting season rolls around this fall. Plus it gets me out of the house and into the woods again. I just need to be in the woods every now and again.

My main reason for wanting to hit the woods scouting in late winter is the sign is very easy to spot this time of year. The leaves are all gone and the woods are wide open, enabling me to see a long ways through the woods. If there is no snow on the ground as is the case this year on my farm the well used deer paths look more like cattle trails full of hoof prints. The deer tend to have just a couple main food sources left and they hit those more regularly now and use the same paths traveling back and forth from food to bed. Make note of these trails for future late season ambush points if the food sources are the same as this year. These trails can also lead you to preferred late season bedding areas. While these may not be the same bedding areas the deer will use during early season, keep them in mind if you still have an unfilled tag as next season is winding down. Deer will return to favored bedding areas, it’s where the feel safe.

 

This is the type of trail to set a stand up on for a late season hunt.

Buck sign also sticks out like a sore thumb this time of year. Well used scrapes will be the only places where leaves and other debris doesn't cover the forest floor. Especially look on old logging roads or field edges where branvhes hang out into the field. These would be great places to start a mock scrape next fall and set up a trail camera to take inventory of the bucks in your neighborhood. The shredded trunks of rubbed trees are easily spotted without all of the underbrush hiding them in late winter too. Rub lines can be detected by standing next to one rub and looking ahead for the next one and so on. This can be good place to hang a stand next fall too. The buck is showing you a travel route he likes to use when traveling across your land.

Many times bucks will use the same location for scrapes year after year.

If you use exclusion cages in your food plots you can tell which crops the deer favor the most on your land. This will allow you to design your food plots to have the deer end up in front of your stand. By planting their most favored food near the funnels and pinch points where your stands are hung, you can coax them into bow range without them even feeling the pressure of the forced movement.

I think they really, really liked the winter wheat. I'll be planting more of it this fall.

The one thing I don't like finding on my late season scouting trips are the remains of deer. This can mean my predator population is too high or the deer are stressed because of the cold weather. Or it could have been a wounded animal that finally succumed to his injuries. I'm especially not wanting to find the remains of any of the bucks I was chasing last year or the ones I passed up hoping he would be a bruiser this fall.

Definately a scene I don't want to find on my property.


But this on the other hand, is what we all want to find while scouting for next season.

GREAT GEAR FROM TREEBLINDS TO TURKEY NIGHTMARES

Tue, 02/21/2012 - 16:34

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!

 

The New Whitetail Slam - Just what you're looking for?

Tue, 02/21/2012 - 15:20

Those familiar with general record keeping organizations have likely heard the term “Slam” used in reference to animals taken within a specific species.  Many examples of this exist for all of the major big-game animals as well as turkey. Now, passionate “deer hunters” can join in the record keeping process by registering their deer, big or small, with the “Whitetail Slam” organization.

Meet the latest record-keeping organization for hunters interested in completing the Whitetail Slam!

This new organization allows users to keep track of the deer they have harvested (online via the website) from the 8 “pre-selected” regions. Participants can earn “Whitetail Slam” status or “Ultimate Whitetail Slam” status; while at the same time qualifying for various prizes and hunting packages. And, it doesn’t matter when the deer was harvested. Simply fill out the registration form and your first buck is “free”. After that, an additional fee must be paid for each deer registered. 

 Different people find value in different things. Bowhunting is no different. Do you find your "trophy" or "record" in a number....or in the overall experience surrounding the hunt?

Here is how it works.
· Harvest a buck or enter bucks from years past, from any or all 8 Whitetail SLAM Buck sub-groups (Any legal buck qualifies)
· Register any 4 bucks and earn a Whitetail SLAM.
· Register all 8 bucks for the Ultimate Whitetail SLAM.
· Hunters Achieving the Whitetail SLAM or Ultimate Whitetail SLAM will be honored with a framed certificate of achievement and entered into the Whitetail SLAM archive and annual publication in the year they register their SLAM, and will receive an official "SLAMMER" achievement package commemorating their successful completion of the Whitetail SLAM or Ultimate Whitetail SLAM.


* These successful hunters may also be recognized on Whitetail SLAM TV, magazine, website or other Whitetail SLAM features for their accomplishments and dedication to mastering the skills of the hunt.
* Enter details and a photo of your buck(s) online & pay a one-time administrative processing fee for each buck entered.
* Set up your personal SLAM Page featuring one or more bucks from any 8 SLAM categories to personalize and feature your hunts with photos, stories, strategies, gear and tactics used!
* Enter ONLINE our monthly free grand prize giveaway = dream hunts filmed by Tom Miranda Outdoors for feature on WhitetailSLAM TV on NBC SPORTS and Sportsman channel, will be given away each month.

Is the value of a hunt measured by the size or score of the rack or is it found in the overall experience?

According to the webpage, “Whitetail SLAM” was created as a means to organize and recognize the uniqueness of regional whitetail groups and the intrinsic value and worthy pursuit of each.

Take a look at “Whitetail Slam” and let me know what you think about this latest record keeping method. Is it good for hunting? Is it good for you? What is it really all about? Only you can answer those questions. I have my own opinions but I would love to hear what the readers of bowhunting.com think about the subject. Go ahead……sound off!

Are Burmese Pythons Killing YOUR Deer?

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 20:56

Deer hunters and managers all across the country know that predator control should be taken very seriously if you want to maximize the deer hunting on your property.  This means properly managing coyotes, wolves, bears, bobcats and snakes.  Wait, what?  Snakes?  Yes, more specifically giant snakes.  Burmese pythons, in fact, have set up show in the Florida Everglades and dramatically reducing the fragile ecosystem’s local deer herd.   

South Florida Water Management District employees found this 16 ft. Burmese python on a tree island while clearing off non-native plants.  The animal was immediately killed.

Burmese pythons are a non-native snake species that are threatening not only whitetail deer, but other various types of wildlife in the Florida Everglades.  Likely released into the wild as pets some 30 years ago, these sneaky serpents have become a major problem in the Everglades as recently as the year 2000.  Since then, rabbit, fox, bobcat, possums, raccoons and whitetail deer numbers have dropped dramatically.  

The snake measured 44 inches across it's stomach thanks to just recently having consumed a 76 pound whitetail doe, roughly the same size as a small child.

In October 2011 South Florida Water Management District employees discovered a 16 foot python while removing non-native plants from a tree island.  The snake was killed, cut open and found to have just consumed a 76 pound whitetail doe, the largest intact prey ever found in a Burmese python in Florida.  The snake reportedly had 44 inches of girth in its stomach thanks to the doe.

The unlucky whitetail doe that was consumed by a Burmese Python in the Florida Everglades.  Burmese pythons, like coyotes and wolves, are a predator to all forms of wildlife, not just deer.

The Hunting Network Staff would like to know what YOU would do should you ever encounter one of these non-native trouble makers in the wild.  Would you be the predator or the prey?  Let us know on our Facebook page.

Bison by bow Part 1

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 20:45

The North American Bison also called the buffalo once roamed in the eastern forests, the oak savannahs of the Midwest, in the vast prairies and mountains of the west.  The Bison population in the early 1800’s was estimated at approximately 50 million strong.  It was common for trains to be stopped for hours waiting for the immense herds of the thunder beasts to cross the railroad tracks. Herds would stretch miles wide by miles long, turning the prairie black from a distance with their shaggy coats. The bison were Mother Nature’s cultivators of the prairie. With so many bison with their massive weight, the hooves would tear up the prairie, stirring up dormant seeds in the soil, buffalo chips were natural fertilizer to help jump start the new seeds growth, to provide new and fresh forage in the years to come. They were the perfect balance between fauna and flora on the North American continent.

The Native Americans survived off the large thundering beasts. Natives would do large buffalo drives, luring and funneling bison to stampede off an edge of a cliff, ultimately falling to their death. Quickly the members of the tribe would all work together at cutting up and utilizing the dead beasts. The bones were used as tools, hides as shelter and cloths, dried meat for food and the bladders for water bags. Nothing was left to waste; the bison provided life to those who depended on them.

The author making his final preparations before the hunt

After the Spanish introduced the horse to North America, Native Americans developed new and more efficient ways of feeding their families with buffalo. They utilized this new animal that carried man on their back while running at the speed of the bison. Native Americans began chasing bison on horseback. They were equipped with spears and the bow and arrow. The arrows were often equipped with flint sharpened to a razors edge.

As the early settlers began expanding their way west of the Mississippi River, the bison began to compete with the settler’s crops and cattle for the valuable yet vulnerable land.  The settlers had no concept of conservation, and believed that they would never eliminate the herds in their life time.
 
As the railroads worked their way west, buffalo were shot to feed the workers. These buffalo hunters were hired by the railroad companies to supply fresh buffalo meat to their workers. One of these buffalo hunters became known as Buffalo Bill Cody.

The bison hunters would use the modern technology of the time with their long range guns. They would look for the herd leader. By taking out the leader of the herd first, the remainder of the bison would stand there not knowing what to do. They would just keep dropping the bison one by one until they ran out of shells. I was once written by a buffalo hunter that his hunting partners shot so many bison that they had to urinate on their guns to cool the barrels.
 
As railroad’s made their way west, the hide of the bison became popular, along with the bison tongue as a delicacy in fancy restaurants. The hunters turned from shooting for meat to shooting for hide and tongue. Thousands of carcasses would be left to waste in the blood stained prairies. The vast herds of approximately 50 million strong were decimated to less than a 1,500 in North America. As the bison disappeared, early conservationists realized that the bison were on the brink of being extinct.

Citizens lobbied the United States President Ulysses S. Grant to help save the buffalo. President Grant replied that the Indians depend on the buffalo to live, with the elimination of the buffalo, means the elimination of the Indians, leaving them subject to reservations. President Grant refused to save the bison.

Several private organizations along with concerned citizens captured and raised several of their own herds to prevent them from becoming just a page in the history book. Other remaining herds sought refuge in the remote Canadian wilderness.

Today the bison are no longer in danger of becoming extinct. The population that was once approximately 1,500 animals has been brought back to approximately 500,000. This is still a far cry from the once 50 million that roamed North America. Out of 500,000 bison today, half is found in the United States. Out of approximately 250,000 animals in the US, over 90 percent are privately owned bison on farms and ranches.
 
I began my quest for taking a buffalo with the bow just this winter. Being intrigued by the history of the North American Bison, I too wanted to take part in a hunt that dates back centuries ago. I began my quest looking for a free ranging wild buffalo.  After doing research on places to go, I quickly felt the impact of the early settlers over a hundred years ago. There are only several select areas in North America that true free ranging bison exist. They are Alaska, parts of Canada, Utah, Arizona, along with smaller herds in several other states. I learned that some of these tags may take a life time to draw, or the price of the tag was too high for me to afford in my life time. I was determined to hunt bison by bow and was not willing to except that this hunt may take years before I could get a chance. I realized that my best option was to begin looking at hunting with the 90 percent private herds for a hunt this year.

I began calling outfitters and ranchers. The first one I called offered the quality of hunt I was looking for. I wanted to fill my freezer with good clean high quality protein at a reasonable price. With all things there are the pluses and the minuses. This ranch offered a great hunt, however by the time I paid for the hunt and the gas to get out to South Dakota I would have maxed out my wallet for this years hunt.

Again being determined to find the right place to make my dream hunt come true at a reasonable price and at a very short notice, I contacted another ranch. This ranch offered a bison hunt at a reasonable price and was close to home. When I asked how big of an area I would have to chase down my dream bison, I was told it was a vast 70 acres! That’s not vast! That’s a pasture! Was my reply as I quickly hung up the phone trying to be polite to the rancher.  I know that the majority of buffalo are privately owned on ranches but I still wanted a real experience, not a walk up to your animal and kill it experience.
 
Just when I thought there was no hope for a buffalo hunt this year, and that it may take me many years to draw a wild herd tag, I found a ranch located in north east Iowa. The ranch is called Scenic View Ranch, located near the little town of Monona, Iowa. I quickly called the owner, Lloyd Johanningmeier. As I asked Lloyd questions about his ranch, I quickly realized this is where I am going to try and take my first buffalo with the bow.
 
Scenic View Ranch has over 300 acres of beautiful hard woods bluffs with the fastest running river in Iowa, the Yellow River running through the property. As I talked with Lloyd it became quickly apparent that Scenic View Ranch’s main goal to show the hunter a good time in a very relaxed atmosphere. Some ranches I contacted did not even allow archery hunting for buffalo, but not Lloyd, he actually encouraged it and his hunts were close to home at a very reasonable price.
 
I have never hunted on a ranch a day in my life, so I have no clue what to expect.  My biggest concern was that I did not want a “canned” hunt. I truly wanted to match wits with one of these big thunder beasts. Lloyd reassured me that this will truly be a hunt. 300 acres in the wide open prairie may seem small, but 300 acres in the large rolling hard wood bluffs means they can be any ware. Also some ranches would not let you keep your entire animal that you killed. Being a do-it yourself style of hunter, I didn’t feel that this was fare. If I’m paying for the hunt, shouldn’t I get to keep the entire animal that I killed? At Scenic View Ranch you keep what you shoot, and you don’t pay unless you shoot what you are looking for.

A recipicating saw does an excellent job at cutting through large bone

 
Lloyd was patient with me and all the questions that I was inquiring about the hunt, and every time I talked with him, the conversation started out about the hunt but quickly we found ourselves talking like we have known each other for years. It didn’t take me long to book my buffalo hunt at Scenic View Ranch.

With the hunt booked, I immediately began preparing for the hunt. I will be using the Mathews Helim bow set at 68 pounds of draw weight. My arrows are Carbon Express Maxima Hunters and the broad heads will be the NAP two blade Blood Runners.

I quickly started hitting the range, fine tuning my archery skills. The best part about shooting outside in the winter time is that I’m practicing at the range wearing the heavy bulky clothing that I will be wearing during the hunt.

While practicing daily under cold weather conditions, I also hit the web and books learning about the anatomy of the buffalo. The key is a well-placed shot. You can shoot 80 pounds with the  best broad head, but if you don’t hit your mark, or if you don’t even know where that mark even is, that high powered bow doesn’t do you any good. I quickly learned that the vitals in a buffalo sit very low in the chest cavity, I also learned from reading forums of different hunters that most people shoot too high in the buffalo’s chest. The mark that I am looking for is the top of the heart or both lungs. If I find the buffalo’s elbow joint and draw a horizontal line until I hit the shoulder crease, ware those two lines meet will be my mark. Hopefully I can be presented with a quartering away shot to lodge the arrow up into the kill zone of the big thunder beast.

It takes alot of preperation to process a 1000 pund animal yourself

Next I had to figure out what I’m going to do with the buffalo if all goes right and I get him on the ground. Again being a do-it yourself hunter, I’m choosing to process the buffalo myself. To transport the meat we are using an elk hunting trick, by placing a freezer in a trailer and trailering it to the hunting location. This works great for handling a large animal such as an elk. Once back at camp, you cut the meat up and vacuum pack the meat prior to placing it in the freezer. Then just plug the freezer into a portable generator and let it run over night to cool and freeze the meat if you are in a remote location. If the meat is frozen solid and the lid stays closed, the meat will remain frozen in the freezer for days. Also a chest freezer has the capabilities of holding several hundred pounds of meat.

For cutting the meat we will be bringing knives of varying sizes. A handy trick for cutting large sections of bone, such as splitting a carcass in half, is using a reciprocating saw with a fine tooth blade. We will also have a hand bone saw for the smaller bone cuts. I also have two vacuum packing machines; two meat grinders, 200 one pound bags for holding ground burger, 12 boxes of vacuum bags, freezer paper, and don’t forget a good knife sharpener.
 
The weather looks like it is going to be warm, in the mid 30’s for the hunt which is going to take place in less than a week, on February 17. We will be packing all the camera gear to bring the action into your home right here at Bowhunting.com. Be sure to check back for part two of this blog to read about how the hunt unfolded, and the end results.

2012 Mathews Retailer Show Round-Up

Mon, 02/06/2012 - 07:53

After my trip this past December to the Mathews Archery Retailer Show I was amazed at how innovative archery companies can be.  With each passing season the new bowhunting and archery equipment that hits the market gets lighter, stronger and more versatile than ever before.  Below are thirteen items from the show that I thought every diehard bowhunter would want to know about.

The 2012 Tight Spot Quiver shown here is lighter than previous models which will work perfectly with the new Mathews Helim The Tight Spot quiver attaches and detaches from your bow quickly and fits snugly against the riser of the bow, reportedly eliminating bow torque issues often caused by a bulky quiver.

Another item that caught my eye is a Mathews bow display called WeaponRax. This classy looking display holds one bow and a few arrows and turns your Mathews bow into a piece of artwork that you can display in your living room, den or dead animal room. The WeaponRax is available in black or oak. Many retailers were purchasing them at the show to show off Mathews bows in their retail stores.

Hot Shot Manufacturing’s new Infinity release is available with a leather Lost Camo wrist strap. The Infinity features a “Lever-Link” trigger that replaces traditional roller bearings, creating a crisp shot and less trigger creep, resulting in tighter arrow groups. The extra-tough actuating mechanism features less friction than roller bearings so the release will work flawlessly for years without getting stiff or difficult to pull due to harsh weather or dirt from spending hours in the woods.

Carbon Express has long been considered a leader in arrow technology. Mathews is a leader in bow technology so it makes sense for these two industry leaders to team up. The Mathews Edition Carbon Express Maxima Hunter comes in Lost Camo and has the great features you are accustomed to from the Maxima Hunter including weight forward technology, Buff Tuff carbon weaving and the extra strong BullDog nock collar.

If you are a diehard turkey hunter, you will want to check out the Turkey Nightmare Lost Camo blind. This unique umbrella blind mounts to your bow and has a shooting window in the center of it. The umbrella blocks the turkey from seeing you draw your bow but the window allows you to see and aim at the turkey. One of the most difficult things about bowhunting turkeys is getting your bow drawn without being busted. This blind will make bowhunting turkeys much easier.

Pine Ridge Archery makes a variety of archery products. For 2012, they have all kinds of new products that come in Lost Camo and bright colors for all the archers who want their bow and everything on it to be color coordinated. Their new Nitro Stabilizer is available in Lost Camo. They have brightly colored wrist slings, peep sights, peep sight tubing and a variety of other products. For more information, visit www.pineridgearchery.com

American Leather Klassics has teamed up with Mathews to produce fine leather products. In this picture, you can see the Mathews leather belt. They also make Lost Camo picture frames, wallets and are even producing Lost Camo dog collars and leashes for your favorite dog. They offer a wide variety of Lost Camo leather products.

Invisible Hunter makes a variety of scent eliminating products including Invisible Hunter Fresh Earth spray. This product comes in a Mathews Lost Camo spray bottle. Invisible Hunter uses enzymes to destroy human odor, not just mask it like many odor eliminating sprays do. Almost all deer hunters use scent eliminating sprays of some kind; now you can try one based on science, not smoke and mirrors.

Schaffer Performance Archery has given the Opposition Arrow Rest a facelift. The new Opposition Lite is 20% lighter than the previous model, comes in Lost Camo and comes with unique technology like Glide Away jaws that pinch the arrow so your arrow can’t come off the rest as you draw. A button on the rest allows you to lock your arrow into position before you draw or allow the jaws to lock the arrow in place as you draw. When you shoot your bow, the jaws glide to the right and left for total arrow clearance. The Opposition rest has been tested at 418 FPS!

Mathews Archery fans love to tell the world how proud they are to shoot a Mathews Bow. Camo Wraps make unique Lost Camo vehicle wraps and Mathews stickers that look great on almost anything. Their accessory wraps can be used on cameras, phones and anything you want to deck out in Lost Camo.

Blacks Creek Guide Gear makes great backpacks, duffle bags and bow cases. Here you can see the new Blacks Creek Helim bow case that looks almost as cool as the new Helim and protects your favorite bow from getting nicks or dings while traveling to your favorite hunting spot. Blacks Creek displayed some great new duffle bags at the Mathews Show that are perfect for the traveling hunter.

Grim Reaper Broadheads is offering the Mathews Edition mechanical broadhead. This razor-sharp killing machine has a gold feral that will look great flying out of your favorite Mathews bow. My favorite Grim Reaper Mathews head is a 3-blade head that offers a razor-cut tip and has a whopping 2-inch cutting diameter.

Axion Archery is offering some great products for 2012 including the new Zone drop away wrest and the GLT Triad Stabilizer that is very sleek and innovative and will look great on any Mathews bow that has the Grid Lock riser.

About the Author: Tracy Breen is a full time freelance writer and works with several companies in the outdoor industry including Mathews Archery, Schaffer Archery, Hot Shot Manufacturing and Pine Ridge Archery.