Spending last week in Louisville, Ky., at the 2013 edition of the Archery Trade Association’s annual trade show, I was able to forget for a while that my hunting season has actually ended.
As is always the case no matter the location, the aisles of the Kentucky Exposition Center were filled with a “who’s who” of the outdoors industry with everyone from Jim Shockey to Nick Mundt and Travis “T-Bone” Turner of Bone Collectors fame in attendance. That said, the real stars of this event are the hordes of new product and gear from the various manufacturers that were found.
This week, I thought I’d give you a little rundown of a few of the neatest products that I encountered while skipping over the newest bows on the market — as that alone is enough to fill this entire page.
Some of the following gear comes from the major players in the industry while others are offerings from the smaller companies looking to find their niche market. These items are incredibly useful to the hunter and sure to be strong sellers in the coming year.
My overall favorite piece of new equipment was the React bow sight from Trophy Ridge. This five pine sight features what the manufacturer is calling “smart pin technology” that allows you to sight in your top pin at 20 yards, the second pin at 30 and then have all of the remaining pins automatically set themselves for 40, 50 and 60.
According to their engineers, it’s mathematically impossible for the pin gaps to be incorrect and properly sighting in your bow will take less than ten minutes to accomplish.
Unlike the majority of sights out there which are machined from aluminum, Trophy Ridge uses their “Ballistix Copolymer System” in the manufacturing of the React which makes the body of the unit incredibly strong while remaining lightweight. It includes a reversible mounting bracket for those with high or low anchor points, a sight level, .019 fiber optic pins, a rheostat light, multiple mounting holes and easy micro-adjustment.
I liked this one so much that I’ll be looking to get my hands on one for myself before long.
There were two new ground blinds that caught my attention this year.
One of the things that I hate about ground blind hunting with a bow is that, until now, I had to take all of my shots from a sitting position. This is both more restrictive to the hunter and tougher to do due to the fact that drawing the bow is much harder while sitting down.
Besides that, most archers that I know do all of their practicing while standing anyway so wouldn’t it make sense to be able to take your hunting shots while on your feet? Both Barronett Blinds and Ameristep have new offerings that solve this problem.
The Barronnett Big Mike XT is an extra tall and incredibly roomy hub-style blind that features seven full feet of height along with a 62-by-62-inch footprint. I had the pleasure of meeting the man that the Big Mike is named for and it was quite obvious to see where the company formulated the idea for this piece of equipment. Trust me, if the real Big Mike can hunt out of this thing, someone like me who’s only 5-foot-9 will have no trouble at all!
The Ameristep Switch Blind is one of those products kind of like the Post-it note. You just have to scratch your head in wonder as to why you didn’t think of it yourself!
This adjustable height blind can be set as low as 60 inches or as high as 88 inches, depending upon how you’d like to set it up. It uses a framework much like those seen on tailgating tents where the legs extend individually.
This design not only allows you to set it high for standing shots but also makes placing the blind on uneven ground a snap since keeping the blind level helps to improve your vision and clear your shots through the windows.
Although the footprint of the Switch Blind is a tad less (59-by-59 inches) than the Big Mike from Barronnett, it’s still plenty roomy enough and I’m quite sure that many hunters are going to love this one for its versatility.
A-Way Hunting Products has been coming out with cool hunting gadgets for years and I’ve been using their Bowgrunter Plus for about six of them now. For 2013 they are introducing something that hunters are going to find quite useful when building their own permanent ground blinds or “condo style” deer stands.
Shack Skins are lightweight and extremely durable corrugated plastic sheets that come printed with various camo images impregnated with UV protection so that they’ll last for years. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill camo prints, mind you, but actual photographs that allow you to choose the best ones for your hunting environment.
The 48-by-80-inch panels are easily cut, install in minutes and can be purchased in Skyline, Pine Bough or Marsh Grass designs.
I spent a couple of hours with Don Bell, founder of Code Blue deer scents, and found out what he’s been up to since he sold the company. To no one’s surprise, he’s been hard at it coming up with the next revolution in deer scent technology.
Don’s new company, Top Secret Deer Scents, is the only place that today’s hunters can purchase fresh deer urine scents that are guaranteed to stay that way for as long as you’d like.
How’s that possible? It’s as easy as removing the oxygen.
We all know that no matter the mammal it comes from, urine is yellow. However, hunters have become accustomed to purchasing bottles of buck urine or doe estrous urine that are dark brown and full of ammonia.
This comes from the urine “spoiling” due to it coming in contact with oxygen. Don’s idea, though simple, is one that no other company has come up with. Simply remove the oxygen and you’ll never have to worry about your scent going bad.
Top Secret utilizes an ingenious little pump that lets a hunter obtain the scent from the bottle and then pump the oxygen back out immediately. This means that the bottle of scent that you purchase from them will last indefinitely and remains good from year to year if you happen to have some left over.
Just as was always the case with Code Blue, Top Secret collects urine from a single deer for each bottle but he does offer blends for those looking for a less expensive option.
I’ll have to say that I enjoyed this year’s ATA show as much or more than any I’ve previously attended. The number of companies exhibiting seemed to be at a high that I’ve not seen in a while and the number of new products hitting the market was pretty exciting to see.
I’ve held onto a couple of new things that are worthy of an article on their own and you can expect to see something from me about those soon.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his web site at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter- @BHarveyOutdoors