Brad Harvey: Taking a gander at the new gear

January 15, 2014 

This past week found me making the trek to a frigid Nashville, the 2014 site of the Archery Trade Association’s annual dealer show, where all the new equipment from manufacturers is introduced.

To say this event is a good time would be an understatement, and I look forward to it each year just as a young child longs for the arrival of Christmas.

Aisle upon aisle of archery and bow-hunting “goodies” from every maker are to be found, taking up about 400,000 square feet. I’m not quite sure it’s possible to get through the show having seen each and every new piece.

Still, I do my best to take it all in over the course of the three-day event, and I’m going to throw at you some of my favorites that I came across while there.

These all are items you’re sure to find me using in the coming months and, of course, when deer season rolls back around this fall.

Taking aim

I’m a real stickler when it comes to archery sights and tend to favor single-pin adjustable models. I like the fact that they offer a clear field of view as opposed to having numerous pins blocking most of your target.

The best ones are solidly built and easily adjustable for distance “on the fly.” The one that has caught my attention – and I’ll be looking to get my hands on soon – is the new Covert Series from Apex.

With this new single-pin model, archers can quickly change pin sizes, from the tiny 0.010 to a 0.019 pin, to suit their preference.

It also features rear-facing yardage indication so that you’re not stuck having to turn the bow sideways to see the distance you’re dialing in, as is the case with many of today’s models.

Did I say “dialing in?” That’s right, the Covert Series adjusts by way of a dial that feels solid while still offering smooth, fluid movement, and the sight comes with 60 pre-marked yardage tapes to make sighting-in a breeze.

Packed with even more features, including micro-adjustable windage and elevation and second- and third-axis leveling, this single-pin slider is a steal at $149.99. I look to be doing a full review of it in the months ahead. ( www.apex-gear.com)

Hunt from above

“Hunt from above” is the catch phrase used by a new tree stand company that made its appearance in Nashville, and this crowd grabbed my attention quickly.

The offerings from Hawk tree stands are some of the nicest, best-built, solid and comfortable-looking stands I’ve come across, and better yet, they’re offered at prices that make sense.

For far too long, many stand companies have been putting out flimsy, uncomfortable models at inflated prices that seemed more about making as much money as possible and less about putting out a quality product that would last.

This company, however, can’t be counted among those.

From its hang-on stands to its ladder and climber models, Hawk has really got it going on. All the offerings feature oversized grip-mesh platforms welded at each contact point, self-lubricating Delrin bushings and washers for silent use, an over-molded tree strap hook for easy attachment and incredibly comfortable seating.

In fact, Hawk’s 3-inch-thick memory-foam seat cushions are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever looked to plant my tail on, and I swear they look even thicker than advertised.

Although I didn’t encounter a single style of stand from Hawk that didn’t catch my eye, my personal favorites will probably be their Helium hang-ons.

With two sizes – a 21-by-27-inch platform and a 24-by-30-inch – these two stands are perfectly priced at $119.99 and $139.99, respectively.

Better yet, they didn’t just name them Helium for nothing. The smaller of the two comes in at a mere 10 pounds, while the larger is still only 12 pounds, meaning getting these stands into and out of the field and up and down the tree will be a breeze.

It’s pretty obvious the folks behind this brand have put a ton of thought into their products, and that didn’t stop with the design of the stands. The company’s accessory line features some of the most well-designed tools I’ve ever seen.

One of the best examples is their GoGadget bow arm.

Instead of the standard, cheaply made bow hanger we’ve all become used to, this hanger is a thing of beauty. Its multi-axis adjustability allows the hunter to place it higher than they’re used to and adjust it both horizontally and vertically. This way, you never have to worry about the hanger being in the way of a shot opportunity.

For $34.99, the GoGadget is a little more expensive than a run-of-the-mill bow hanger, but I’m pretty sure that, with just one look, you’ll see that it’s worth every penny.

You can check out all of the Hawk products on its website: www.hawkhunting.com.

Hunt comfortably

For years now, I’ve wanted to get my hands on a good, hard-shelled hunting blind that could be placed on the ground or elevated on a platform to create a “condo-style” stand.

In either scenario, this would allow me to continue to hunt out of the weather when conditions turn bad. That said, I’ve never taken the plunge to get one because all of the ones on the market were way overpriced, with tags running $1,200 and more. That never made any sense to me.

Apparently, it didn’t make sense to the folks behind Maverick blinds, either.

Maverick is offering two sizes of their two-piece, bolt together, hard-sided blinds, a 5-foot diameter and a 6-footer, that feature silent-opening windows all around for maximum visibility.

With both models coming in right around 100 pounds, these blinds would be incredibly easy to move and position by simply separating the two halves and tossing them into the bed of the truck.

Still, the best part of the whole thing is that a hunter can crawl into one without breaking the bank, since the aptly named “5 Shooter” and “6 Shooter” models feature pricing of just $699 and $799.

Take a gander for yourself at www.maverickblinds.com.

Of course, I fell in love with tons of other items while at the show, but these are the ones that really grabbed me, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them.

As for all of the new bows that appeared in Nashville? We’ll do a breakdown of those with some real-world testing of my own in the near future.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors.com.

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