For the past several years I have shared with you products I use on my hunts and I want to continue that tradition. The reason for these reviews is to offer you some insight into products used under real hunting conditions. It would be easier to test them in my backyard but I figure if the products hold up to my abuse in the field then they are worthy of the hard earned bucks you spend to buy them. So here we go.
I used two bows this year. The first was the BowTech Destroyer 350. I did a review of it last year after a turkey hunt. The bow is very fast and has many positive attributes. The only negative to me about dual cam bows in general is that they store a lot of energy by preloading the limbs in their design. This is done to get the speed many of us desire. The negative is the first few inches of draw are tough, but once you reach the breakover spot they are smooth and easy to hold with an 80% let off. So be aware of this in any dual cam bow. Aside from this characteristic, the Destroyer is a premium quality bow and if you have the need for speed, this is one you should consider. www.bowtecharchery.com
The other bow I hunted with was the Mathews Z7. This bow is still being sold and it has been modified in other Z7 models, the Z7 Xtreme, Z7 Xtreme Tactical and Z7 Magnum. All have the same features as the original Z7 but changes have been made to produce a bow that will fit anyone’s peculiar desires in a bow. The Z7 is a smooth drawing bow that delivers excellent accuracy. The only negative I have heard from other people seems to be individual preferences for handle design. The standard wooden grip is too large for some people. Mathews has addressed this by offering replacement grips so you can have the one that feels right to you. The Z7 performed flawlessly for me and I never had one unpleasant experience in any of my outings with it.
I used two broadheads this past year. The Swhacker was my choice for turkeys. This expandable opens to 1 3/4-2” depending on the model you choose and it is deadly on turkeys. I shot two birds with it and neither traveled far (less than 20 yards) after the shot. I was pleased with the penetration and tissue destruction it caused. For this fall, I will be carrying some of them to try on deer.
My only reservation on expandables has been a concern over penetration since I generally shoot a 55 lb bow. With this poundage I doubt I will see complete pass-throughs but feel confident I can get sufficient penetration and internal damage to do the job. The ferrule and the blades of the Swhacker are sturdy and sufficient to withstand impact with bone and cartilage. It’s a well made and well designed broadhead and the 1 3/4” hole the 2 blade 100 grain head cuts is impressive. www.swhacker.com
This was my second year of using the RazorTrick broadhead for big game. As previously noted, I shoot relatively low poundage by today’s standards and the cut on contact broadhead offered me some comfort that I would get adequate penetration on big game. The head has not disappointed me. I’ve taken deer, elk and moose with it and not been disappointed. I didn’t get pass-throughs on all of them; but I did get a pass through on a shoulder shot deer at thirty yards. The razor sharp blades are being made even thicker this year. The 1 1/8” all steel head is strong and you can shoot it assured it will work on any North American animal. www.slicktrick.net
I fitted one of my bows with the Vapor Trail Limb Driver arrow rest. The rest can be shot in the down or upright position. I prefer to use the upright when hunting because I don’t have to worry about the arrow falling off the rest in the moments before taking a shot. Things tend to get a bit hectic as you are preparing to take the shot on a big buck; it’s nice to know you don’t have to worry about that happening. The rest is well made and I didn’t have any failures during the hunting season. One of the concerns people have when looking at this rest is the fragility of the cord attaching the launcher to the upper limb of the bow. Not to worry. I’ve talked to many people who have used it and none have had the cord break. But if it should break, the rest can be shot without it and the arrow flight isn’t affected. All you need to do is cock the rest in the upright position, shoot and it falls out of the way. The idea behind attaching the cord to your limb is that you get no torque from attaching the launcher cord on the buss cable of your bow.
The new model Limb Driver that Vapor Trail came out with this year has been designed with a cradle encapsulating 75% of the rest. This further ensures that arrows will stay on the rest no matter how much you shake before you shoot your big buck. I really like this rest and plan to use it in the future. www.vaportrailarchery.com
Vapor Trail also manufactures some great strings and cables. The strings are pre-stressed and have almost no stretch in them after a few shots. They come in a variety of colors and are reasonably priced. I put them on my wife’s bow and she used them to shoot her 310” elk this past fall. If you’re in the market for strings and cables you should check them out before you buy elsewhere.
My second bow sported a Ripcord Code Red arrow rest. This is one durable rest. The long arms on the launcher hold the arrow securely in place. The arrow containment system also features an arm which goes over the top of the launcher making it impossible for an arrow to fall off even if you hold the bow upside down. The inside of the launcher is covered by a long-lasting material that eliminates noise when drawing the arrow through it. The launcher can be also be used in the down or upright cocked position. Another feature is an internal brake which eliminates launcher bounce back. Ripcord calls the Code Red the number one fall away rest and for good reason. Rest assured (pun intended) I will be using one on future hunts. www.ripcordarrowrest.com
Over the last couple of years this market has exploded. There are so many it’s hard to choose which one is right for you. There is one that stands out from all the rest, the Rescue One “CDS’ Controlled Descent Safety Harness System. The lightweight vest has a unique descent feature that allows you to slowly lower yourself to the ground if you have the misfortune to fall from your stand. You can control your descent with its braking system. I am not aware of any other system like it on the market.
The entire system including the brake and safety rope is contained in a comfortable fitting vest. You can wear it and not really notice it; it’s that comfortable. Rick Philippi wrote an extensive review of the Rescue One for Bowhunting.Net so I won’t get into a detailed description of the product but will tell you it works. Sure it’s a little expensive but what is your life worth. To save a trip to the hospital the cost of the insurance Rescue One provides is cheap at twice the price. www.mountaineer-sports.com
If you’re like me you like to video your hunts. It can be a real pain trying to set up your camera so it captures the right scenes at the right time. I like to hunt from ground blinds and a tripod takes up a lot of room. Pine Ridge Archery must have heard my cries for help. Their ground blind camera mount is just the ticket. It attaches to the frame of most ground blinds and another arm rests on the ground. The mount is light weight, user friendly and priced right. It worked well with my mid sized Canon GL2 video camera. www.pineridgearchery.com
I also used Pine Ridge’s EZ mount call holder for my grunt calls. The holder allows you to mount the call around your forearm or bicep and frees up your hands to hold your bow and release. The holders are very reasonably priced and are a neat piece of equipment.
Once again I used the products from Goat Tuff, namely their vanes and glues. Goat Tuff makes durable products that really work and are priced right. I am especially impressed with the Goat Tuff Impact glue for inserts. To be honest, I was concerned the liquid glue would not hold inserts well and I quickly found my concerns to be unjustified. The Impact glue is one item I won’t be without in the future. I promise you won’t be disappointed if you give it a try. www.goattuffproducts.com
And I fletch my own arrows with the fast and easy E-Z Fletch from Arizona Rim. I make the way I want and this special tool is great for home or in the field. Anyone can fletch arrows with the E-Z Fletch.
PLANS FOR THIS YEAR:
I’ll be setting up a new Alpine bow for turkey season. I’ll equip it with a Limb Driver arrow rest. I’ve fletched some arrows with Goat Tuff vanes and I’ll try a few different broadheads. My sight will be a Cobra Python Toolless with a rheostat light for turkey season.
I’ve always been intrigued by people who made mock scrapes and told stories of the deer activity around them. I listened but I never made an effort to do it myself. This past fall I was determined to give it a try and see if I could stimulate buck activity on my farm by creating some mock scrapes. The scrapes were made along the edge of two food plots. Existing trees with low hanging branches were used where possible. For others, I pulled branches down and tied them to ground stakes. I raked the ground and sprayed “Ground Kill” on it. The idea was to completely stop weeds from growing in the scrap. A couple of weeks later I poured Wildlife Research Center’s “Active Scrap” (www.wildlife.com) on the scraps. What happened next was a wonderful pleasant surprise. I had created 15 scraps and 13 of them were active. The rub trees on some of them were attacked unmercifully by bucks. There is no doubt I will be freshening up these scraps again this fall. This product works.
Wildlife’s Scent Killer is another product I always carry to minimize my scent. Check their website they have a lot of products to help you be successful in the field.
There will probably be some other goodies in my pack but you’ll have to wait until next season to hear about them. Until then good hunting, be safe and I hope to see you in the woods.