Over a decade ago the outdoor retail chain Gander Mountain branded its own line of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear called "Guide Series." In 2006 Gander Mountain delved into the archery world with its Guide Series TecHunter and TecHunter Extreme bows. Both models are of single-cam design and utilize machined-aluminum risers and aggressive, parallel-limb orientation. Archers might notice the bows' resemblance to models built by archery manufacturer Bowtech, and for good reason: Bowtech produces the bows for Gander Mountain. In subcontracting with Bowtech and by incorporating recommendations from its pro-staff, Gander assured itself of sending unique bows with proven designs to the market on its very first try.
Intended for the treestand hunter, the 3.7-pound (naked), 31-inch axle-to-axle TecHunter Extreme is shorter than its name. It is fast, quiet and maneuverable and it has a few innovative features that archers will appreciate, like its built-in wrist sling and machined cutout in the arrow shelf that identifies centershot at a glance.
After setting up the bow myself, I quickly became proficient enough with it to hit an 8-inch target consistently at 60 yards. On several occasions, my shooting buddy commented that the bow is quiet, a trait not easily surmised by the shooter himself. A combination of seven proprietary string, limb and cable-guard silencers play a role in reducing shot noise.
A pack-in elk hunt at 11,000 feet in Colorado where it rained daily for a week proved to me that the bow is durable. I was pleasantly surprised that the string showed no signs of stretching after being thoroughly soaked (and then shot while wet to verify point-of-impact had not changed). The Extreme utilizes string material Gander touts as the best quality in the business-pre-stretched BCY 452x.
In the mountains where every ounce of gear must be considered, the advantages of having a bow under 5 pounds, fully rigged, is obvious. A 7.75-inch brace height is a good compromise between speed and accuracy, if anyone, under hunting conditions, is skilled enough to tell it. The full Realtree camo dip treatment added concealment and protection from the elements.
A deciding factor for me is a bow's grip. I prefer direct contact with the riser, and not much contact at that. On the range I have proven to myself that the less contact I have with the bow, the less torque I can place on it and therefore impart on the arrow.
The TecHunter's grip is a thin strap of riser sandwiched between two laminated wood panels. The panels are mainly for show, and they do their job well.
Concerning the bow's eccentrics, it's much like a racecar where suspension and smoothness is comfortable but a detractor to performance; the TecHunter Extreme is not geared for a cushy ride-it's built for speed and handling. A 4-inch idler wheel sits on a ball bearing at the top limb. The large, aggressive lower cam has a backwall like a dodgeball arena-one of the firmest I've tested-making each draw and shot very consistent. It's adjustable without a bowpress via a rubber-coated draw-stop button. The draw length is adjustable by exchanging modules on the cam. To adjust the draw length and then fine-tune it with the draw stop requires an Allen wrench and about two minutes.
The only negative that surfaced during use was a plastic cable-guard slide that broke, ruining my accuracy. Gander informs me it is aware of the problem and has already addressed it. In itself the cable-guard slide has an integral eye to provide an attachment point for a drop-away rest tension string.
After receiving another slide, I took the TecHunter Extreme to family land in Oklahoma where I crawled into a makeshift, tight-quartered stand in a knotted oak tree. With one knee up around my chest, I remember thinking how glad I was to have such a short bow. Without room for standing, I drew the bow twice from a sitting position and killed two deer, a buck and a doe. Neither of them knew they'd been shot at until my arrow made its fatal pass through their vitals. Both deer went down within 40 yards, which elevated the TecHunter Extreme to "extremely effective" in my view.