The 2012 ATA Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio, featured more than 500 exhibitors for the second straight year. Not only were 69 of them newcomers, but booth space was up 8 percent from 2011 and 17 percent from 2010—great news when it comes to the state of the industry.
The many great products made it challenging to hone down my personal favorites, but after considerable whittling here are the innovations I think will be of true benefit to bowhunters this year.
1. Easton Carbon Injexion and A/C Injexion Arrows I’ve trusted the success of my big-game hunts to Easton Archery for more than 30 years and this year will be no different. Easton’s new Carbon Injexion and A/C Injexion hunting arrows feature an “ultra-micro diameter” (like those used by tournament shooters) for ultimate terminal performance—and they’re even thinner than its Axis arrows. With the ultra-thin shaft comes a new standard in arrow components called Deep Six set to deliver the highest-performance arrows, inserts, points and broadheads ever developed for bowhunting. Smaller shaft diameter means more resistance to crosswinds and less friction when passing through wild game—better ensuring both an entrance and exit wound.
Easton says Injexion shafts penetrate 31 percent deeper. Carbon Injexion is available in three spines—330, 400 and 480. A/C Injexion—featuring an aluminum core surrounded by high-strength carbon—is available in 330, 390 and 450. Both come with pre-installed deep red G-nocks and steel Deep Six inserts said to be 65 percent stronger than conventional aluminum components.
2. New Archery Products (NAP) Deep Six Broadheads I have been fortunate enough to take more than 200 big-game animals and more than 40 species worldwide over the past 30 years thanks to Easton arrows and NAP broadheads, but I have never been more excited. Last summer, Easton and NAP teamed up to begin designing a broadhead line compatible with Easton’s new Deep Six technology. The result? NAP launched the ultimate in arrow components tailored for use with new micro O.D. arrows to enhance accuracy and penetration. A slimmer “boat tail” ferrule design ensures a precise fit for Micro O.D. arrows. The broadhead ferrule is 40 percent larger than the arrow shaft to create a larger wound channel. Increased thread engagement creates a more precise broadhead-to-arrow alignment, and tighter machining tolerances decrease broadhead wobble and the likelihood of broadheads coming loose. NAP’s Deep Six broadheads are compatible with Easton Carbon Injexion, A/C Injexion, Axis and Full Metal Jacket arrows and Beman’s Bone Collector.
3. Big Game Treestands Storm Trail Camera Some things are just meant to be, as they say. While I was scouting for my Top 10 Treestands, I came across a new noteworthy trail camera. Big Game Treestands unveiled its new Storm Trail Camera that delivers sharp, 9-megapixel color daytime images and monochrome night images. Its wide, 60-foot flash range with rapid response time means you won't miss opportunities for images. Moon phase, time and date are shown on photos to help hunters track game trends and movements. Users can program the camera to grab 10-, 30- and 60-second video clips. The Storm supports SD cards up to 8GB, and operates on six C batteries. A clever add-on option is a lithium battery pack to extend battery life.
4. Bow Trainer The Bow Trainer helps archery enthusiasts of any age and experience level stay in shape while avoiding the potential overuse injuries and muscle tears that the shoulder can be susceptible to when bowshooting. Designed by an avid archer and physical therapist, it is designed to enhance accuracy by improving form and increasing physical strength and stamina. The product consists of a metal bar with a grip, and comes with four rubber bands that simulate draw weights from 10 to 130 pounds. It’s easy to store and comes with a user manual and online training program so you can start training immediately and continue year round.
Speaking from experience, it’s just human nature for everyday life to get in the way of training during the off-season. Thanks to the Bow Trainer, we can train almost anywhere and anytime.
5. Real Avid Revelation 2 Blade Knife It’s not much fun holding a flashlight in your teeth as you try to field dress your big-game animal. Thanks to the new Revelation 2 Blade knife from Real Avid, that problem is solved. Featuring a 3 1/2-inch, 440 surgical steel drop blade, bone ripper saw and oversized gut hook, this knife works on even the toughest game. The 5-inch rubberized grip feels great, but what’s even better is the knife has two super bright LED lights set to shine for hours on your blade and whatever it is cutting. This knife fills a real need in a unique way and is set to become one of my top go-to products in the field.
6. TRU-FIRE'S Hardcore Max Line I have been shooting with TRU-FIRE releases for years, and every time I say they can’t get any better, they do—and this time is no exception. The world’s largest release manufacturer has raised the bar again by adding two features to its popular Hardcore line. The first is a screw housed behind the trigger that enables bowhunters to adjust trigger pressure from 2 to 16 ounces. The second is an Evolution II buckle that sports 2 1/2 times thicker padding and a wider strap. Color options are black with red accents and a camo version. Two trigger options are available: the standard swept-back and the forward trigger. Features found on the standard Hardcore—such as the pivoting body, auto reset jaw and the deep recessed jaw that makes it impossible for loops to slip off—are present, too. This release is the ultimate for hardcore hunters as well as serious tournament archers and, last but not least, it’s made in the USA.
7. Scent Lok Technologies Carbon Alloy and Full Season Recon System Anyone familiar with my bowhunting adventures knows I’ve used and recommended Scent-Lok’s activated-carbon scent control clothing since it was launched 20 years ago. I have a trophy room of big-game animals to show for it, many of which simply wouldn’t be there otherwise. Backing my claim, scientists recognize that activated carbon is the best absorbent for human odors. Now that Scent-Lok has unveiled new Carbon Alloy technology, bowhunter success rates will only get better.
Carbon Alloy technology incorporates other components in Scent-Lok’s activated carbon to target human-specific odors. A new additive, Zeolite, absorbs smaller odor molecules better than carbon alone. The technology is now featured in its Full Season outerwear line. The new Full Season Recon System jacket has Sherpa-fleece lining, weather-resistant shoulder panels and contoured sleeves to keep forearms out of a bow string’s way. Pants have a draft-blocking waist panel and long leg-zipper openings. Mobility in the arms, shoulders and knees ensures bowhunters can draw their bow and maneuver in tough terrain.
8. YETI Coolers Tundra 75-Qt. Cooler You’re probably wondering why I have a cooler in my Top 10 products from an archery trade show. Well, after 30-plus years of bowhunting and guiding during the early seasons out West and preaching how critical it is to get and keep your game meat cooled, I had to include YETI’S Tundra 75. Not only does it hold a quartered deer, its one-piece molded construction is as durable as a whitewater kayak. YETI’s PermaFrost insulation provides exceptional thermal resistance and ice retention. T-Rex Lid Latches—as the dinosaur reference implies—keep the lid securely closed, and a ColdLock gasket locks out heat while sealing in cold. The lid features a form-fitting barrier between your game meat and the elements. It has non-slip rubber feet, textured grip handles and a screw-in plug for draining that is leak-proof when closed. Dry-ice compatible and UV-resistant, it comes with a cushion that makes quite a nice seat for your antelope blind.
9. Montana Decoys Montana Strutter My No. 9 pick—the Montana Strutter from Montana Decoys—is not new, but the company is offering hunters too good a deal not to mention it. I’ve taken deer, elk, antelope and turkeys on my shows using Montana Decoys’ products for years and can attest that they’re worth the money. So when I ran into owner Jerry McPherson on the show floor and learned about his “blow out” special on the Strutter, I had to share the news. This top-selling tom turkey decoy just may be my personal favorite. It folds down so compactly and, at less than a pound, is so lightweight you hardly know you have it in your vest. It pops open and sets up in seconds. (Now available for $9.99, while supplies last.)