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Published by agruver on 28 Apr 2008

Colorado Archery Elk hunt

Colorado 2007…


February 2006, after unsuccessfully getting drawn for a Wyoming Archery Elk license, I made arrangements with 2 friends to apply for a Colorado Archery Elk hunt.


May 2006 – Unsuccessful draw of a Colorado Archery Elk License – 1 point earned (maybe next year…).  Later that month, received a check in the mail returning my $500.  How often do you get a check in the mail for $500 and are disappointed about it?


May 24th 2007 AM, impatiently hit the refresh button of my web browser waiting for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to update their web site with the Elk Lottery results.  SUCCESS!!!  We were drawn!  The planning begins!


90 days prior to hunt, 6 AM pre-work workouts start (and continued until I left for Colorado):

Monday – biking 8 miles,

Tuesday – jogging 4 miles,

Wednesday  – 45 minutes on the Elliptical Exercise machine,

            Thursday – Day off or repeat one of previous workouts,

Friday – Repeat one of first 3 days or walk 2 miles with loaded pack frame.

Saturday – Swim 500 yards in the Alleghany river (across and back) plus waterskiing.


Work lunch hour    Skipped the usual fast food with co-workers and instead walked for an hour and drank a Slim-Fast.  I apologize to my co-workers for those hot days where I came back to work sweaty.


July & August 2007, included:

  • Playing all of ElkNuts (www.elknut.com) videos. 
  • Practicing Elk calls in my back yard. 
  • Listening to the ElkNuts cassette tape on the way to work. 
  • Surfing the Topo map sites like Google Earth and http://ndis.nrel.colostate.edu/Maps which allows you to enter GPS co-ordinates provided by my friends who had hunted there before. 
  • Numerous email correspondences with my hunting buddies regarding the hunt. 
  • Shooting as much 3D as my loving wife would allow (some of which included taking my 2 year old and allowing him to sit on the targets, pretending he was riding them) plus shooting in the back yard and in our basement as well…
  • Sharpening the broad heads (thanks Dad) and hunting knife. 
  • Trips to Cabela’s and ELKNUT.COM for last minute items. 
  • Surfing Sites like ElkHeaven.com & sagecreekforums.com to read everything I could.


August 29th – Finally!  The day we leave for Colorado brought me terrible stomach cramps I assume from the stress and made for the start of a long ride.  It is always bittersweet to say goodbye to the family to leave on a hunting trip.  The workout sessions paid off for a total weight loss of 18 pounds over the summer and the best shape I have been in since high school!


August 31st  – 5:00 AM (6000 feet in elevation) – Wake up in a Colorado motel after driving 26 hours straight the day before from Pennsylvania to Colorado.  This was our feeble attempt to acclimate to the altitude prior to the hunt.


9:30 AM – 8200 feet at the trailhead.  We prepared our pack frames with only the essentials for 6 days in the high country.  About 2 miles into the hike, my buddies say “No Cows past this point”, it was just too far to pack one out just for meat…


Half way to camp, we heard some cows chirping.  I wanted to set up on them and call but the wind was all wrong and no one really wanted to take off their packs and change into camo when we were already hot and sweaty and only half way to the camp site.


3:00 PM 9000 feet at camp location – A quick baby wipe bath after setting up my one man tent, and got dressed to hunt that evening with the intention of getting higher in elevation and glassing for elk for the next mornings hunt.


3:05 PM – change camo to rain camo gear due to threatening rain showers. 


5:30 PM – After stopping to catch my breath (I mean take magnificent high mountain scenery pictures) several times (glad I worked out as much as I did), I finally found the first nice wallow in the draw that my hunting buddies directed me to.


I let out what I thought to be a terrible sounding location bugle (not enough air in the lungs for that first call).  About ¾ of the way up the mountain I hear an answer.  It is hard to put into words what emotions I went through hearing that first bugle after so much planning and effort that went into this hunting trip.  When the adrenaline subsided, I quickly set up downwind of the wallow and ranged several yardages.  15 or so daunting minutes go by and nothing happens.  This time I try to get more air in my lungs to make a better sounding location bugle.  The bull quickly answers me again in what I believe is the same spot he called from before.  I distinctly remember thinking about one of the ElkNuts videos where he mentions being in the elks “comfort zone” – a place where you can call back and forth with an elk all day and he will never come in but is happy to answer you.  Quickly I scurry up the hill gaining about 300 – 400 feet of elevation in the dark timber and it occurs to me that I am no longer sure of the exact direction to go in.  Up ahead is a small park (opening in the dark timber – sorry not sure all people in Pennsylvania know what parks are out west).  I sneak up to the edge but see no elk.  I tried a lost cow call in hopes to get him to sneak in on me but no luck.  Several minutes go by and I decide to continue side-hilling the dark timber.  Then it happens!  I can hear a thrashing, (it was raking!) – an elk rubbing his horns.  I can feel my pulse jump (and not from the altitude but it was close to 10,000 feet now).  There is a very narrow park ahead of me running up hill with a high rim on the far side so I skirted it on the up hill side.  I remember attempting to sneak as quietly as I could in what looked similar to what we (in Pennsylvania) call golden rod, only it has leaves too.  Not sure what the plant is called in Colorado but it is very noisy, especially if you step on it and it seems to grow in marshy/wet areas of the high country.  What seemed to take forever to me, sneaking / crawling across this opening to get to the rim up ahead was about to pay off.  Just before I get to where I wanted to be, I see 2 cows below me just in the dark timber.  Then suddenly, I hear cow mews all around.  Just past the rim ahead of me I then hear real soft chuckles as if he was saying “Stay close Girls”.  Finally I reach the rim and peek over. 


There he is at about 80 yards, black horns and a muddy belly as he tosses mud up in the air with his horns.  Not sure how long I sat there in awe over this magnificent sight, (I am sure it was only a few seconds but I still have that picture burned into my head – and I hope I will never forget it).  I make some calls with the Hoochie-Mama (because it was the easiest call to use and not mess up under the conditions).  It did not really do anything to him, but many of the cows seemed to like it and made calls of their own.  Now he turns and heads away from me into the dark timber and begins to rake a tree again.  So I made the decision to step back from the rim of the wallow and sneak around below to the right and come in from the dark timber on the far side.  I get about 15 yards and it hits me.  I can no longer hear him raking and do not know where he is anymore.  So I sneak right back to where I was before and peek over the rim again.  There he was back in the wallow and soon lets out another soft bugle!  Then I got the bright idea of making a popping grunt to make him come my way. 


Well, not sure why, but he acted like he did not even hear it.  He started to ease off to my right where I last heard the cows but the yardage was still too far.  At that moment, a cow appears about 25 yards to my left and feeds on through, thank God for the wind in my face during this whole experience.  He seemed to react to her call and made a beeline right to her, this brought him quartering across in front of me at about 60 yards.  I came to full draw and remember leaning to one side so to not hit one of those golden rod plants.  In hind sight, I remember Paul’s (ElkNuts) instructions to always voice grunt to stop them.  Well I didn’t, and am not sure if I would have been physically able to make any noise with all the excitement and adrenalin.  I took the shot and it hit back further than I’d wanted, “Definitely guts” I thought, as I could see half of my fletchings sticking out when he jumped.  He only went about 25 or 30 yards into the dark timber and just stood there.  I remember thinking “bad shot, bad shot…DROP, DROP, DROP”.  But he just stood there.  I sat there and glassed him (now at about 100 yards) as it began to get dark.  My shot was at 7:30 and I knew it would be pitch black around 8:00 pm.  I got out my GPS and waited for a lock.  I also got out my orange marking tape and snuck it into the pine next to me on the down hill side.  My GPS got a lock and I hit MARK.  “009” was the waypoint name that was assigned and no time to rename it (seems like a strange detail to remember, but I do).  I made the decision to back out and come back the next morning.


8:15 (ish) pm – almost back to camp.  I was almost running down over the hill in the black timber until I got to the park just above the camp.  Halfway through the park, I see 4 bulls about 100 yards ahead of me and 2 cows above me.  The first bull was a spike but the next 3 were legal bulls and nice shooters.  Not very observant of me to walk up on them like that but I guess I had other things on my mind…  I remember thinking, “don’t blow these guys out of here” and my buddies can hunt them tomorrow. 


After waiting several minutes for them to clear out, and starting for camp again, I find out that my flashlight will not turn on.  Must have gotten bumped on at some point on the trip out west and the batteries were dead.  Not a big deal when I was in the park and knew that camp was ahead on the edge of the dark timber, but I was not sure if I needed to gain or drop in elevation.  I had borrowed my Dads GPS, an old Garmin 12 that does not have a light on it (or I just don’t know how to turn it on) so I could not get the direction from it.  Luckily I see the flashlights of my 2 buddies.  By now I am worried sick about my shot placement, or lack thereof.  Your brain tends to play dirty tricks on you as to where you remember seeing the arrow hit.  I play it cool in camp, walking in and not saying anything.  They start chirping about how they called in 1 bull but could not get a shot and later saw 26 cows and several bulls on my side and that they found a skull of a rag horn (later dubbed “Old Dead Head”).


The truth comes out about me hitting one and we forge a plan to get up at first light – 6:00 am and get my bull.


The night from hell.  You know in your heart that you have made the right decision to back off a bad hit and give it time, but that never makes it any easier.  Not sure how many times I tossed and turned that night retracing my steps and the events of my hunt.  Then it happened.  The worst sound you can imagine in this situation.  Rain.  If I had any supper in my stomach at that point, I would have thrown it up.  There was nothing I could do but just sit there and stare into the darkness and listen to it hit my tent.  Man that sucked.  Not sure of how many light showers hit us during the night but I was miserable thinking of the blood trail being washed away.  In the early morning I remember hearing coyotes howling and thinking to myself “don’t eat my elk”…



September 1st – The next morning.  Later in the hunt, the guys accused me of running up the hill that morning and said I was no longer allowed on point when walking.  I guess it was the adrenalin again and wishing the impossible of finding my elk.  Well, my GPS took me right to where I shot and when I peeked over the rim, THERE HE WAS!  That was an emotional HIGH for me followed by the worst low of my hunting career.  His head turned.  He was still alive.  I must thank Kirt who was with me at the time and helped me make a wise decision to back out again.  I am sure that if we would have jumped it, there would not have been a blood trail to follow and we could have lost him in the dark timber.


So I proceeded to follow my two hunting buddies on a long walk (to kill time for me) so that they could get some hunting in that day.  We came upon a huge park on the back side of the mountain and sat there and ate lunch (well actually brunch).  While sitting there we had a few cows come by at about 35 yards that quickly winded us. 


Now it was time again to check on my bull.  We snuck in from the down hill side with the wind in our face once again to the spot where I had shot my elk.  This time, the Bull was laying there motionless.  Not sure how long I stood there glassing him, but finally my buddies said lets go get him.  As my excitement level hit an all time high, I went straight towards him.  The bull was expired, and I was so excited that I led my buddies right across the middle of that marshy wallow to get to him.  I remember thinking that I wish my Dad was there to see him, that he would be so proud.  But 10,000 feet and his heart condition just don’t mix (this hunt was not for him). 


I tried something new this time, as it was my second bull and the first with the bow.  I took out my space blanket and used it to set the meat on as we de-boned it.  This worked out great and I highly recommend it…  A few years ago, I watched Paul (ElkNut) de-bone one of his own bulls without gutting it and I passed this knowledge on to my two hunting buddies.  What they really thought was interesting was taking out the tenderloins without getting into the cavity.  Later in the trip I got the title of Dentist.  I still do not know of a good way to get the ivory teeth (Whistlers?) out other than to just flat out dull a knife. 


The good news was the pack out was all down hill.  We took the meat back to camp where we had a deer carrier (with wheels).  It was the expensive aluminum one from Cabelas.  Camp was located about 300 yards from a main horse trail that led back to the Trailhead.  Well you might guess where this is going.  I looked it up when I got back home and it was supposed to be rated for 250 pounds.  After about 500 yards the back of the carrier broke off so we untied the 4 meat bags, moved the portion of the frame that broke off in front of the wheels and tied everything back on and continued for the trailhead.  The closer we got to the truck, the more the carrier bowed in the middle.  Luckily we had tie-downs on it which basically were the only thing holding it together when we finally made it back.  I said goodbye to my buddies who promptly headed back in to camp in an attempt to get some hunting in that night.


Next was the hour ride back to town calling everyone I knew.  I was excited to find a butcher open on the weekend after 6 pm, and with it being 88 degrees in town, I chose to let them do it all for me.  While in town, I had a list of things to do.  I stopped at a car wash to hose down the coolers, my pack frame, the tie downs and the deer carrier (even though it was broken, it still attracted flies and bees).  Next I was off to find a shower.  Interestingly enough, the Laundromat in town also had a shower.  Possibly the best $2.00 in quarters I have ever spent.  While there I put the meat bags (from ElkNut.com) in the washer in case I ever need to re-use them again!  Next it was off to the gas station for that $3.00/gallon stuff and a T-shirt with Colorado and an Elk on it.  Then on to the grocery store for batteries for my flashlight, another pair of rubber surgical gloves for the three of us (in case we got a second elk), and another DVD for my buddy’s camcorder. Finally I sat down to a steak dinner at a local pub.  An excellent steak (sure beat the MRE’s), but lacking in conversation as the waitress did not care that I just killed the biggest bull of my life with a bow. 


I crawled into the back of the suburban for the night as it was too late to make it back to the trailhead let alone even think about making it back to the camp site, even though that is where I wished I was at that moment.  The next morning I rose early and headed to McDonalds for a quick breakfast and a restroom call.  Porcelain really beats going in the woods.  I was ready to head back to the trailhead when I got the call (My buddy was able to get reception from the top of the mountain).  Kirt had just hit a bull and I was to get my a$$ up there pronto.


Well, the adrenalin kicked in all over again but luckily I still had my wits about me.  I drove to the hardware store in town – Murdock’s I think it was called.  I had stopped there the night before and it was closed but knew it opened at 7:30 am.  The problem was it was only 7:00 am.  So I paced in the parking lot for a few minutes and decided to knock on the door since I could see people inside and did not want to waste a half hour in case they did not have one.  The lady did not open the door but asked if she could help me.  I promptly asked if they sold deer carriers!  As luck would have it, they did, but still did not open until 7:30.  So I ran next door to the gas station and got 3 blocks of ice (and another Colorado elk t-shirt) and a bottle of Gatorade for the long walk in.  Back to the hardware store and paced until 7:25 when they opened the doors early for me.  They had a nice carrier on display and several more in boxes.  But that meant assembly required and time I did not have, so I asked the manager if they would sell the display.  I should write them a thank you letter because they did, and off I headed to the trailhead.


Once again, I headed to camp and all of those workouts prior to the hunt paid off because I made it in record time with no stops for air.  When I got to the tents, a 2-way radio was on my tent and I called them and got directions to where his bull was.  Well, that did not exactly work out too well – “Follow the creek by the camp and stay to the right when it branches off”.  I did that, but came upon a marshy area and somehow ended up taking another left branch and ended up in a completely different draw.  I eventually found them and to my surprise there lay a nice 5×5 bull with a 25 yard double lung shot.  Kirt’s first bull with the bow!  Wow, what are the odds I thought… 2 bulls!  More pictures!  Kirt had snuck up on the bull just after it bugled.


That day was long for me as I helped pack out the bull to the trailhead (and on ice) and hiked back in to camp for the second time.  The next morning came early and we headed up into the dark timber again.  We did not walk 15 minutes when Kirt grabbed Bill and whispered there’s a cow in the meadow ahead of us.  We never heard a noise to know she was there or any other calls that morning.  She moved off to the left and out came a small rag horn at about 35 yards.  Bill quickly drew back and whispered “It’s too dark, I can’t see my pins”.  He let one go and it did not make it ½ way to the bull before it hit the ground with sparks flying.  I remember thinking that’s it, that was his chance, that’s all you get, that’s all you can expect on such a short hunt…  We stood there in awe, and I think I gave a couple of calls on the hoochie-mama.  Well, another bull crested the hill.  All I saw was the horns and the light came on in my head as to what to do.  I quickly backed up and went straight away from my two buddies into the dark timber calling on the hoochie-mama.  I broke some sticks while walking.  As a Pennsylvania Whitetail hunter, it is taboo to make any noise while hunting, but Elk seem to love to hear a small branch break as reassurance that the call they hear is real.


Then I hear it.  Thwack.  That hollow sound that an arrow makes when hitting the chest cavity.  I sat there for a second and thought did this just happen?  Could we go 3 for 3?  Then I began calling again, almost non-stop.  Another trick I learned first hand from the ElkNut!  A few seconds later, I hear another Thwack.  Now I was confused.  I know he did not miss the first time and that the second arrow sounded the same.  I must have been about 80 yards from my buddies now so I started back to see what the heck just happened. 


When I got to them, they were giddy.  Kirt kept saying to Bill (teasing him) “Turn my peep – Turn my peep”.  But it was Bill that had been shooting.  I guess when Bill drew back, his peep did not turn open and he could not see through it.  So he had Kirt turn his peep while at full draw on the ELK.  He made his first shot at 40 yards slightly back with the bull quartering to him (not good).  But the Elk jumped and stood at 60 yards again (I like to think because of my calling in the background), so again Bill drew back and had Kirt turn his peep, this time connecting slightly back with the bull quartering away (bingo). 


Later, on the 26 hour ride home to PA this became known as the impressive “cross arrow placement tactic”.  Now the waiting started.  Kirt went up the hill first (imagine 60 yards at a 45 degree grade).  Bill stood with me with eyes that were glazed over replaying the events that just happened.   Kirt whispered down to us “First Blood”.  That was a good sign, so we moved up to where he was and attempted to find any of the 3 arrows that were now missing from his quiver.  No luck.  We gave the bull an hour and proceeded to track it.  It amazes me how hard it is to see blood on pine needles before the sun is high in the sky.  We tracked for about 150 yards (I was in the rear and took the job of staying on the last spot of blood until the next was found).  Soon I saw Bill point and at the same time Bill and Kirt raise their binoculars.  Next I saw Bills bow raised above his head in sheer joy, while Kirt yelled “He’s down! – He’s down!!!”.  After several photos, the cell phones came out.  First calls went to the 2 guys that were also invited for this trip, but chose not to go.  I remember hearing “3 bulls down and headed for home…YEAH WE GOT THREE BULLS… no kidding”.


I have read that the odds of killing an elk with the bow are around 18% for an archery hunter.  Don’t ask me how 3 guys killed each of their first bulls with the bow on the same trip, because I don’t know.  I don’t know that we could ever do it again.  I cannot believe it even happened in the first place.  But I can’t wait to go again…


Why this one meant so much to me?

  • No outfitter
  • No guide
  • No one calling for me
  • National Forest land (No fences)




07 Hoyt Vectrix XL (need to thank Gold-n-Grain Archery)


280 feet per second

About 77 pounds of kinetic energy

Bemoan ISC Hunter 400’s – 436 grains

4 ½ inch Duravanes

Magnus Buzz Cut Stingers 100g (need to thank Magnus broad heads)

Trophy Ridge Rhino Guide series 5 pin sight

Trophy Taker Pronghorn rest


I need to thank the ElkNut (www.elknut.com) for teaching this Pennsylvania native how to Elk hunt, his videos are the only ones I own.  I especially need to thank my Wife and children for my time away from home and time spent focusing on this trip.  They have allowed me to live my dream.  And also thanks to the man upstairs for answering a prayer or two along the way…

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Published by Gear Junky on 27 Apr 2008

When you come to a fork in the road, take it

When I was fourteen, my family was lucky enough to hunt Oregon’s famous Antone Ranch for big game each year. My grandpa knew the owner, and we had hunting privileges for a couple of decades until an outfitter made his way in and showed us the way out. We enjoyed some great times over those years, and one of them in particular comes to mind.

I was mule deer hunting when God sent an early Christmas gift to me one memorable evening. As I headed back to camp, I stumbled upon a broadside buck at ten yards. He was frozen and shocked – I froze up in shock – and neither of us had any clue what to do next. In my defense, I hadn’t killed my first deer yet so I was a bit overwhelmed, and in his defense, his back right hoof was stuck in a barbed-wire fence. An even match, as I recall.

You may assume that this scenario proved to be unfortunate for our fine furry friend, but in fact the opposite was true. As luck would have it, I had grown up reading every copy of the Eastman’s Hunting Journal that I could get my fingers on, so with visions of world-class trophies dancing in my head, I was determined to reserve my first bullet for a four-point, nothing less. I’d like to say that I had high ethical standards and wouldn’t have shot a buck that was trapped by a bloody leg in sharp metal wire, but…I was fourteen, and probably had the ethics of a billy goat like most high school freshmen. ‘Twas youth that saved that muley’s life.

I approached him slowly, saying, “Easy, little buddy, I’m not going to hurt you, I’m here to help you.” Maybe it was my reputation as an aspiring young assassin, or maybe it was the loaded .257 in my hands, but in any case he didn’t look convinced. I stepped within reach of his hind quarters and saw that he had tried to jump the fence, but came up short and snagged his back hoof. He now had a leg injury that would make Joe Theisman proud; it wouldn’t be long before the coyotes would come to play.

Once I realized that the bloody hind leg wasn’t actually broken, I pulled out my Maglite, jammed it between the two twisted wires, and pried an opening so he could wiggle his leg free. To thank me for my kindness, he kicked me in the thigh before yanking his hoof clear of the wire. He hobbled about fifteen yards before pausing to lick the wound and shake off the pain. After a minute he regained his senses, took one last gander at a fourteen year-old boy with a rifle and a hunting tag, and promptly bolted off. He was limping slightly, but looked like he’d recover.

But, like most hunting stories told by men with weapons, this tale does not end well for the young buck. You see, my grandpa did not grow up reading Eastman’s Hunting Journals, he already had a den full of four points, and was known for his insatiable affinity for tender young venison. Standing on the other side of the ridge, he was more than happy to unload on an eighteen-month-old buck with a limp and a death wish.

You can imagine the jokes and the punchlines that we came up with that night while grandpa cooked up the backstrap. Sometimes comedy writes itself.

Yep, it’s all true. (Except the parts that aren’t.)

5 votes, average: 3.40 out of 55 votes, average: 3.40 out of 55 votes, average: 3.40 out of 55 votes, average: 3.40 out of 55 votes, average: 3.40 out of 5 (5 votes, average: 3.40 out of 5)
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Published by csinclair on 22 Apr 2008

10 Things every Archer who wants to be a Bow Hunter should know.

Practice in full camo gear.

1.) Bow hunting / hunting is / can be very expensive when starting out, having all the best gear isn’t necessary to practice your archery skills, (good archery skills is the basis for Bow Hunting), get decent quality gear and practice lots.

2.) Bow hunting / hunting can be / (is) very time consuming if you’re serious / passionate about it.
(Make sure your spouse, girl/boy friend is OK with it, because it can / will be time a consuming obsession).

3.) Be a student of the hunt, there’s more than one way to do it, every old timer is your teacher,
do lots of reading, talk a little, but listen a lot.

4.) You will accidently hurt / bruise your bow arm with the string from having improper form at some point, don’t be discouraged, learn from it, improve.

5.) If you’re using a mechanical release, you will hurt your face / nose / lip / eye / etc.. with a pre-mature / accidental release, (one fellow I talked to said he even broke his own nose, apparently it’s pretty common when new to the sport).

6.) Practice makes perfect, there’s no substitute for practice. If you think you’re shooting well, step back 10 or 20 yards and think again. Practice, practice, practice.

7.) Be safe and careful, remember to practice safety for you and for others around you, nobody want’s to get hurt.

8.) Be respectful of nature, including the land, prey you hunt and other animals you’re not hunting,
that may live in the area you’re hunting / practicing / scouting in.

9.) Practice for hunting in the gear / clothing that you’d be wearing during a hunt, if you don’t practice shooting in full gear, how will you know if you can perform when the moment comes.

10.) Do your research with regards to local laws, rules and regulations, don’t get into trouble, you’re an ambassador of the archery / bow hunter community, be responsible, set a good example.

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Published by Gear Junky on 20 Apr 2008

The Bull

(While I work on my next series of must-have gear recommendations, here’s a poem that I spent at least twenty minutes on. Get your Kleenex ready.)

The Bull

My bugle echoed across the ridge,

his quickly fired back;

We each stalked angrily toward the meadow,

both eager to attack.

His antlers tipped with ivory gleamed

like candles in the dew;

My arrows tipped with razors

longed to find their bloody hue.

His breath could chill a mountainside,

his growl meant certain doom;

My stomach growled from last night’s taco,

my breath could clear a room.

With unbridled fury he raked a sapling,

then grunted deep in rut;

I grunted when an ice-cold sapling

jabbed me in the butt.

He proudly strode into the open

and welcomed a fair fight;

I proudly hid behind a stump

and gripped my weapon tight.

He closed the gap to thirty yards –

then stopped to turn away;

Before his instincts could save his hide

my arrow made him pay.

His spirit is still resting

in the meadow on that ridge;

Part of him rests upon my wall,

and part of him in my fridge.


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Published by spacetechy on 18 Apr 2008

The New Science of Scent

To the hunter, the snort of a deer downwind and the flagging tail tell the ancient story yet again. Since the dawn of primal hunters, deer have been smelling us, foiling us as frustrated hunters trying to overcome our alarming array of odors. Even though the act seems as simple as the primitive response that causes bucks to flee with one small sniff, it’s actually an interesting scientific process. And harnessing the true science of scent from Ice Age to Space Age can make any deer hunter incredibly more effective.

What is scent?


First, we need to identify that mysterious something we cannot see, touch, or usually smell that creates such sudden spooking of deer. At the risk of igniting our universal dislike for chemistry class years ago, the secret hinges on two simple words – molecular biochemistry. Don’t fear. This understanding doesn’t have to be as complicated as splitting atoms. Just a few key concepts are all we need to comprehend the culprits floating in the air.

Even Ice Age hunters probably figured out that scent is simply an outpouring airborne biochemical compounds that have broken free from their source as clusters of molecules. Okay, though the scientific terms escaped them, they understood the raw concept. It’s kind of like seeing breath plumes on a frosty morning where thousands of tiny molecule clusters float away on the thermals from their source, tumbling in a slow state of decay as they break apart further, carrying a million messages to creatures with scent receptors that evolved over eons to avoid predators.

So just what in the heck are these biochemical molecules spooking deer? Unfortunately, the list in man’s modern world is too vast to even begin identifying. But the root is an array of chemical reactions caused by organic compounds and enzymes catalyzing and undergoing molecular changes such as oxidation and temperature that break apart their molecular bonds. It’s akin to a water evaporating. As molecular bonds break down on the surface, individual molecules break free and float away. For an odor to leave its source and become a scent it needs to become lipophilic, or generally electrically neutral and nonpolar, plus small enough in molecular weight (< 300 Da) to become volatile or airborne. This is the point where fragrant molecules escape from their fluid or solid source into the thin air. In our scent-rich world, this process causes the liberation of a vast mixture of molecular aromatics in the form of alcohols, aliphatic organics, organosulphurs, aldehydes, fatty acids, terpenoids, benzenoids, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into “smellable” odors. More odors are generated by the biosynthesis of these chemicals interacting with one another. Alright, enough chemistry torture. Suffice it to say that it’s those darn little volatile molecules floating off us and our stuff that’s messing us up.

ID The Sources


Now that we understand the general biochemistry and molecular science of scent, how do we deal with the complex problem of our bodies and our modern world liberating all these VOCs into the woods while were hunting? Ah-ha, that is the savvy hunter’s quest in understanding the science of scent that can effectively turn blind luck into calculated success.

Let’s begin by classifying the two main types of scent that typically ruin a hunt. They are direct scent “emitted” from the hunter and their gear, and indirect scent that a hunter “disperses” throughout the woods during the overall act of hunting. At first glance, one would conclude that direct scent is the worse culprit in ruining that chance at a big buck. But a closer look at all the causes and cures gives us an important glimpse beyond the simple source.

Causes – Your Body and Your Gear


Depending on the hunter, their gear, and their personal environment, the list of direct scent can be downright staggering. Nonetheless, a summary would include the obvious odors of the hunter’s body and breath. Not so obvious are various forms of odor-generating bacteria, natural hair oils producing scent, millions of dead skin cells liberating odors, hygiene products for the body and hair pouring out VOCs, and organic chemicals emitted from skin, ears, sweat, nose and other “shadowy” places on the human body. Dang it, too bad you need that body to take you hunting.

As if that small list from the body wasn’t haunting enough, consider the endless possibilities of odors on a hunter’s gear. Boots alone emit odors of rubber, leather, manufacturing chemicals, waterproofing, floor products, mildew, and virtually everything the hunter has walked past or stepped in – from cow pies to gas station odors. Beside boots, most hunters wear hats loaded with the scent of repeated wearing with the hunt-spoiling aromas of fabric manufacturing chemicals, human hair, hair products, sweat, more bacteria, and dead skin cells. The same goes for a hunter’s clothing worn underneath their camowear. Even a grunt call or rattling antler is loaded with hand oils, breath bacteria, and everything a hunter has touched with lips, gloved or bare hands. So is it any wonder that simply putting on a single layer of scent-control camowear consistently fails to keep our vast array of VOC’s from reaching a deer’s nose? Naw, not really if you think about it.

To make matters worse, every time we walk through the woods, brush against twigs or grass, touch brush, hang a treestand, climb a tree, use a pull-up rope, and lean against a tree, we leave an invisible trail of indirect odors from all the sources noted above. And although those odor molecules are invisible to us, they aren’t invisible to the nose of any mature whitetail, especially big bucks. Yes, we know you’re careful, but every time you enter a stand, you lay down another telltale trail of indirect VOCs that a deer’s nose uses to unravel your ambush. In fact, some of the top trophy whitetail hunters in America admit that it’s their lingering indirect scent that prevents them from scoring more than anything else on a big buck they’re after. That’s also why so many hunters have tagged their best bucks that first time they hunted a new stand. It makes perfect scent-sense.

The Cautions and Cures


Though the challenges of eliminating or controlling all this scent seems overwhelming, it can be effectively done and perhaps easier than you thought – especially with the help of today’s technology.

The first scent generating item on you list to control is your body. It may be a bother to shower right before you go hunting every time, but it is one of the most significant things you can do to knock down your direct human scent. It may sound strange but be sure to scrub parts of your body that produce the most odor, such as places you might not consider like in and behind your ears. It’s natural for us to think we don’t stink, but just rub a finger behind your ear sometime and take a good sniff. Your hair, eyebrows, around the nose and neck are also important odor rich spots. Fortunately, your choice of scent-free soaps, deodorants, and a whole new wave of personal scent cover products abound in today’s hunting market. Just a word of caution however before dousing your body with various sprays or lotions that are designed to eliminate or mask your human odor. The reason that more medications are available today as patches to absorb through your skin is that your body readily absorbs stuff put on your skin. And some doctors will tell you that if it isn’t safe to drink, you should think twice about covering your body with it. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your family doctor. Or, with today’s Internet realm of research, do a little digging yourself, or simply ask the manufacturer. A safer solution that has worked for years is a dusting of baking soda to neutralize the bacteria and acids that form odors. For your breath, try one of the baking soda toothpastes. And be sure to brush your tongue as far back as you can without gagging.

Okay, now that you’re standing there naked, you better put some clothes on before heading out into the frosty darkness. Basically, treat your under garments and clothing the same as you would your body. Unlike your body however, fabric has a very nasty habit of absorbing a multitude of contaminating odors because the woven fibers act as a molecular sieve to collect all those lipophilic VOCs. Avoid using clothes dryer products and dryers that use scented fabric softeners. These products will generate aromatic VOCs for days on end. That’s one of their selling points.

Also, beware of where you store your clothing – even your underwear. Now before you think I’m paranoid, consider the last time you took clean clothes from a dresser drawer or closet. If you took a big whiff, you might detect a faint hint at what a deer could smell easily – cooking smells, mold, pet scent, and a host of environmental “drawer or closet” odors. And before you say, “No way!” keep in mind that your olfactory senses are naturally “calibrated” to your living environment. Just ask a stranger to smell your closet. Or better yet, smell the drawers or closet of some stranger (okay, relatives) and you’ll smell all kinds of odors that elude their noses because everyone’s nose becomes calibrated to neutral (undetectable) for base odors in their living environment.





Technology to the Rescue


– Just when you thought you might go crazy with all this scent stuff, ta-da, today’s technology comes to the rescue. Besides the products that help keep your body from smelling, new innovations are now appearing for scent-free storage. Both hard and soft storage containers are now available for keeping your clean clothes odor free. Though primarily designed for camo outerwear and boots, the rule of thumb is that if you plan on wearing it hunting, even underneath carbon-lined camo, be smart and keep your under layers stored in an odor free environment.

Find Scent Gold in Silver

– Now that your body and undergarments are odor free, consider tapping into the new wealth of odor control offered in today’s generation of silver-lined hunting garments. Silver ions (Ag+) work as antimicrobial agents toxic to odor generating bacteria on the human body. Ions pass from the silver-lined fibers to inhibit the bacteria’s ability to reproduce and form stinky gases. All the way from underwear to outerwear, manufacturers offer a wide range of silver-lined garments for today’s scent-savvy hunter.

Activated Carbon-Lined Suits –

After nearly two decades on the market, most trophy whitetail hunters today insist on wearing activated carbon-lined outerwear in the form of Scent-Lok products or their licensees to absorb odors. Though its effectiveness might be debatable in some circles, the vast majority of knowledgeable deer hunters today agree that it’s a key component in their battle to control the vast world of scent.

Ozone Machines

– Most recently, electronics have entered the arena of odor control with the appearance of some electronic devices that claim to kill odors using the accelerated process of oxidation. Organic compounds or odors that accumulate on hunter’s clothing, boots and gear can theoretically be oxidized by saturation with O3 (ozone and clustered ozone molecules) to the point that the VOCs become non-detectable OCs. Though ozone-generating technology was discovered way back in the 1840’s, some companies are now promoting the technology to kill a hunter’s odors. One portable ozone device in fact has even been introduced to generate a plume of ozone around the hunter in the field, supposedly neutralizing VOCs coming from the hunter in the stand.

Thanks NASA

– But perhaps the most revolutionary electronic device yet to appear in the war against odor control came from outer space. State-of-the-art technology developed in cooperation with NASA to keep astronauts and spacecraft from getting stinky in extended space travel, is now available in a device for hunters called the Xterminator (www.xterminator.us). This innovative machine uses patented technology to shred VOC molecules into their base elements, which destroys odors on anything within the effective range of the machine. The size of a six-pack, this device turns a hunter’s closet into an odor decontamination chamber by emitting a unique combination of four synergistic technologies. Despite the apparent complexity of the science, the bottom line is that it literally tears apart the molecular bonds of organic compounds into their base atomic elements, destroying odor-producing molecules on everything a hunter wears, uses or carries into the woods. As you might expect for outer space scientists, this gizmo also effectively kills a wide range of bacteria that cause odors. Watch out whitetails.

So next time you head for the woods, think twice about the new science of today’s innovations in scent and how it can make or break your chances of tagging that trophy buck. Some old timers might think it isn’t “fair” to use any technology to fool the nose of the whitetail, let alone use a space-age device that decontaminates odors on everything you own with the flip of a switch. Nonetheless, the whitetail remains the most finely attuned big game to roam the planet, and revolutionary stuff from outer space probably isn’t enough for the smartest ones to consistently elude the majority of hunters.

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Published by Martin Archery on 17 Apr 2008

Martin Archery Arrowtrade Article

             One of the oldest bow manufacturers has been quietly embracing one of the newest riser construction techniques to provide a better value while it boosts its share of the bow market.  With the aid of many long-time employees, three generations of Martins are leading the design, manufacture and marketing of bows that employ modular risers as a way to sharply reduce manufacturing costs.  From the $399 Bengal that Vice President Terry Martin first told me about in mid 2006 to the $599 Firecat.
 I remember quizzing Terry about how the joints would be formed and finished when the vice-president and lead designer first called me about the Bengal. Rather than wait for the rest of the 2007 line to be introduced, Martin was releasing the Bengal early to gain some fall 2006 sales with a mid-priced 32-inch model that boasted a ball-bearing mounted M-Pro single cam, a Vibration Escape Kit, and fully laminated Coreflex limbs. Terry, who also heads marketing, wanted to talk about how Martin Pro Shooter Laura Francese preferred the Bengal to longer competition models and how Martin ads would use her fresh-faced beauty to attract attention to the value-packed new bow.

 Martin is reporting a 25 percent increase in sales for 2007, in large part because of the Bengal and the Cheetah and is now making three more models: the Firecat, Moab, and Leopard.
 Terry Martin heads the diverse bow design team at Martin Archery but he credits son Ryan and its other members for a lot of the inspiration and effort that’s reflected in the 2007 and 2008 models. In addition to Scott Landwehr and Ryan Martin, the team includes head machinist Aaron Hamilton, 3-D computer modeling pro Jake Richmond and graphic artist Ken Melhus. Terry attends some of the bi-weekly meetings early in the year but then prefers to track the progress through the meeting notes and a master spreadsheet that charts where each new or redesigned product is at in the process that takes it from good idea to good seller for Martin dealers.
 I knew one of the reasons Terry preferred to work from a home office: Pain from a decades old auto crash in front of the plant meant he often had to work from a prone position. Terry’s Pinto was rear-ended by a semi on busy Hwy. 12 in front of the Martin plant and the neck injury never got the surgical attention it should have. When I visited Terry at his home, he showed me how he would use reclining office chairs to look up at computer screens above him so his neck would be fully supported. Now that a spacer had been inserted between the neck vertebrae in a recent operation, he looked and sounded stronger than he has for years.
 Terry Martin may continue to spend most of his time at his home office, for a few other reasons.  He prefers giving the design team its head and then occasionally redirecting the efforts. Once in a while he simply says “No, don’t pursue that it’s been tried before” from the perspective of someone with a lot of years in the archery industry who is working to complete a book on the history of the compound. Second, Terry’s large home is also the nerve center for ArcheryTalk.com and its related sites, the archeryhistory.com and archerychat.com that together generate more than 20 million hits per month for about 140 banner advertisers. Terry showed me the logo Ken Melhus had just developed for a new ArcheryTalkTV site where hunting shows can be downloaded for viewing whenever the consumer wants, which could be important to the industry now one of the outdoor networks has folded. Terry and Ken devote part of their time to the internet company, while its three other employees work out of offices in Terry’s home. About 20 volunteer moderators work out of their own homes, Terry noted, to police the busy sites for objectionable language and images and to try to keep people from posting false information to gain an advantage over another brand.

 Here’s a third reason why Terry may often be found in his home office. It’s important for the future of this family owned business to allow its third generation, represented by Ryan Martin, to hone his management skills. Early that day I’d been talking with Gail Martin, who with wife Eva founded Martin Archery 57 years ago to make bowstrings and arrows. We were talking about the just-announced sale of BowTech to Savage Sports Corporation, maker of the Savage Arms line of firearms. Gail didn’t seem too worried about additional resources being available to BowTech, noting past involvement by firearms firms in the archery industry hadn’t worked out so well.
 When I teased him that he was jealous Savage had come courting that Oregon bow builder instead of Martin Archery, the founder told me in all seriousness. “We probably get at least one or two inquiries per week from people wanting to buy Martin Archery. Often it’s an investment group and they tell you exactly how much money they have behind them. I probably would have sold it a few years ago, but we have grandchildren involved in the business, like Ryan and he’s doing a really good job. He’s learned a lot in the past few years and he’s really enthusiastic, he’s working on something new all the time.”
 Martin also has a lot of loyal employees to think of, Gail said, including many with 20 years of service and two he could name at the Yakima plant that have more than 40 years with the firm. Between the Yakima operation where the compound limbs are laminated and the traditional bows are built, and the Walla Walla headquarters, Martin has about 125 employees.  This includes Terry’s brother Dan, who is his frequent hunting partner, Gail noted, showing me the deer he and Dan had arrowed on one of three recent Oregon hunts. “I got that deer just a few days after my 84th birthday. I had cataract surgery three years ago and it’s really made a difference. We’ve got a whole group in Yakima that go to the traditional shoots and I’m fortunate that I can still shoot and keep up to them.”

 Gail and wife Eva still work most days at the plant, unless they’re on a trip. Eva oversees the accounting department and Gail is involved with designing traditional bows like the carbon-reinforced Bamboo Viper and with designing some of the accessories. Gail also insists Martin continue to put long-term goals over short-term profits, evident in areas like its approach to building compound bow limbs.
 When Martin switched from building limbs laminated of fiberglass and wood to limbs ground from blanks of Gordon Glass, Gail said there were appearance and breakage concerns as cut fibers lift ed. Rather than laminate one side or the other, or just use that thin layer of unidirectional glass on models where the stresses seemed to require it, Martin began laminating all compound limbs, both sides. In the Yakima plant plates of contoured fiberglass are bonded to thin laminations using special adhesive and large presses, then the laminated plates are cut to width for the limbs. “We’re probably one of the few that do that all on all limbs, laminate both sides,” Gail said. “I believe you should build the best product you can, and price it accordingly. It costs a company a lot of money if you get returns and have to replace limbs, and dealers don’t want that headache, they want something reliable.”
 Ryan Martin knows what dealers want in a bow, because his role has expanded to have him work with the sales reps and to personally call on large accounts and service a territory of his own. Two weeks before I visited, Ryan and Scott Landwehr had been in Minneapolis to preview the 2008 line for the William B. Gartland sales rep group. A week before my visit Ryan presented the 2008 line to the buyers for Sportsman’s Warehouse, and visited Jake’s Archery and retailers in the Salt Lake City area. After I left Martin to head for home, Ryan would take a late flight to Reno, so he could go over products and programs with the Wild West Marketing Group. “Then next week I’m on the road. I have a really small territory, nothing like our reps do, and I don’t collect a commission. I do it to try to get the experience of what our reps are up against. I go into the dealers, shake their hands, see what they’ve got to work with and who they’re competing with.”
 Martin is asking all its Pro Series retailers to renew their contracts this year, which prohibits them from selling online or in most cases from shipping a bow to a customer. In turn Martin provides support for store shooters, a dealer kit that includes decals and certificates, a protected territory and some very attractive pricing.
 “The Pro Series has a Minimum Advertised Price and a Suggested Retail Price,” Ryan noted. The best prices to dealers are what are referred to as the COD prices: It’s what you buy at when you pay by COD or credit card. The net 60 price, meaning payment is due 60 days from invoicing, is a step up from the COD price. Ryan pointed out Martin calculates its MAP 30 to 35 percent above the net 60 price, instead of basing it off the lowest possible price. Yet Pro Series dealers automatically pay the COD price, giving them a larger profit margin. Or they can choose the option of being billed at the net 60 price, and being given until fall to pay the invoice. “If they take us up on our best pricing, they’ll be getting 40 percent margin even when they sell bows at the lowest advertised price,” he said.

 Those Pro Series dealers will also be getting Martin’s most advanced products. Ryan’s familiarity with the design and manufacturing process was apparent as we talked about the unusual limb mounting system you’ll see on the Firecat and Moab, two bows that are limited to Pro Series dealers. “We’ve been asked by our customers for a few years for a limb cup that rotated, as opposed to a fixed one. It never made sense for us to rotate the entire end of the cup and have a large side load on the limb bolt and have there be play between the limb cup and the riser. For us it was always more important to have the limbs exactly aligned, whether they were buying a basic Martin bow to go hunting with or they were getting ready to compete in Vegas.”
 Martin’s design team realized people were getting used to seeing limb cups where the sides had been machined away, and it went a step farther to develop a Roto  Limb Cup which has no end cup at all. The bow weight is adjusted by a limb bolt that still goes through a rotating barrel bolt to allow a full 15 pounds of adjustment. It’s aligned on that bolt and about three inches further back, where stainless steel pins aligning the limb rotate on hidden components. It’s as precise as the system Martin has been using on models like the Bengal, Ryan said, looks cleaner and contributes to the light 3.6 pound mass weight of the new Firecat. 
 The Firecat and Moab are built on identical risers, which sport trim new grips and a new sound-dampening riser plate, both molded from the same vibration dampening material the company has been using in its riser mounted Vibration Escape Modules. “One of the problems with our older Thermal II grip was it was kind of thick out the back,” Ryan admitted. “On our new bows we were going for a thinner, sleeker feel.
This material can be molded very thin, as we do for our new arrow shelf. But we didn’t want that polymer to be what the shooter was pressing their hand against: We wanted something really solid with good thermal properties.” The design team settled on black leather for the back of the grip, combining it with a molded portion that wraps the front and sides. Ryan got the inspiration for the attractive bars on the molded portion of the new grip from the grill on his BMW dual sport motorcycle.
 While risers are identical on the Firecat and MOAB, feel and performance of the bows are radically different. The CAT Cam used on the Firecat incorporates Cam Assisted Timing, and is a hybrid system developed with technology licensed from Rex Darlington of Darton Archery. It produces an aggressive force draw curve and helps the bow generate advertised speeds of 335 fps despite its generous 7 inch brace height. The Firecat was a breakthrough model for Martin in the mid-90s, Ken Melhus reminded me when I sat down with him and Jake Richmond, and so that was the perfect name for a new speed bow that has been in the works since the 2007 ATA Show.
 PSE’s success in attracting interest with the very fast X Force on the Atlanta show floor is part of what convinced Martin the market was keen for a new speed bow, Jake said. “We wanted it to be in the 340 fps range. The 2008 Bengal shoots 315 fps, so you’re talking 25 fps faster with a Firecat. There are a lot of fast bows out there but where I think we’re going to gain sales is with a price point of $599.”
 While the Firecat is exactly what a lot of bowhunters will want
in 2008, Jake said he personally prefers shooting the MOAB. That bow uses the company’s M-Pro single cam and is set up for a much softer draw cycle. “I’d say drawing a 70 pound MOAB feels comparable to drawing a 60 pound Firecat. But then Scott Landwehr loves the Firecat, he’s been shooting one for months.”
 “If you can get a bow that is fast enough it will get a lot of ‘street cred’” Ken added. “A lot of people will come into a Martin dealer and ask ‘what’s the fastest bow, but they don’t necessarily want the fastest bow after they draw it back. With a MOAB, the dealer can say ‘We’ll, here’s a bow with the same specifications that’s easier to work with.’” It’s also easier to afford. Because Martin is fully paid up on the single cam patent, it can price the MOAB at $479.

 That’s also why you’ll see a miniature M-Pro single cam on the new and unique Tiger kid’s bow, one designed with minimal letoff so you can shoot it anywhere from 14 to 22 inches in draw length. That bow started with Ryan and Jake sketching on a blank sheet of paper, then progressed to two dimensional drawings in the Illustrator program Ryan prefers for it’s free flowing capabilities. He loaded the two-dimensional design for a molded shoot-through riser with graphic elements like miniature VEMs provided by Ken Melhus, then turned the file over to Jake.
 Jake works in Solid Works, a 3-D modeling program, and generated files that could be rotated and viewed from every direction. When everybody on the design team was happy with the Tiger’s design, Jake e-mailed it to a vendor who formed parts using the Stereo Lithography process that hardens resin with laser beams. (If this had been an adult bow with metal riser and components, head machinist Aaron Hamilton would have taken Jake’s Solid Works file and reworked it into the computer files that drive the CNC machines for Martin and its vendors.)
 The SLA parts are what Martin’s staff used to assemble the first prototypes to assure that everything fit the way it was supposed to after the film dip was applied. Ken then used the SLA bow to get photos for the 2008 catalog, many weeks before the tool would be ready so a vendor could start injection molding the shoot-through risers of glass filled nylon.
 We could draw the bow assembled from its SLA components in Ryan’s office, because the little Tiger only will be offered in 10 and 20 pound draw weights. But for a little bow, it can make a big impact on Martin’s bottom line. “We sell tons of kids bows, but since someone makes them for us, it doesn’t help Martin that much,” Ryan confided. “Our reps said there was a huge need for a bow of this type, and I worked with our R&D team to make sure it looks as much like dad’s bow as possible. We modeled it after our Slayer.”
 “Normally bows of this size are all limb and very little riser,” Ryan continued. They’re made that way to reduce cost and help stiffen the molded riser, which even so may curve toward the sight window after it comes out of the mold and is strung. The shoot-through riser stays straight, works for right and left handers and like a full-capture rest it solves the problem of kids pinching the arrow so it falls off the rest. That problem was fresh in Ryan’s mind because he’d just taught three youngsters to shoot before the Tiger project was launched and in every case they had a tendency to grab the string and force the arrow off the rest. It’s a little slower to load the arrow from the rear, he acknowledged, but the packaging should be able to communicate other advantages of the shoot-through design, including full fletching clearance. “The bows we’re competing with have  you shooting off the shelf,” he noted.
Ryan said the Tiger youth bow is already opening doors for Martin with independent retailers and chains that aren’t carrying the adult bows now. He was at two retailers the week before who liked the light weight, the smooth shot and the price points of the adult line, but we’re not ready to commit to another bow line. Both retailers signed up with Martin specifically to order the Tiger, he said. “So if a customer asks about one of our hunting bows they’ll be able to say, ‘sure, we can order them in’ and then they may start stocking some. It gets our foot in the door.”
 Martin’s got some more “door openers” in the 2008 line. Ryan talked about seeing how target faces are often displayed stacked flat on shelves, if they’re not hidden behind the counter. Often they’re not even priced because the retailer doesn’t want to put a tag on each one and just counts on the customer asking for them.
 When Martin took the step of transferring its full color animal targets from film to digital files recently, it looked again at this product people were taking for granted. “We looked at how posters are displayed in stores, and decide to roll the targets into packs. You’ll order either a small game set or a large game set, and we’ll include a sight-in target face.  Since it’s not a flat package now, they’ll get four target pins as well. We sell a lot of target pins to retailers, but we sell them in the hundreds and the individual consumer just wants four.” By repackaging its targets and bundling them with the pins, Ryan said Martin has caught the attention of retailers large and small with the new target sets.

 Feedback from retailers is behind another change for 2008, which should boost sales of accessories for what’s often thought of as a “bow” company. “They don’t want to put a sight or quiver in from Martin because they feel the Martin name on it keyholes into one bow brand,” Ryan said. “They say they like our accessories but the Martin name kills it for any other bow owner. So our Wild Man brand was born.” The name suggested by Terry Martin is being used to re-brand some popular accessories and it’s going on a new bow carrier and new Round-A-Bout Stabilizer. The stabilizer has the same material Martin uses in the VEMs, those riser-mounted vibration killers that Martin holds the patent on.
 Before I left his office, Ryan showed me another better idea from Martin. The company enjoyed strong sales for its complete bow packages that come with the bow set up with accessories and with the arrows, release and quiver in the top of the hard shell case. The sets come in a large cardboard box with a full-color photo showing the bow and accessories.
Martin found there’s just room at the curved corner of the case to include a Rinehart Field Target and since the box goes as “oversize” anyway, there’s no additional charge for the added weight. There are field points in the package and by eliminating the broadheads Martin could cover the cost of including the target. “The whole idea of these kits is that someone could buy one, or get it as a gift, and have everything they’d need to go shooting right now,” Ryan said. “The dealer can pop open the case, put a price tag in the middle of it, and it’s all displayed just like it is on the package. The customer will get a really good bow and in a few months if they want a different rest, need more than four arrows or are ready to buy broadheads for hunting season, they’ll be back in the store.”
 A dealer can’t ask for more than that.

2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by csinclair on 15 Apr 2008

Eat, Sleep, Archery – the pay off is … accuracy?

I sincerely feel that all of my archery practice as of late is really starting to pay off. It is becoming very obvious in how my arrows are grouping tightly in two’s and threes, however, I’m still slightly high and to the right it seems, no matter how I tune my sight up to the arrows, which I find odd..?,

*Can anyone help with an explanation of why this may be? I can hit the gold if I compensate slightly low, left, but if I change my sight to that position, I always end up with tight groups slightly high and to the right again, maybe it’s in my release?

I’ve been trying to shoot every day now that the nice weather is back and I’m really feeling good about my shooting, ‘all’ of my arrows are in a pretty tight group now, which they never were before.

I joined my provincial archery association today, (the OAA),  so that I can shoot in 3D tournaments this summer to prepare myself a little more for bow hunting next year, which is very exciting end result of all my hard work, dedication to shooting every day, proper diet and fitness training and all the reading that I’ve been doing to try and get ready for it.

Another good thing that happenned today is that my friend who I shoot with is starting to get noticably better, and really seems to enjoy archery, and his daughter who is 10 years old has also become interested and is shooting well now too, soon enough I may have enough participants to start a club, which is a perfect solution for us seeing as there are none in our area, why not?

2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 15 Apr 2008

Trying to Impress Dad

 It was a cold, dreary November afternoon as my Mom and I drove to meet my dad.  It was deer season and my dad had begrudgingly agreed to take a break from hunting to spend some time with family.  You see, deer season was HIS time, a two and a half week period each year that he absolutely lived for.  He usually left home the night before opening day, popped back in for a quick Thanksgiving dinner, and then was gone again.  We didn’t see him again until he took his one allotted buck or the season ended, whichever came first.  There weren’t many deer during those days so the hunting was hard and often frustrating.  Most seasons’ successes were not measured in actually harvesting a deer but more in how many were seen during the season.  Success percentage rates were in the single digits during those times, and the rural communities would be abuzz with news of the harvest of trophy bucks.  Consistently harvesting whitetails in those days was a sure way to assure you folk hero status around town.  For many, it was also a way to ensure that the family was well fed during the long cold Indiana winters.  Hearing the news that Dad had gotten a deer was cause for joyous celebration around my house.  I knew Dad would be the talk of the town and I knew that Mom would have a big worry lifted off of her shoulders once the freezer was full of deer meat.

I was too young to remember the occasion for this particular visit but it involved having dinner with the entire family and I was very excited to see everyone most of all my dad.  I was still young enough to not be aware of his imperfections and flaws, I only saw him as the greatest man in the world, one that I was going to grow up to be just like.  One of these days I hoped I would grow up to be a great outdoorsman just like he was.

As we pulled into the area where his truck was parked I noticed him loading something into the truck bed camper.  Later I found that after hunting deer unsuccessfully with his bow in the morning, he had switched over to his trusty twelve gauge shotgun and had limited out rabbit hunting.  Five beautiful rabbits were lying on the floor of the camper and boy was I impressed with my dad’s hunting ability.

Somehow I talked my way into being able to ride in the camper on the way to my grandparents’ house.  Just me, the rabbits, Dad’s archery equipment and the long road ahead of us.  The whole trip I dreamed of how I was the mighty hunter who had victoriously bagged the rabbits and was able to feed my village.  I would return home a hero as everyone in the village feasted and congratulated me on my great hunting skills.  They would acknowledge that I was a great hunter like my father and maybe even he would be impressed by my harvest.  The fantasies went on and on during the trip as I acted out the hunt in its various forms.  In my mind, it was the most successful hunting expedition ever; that is until the truck stopped and my dad opened the camper door.  There in plain sight were five horribly mutilated rabbits and the camper floor cut to pieces where the “great hunter” had repeatedly bagged his game by stabbing them with his dad’s arrows!  To this day I can’t truly understand what made me do that but apparently Dad found it at least a little humorous as my punishment was minimal.  I don’t think I impressed him though because every time he recounted the tale he could hardly finish because he was laughing so hard!

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Published by djohns13 on 15 Apr 2008

How I Found the Woods inside Detroit International Airport

“Excuse me sir, do you deer hunt?”

“Uh hmm, excuse me sir, do you deer hunt?”

The second time around woke me up from reading a deer hunting article in Outdoor Life magazine.  I looked up to see a well-built rugged looking young man with a load of outdoor looking straight at me.  “Uh yes, well no, I mean I used to and I would like to again” I stuttered.

“Well, if you want to, what’s stopping you?”

“That’s a good question and unfortunately there’s no short answer to it,” I answered.

“Hey, we’re stuck in the Detroit airport on the day before Thanksgiving and we’re not going anywhere soon.  Give me the long version.”

And so I began.   I grew up in a blue collar hunting household in Indiana where the biggest holiday of the year was opening day of shotgun deer season.  I hunted mushrooms, mammals and birds, fished like it was going out of style, trapped furbearers and even harvested wild ginseng.  I guess it came natural with my Cherokee indian lineage.  I picked up a bow when I was about 12 years old and fell in love with it.  For a couple of years, it seemed to have grown roots into my hands as I hardly ever let it go.  I even won a state-level championship for my age group and couldn’t ever imagine not having archery be the focal point of my life.

Then I discovered girls.  To be more precise, I found the wrong girl.  In trying to please her, I strayed far from my outdoor roots.  My father wasn’t about to butt into my business but I knew it hurt him that I was nowhere to be found during hunting season.  We fished together on Father’s Day each year but that was it for me.  It was always in the back of my mind, and I even dreamed about being outdoors, but I could seem to fnd a way to get there.  As a result, with each year my discontent grew.

Flash forward a few years and I find myself with a new girl, the absolute right girl for me, with a house and a career and a baby on the way.  Everything was going very well, except that I still wasn’t out in the wild.  Occasionally we would do some hiking but there was little time for anything else.  My discontent had been replaced by happiness with a simmering desire to get reconnected with the woods as soon as possible.  Life was good for the most part, then the bottom fell out.  My father died of cancer just a few months too early to see his first grandchild be born, and I had my own brush with mortality.  As I recovered, my son was born to have problems of his own.  He would spend considerable amounts of time in and out of hospitals and treatment centers.  There was so much going on and so much grieving to do, that I didn’t have time to miss the woods even though I needed it more than ever.

Flash forward again several years and my life has been rebounded nicely.  I am healthy, my son’s health is improving, I now have three kids with a big house and my career is booming.  There are only two downsides.  First, I am still not in the woods as much as I want and second, I am stuck in the Detroit Airport trying unsuccessfully to get home for Thanksgiving dinner with the family.

And now standing before me is my hunting/trapping/fishing/outdoor guardian angel and neither of us have a clue how much he will impact my family’s life.

He listens patiently to all the reasons why I am not in the woods and then hits me with the truth bomb.  “You need to be outdoors with your kids.  They are growing up fast you know.”  A profound statement from a guy still too young to legally drink.  He proceeds to tell me his story, which is that he is nineteen years old and trying to make a connecting flight to hook up with his dad for a whitetail hunt in Minnesota.  He is particularly excited about this because since his mom and dad got divorced the relationship with his dad hasn’t been good.  It seems the only time they get along is when they are hunting or fishing together and he misses all of the good times.  His words were giving me flashbacks of myself and my dad, as well as thoughts of me and my oldest son and our struggling relationship.  He mentioned that being in the woods seemed to provide solutions to problems in the rest of his life, and boy did I ever need to come up with some solutions myself.  He had just finished a hunt in Ohio and harvested a really nice buck but this upcoming hunt was really important to him because it was with his dad.  Man, how I wished that my dad was still around to go hunting with again.

We talked for a a few more hours about family and all aspects of deer hunting and then he leaned over and said, “Get back into deer hunting.  You need it and your kids need it too.”  As if on cue, the voice over the intercom announced that his flight was now ready for board and he jumped up to leave knowing he was going to make the hunt he so desparately wanted.  I leaned back in my chair not knowing if I was going to make my holiday dinner, but definitely knowing that I was going to get my kids up in a deer stand as soon as possible.

Flash forward one day and I am sitting at home enjoying a great turkey dinner rattling on about this great kid I met in the airport and how I had decided that the kids were getting new bows for Christmas so they could take up the sport that had been so much a part of my life.  They did get their bows for Christmas and so did I thanks to a great wife who heard every word of what I had said that day.

Flash forward to present day and all three of my kids have sat in the tree stand with me.  My middle son even called in the deer that I harvested with a bow three years ago.  My daughter is actively involved in 4-H shooting sports and my oldest son is starting to fall in love with trap shooting.  And to top it all off, today on my lunch hour I stuck wooden stakes in the ground marking where my new food plot is going to be planted in a few weeks.  About twenty yards from the edge of the plot in a big tree is a buddy stand where me and the kids are going to spend some quality time this fall.

It is hard to imagine things getting much better.

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Published by Gear Junky on 14 Apr 2008

Gear Junky: Hardcore Hunter Must-Haves, volume I

I love hunting. I love hunting like Jared loves Subway, like Mannings love endorsements, like Hillary loves taxes. I love hunting so much that I require a weekly hunting fix. That’s problematic, however, since fall refuses to come more than once a year. Other guys are able to scratch that itch with weekend fishing trips, but fishing strikes me as being kind of like the PGA tour – it’s available every weekend and usually keeps you entertained, but never builds to a yearly crescendo. Hunting progresses more like the NFL, the “Superbowl” of all outdoor activities. Like the Superbowl, my yearly big-game hunting adventure usually doesn’t live up to my expectations. But even when it’s bad, it’s still awfully good.

So naturally, I spend eleven months out of the year obsessing over the details of hunting season. I’ve become a gear junky, much to the chagrin of my wife, who tries her best to resist the temptation to tally up the piles of receipts from Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, and Paypal that accumulate in my not-so-secret Danner boots box on the top shelf in the hunting closet. You may be thinking, “Hold on, aren’t you in like your eighth year of college? How can you possibly afford long hunting trips, let alone the latest gear?” Well, I’d like to say that I have a profitable side-business or online revenue stream, but the truth is, I just got lucky and found a sugar momma. Until I finish school and they call me Doctor, it’s my wife’s hard-earned cash I’m spending. Suffice it to say, I’m required to be as budget-minded as possible. So my recommendations are targeted towards people like myself who want the best gear for the best value. The Archery Talk community is a natural fit.

Before I get to my first set of hardcore hunter must-owns, here’s a few things to keep in mind when reading my recommendations:

1) These are recommendations, not reviews…and there’s a big difference. I can’t stand the way gear is reviewed in outdoor magazines. Inevitably, the magazine editor’s are given a new product by an eager manufacturer for review, and the editors either try it out for a few weeks, or (worse yet) give it to a subscriber to evaluate. What sort of credibility does that leave the review? Nobody wants to knock a product they received for free, and very few products are given a realistic amount of abuse before the review goes to print. Also, a review of the latest 2008 backpack by a specific manufacturer isn’t very valuable in and of itself. When I’m in the market for a backpack, I don’t care about one specific model of one specific brand in one specific year. Instead, I want to find the best backpack from any manufacturer from any year, in my given price range for my specific needs. A gear recommendation can do just that, if the author’s criteria and price range are comparable to the shopper’s. That’s what I’ll do here; instead of reviewing the latest gear, I’ll identify the best gear.

2) I am not brand loyal. I want the best gear for my hard-earned dollar (um, my wife’s hard-earned dollar) and I’ll go with whomever best meets that need. Loyalty is great in other realms of life, but not for consumers. Manufacturers need to know that if they slip and lose their competitive edge at all, we’ll take our business elsewhere. It’s good for the manufacturer and the consumer when competition thrives, and too much brand loyalty takes a company’s focus off of innovation and places it on achieving name-brand recognition. Fanboys have become too common and don’t give unbiased recommendations, so I’ll try my darndest to avoid being a fanboy…unless we happen to discuss Major League Baseball, in which case, Go Mariners! and Die, Redsox Nation, die flopping in the dirt like a gut-shot ground squirrel!

Only joking. Sort of.

3) I’m open to other great ideas. If you know about something that beats the heck out of one my must-haves, let me know and I’ll give it a chance. I’m always looking to improve my own gear, and I’d love to provide the best recommendations around, even if one of my favorite products gets the bump. Use the comments to our mutual benefit (for a better description of Mutual Benefit, please google “Supermodel weds Texas Billionaire”).

4) My focus is on light-weight, durable, cost-effective, useful, and innovative gear for the backcountry. What meets that criteria? The supermodel mentioned above would rate fairly well in all categories except cost-effective, but close is no cigar, so supermodels do not receive my recommendation. I live and hunt out West, and when you’re chasing mountain mulies or rutting bulls out of a one-man camp, your life depends on your equipment. Hunting whitetails deep in the forest is a similar game, I assume…but if you walk from your front door to your tree stand, some of what I’ll blog about won’t apply. Also, there are thousands of great posts around here about archery equipment, so my focus will be on other gear for bowhunting.

With all that said, here’s my first installment of Must-Own recommendations for other Archery Talk gear junkies. Hope you find this helpful…or entertaining, if nothing else.

Must-Own Camp Stove: The Jetboil

Lightweight/Compact: 9

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($75 online)

Usefulness: 9

Innovation: 10

Like most of us, I often don’t return to camp until an hour or more after dark, and only two things are on my mind: food and sleep, the sooner the better. About ten years ago, dehydrated food manufacturers finally responded to consumer demand and began producing one-step freeze-dried meals that were actually tasty. I understand your reluctance to accept tasty and freeze-dried in the same sentence, since they sound about as compatible as Jessica Simpson and Harvard graduate. But believe me, some of the best meals I’ve had on the road were prepared in those little zippered pouches. The product only requires that you add boiling water, then re-seal and let stand for a few minutes while it cooks your dinner for you. I eat the meal right out of the package, so the only dinnerware needed is a fork. When done, I just seal the empty pouch back up, with no mess and no smell to attract bears or wandering mountain hippies.

How much does a full stomach and all that peace of mind cost? About six bucks for most brands. Mountain House is available everywhere, and has some great varieties. The desserts are fantastic, by the way, and although they aren’t cheap (around $4), they sure beat another lousy candy bar.

Where does the Jetboil enter the picture, you ask? The Jetboil, as Matlock would deduce just before the final commercial break, is the one responsible for the boiling. And how! I’ve clocked it firing sixteen ounces of glacier run-off to a boil in less than ninety seconds. And it wasn’t even trying. My kitchen stove can’t come close to matching that speed, and the story just begins there. As you can see in the photo, the Jetboil utilizes a specialized coil that maximizes heat transfer between the stove and attachable cup while reducing fuel demand. It’s lightning fast and efficient…two or three small isobutane cannisters (a few bucks each, available everywhere) will get you through most hunting seasons. And the stove and cannister fit inside the 1.0 liter companion cup, so the entire system (stove, cup, sipper lid, measuring cup, fuel cannister) takes up only slightly more space than a Gatorade bottle while weighing only 19 oz. That’s pretty impressive for a unit that can serve as a mug, pot, bowl (top ramen lovers can pour their $0.14 packages right in), and even coffee maker (with optional coffee press for those who don’t mind the less-than-stealthy breath). And the best part? The cup is wrapped in a neoprene sleeve so you can hold it firmly, no matter how hot it gets (even while the stove is on). No more metal pot grabber! Combine all of this with a slick little ignitor that works every time at the push of a button, and you have a great piece of gear, all for $75. No matter how light I want my pack to be, the Jetboil always makes the trip.

Must-Own Hunting Shelter: Outdoor Research “Alpine” Bivy

Lightweight/Compact: 8

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 6 ($199 online)

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 8

If you are anything like me (and you have my wife’s deepest sympathies if you are), you’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering what in Sam Hill a bivy sack is, but you have been too afraid to ask. Well, ever since Al Gore invented the internet (tee hee!) we curious types now have a venue for seeking answers without having to ask questions, which spares our fragile egos. Bivy sacks, I have since discovered, are one-man shelters that the mountaineering community developed to surpass the shortcomings of the good ol’ one-man tent. Those of you who have set up camp in a storm already know that a tent can turn into a liability; they blow over, collapse, don’t keep out ground water, and take time to set up. A bivy, on the other hand, succeeds where tents fail.

September bowhunting usually provides good weather, so I prefer to sleep under the stars wearing nothing but my crusty, er, trusty long john’s and a sleeping bag. I own an outstanding two-man tent, but I like to pack as light as possible in the backcountry, and late summer weather usually doesn’t pin you down for more than a day at a time, so a tent really isn’t necessary. But if a thunderstorm or blizzard strikes, a bivy is a life saver. And Outdoor Research’s Alpine Bivy is the best of the bunch for a hunter’s needs.

The Alpine is made out of triple-layer GORE-TEX so it’s waterproof, lightweight and breathable. It fits over your sleeping bag and sleeping pad like a sock, keeping your bedding safe from rain, ground water, and dew. What really sets it apart is one cleverly placed tent pole that arches above the shoulder area. The design lifts the fabric just enough to ditch that claustrophobic feeling that other models are known for, and it allows you to do a little reading or change your clothes without restriction. I slip my bedding into the Alpine even when there’s no chance of rain, because it’s mesh bug shield allows me to see the stars without giving blood. When hunting in the rain, there’s just enough room inside to stuff your pack and wet clothes to dry via body heat overnight. That scenario may be less than ideal, but it’s good option to have if you need it. If a prolonged storm does pin you down, a lightweight tarp (like the kind most of us already own to place under our tents) can be strung a couple feet above for a makeshift camp (thanks to Cameron Hanes for that tip). And the most unexpected benefit I’ve had is on early hunts when my sleeping bag is just too warm – instead of baking inside my bedding, I lay on top of it, and the bivy provides just enough insulation to keep the chill off while my sore muscles enjoy the extra padding beneath me. Because the Alpine is breathable, my wretched mountain-breath doesn’t turn to condensation overnight, so the interior stays fresh and dry.

It ain’t cheap, but very few products that compress to the size of a small loaf of bread can offer so many advantages to the backcountry archer.

Must Have Backpack: Jim Horn Signature Series “Canadian” by Blacks Creek

Lightweight/Compact: 7

Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($169)

Usefulness: 8

Innovation: 8

Yes, there are bigger and costlier packs out there, but if you want bang for your buck, this bad boy has it all. I met the designers at a trade show and was thoroughly impressed with their knowledge…they understand how the human body bears weight, and they have created a pack that partners perfectly with biomechanics. The entire line of Jim Horn signature series packs are outstanding, but I feel that the Canadian is the best for all-around hunting and backpacking purposes. Here are some pics and specs from their website:


  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • Dimensions: 22″H x 12″W x 11″D
  • Capacity: 2200 cubic inches (expands to 3850)
  • H20 compabitle
  • Carries bow and rifle
  • Spotting scope pocket
  • Orange safety flap
  • Adjustable torso (XS-XL)
  • Mossy Oak Breakup or Realtree Max 1
  • All heavy stress areas reinforced and bar tacked
  • Breathable mesh back
  • 13 pockets
  • Internal frame: high-tech H-frame

Now, that list may look pretty typical, but don’t be fooled. To begin, the concept that motivated the design was the internal H-frame, a lightweight innovation that provides the perfect balance of comfort and strength (the same features that I look for in a truck, hiking boot, and toilet seat). Basically, this pack can haul your meat with the best of them, replacing that annoying prerequisite trip back to the rig to retrieve an external frame once your game is down. The H-frame is surprisingly strong, and the pack is surprisingly expandable. It may not be ideal for elk, but I don’t care – I’d rather have a pack that is great for hiking and hunting elk (and spend a little more time boning and quartering) than have a pack that is perfect for hauling elk but less proficient at helping me kill one.

And man, does it have features – the spotting scope compartment, the integrated bow carrier, the integrated rifle carrier, the fantastic pocket design, the hydration pouch, the durable, quiet fabric and zippers…Santa must have read my list. Don’t get me wrong, most other high-end packs include those features, but none will fit you any better, and none will beat the price. The belt and shoulder harness are fully adjustable for most sizes, and they sell an expansion kit for guys over 6’3″ and 220lbs. (I’m 6’2″/205, and the pack fit great once I set it on the “top rung” on the standard shoulder harness).

I should take a moment to soapbox about two common misconceptions about backpacks. First, the weight of the load doesn’t matter nearly as much as how the weight of the load is distributed, despite what we’ve all heard. There are people out there who tell us that a day pack should be small and light. Not true. A pack that weighs seven pounds empty, yet fits the length and width of your torso perfectly between the hips and shoulders, will feel much lighter than a so-called “day pack” that weighs two or three pounds but isn’t long enough. The second misconception, one that I once believed, is that “a perfect pack should not touch your back, but instead should be an inch or two away for ventilation.” It’s true that none of us enjoy the feeling you get when you take off your pack to find that your back is soaked and ready to freeze with the slightest wind. But the reality is that you’re going to sweat one way or another, and it’s better to purchase quality clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin rather than rely on your pack to ventilate your back. Why? Because every inch that your pack moves away from your spine increases the load exponentially. You want the weight as close to you as possible (this can be demonstrated by placing a dumbbell in the main compartment of your backpack next to your body: note the perceived weight, then remove it, stuff a couple of inflated balloons into the main compartment, and place the dumbbell in an outer pocket with the balloons between your back and the dumbbell. The actual weight in the pack doesn’t change, but the difference in load on your spine is unbelievable). So avoid the manufacturers whose packs are too small or those that include ventilation systems. Like getting a wet kiss from your thickly-mustached great aunt, they mean well, but aren’t doing you any favors.

The Canadian pack distributes weight perfectly. And perhaps its best feature is its endless supply of compression straps, which maintain a solid, close-in load. The pack comes with a free DVD demonstrating how to use all of its features, with extra emphasis on utilizing compression straps. You can tell from the video that these guys will take care of their customers and stand by their product…buy with confidence knowing that the Canadian will handle six days worth of supplies and haul out your game, and still serve as the perfect day-pack to boot.

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