Many companies introduce new products at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show each year. Here are my top 10 new and nifty things I discovered while visiting this huge industry show earlier this month, in no particular order.
1. Hunter Safety System LIFELINE
Hunter Safety System’s new LIFELINE offers some appealing safety features for those of us who spend a lot of time ascending and descending trees every year. The LIFELINE keeps you safe during the most dangerous time in treestand hunting: when you’re transferring from the steps to the stand and back again. The LIFELINE is 30 feet long, so even those who like to get really high will have enough rope. You slide the knot up with one hand as you go up the tree and it will arrest your fall if you slip at any time in the process. A rubber “cowbell” covers the carabiner so there’s no noisy clank if it hits the stand or steps.
2. ODIN Climbing Sticks
The ODIN climbing sticks created a good bit of a buzz at the ATA show. These climbers offer a several significant advantages over traditional climbing sticks. The steps detach from the post, which makes them easier to store and carry. It also makes it possible to create your own configuration of steps. The composite material is light but strong. One advantage is the ability to remove the bottom steps from your tree so no one can come along and steal your treestand or climb up and hunt from your setup. Three guys just out of college developed this unique product and I see it making waves.
One problem has plagued hunters who like to self-video their own hunts. Point of view (POV) cameras have all had a wide-angle lens, which distorts the horizon and makes the animal in the shot look far away. This has been true of POV cameras in the stand and anything mounted to a bow or gun. Tactacam has solved that problem by becoming the first bow- and gun-mounted camera to offer a zoom capability. This will make self-videoing much more appealing.
4. Sitka Gear “Shacket”
Is a vest with short sleeves actually a vest? Or is an insulated T-shirt actually a jacket? According to Sitka Gear, it’s a “Shacket.” In a move to hold body heat in the shoulders and upper arms, Sitka introduced an insulted vest with short sleeves. The Shacket holds body heat at the core, while allowing free range of movement to the arms. Made of high-quality fleece, this piece is part of a layering system and it’s really warm. The zipper is angled so the zipper isn’t hung up under your chin when pulled all the way up. When looking at this piece of clothing and considering its applications, it makes one wonder why no one has thought of it before.
5. Hawk Hunting KickBack Hang-on treestand
When it comes to comfortable treestands, Hawk Hunting is leading the way with their KickBack model. You truly can “kick back” in this stand and relax during those long hours waiting for a big buck. If you stay in the stand a long time, such as an all-day sit during the rut or eight-hour-long evenings on a spring bear hunt, this stand is something you must try. Just be careful you don’t fall asleep. The seat folds up and stays up, giving you plenty of platform room to stand and stretch. At 20 pounds, it’s lighter than you might think.
6. Hawk Hunting gear holder
Also from Hawk Hunting is the tactical three-pronged gear holder. No more screwing small hooks into the tree to hold your binoculars, backpack, rattling antlers, calls, etc. This rubber coated gadget has three hooks and a super sharp boring screw that goes into any tree like it’s butter. In fact, the screw comes with a protective cover and a carabiner hook because you don’t want to dive your hand into your backpack and jab a finger into this sharp hook. The coatings make hooking things silent and it all folds into a small packet. A nifty and useful tool for the treestand hunter.
7. Kodiak WiFi camera
The innovations in trail cameras were mind-boggling. Cell phone cameras have been around awhile, but data plans have been expensive. Game camera manufacturers have found some ways to improve their devices’ technology. Some examples are wireless cell phone cameras with apps that allow you to change the settings, check battery levels, and download images from anywhere (HCO and Stealthcam). Many companies now offer SIM cards or individual data plans that reduce the cost. Browning introduced a camera with true HD video, and there’s even a camera that takes photos in a full 360-degree range of motion (Wildgame). It has six sensors and the lens quickly swivels in any direction to shoot a picture of the source of the motion.
But the one camera that stands alone is the Kodiak WiFi camera. This camera has wireless internet built right in. Just get within about 150 feet of the camera and you can download the photos wirelessly to your phone, tablet, or laptop. No cell phone plan means no additional expense. You do not have to violate the area of the camera and leave human scent or risk spooking the deer in the area. It’s perfect for use in sanctuaries and bedding areas on your hunting property.
8. NOMAD clothing
This next item is not so much a product but an entire line of clothing. Seven people who once worked for Under Armour teamed up to produce a line of hunting clothing called NOMAD, which caused a stir at the show. This line of hunting gear is a layering system with excellent quality and well-thought-out articles at every level. As each piece was explained to me I was amazed at the innovation and thoughtfulness of it. These guys are obviously serious hunters who have been working hard at creating clothing that specifically meets the unique needs of hunters who want high-quality, functional clothing at a moderate price point. NOMAD didn’t just stick their toe in the door of the hunting clothing category, they kicked the door in.
9. Koola Buck
The Koola Buck is not something that every deer hunter will want to rush out and buy, but it does have a niche where it will perform a very valuable function. It is a portable walk-in cooler. Set it up and turn it on, and in no time it has your meat down to under 40 degrees. Hunts that take place in warm weather can present a real challenge for saving the meat. Bear hunts, elk camp, and late-summer antelope hunts are three examples that come to mind. At $3,495, it’s a spendy item, but if a group of guys went in on it, I can see the potential to preserve a lot of meat in the right situation.
10. Trophy Taker Quivalizer
When I first saw the Quivalizer by Trophy Taker, I admit I was a little skeptical. But once I saw it work firsthand, the light bulbs were going on, and I got pretty excited about it. Here’s the deal: the Quivalizer attaches to your bow much like a normal bow quiver. It quickly detaches then reattaches to the front of the bow to become three tools: a stabilizer, an at-the-ready holder for grabbing an arrow for a quick follow-up shot, and a stand for setting your bow down (in a ground blind, for example). At first, you might not take this product seriously, but once you see it work and use it, you’ll be convinced that it has a place.
Follow Bernie’s bowhunting adventures on his blog, bowhuntingroad.com.