Indianapolis was the site of the 2018 Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show the second week in January. As usual, the 3-day show was huge with lots to see. By invitation only, everyone who’s anyone in the business of bowhunting converges on the place, including archery shop owners, high-profile (and low-profile) TV hunters, manufacturers, celebrities who bowhunt, and of course media folks such as myself.
Just to give you an idea how big this show is, according to the app on my phone, I walked more than 4 miles per day indoors, and I didn’t see all the 500-plus exhibitors. I did see some remarkable things, however.
So, here are my five most interesting and useful new products that were introduced at the show this year.
This product had me standing in wonder about how they do this. The feeder has a camera on it, and it recognizes the animal that is approaching. They call it “species recognition.” So you can set the feeder so the doors open and expose the food only for certain animals. For example, you can set it to open to feed deer, but when a hog comes along, it won’t open. Cool!
In fact, if you want to repel non-target animals such as coons, bears and hogs, you can set the feeder so it transmits an electric shock to repel them. It works so well, that they demonstrated how it works just by exposing a photo of an animal in front of the camera.
It uses WIFI, and you can make changes with an app on your device to change the settings at any time. Remarkable technology. Check out the video below to see it in action.
For years, innovators and entrepreneurs have tried to find ways to increase the recovery rate of bow-killed deer. The Raven Tracking System is another in a long line, but this one has some real potential, especially for bigger game such as elk, moose, bears and other animals that an arrow often doesn’t pass through. A transmitter fits inside your arrow and is activated upon the shot. It sends a signal that is picked up by a digital direction finder, so you can walk right to the arrow.
The unit transmits up to 5 miles. This of course doesn’t help if your arrow is no longer in the animal, but the unit is contained in the front half of the arrow, so even if the arrow breaks off, it will still transmit the arrow’s location, even from deep within a body cavity. It was tested and worked from 2 miles away when the arrow was fully encased in the body of a buffalo. The video below provides more details.
The kit comes with three transmitters, charger and accessories, plus the digital direction finder for the are-you-sitting-down price of $1,800.
More people are using an SD attachment to view trail camera photos on their smartphone or tablet, but that’s an inefficient system. It normally requires you to download the photos, then look them over and delete them individually. It’s very time consuming, and the processing is slow due to being transferred from the SD card reader attachment.
The Lowdown viewer is a tablet with a 9-inch screen and a built-in SD card slot that loads the photos three times as fast. It also allows you to manipulate the photos and save or delete with the touch of a finger.
The Lowdown viewer is $199 and also has an HDMI port, so you can view the photos and video on your TV screen or computer monitor.
This was absolutely the talk of the ATA Show. Not just because of the remarkable new technology, but because of the $1,000 for a bow sight price tag.
It works remarkably well and easy. It has no pins, just a screen in the window of the sight. When you look through the sight, you will see a red dot with green directional arrows surrounding it. When the green arrows surround the red pin, you hit the button on your bow’s riser and it calculates the distance and angle in a split second, and puts a green dot on the screen where you should aim. Sounds time consuming and difficult, but once you have spent a few moments with it, you get pretty good at acquiring a target pin within a second or two. Check out the video below to see what I mean.
The value of this is obvious; you don’t have to guess the range or calculate the angle to choose your arrow’s trajectory based on downhill or uphill angle or height of your treestand. You no longer must carry a rangefinder. Just put the green dot on the animal’s vitals and shoot. It’s too early to tell how well this will be accepted, with the primary barrier to most bowhunters being the price tag. Also, the Garmin Xero Bow Sight won’t be legal in all states due to the addition of electronics onto the bow.
Self-filming is one of the fastest growing trends in hunting these days, and everyone is looking for a way to do it well. There are many camera arms available in all price ranges, most with the same basic construction: a jointed arm that fastens to a tree.
The Out On A Limb ZRO 360 camera arm is the first one with a totally different way to hold your camera. It mounts above the hunter and the camera hangs from an arm that swings in any direction. The head has tensioning dials so the camera stays in place after you get it where you want it. It moves really smooth, and takes the choppiness out of moving the video camera around while following an animal or panning up and down or side to side. It’s one of those products that makes you ask why someone hasn’t thought of this before. Retail is $799.
Honorable Mention: Treestand Wingman Emergency Descender System
The reason the Treestand Wingman (photo above) is relegated to an honorable mention is due to the fact that it wasn’t introduced as a brand-new product at this show. It’s been around for about a year, but it’s one of the safest and easiest ways to protect yourself from a treestand fall. As the video below demonstrates, rather than bring you to an abrupt halt when you hit the end of a safety harness line, it slowly lowers you all the way to the ground. It can also be used to pull treestands and gear safely up into the tree.
In my opinion, the $115 made-in-the-USA Treestand Wingman may make the traditional safety harness fastening system obsolete.
Top photo courtesy of the Archery Trade Association