Bowhunting, including with a crossbow, is becoming a gear-driven sport, which makes some traditional bowhunters cringe. For gadget guys like me, however, there's never been a better time to hunt with a bow.
I love cruising the aisles at the annual ATA (Archery Trade Association) show and seeing brand-new bowhunting accessories, not because I'm trying to find a way to spend money or to impress everyone in deer camp, but because, like you, my time in the woods is limited and valuable.
I know several deer hunters who spend the entire work week dreaming about getting to the woods before first light on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Trying to balance time in the woods with family commitments and the responsibilities of daily life can be a challenge, and any product capable of extending and/or improving time outdoors is of great value.
I don't believe archery accessories turn a bad hunter into a good one, but I do believe the right gear can help improve a proficient hunter's odds for success. Here's a look at some of the most innovative products for the upcoming deer season, the crossbow-related hunting gear that helps deer hunters make the most of valuable time in the field.
Ten Point | ACUrope Crossbow Cocking Aid
This lightweight, portable rope-cocker fits easily in the pocket of your hunting jacket or pack and helps reduce crossbow draw-weight by half. This means no more fumbling with ropes when you're in the treestand and trying to get ready for those rare second-chance follow-up shots.
The draw cords on the TenPoint ACUrope are made of heat- and abrasion-resistant SPECTRA 1000 fiber, which is, pound for pound, 15 times stronger than steel. The slip-resistant handles are textured so you can easily draw the crossbow even when wearing gloves, and the durable design will hold up for several years. Say goodbye to that tangled-rope cocker floating around in the bottom of your backpack. MSRP $59
TenPoint | Bednar Perfect Puller
Today's high-density archery block targets are more durable than ever, but there's one problem; a crossbow bolt driven deep into these targets is a bear to remove. Enter the Bednar Perfect Puller, one of the most functional arrow, including crossbow bolts, pullers available.
Named after the late hall of fame archer, Bill Bednar, the Perfect Puller has three interchangeable rubber grippers to provide a firm hold on any size arrow shaft. This means no more foot-on-target battles with deeply embedded arrows. There's also a cutout in the handles acting as a nocking tool. MSRP $20
Primos | Short Bi Pod
One of the great things about crossbow hunting is setting up on the ground is much easier than when hunting with a vertical traditional or compound bow. The Trigger Stick allows you to quickly adjust height with one hand, and you can use these sticks from a kneeling or standing position. The lightweight design makes these sticks easy to carry and the detachable V-yoke also allows you to mount a camera or spotting scope when you aren't shooting. MSRP $93
Ten Point | Embroidered Soft Case
A damaged crossbow costs you money and hunting time, so you need to protect your investment. The easiest way is to purchase a lightweight soft case, such as the TenPoint Embroidered Soft Case, which is constructed of high-grade, double-stitched Cordura.
It comes with a removable shoulder strap and an extra zippered pocket for crossbow bolts, quiver and other items. Plus, it fits all TenPoint crossbows, so there's no need to worry about dimensions or to coordinate crossbow model numbers. Chances are you throw your crossbow in a pickup, on an ATV, and hang it up when the season ends. If you want to keep your crossbow in good working order, then it needs a durable case. MSRP $89
Browning | Billy 1000 Lumbar Pack
Sometimes having a full-size backpack is a hassle. Smaller lumbar packs are less bulky and offer lots of storage space for knives, lights, crossbow cocking devices and other items.
Browning's Billy 1000 Lumbar Pack weigh just 1.25 pounds but offers 1,000 cubic inches of storage space. That weight-space ratio is possible thanks to the Billy's use of Baumshell fabric, which is twice as strong as traditional pack materials, yet weighs half as much. The Hypo-sonic zipper is silent, so you can access items even when game animals are close by. MSRP $99
TenPoint | RangeMaster Pro Scope
Bullet-drop compensating (BDC) scopes are all the rage for rifle hunters nowadays. TenPoint has developed a crossbow scope — the RangeMaster — with the same BDC reticle technology.
The RangeMaster has dots in the reticle calibrated for 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards and comes with arrow-drop compensating settings for bows shooting from 275 to 425 feet per second. This means you'll be dialed in quickly and won't have to worry about holdover estimates, resulting in accurate longer shots.
Reticle options include black dots or rheostat-controlled illuminated dots in red or green color. It's good to see drop-compensated optics in the crossbow hunting universe. MSRP $299
Cabela's | Elite Stop Crossbow Target
Having a lightweight, durable and portable crossbow target is important, and Cabela's Elite Stop is one of the best. It has 48 visible shooting spots, measures 15 by 15 inches and weighs 15 pounds.
But don't let the lightweight design fool you. This block target is rated for broadheads and field points, and will stop crossbow bolts traveling more than 400 feet per second. The self-healing foam lasts through lots of shots from crossbows, and the convenient rope handle on top makes this target easy to carry from garage to yard to hunting camp. MSRP $129.99
TenPoint | Crossbow Unloading Bolt (CUB)
If ever there was a product considered overdue, it's the crossbow unloading bolt, or CUB for short. For years crossbow hunting enthusiasts had only a few choices when decocking a crossbow and none of them were as convenient as these biodegradable bolts.
The two-piece CUB fits in your pack easily — each section is the size of a ballpoint pen — and you can carry several in a small daypack. When you need to decock your crossbow, simply attach the pieces and fire the bolt into the ground.
These environment-friendly bolts break down over time and won't harm wildlife. It's far safer and more convenient than other crossbow decocking methods. MSRP $9 per six