Thirty years ago, when my dad was in the prime of his hunting "career," I distinctly remember him loading the trunk of his car for the occasional weekend getaway to his hunting ground on the rural outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri.
For him, those trips were likely as much a release from the day-to-day pressures of work and family life as they were serious whitetail pursuits. After all, a successful hunt in that era was simply one in which the hunter laid eyes on a buck.
Fast-forward to today, and, for many of us, whitetail hunting has become a much more complex and encompassing endeavor. And that's usually a welcome fact. We've turned our pursuit of bucks into a defining pillar of our lives, spending countless days afield managing habitat, scouting and preparing for the season.
Managing our properties, becoming intimately familiar with the patterns of "our" deer and fine-tuning equipment have become as much parts of the experience as the actual hunt. It's just fun.
Serious bowhunters love to wade into the technical details and tweak their setups for enhanced performance, and debates over the advantages or disadvantages of anything from arrow weight to FOC to axle-to-axle length are waged constantly in online forums.
Manufacturers are taking note, resulting in a wave of new options. No longer must we adapt to our gear — now it's the other way around. Never before have there been so many possibilities to consider, and those choices extend far beyond just the brand. Today's bowhunter can literally get a customized factory bow that meets his or her individual requirements and preferences, all in the name of enhancing performance and improving the experience.
A great example of this trend toward individuality is Mathews' new Halon 32. Unveiled in November 2016, this bow is an extension of the flagship Halon, with an increased axle-to-axle length of 32 inches, as compared to the original model's 30.
Both incorporate Mathews' breakthrough Crosscentric Cam Technology, but archers now have the option to choose between the shorter, lighter original and the longer, more stable platform and enhanced string angle of the latest version.
The choices certainly don't end there. Both the original and the Halon 32 are offered in three brace heights (5, 6 and 7 inches). Looking to maximize arrow speed? Perhaps the Halon 32 with a 5-inch brace height is the best option for you. If forgiveness is the most important factor, the 7-inch option might be your best bet. Producing blistering speeds of up to 350 feet per second, the Halon 32 is available in 10-pound draw weight ranges from 40 to 70 pounds and draw lengths of 24 to 30 inches in half-inch increments.
And if you want still more options, Mathews has one more detail for you to consider: finish. The Halon 32 will be offered in GORE Optifade's Elevated II and Open Country patterns and Under Armour's Ridge Reaper Barren pattern — in addition to black, stone and Mathews' own Lost camouflage. Decisions, decisions...
Given the increasing number of options afforded to the bowhunter, it's possible from time to time to get so wrapped up in details that we lose sight of the forest for the trees. But I think we'd all agree the ability to individualize our equipment ultimately is part of the fun. And it just might make us better shots.