Keep an eye out for this book! Should be for sale in about 2 months. I co-authored this book along with 11 other whitetail hunters you may have heard of, like Adam Hays, Barry Wensel, Gene Wensel, Alan Foster, Mike Mitten and several others. There should be a world of information in this book if you’re a whitetail fanatic! This book is going to be a classic!
State by state, the legalization of crossbows for hunting is closing in fast. It appears Illinois will be on that list with a modified version for the inclusion of a crossbow during the later part of the archery season. Currently, a person can hunt with a crossbow here in Illinois with a doctor’s excuse that demonstrates either a permanent or temporary disability but it appears that they may not need a doctor’s blessings before too long!
With the ever changing laws comes equipment that evolves along side with it. This year the addition of a crossbow will no doubt be sending hundreds of hunters to the archery shops for a new crossbow. With that choice of weapon relatively new; how does one perform proper due diligence in such a short amount of time? In the states that have allowed the use of a crossbow for years, is it possible they have more choices than they can handle? Regardless what state you live in, you may want to save time and energy by reading what others are saying about their equipment!
I was fortunate enough to review the Barnett Ghost 350 crossbow in addition to surveying the experiences/opinions that the dealers and end-users have been able to give me. Part of reviewing a product is gathering data from people who have used similar equipment and compiling it with my findings. Cumulatively, a complete review is satisfied!
Well, here’s that review!
Barnett sent me a new Ghost 350 to review, so off to work I went. Out of the box was one crossbow, a scope and three bolts (arrows). Assembly wasn’t bad even though I was temporarily stumped by the installation of the cable slide. Eventually figured it out. I think one extra picture showing the placement of the slide would have helped me there. Just one threaded bolt was needed to attach the bow assembly to the stock. The scope went on effortlessly and I didn’t even need to adjust it after I shot it! It was dead-on at 30 yards, and below, out of the box. After I confirmed all hardware was installed correctly and there were no defects in the string, bolts (arrows) or safety mechanisms, I proceeded to the archery range.
The Ghost 350 carries 175 pounds of draw force, so needless to say, that can be a bit to pull with your bare fingers! Luckily this kit came with an RCD, which stands for “rope cocking device” to aid in cocking the crossbow. By using the RCD, the leveraged poundage is reduced to 50%, or 87.5 pounds in this case. That is still a firm pull but a lot better than the 175 pounds without it. Bottom line; you have to have a lot of poundage if you want it to perform, so get used to it!
After cocking the crossbow, I positioned a bolt into the flight rail, placing the cock fletch down into the groove and slid the bolt all of the way to the string and trigger mechanism. One nice thing Barnett designed into the system is the safety feature that automatically engages the safety to the “on” position when the bow is cocked and loaded! That helps prevent an accidental firing. After I loaded the bolt, I was ready to turn the safety off and shoot my target.
After aiming, I turned the safety off and fired into my foam layered target. The shot was incredibly fast and the sight was dead-on. The trigger feel was perfect, in my opinion. No drift and just the right amount pressure needed to squeeze a shot off. Vibration was kept to a minimum and the entire unit felt sturdy and solid. One nice attribute regarding the carbon riser is that it reduces weight on the front of the unit thus transferring the center of gravity toward the rear (stock) for a better balance and feel. After shooting the Ghost several times, it became quite familiar and comfortable for me. I really enjoyed shooting it!
The Ghost weighs in a bit over 7.5 pounds due to its composite and carbon construction. All of the tolerances were tight and the fits were equally close. It’s a well thought out piece of equipment for both hunting and target practice. Barnett has been in business for over 50 years and has a solid footprint in the crossbow industry. Even though crossbows have been used since the medieval times, their popularity continues to grow and Barnett has continued to improve them with innovative design and safety features. I think it’s also fair to say that the dealers I spoke with all had good things to say about Barnett’s service and equipment! I give the Ghost 350 a “Thumbs up”!
Barnett warranties the stock, trigger mechanism, and limbs for 5 years! a warranty card must be sent into the dealer upon purchase of the bow. You can visit their website for more information on their crossbows at: http://www.barnettcrossbows.com
I just finished my lengthy review of the Victory VAP carbon arrow and am glad to report the results. I’m glad because I was able to answer all of my questions related to the performance of this arrow. I was also pleased to gather information and compile data from pro shops around the country! Sometimes I can be a bit sneaky; just ask any whitetail that has fallen to my ambush! (Because this review is related to the performance of the Victory arrow, I won’t mention how many times a whitetail has out smarted me, so I’ll continue with the review ) Anyway, I was able to contact archery shops around the country and ask some pretty hard-core questions related to their best arrow, their worst, and ultimately the Victory VAP. Sneaky, because I didn’t tell them I was reviewing this arrow but rather acted like a concerned customer.
Victory has been building carbon arrows since 2001, primarily for target shooters. They later decided to get into the hunting market with their line of all-carbon shafts. Unlike many other arrow makers, Victory uses no fiberglass in the construction of their arrows. This is important not only for the integrity of the shaft but also for aftermarket products like the Lumenok, that depend on a true carbon arrow to close the electrical circuit and light their nocks when the arrow is launched. Fiberglass is not a conductor of electricity. Another attribute for the VAP is the fact that Victory’s parent company makes their own raw materials, which according to Victory, is the only company in this industry that does. That’s the upper echelon of quality control!
The arrow I tested was the VAP. VAP stands for: Victory Armour Piercing. That’s a wicked claim for an arrow! Victory’s claim to fame with the VAP is that is has lower wind resistance and better penetration than anything they’ve tested. For a company that has the resources to test arrows on a daily basis, that’s a pretty bold claim. This is where I come in.
I enjoy being a product tester because I get to test products against other products on a weekly schedule. Sometimes I spank the manufacturers and other times I praise them. Believe me; I get no pleasure from discounting a product but rather welcome new and innovative products for the public to use. If I find a product subpar, I’ll contact the manufacturer first to discuss all issues related to the product with the intention to refine the product or if anything, just to see if I misinterpreted their intentions. I’m glad to report no spanking here! The VAP is an amazing arrow!
The arrow used for testing was setup by me using the E Z Fletcher Mini and Goat Tuff glue and vanes.
The first test performed was a penetration comparison with every carbon arrow I was able to acquire from other arrow manufacturers. They were all different diameters but were the same or close to the same in length, spine classification, etc. I shot all of them with a 125 grain field tip into a virgin styrofoam type target for the initial test. My test bow was the Bear Carnage, set up at 28.5” draw length at 67 lbs. of force. Test results: The VAP beat the closest competitor by 20%. The numbers were far greater with 60% of the other arrows I tested! The main reason for better penetration comes from the small diameter of the shaft itself. The smaller diameter shaft has less surface area and less friction as a result, thus allowing it to penetrate farther through any medium. If you look at a disk brake on a car for comparison, you’ll notice the braking performance is directly related to the amount of surface area that is on the disk itself. The greater the area, the more stopping power you’ll have. So in arrow dynamics, a lesser surface area is highly desired if you want more pass-through distance. One unusual characteristic that I found with this arrow (because it’s a thin walled and lightweight shaft), is its ability to hold on to its kinetic energy. It delivered enough power to outperform each and every larger sized arrow that I tested through all different types of materials. That was amazing and NOT something I was expecting to witness.
The Victory arrow in the picture (bottom arrow) clearly outperforms the other top 2 arrows tested.
The Victory VAP V1 carbon arrow was the only arrow to penetrate all six styrofoam layers in the picture above.
A person would think a smaller diameter shaft would compromise the integrity of the arrow, but that’s not the case with the VAP. Its thick walled, 100% modular core adds strength to the arrow, enough to be called “armour piercing”. What really makes the arrow shine is its ability to withstand punishment and to fly consistently better in windy conditions due to less surface friction. Shooting long range? This is your arrow for the same reason! Prior to moving forward with another test, I checked the test VAP arrows for factory tolerances and I found all of them remained true and less than .001” out-of-round/straightness on a dial indicator. The V1, 350, 60-75 VAP arrows used were as good as they were when they left the factory. Now I understand why every single archery shop I spoke with in the U.S. all said positive remarks about the VAP arrow, even if they were pushing another brand. Most of them praised the Victory VAP and mentioned to me that it’s one of the finest arrows on the market, if not the finest.
Pictured below is the extremely thin, all carbon Victory VAP V1 arrow reflecting exact tolerances and beauty.
When I was finished with the punishment phase of the test, I cut all of the arrows into pieces to examine their construction. Several of the other brands snuck in fiberglass, had seams and utilized very thin-walled construction. I was able to see why the VAP’s were so strong and flew like they did. I also had a small pile of carbon dust underneath the saw blade, which is something none of the other arrows had. I found that rather interesting. Since I work frequently with carbon as a scent eliminator, I was happy to see the purity of real carbon in these arrows.
The tape from each arrow in the picture represents how much surface area (drag) there is from each arrow tested. Notice the smaller tape and shaft diameter from the Victory VAP.
Victory didn’t stop at innovation when the arrow was completed either! They designed what they call the “Penetrator Broadhead Adapter” that fits on the tip of the arrow shaft. This adaptor makes all others look flat-out crude. It’s well designed and machined to exact tolerances which aids in the smooth transition from adaptor to shaft. There isn’t a huge drop off, or a monster sized lip for air or animal tissue to disrupt the smooth flowing penetration characteristics of the arrow. Yet again, nothing left to question!
The picture below shows perfect transition from the broadhead to the arrow shaft using the Penetrator Broadhead Adapter. Note how the adapter is cone shaped which will aid in opening the hole larger than the arrow, thus allowing an even easier transition of the shaft through the target. This arrow is equipped with the Muzzy MX-3, 125 grain broadhead.
I highly recommend the VAP arrows from Victory. I give them a big “Thumbs up”. In fact, they will make my fall 2012 “Hit List”. If you’re interested in learning more about the VAP from Victory, check their website out at: http://www.victoryarchery.com. You can order arrows with different tolerances, spine ratings, with or without fletching, etc. They also have some great safety tips along with informative videos and technical related topics. With the season closing in, don’t wait until the last minute! Now’s the time to get the ball rolling!
If you’re interested in seeing the related video, feel free to watch it here!
Trail cameras galore these days. Which one to pick?
That seems to be the question asked each year when someone makes the decision to purchase a game camera for their hunting area. Price, reliability and quality data all play their part in that decision. Make the wrong choice, and you’ll either be stuck with junk or end up paying double on a lesser quality camera when you could have purchased an expensive one from the beginning. Not everyone has the luxury of purchasing a dozen cameras to compare, nor do they have the resources to evaluate them correctly. That’s why I’m here.
In the beginning, I remember someone making a box that held a traditional SLR type camera equipped with a motion detector, and offered that setup to the public as a way to capture images of deer. The idea eventually caught on, so several manufacturers dove-in head first to capitalize on this new concept.
From that point, the digital era was born and modifications to the older style cameras left the scene as quickly as a mature buck will after catching wind of the sweat-ladened T-shirt you’ve been wearing while trying to hunt him. Cameras started off with flashes but eventually morphed into the infrared and LED technologies. With hundreds of consumers purchasing and using theses cameras, people became aware of their idiosyncrasies and adjusted accordingly. Manufacturers became aware of issues just the same, like trigger speed, resolution, flash range, sensor detection locations, battery life and of course, the addition of video capabilities. Generally speaking with any product, it’s the public that does most of the testing and with any reputable company, it’s their job to listen and to include this data into their R&D.
In the last two years, I have picked some of the most expensive cameras to use while tracking whitetails where I hunt. I did so because I absolutely must know what is in a particular area before I hunt it. While testing many cameras along side of each other, I was appalled to see what some cameras were catching and others were missing. I often wondered how many people used a cheap camera not knowing some of the most important data was missing, and relocated the camera to another spot. In fact, it it wasn’t for my position as a professional product tester and hunter, I would have been duped myself! It was only after comparing trail cameras against each other that I’ve found what really happens in my neck of the woods.
After years of research and constant testing, I am actually pleased to announce my discovery of a great little camera called the “Tiny-D”, manufactured by Spypoint. The Tiny-D isn’t the only “great little camera” out there, but it is a camera that carries the features of a camera that costs MORE THAN TWICE as much as it does! Spypoint, which has addresses in both Canada and the USA, carries a line of game cameras with various capabilities, pricing and features. One thing the Spypoint cameras all have in common is; their trigger times are all less than a second!
My test camera is the Spypoint Tiny-D. This model was introduced to the public for 2012. The Tiny’s ultra-compact design of (4.5″ x 3.5″ x 2.7″) makes it easy to conceal anywhere, thus earning the title “Tiny”. Aesthetically speaking, it’s a real beauty! Great design and looks go hand-in-hand when keeping a unit concealed, yet workable under many different environmental scenarios. Without further ado, let’s look at the specs of this camera:
8.0 Megapixel picture quality
Built-in 2,4″ viewing screen
3 sensors for a total of 7 zone detection range
Tiny size (4,7″ x 3,5″ x 2,7″)
Sliding mount for easier handling
38 infrared LEDs for night time illumination
Automatic infrared level adjustment
Video recording from 10 to 90 sec. (640×480)
Color pictures by day, black and white by night
Adjustable period of operation
Multi-shot mode up to 6 pictures per detection
Instant trigger time in electricity mode
Date, time, moon phase and temperature stamp on pictures
Requires an SD/SDHC card up to 32 GB (not included)
USB and TV port (NTSC/PAL)
Adjustable distance detection sensor (5 to 50 ft)
Requires 6 alkaline AA batteries (not included)
Can be powered by a rechargeable lithium battery pack (not included) and maintain it’s charge by a solar panel
12 volt or Solar panel / External trigger jacks
User friendly menu
Kit includes: TINY-D camera, installation strap, USB and video cables, user manual
This camera has absolutely everything I could ever want from a game camera and a price that parallels the medium priced units. I set this camera in my test area against a dozen other cameras that were both inexpensive and others earning the title of what I call “art gallery” pricing. This camera never missed a beat! The SD card capacity of 32 GB, is more than you’ll probably ever need, even using it in video mode. It carries 3 sensors which are adjusted to different angles to capture 7 zones of detection. This unit only requires 6 alkaline AA batteries and not 12 like most others. Having said that, I wasn’t able to test battery life on this unit as of yet because I’ve had the camera for less than a year, but when I’m finished with that test, I’ll do a follow up. So far, the batteries remain strong after weeks of testing in conditions that are outside normal conditions. I expect no surprises there.
The setup was extremely simple and the camera was up and running in just 7 minutes. The camera has so many features, it would be impossible for me to go through all of them in this review and still keep your attention. Basically, it will do anything you would want your camera/video game recorder to do. What really makes this camera shine is its ability to capture great videos and images because of its 7 zone detection range. This camera can detect movement up to 180 degrees which is more important than you may think. Having tested cameras for years, all too often a deer will walk just outside the camera detection zone thus missing an opportunity to capture the action you needed to see. Having a 180 degree detection range, is like having another camera! Add the time lapse mode, its tiny size for easier concealment and did I mention the price? Instead of paying the $550.00 required for another camera with these features the Tiny-D retails for about $199.00! I even found it for as cheap as $169.00 on the internet. What a deal! A person could buy 3 of these cameras for the price of just one of the “art gallery” priced cameras. Now that’s a deal!
I give this camera a “Thumbs up”!
Spypoint even makes a wireless version of this camera that will catch any thief attempting to steal your camera. They sell a “blackbox” receiver with their Tiny-W camera that will not only catch the thief trying to rob you blind, but also aids in keeping your hunting area free from human disturbance! The blackbox receiver serves 2 purposes: Allows you to check your images up to 250 feet away from the camera and will catch a thief in a nano second by sending all of the images in real time, to the blackbox receiver. Because you can mount the receiver up to 250 feet away from the camera, anyone attempting to steal the camera is immediately caught on the camera and the image is sent to the receiver (blackbox). So let them steal the camera because you caught them anyway! It also also makes it easier to check your images without disturbing the hunting area. What a great idea!
To contact Spypoint please visit them at: http://www.spypoint.com . Their website is very informative and offers software updates and technical support too!
Well, it’s that time again. It’s time to check those trail cameras and adjust them if necessary. This year, we used the 200 yard rule to locate this beast in an area that’s not known for big bucks. Big bucks like certain terrain and geographical layouts, so finding those special places can really pay off. Maybe a few more adjustments before the season starts and we’ll have some luck! Enjoy the vid.
Our private gun ownership saved our mainland from being attacked right after Pearl Harbor was destroyed, by admission from the Japanese. If we lose our second amendment right, we’ll lose our country. Plain and simple!
I recently tested some tie-down products manufactured by Carolina North Manufacturing and found them to be of great use! They produce a series of tie-down straps in 5 different sizes from 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″.
These are all ratchet types straps that have different degrees of holding power depending on the size of the unit. They all utilize a braided nylon rope for greater strength than rubber or single strand rope. The ratchet mechanism is the key for holding tension and securing your objects safely. By ratcheting the tension of the braided rope, there is no chance of stretch or the type of failure associated with rubber bungee cords. Unlike rubber, nylon rope won’t degenerate due to ozone exposure created by electric motors found in or around shops, equipment, etc.
These ratchet type products have a lever that when pressed, releases all of the tension immediately allowing the rope to loosen and be easily removed.
If you would like to see a video on how they work, watch below:
Prices range from around $8.99 on up and are priced differently and incrementally as the sizes change. Carolina North also makes a hoist with a 2:1 ratio that’s great for hoisting deer, game feeders, or anything else that needs to be lifted. They retail around $22.00 but can be found on different websites offering different pricing.