Well, it’s that time again to publish my semi-annual Hit List. This year has brought forth more innovative products than ever before. I, and several others, have tested hunting items all year and in every environment available to us. Much to my surprise, my Hit List has become very popular among manufacturers and readers alike thus generating more products to review each season. In fact, the products we receive on an annual basis has increased 2000% from just 2 years ago. Some of my readers don’t realize the products mentioned in my Hit List equal about 5% of the total inventory we receive for testing.
Having said that, I think it’s important for me to mention that the handful of testers I have working with me are mostly degreed engineers, aerospace, composite or metallurgist professions and all are veteran hunters. Cumulatively, we can detect junk a mile away and quite often, do. We have a common bond and belief that everyone should get fair value and performance for a product. Based on these beliefs, we choose very carefully what we recommend to our fellow hunters and huntresses.
What can I say about broadheads? They fly, tear flesh, punch holes and kill game. How well they perform in these categories can make or break a recommendation. Erratic flight and poor wounds channels will be the death of the hunt and not the animal. After much deliberation, I’ve chosen the Muzzy Trocar as my broadhead of choice.
Quite frankly, we tested so many broadheads, it was hard to vote on the best head. Being voted the best head for the Hit List doesn’t mean it was the best for each category, but rather best overall. In all honesty, many of the broadheads we tested performed great. What we liked about the Trocar was the heli-shaped blades and its tiny physical shape. The Trocar flew very well and slightly different than a field point. Penetration into foam targets was very good. One feature we really like about the Trocar was how tough it was. Muzzy has a reputation for using strong metal alloys which in turn allow for reconditioning of the blade by re-sharpening and prevents the blade from shattering. This is the kind of quality and performance we expect from a company that has been building superior broadheads for many decades! Visit Muzzy for more!
Arrows, like broadheads, are a dime a dozen. We shot so may arrows this year, it would be impossible to count how many. Some shattered, some cracked and some flew like an F-16 doing a high speed low pass, but at the end of the day these are the arrows we picked.
This year, I made two different categories. One for the super small diameter shafts and the other for the standard size shafts. I did this because more and more manufacturers are building arrows in these 2 sizes.
Standard size shaft
Carbon Express wins with the Maxima Red Arrow. Their new Maxima Red controls Dynamic Spine, which is how an arrow flexes in flight, better than anything we tested.
Dynamic Spine has thought to be the key in arrow accuracy because of the flexing and fluctuations an arrow will cycle through after each shot. This new carbon design has stiffer ends to contain the arrow’s flex and to allow the broadhead to shoot more consistently. No complaints here! This arrow performed every bit as good as they said it would! In this world of hyped-up “fluff”, we chose to stick to the facts and here are 2 very important facts for anyone ever to consider when purchasing arrows. These are the company’s statements:
- Matched Set – All Maxima® RED™ 6- and 12-pack sets are sorted and matched by weight and spine for best-in-class consistency. Spine selection sorting tolerance is +/- 0.0025″. Weight sorting tolerance is +/- 1.0 grains.
- Real Straightness – Every Maxima® RED™ arrow is laser checked for straightness to a remarkable 1/10,000 of an inch. Maxima® RED™ straightness of +/- 0.0025″ is a maximum measurement, not an average.
Consistency is very important when trying to improve your shot and without it in the manufacturing process, it becomes fruitless to even practice. We voted for the Maxima Red as being the best we’ve tested in this category. You can read more at Carbon Express.
Ultra thin shaft
Victory owns this category with the VAP V1 (Victory Armour Piercing) ultra thin shaft arrow. Once again, consistency in manufacturing in addition to unique characteristics of this arrow place these shafts on top! This is one arrow I was able to test two years in a row and was fortunate enough to also hunt with last year. In fact, I arrowed 2 mega-bucks with the same VAP arrow and it’s willing and waiting to go as it sits in my quiver today.
The factory states:
Victory Armour Piercing Arrows are sorted to +/- 0.5 of grain weight per dozen.
Available in straightness tolerances of:
+/- .001, .003, .006 Straightness/Weight Tolerance +/- .5grains
All sizes Glue in Points 80, 100, 120 grains
The VAP V1 (+/- .001) performs exceptionally well in windy days and will penetrate deeper than any other arrow I’ve tested. When used with their Penetrator Adaptor Inserts, the shaft is reinforced at the tip and greater integrity is achieved. So once again, the VAP joins the rest of successful products in my 2013 fall Hit List! To read more, go to the Victory website.
Trophy Ridge React
Trophy Ridge hit a home run with their React bow sight.
The TR React is probably the most interesting sight I have ever laid my hands on. Because it’s tool-less, you can make fine adjustments on the fly! Another neat bit of technology utilized in this sight is the ability to set 2 pins, which will then automatically set the farther distance pins with no additional calibrating! Add the fact that it’s lightweight and you’ll have yourself a real winner! Here’s a summation from Trophy Ridge’s website:
“ This is the new Trophy Ridge React sight with Smart Pin Technology, a revolutionary, tool-less sight system that once calibrated at 20 and 30 yards, makes your 40, 50, and 60 yard pins mathematically impossible to be inaccurate. Perfect precision. Season after season. In less than 10 minutes. It’s not just another bow sight. It’s a true innovation in a world of status quo”.
For every person I have recommended this sight to, I have had zero negative and all positive comments relayed back to me. The light gathering capabilities are excellent and the setup is extremely simple. Adjustments are quick and painless. This sight is an easy winner! More cam be read about at Trophy Ridge.
Polaris Ranger 900
Polaris made many changes to the Ranger this year and every one of them were excellent!
The new Ranger is quieter, rides better and steers even better than its predecessor. I was pleasantly surprised after starting it up for the first time to hear how quiet it was. The noise reduction was a result of Polaris moving the engine location. The suspension was completely redesigned which is the reason it rides so smoothly.
I used my test unit for all sorts of heavy duty farm-type work. The dump bed is a dream to have and the hitch receiver was greatly appreciated when I hooked my disks up, to plow a few acres in preparation for a food plot. I had so much reserve power left over, it wasn’t even close to its maximum capacity.
I’ve tested many different brands but it’s the Polaris I keep coming back to! Visit them at Polaris to check the Ranger out or any other product they offer.
Food Plot Seed
Horny Buck Seed
The Horny Buck Seed company might have generated initial notoriety from its name, but once customers plant this ultra-fresh seed, they’ll be remembered for their quality!
A good seed company will sell you just what you pay for, and that’s seed! A high percentage of inert ingredients or fillers that are useless won’t be found in Horny Buck’s seed.
Another thing you won’t be paying for is OLD seed. Unlike many of the bigger name brands, Horny Buck seed uses only the freshest seed and won’t mix several years of old, outdated seed, with their latest batch. This is an extremely important point because most of the seed purchased by the consumer, will be spread and sewn in less than desirable “timber” type soils. Places where deer and turkey thrive just happen to be in areas where the soil usually needs to be worked for proper plant growth.
When we tested their seed, we used 2 different farms and 2 different times of the year. We used harsh timber soil with no lime added and no soil testing. We simply tilled the soil and planted the seed. We fertilized the food plot one time during the early planing, and didn’t use any during the fall planting. Comparatively speaking, we noticed no difference.
Germination was so fast, we had leaves on the plants just 3-4 days after the initial planting! So, from seed to plant; just 3-4 days just to make that clear! That’s the kind of performance you should expect. 2 weeks after planting the first batch, we had non-resident bucks coming out of the timber eating in these plots. That alone tells us these plots are giving off some sort of aroma for these new animals to investigate.
Horny buck has many products for the whitetail and turkey enthusiasts, so check them out at Horny Buck Seed.
We are using 2 different cameras in this review primarily because the technology is so new for both of them.
Covert Black 60
Each year we test more and more trail cameras. One thing for sure; they’re getting better each year!
Our latest Hit List nominee is the Covert Black 60. We like this camera primarily because it will do nearly everything the best cameras will do but will do it with the “black” technology. That translates into no flash and no visible glow during the shot. Deer are smart and they know something’s up when they stare at a light on a trail camera! With the Covert Black 60, you get great reaction times, video with sound and a 60 + ft. of infrared flash range for less than half of the most expensive camera on the market.
- 12 MP Color CMOS = 3-5-8-12 MP photo resolutions
- 1.2 Second Trigger Speed with intervals set from 1sec to 60 min
- Photo bursts 1-3 images
- Date/Time/Temp and Moon Phase stamp
- Built in color viewer
- 60 ft invisible infrared flash range
- Takes pictures and video
- HD Video with sound!
- Password protection
- Overwrite Selection ( if selected will overwrite oldest photo on SD card with newest photo after card is filled to capacity)
- Operates on 4,8 or 12 AA batteries.
- Rated for up to a 32GB SD card.
- 1 Year Warranty
Check the new Covert Black 60 out on the Covert website.
Moultrie Panoramic 150
Another innovative idea that hit the market is the panoramic technology that Moultrie incorporates into its Panoramic 150 camera.
Basically this is how how it works. There are three PIR sensors and when one sensor senses motion, the camera takes three photos right to left. The photos are then combined together to show one panoramic photo. With an acclaimed 150º detection/field of view angle, this camera well out performs its competition in F.O.V. Most cameras run in the 40 degree range, so as you can see, many previously missed opportunities are captured with this camera. The camera is still too new to check battery life and dependability, but as of to date, our test camera still has the original batteries and continues to pump out high-res images with no issues.
We chose this camera because of its innovative design and useful technology. It was easy to setup and offered so many features, we’ll probably never use them all. If you would like to read more about this camera, visit Moultire!
Food plot equipment
This is a perfect tool for those of you who want to plant a food plot. There are so many good things to say about the Groundhog Max, I don’t know where to begin!
Let’s start with convenience. It’s lightweight, easy to install, doesn’t need weights added to it, inexpensive, great for tight spaces and only takes one man to use! This unit uses the weight of your ATV to till and disc soil to perfection.
A disc setup of an inner 10 inch, 9 inch, 8 inch notched disc with high speed bearings allows you to cut hard ground, grass, and ground clutter better. This plow does as good or better as any other if you have rocky conditions. The plow is half as wide but you can plow twice as fast (4-7 mph). Use looping circles and figure eights. For maneuverability it will plow in reverse.
Here’s its features in a nutshell:
- Weighs 46 lbs with a cutting width of 21″. Half as wide as a pull behind but twice as fast. No need to add extra weight
- ATV and rider’s weight force disc into the ground with up to 800+ lb. of plowing down force. More down-force, less steel equals an aggressive cut
- Use in 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive… use 4-wheel drive for more aggressive cuts
- Use with independent rear suspension or straight axle setups
- Graduated notched discs plow faster and penetrates deeper
- Fully assembled plow with easy to replace bearings
- Adjustable height control, 1″ increments
- Trailer not required… transport with no hassle
- Plow in looping circles and figure eights for best results
- Allows the use of reverse with plow engaged (on most units) for small, tight places.
Check them out at Groundhog Max!
Nockturnal Lighted Nocks
Lighted nocks have been around for sometime now and each have their own design unique to them. Some are brighter than others, some are easier to install and others are cheaper but at the end of the day, you just want them to work well.
I’ve tested many brands of lighted nocks and have found that many of them work quite well. I’ve also tested some nocks that were so expensive, you would have to mortgage your home for them! An ultra-expensive lighted nock is not something a person needs, especially if you plan on losing an arrow for whatever reason. So ultimately, you just need a lighted nock that’s dependable and cheap enough to purchase. That nock is Nockturnal.
I like the nocturnal because it’s a self contained unit that doesn’t need anything outside of what it already has, to operate. The nock is activated by a small button-like switch that is installed inside the string groove when the bow is fired. It will stay lit until you retrieve the arrow and shut the nock off. The nock is deactivated by inserting a small pin-like object into the slot (or just the nock of another arrow) which is on the side of the nock, and pushed until the light is turned off.
They sell Nockturnals in packs of three and the come in 4 different colors. Visit them at Nockturnal for more information.
Barnett Ghost 410
Scary fast and shoots on the money! What else can I say?
This is the bad boy of crossbows at an affordable price. Nothing shoots like this Ghost 410 for the money. Out of the box there is little to assemble. It comes very well equipped with a scope and 3 bolts (arrows) and has the best safety mechanism in the industry.
With the crossbow market heating up, we’re seeing a lot of 11th hour designs pushed into the stores but when you compare them side-by-side to a Barnett, you’ll quickly understand why Barnett has been in business for over a half of a century! That’s the kind of backing I want when I plop down my hard earned money on something I’ll most likely be using for several years. The Ghost 410 is blistering fast, is easy to hold and shoots like a dream. We had no problem placing this crossbow in the Hit List of 2013. Visit Barnett for more information.
Bear Motive 6
Tack driver, machine gun and Swiss watch precision are just 3 phrases i use to describe this sick bow!
If there ever was a bow I’m in love with, it’s this Bear Motive 6! Not too often I’m left with an impression of superiority 8 months after I test fire a bow, but the Motive 6 still leaves a feeling of “want” in my heart, even after all of that time.
I’ve shot a lot of bows in my life and by today’s standards, many of them have come a long way. Bear is no exception. I never thought I would leave my beloved Mathews for a Bear bow but that’s exactly what I did. Bear got it together and I got on board. They have the resources and the ability to stay ahead of the game and that’s just what they been doing for the last several years.
This Bear Motive is a prime example of how something exquisite in design can be refined to an even greater degree. The Motive 6 makes the Hit List with room to spare. Check them out at Bear Archery.
Minerals and attractants
I had the opportunity to check out the Monster Raxx products at the ATA show this year. One thing that really stuck out was the attractants they had. Anyone who knows me will state that I’m not a big fan of cover scents, but when I opened the lid of Monster Raxx’s vanilla and apple attractant, I was really impressed. Now their scents aren’t supposed to be used as a cover scent, although someone may try to use them that way, but rather to be used as the title states; as an attractant. I’ve seen attractants come and go but this stuff is amazing! It’s so concentrated and real-like, I made sure we tested it.
Their attractants are oil based, which means they won’t wash off easily with water once applied to a tree, etc. If you need to examine a particular buck near a trail camera, this attractant will hold them there long enough to capture a solid image even on a slower, less expensive trail camera.
One bottle of this stuff will most likely last a couple of seasons because it’s so concentrated. Some people even spray it on food plots! Monster Raxx also makes minerals and bear lures too!
Another hit from this company is their trophy minerals.
We tested their mineral product in several states where the use of this is legal, with great results. We placed it along side of several other mineral supplements only to find the Monster Raxx was hit on consistently and more often than the others. Reading its composition, it has vitamins and minerals that are often sought after by whitetails while growing antlers. If you want to know more about these products, please check them out here!
Vortex Viper HD 10X42
When we test binoculars, we test them independently, then comparatively. When we compared these Vortex Viper HD 10X42 to the other binoculars we’ve tested, we were completely blown away. In fact, these were my favorite binoculars even though I had a couple of my very own that cost 2-3 times as much as these.
These binoculars have it all! Gas filled, waterproof, no question asked lifetime warranty, superior quality and all at a mid level price tag.
In fact, all of Vortex’s products are made extremely well. They’re an America company and they serve the needs of today’s outdoorsmen/women with optics for nearly every situation. I’ve been comparing Vortex’s products for years against the best names in the industry with great results each time. Please visit Vortex for more information.
I know I sound like a broken record by now, but when you’re the best, your’e the best! It’s that simple. Carbon Synergy is the best.
When I started using Carbon Synergy 3 years ago, I noticed the quality of my hunting was getting better. I wasn’t getting busted nearly as much by animals and my scent control costs have dropped way down compared to when I was buying that watered down spray junk for $5.00 a bottle.
After the first year of testing it, I noticed I had deer come up from behind me when I was hunting from the ground. Not only were they within a few feet of me but they were down wind! This happened several times during that season and not one time was I busted.
Eventually, I met with the makers of carbon Synergy and discovered a few things about them. First and foremost, they actually have a degreed chemist on board. Second, they tested many different types of carbon to come up with a coconut based carbon that not only is extremely effective, but non-toxic too! When they added silver as an anti-microbial to their solution, I realized why they had a hit on their hands. Fast forward 3 years later and I have had not one single person tell me the Carbon Synergy didn’t work as the best scent control treatment they have ever used, even after I had recommended it to tens of thousands of people.
The deal sealer is when these guys at CS do the dreaded demonstration at trade shows. They’ll dip a Q-Tip into something nasty like raccoon, fox or skunk “juice” and after getting a few gags from their audience, treat those same Q-Tips with Carbon Synergy. 2 things always happen; people are amazed that they can’t smell any signs whatsoever of the animal remnants, and they always step forward to buy it! You’ll be doing yourself a favor by checking them out at Carbon Synergy.
Real World Whitetail Icons
When Don Higgins asked me to write a few paragraphs for his upcoming book last year, I felt honored and humbled at the same time. Don is a remarkable hunter and writer! He’s written for several major magazines for years and is a “Speak your mind” kind of guy. For that, I hold a lot of respect for him. I would rather know what a man’s thinking than to have him sugar coat everything for the sake of being politically correct. I felt he truly wanted me to participate in his endeavor and for that, I knew in my heart it was what he wanted. Along with the other authors, he hand picked us for a reason.
When Don compiled this book, I had no idea until it was completely finished, what caliber of individuals had authored these chapters. Each one of these people are seasoned, experienced and well known hunters and/or authors that have contributed many years of their expertise to readers all across the world.
After receiving the finished copy, I was amazed how much knowledge was floating around in these pages. Some of these men were icons when I was still in my youth and others were no longer with us. I thought to myself, “Where on earth could anyone get such a complete book of whitetail knowledge anywhere but right here?” Me not included, these guys are the best of the best!
Don sells this book online and I placed it in my Hit List, not because I’m one of the authors in it, but rather because a person will never get anywhere near this amount of coveted whitetail knowledge anywhere in one book, on TV or flat out anywhere for that matter. This is one book where you can read all about whitetails and never have to look again for another one. This is a very limited edition and there will never be another one like it! Stop by Don’s website for ordering information.
Uncle Freddie’s Big Game Gut Glove
Nobody really likes to field dress their game primarily because it’s messy. Here’s a set of gloves that may help you stay clean and safe! They come up your arm and protect you from unwanted blood and guts, and they are reusable!
They are blaze orange in color and they come in all different sizes too. They’re made with a thick rubber type of material, have an elastic band at the top to secure the glove to your arm and have a non-slip grip.
You wouldn’t think something as simple as a glove would make a Hit List, but even the most minute items can sometimes make a big difference in your hunt. Check these out at Uncle Freddie’s.
Marc Anthony bow hunter Suit
You didn’t think we could NOT include this suit did you? Of course not.
I cannot tell you how many emails I received from people who now hunt from the ground or use this suit from a tree stand with success. Everything about this suit is designed with the bow hunter in mind but can still be used by gun hunters. In fact, it’s not even fair to use this suit with a gun! When you blend in with your surroundings, hunting game is now on an even playing field…sort of. We make 2 sizes and 2 colors. We’ll have more models out soon too! For more information, visit my website and read up about it, or drop us am email for purchasing instructions.
This target is compiled of layered foam compressed by a top and bottom plate. Both sides have scrolling spindles that hold and share the vinyl based, high-res and UV resistant game animal images. The animal of choice can easily be chosen by rotating the two knobs (one on each side) simultaneously, or by just turning the lead knob that carries the tension. The entire unit is weather tested and is suitable for outdoor use.
For those of you that are interested, it took a lot of work to compile high resolution imagery from around the world that also happen to be broadside in nature. They researched the species, and provided a shooting scenario for each target. All of the images, (as stated above but to reiterate), are on a UV and weather resistant vinyl-type of medium. Tired of shooting North American game animals? No problem, African animals can be ordered on another roll of images! Each roll can be purchased with either vitals, or ASA approved scoring patterns. How about this idea: Want to shoot with family and friends while having a BBQ? Try their game roll which consist of Tic Tac Toe, Dart board or a choice of many more games. Now that’s cool!
If you are a 3-D target shooter and are thinking of purchasing a dozen targets, I don’t have to explain to you how much that will cost. This unit alone will save you hundreds of dollars. Cramped on space? No need for an acre of land to setup all of those targets. Just a safe area where you can shoot safely is all you’ll need. If you’re an outfitter, this system is for you. Here’s an opportunity to really impress your clients and to give them another reason to come back next year. You can take your best trail camera images of the bucks that are roaming your property and send them in to GC. For a fee, they can place those images on a roll for you and your clients will be practicing on the very same bucks they’ll be hunting! How cool is that? Check this target out at GC Archery.com
E Z Kut Pruners
E-Z Kut Ratchet Pruner is a tool you may not think about carrying with you in the woods, but you may want to this year! This is a powerful ratchet type hand held pruner that will give you a mechanical advantage that will cut through branches like butter. This pruner is great for clearing camp sites and shooting lanes.
The powerful ratchet action of this pruner will allow cutting up to 1” live branches with very little effort. No sawing, just ratchet away effortlessly! Hunters will especially appreciate the ease in which they can now cut pelvic bones and brisket of deer they are field dressing. Small game and bird hunters will also be able to quickly clean birds and process small game.
Although these lightweight and powerful pruners are designed for sportsmen, people with disabilities or arthritis will appreciate these pruners as they require much less effort than conventional pruners. You get all of this but the best part about these pruners is they’re quiet! Check them out: E Z Kut Pruners.
Watson Air Lock
Who would have thought a bag would make a Hit List? I personally eye balled this bag, that really doubles as luggage, for several reasons. First, it has airlock technology. For people like me who have to bag hunting clothing to keep it as scent free as possible, it’s a real treat. Second, I use it when I travel to give seminars or to visit trade shows. I like the fact that it has wheels and a retractable handle on it which makes it easy to transport. Given the size of the bag, the wheels are a welcome addition especially if you fill it to its capacity.
The pink version shown, supports breast cancer research and offers the ladies a bit of spice too!
When I’m finished hunting, I simply place my Ghillie suit in the bag and zip it up. It will extend the lifespan of my Carbon Synergy scent control which is permeated in my suit. The bag also features numerous pockets, a separate shoe or boot storage section, removable pouches that are great for carrying all of the little things you need for hunting! To read more, please visit Watson Airlock.