Practical Gear '99By Mark Timney

One of the great things about being an outdoor writer is having the opportunity to play with all the latest bowhunting toys. And there's no better outdoor writer's playground then the annual AMO Show. This year's show was held in January in Columbus Ohio. And while not as exciting as previous shows more refinement than innovation this year there were some interesting products to report on. A few of the items below I only saw demonstrated at the show. The rest I've since checked out at home or in the field. All seem very promising, and perhaps they're just what you need to make your 1999 season a successful one. I'm certainly going to give them a go.


Hunters' Edge Decoy

Hunter's Edge Decoys
One thing that I've always hated about decoying is having to haul the darn things into the woods with me. Hunter's Edge has made the whole deal much easier, and the company has opened up a whole new way of hunting in the process.

The company's line of light-weight decoys strap to the front of your bow... effectively turning you into a life-size decoy. There are deer, elk, caribou, bear and antelope decoys to choose from. The company has some amazing footage of hunters getting within a few yards of elk this way, and I have no doubt that the method would be just as effective on deer and other animals.

If you're less interested in playing the decoy yourself (and I have to admit that I am hesitant to go bear hunting with one of these), you can always hang the Hunter's Edge decoy from a nearby tree. When not in use, the decoys roll up like a mat for easy transport in a backpack. Hunter's Edge - PO Box 413 - Murphy, OR 97533 - 800-475-9656.

PSE's Thunderbolt and Carrera
PSE has several excellent new bows out this year, but two, in particular, stand out. The Carrera may be just the thing for those looking for a user-friendly, speed-bow (333 fps IBO). There are two versions: one has twin-cams, and the other is a single cam.

PSE’s Thunderbolt is a truly remarkable bow too, especially when you check out its price tag. It offers many of the features of PSE’s top-of-the-line bows at a reduced price. This may be the perfect bow for
the cost-conscious archer, or for someone looking for a good back-up bow.

Visit PSE On-Line at

Starlight Bloodhound
Sooner or later every bowhunter will end up losing a blood trail because of darkness, or worse yet, because of rain. But thanks to an exciting new product, called Starlight Bloodhound, from Tiger Futures Inc., finding that trail again can be a lot easier.

The product works like this: If Starlight Bloodhound comes in contact with any blood it instantly emits a bluish-white light that's visible in low-light or no-light conditions. Just spray and watch for the light. No flashlight is required, and it even works after a long heavy rain and when it's impossible to see signs of blood with the naked eye!

A 16-once bottle of Star light Bloodhound is enough to track a deer in a continuous straight line for about 100 yards, or for over 300 yards with more judicial use. (If you can see blood, no sense in spraying it.) Tiger Futures - 362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Suite 105 - Gulf Breeze, FL 32561 - 877-256-6346 (toll free).

Stepp Ladder
I like portable ladders (like the Centipede ladder you've seen here at the BOWSITE), but sometimes hunts require something a little more compact. I don't like screw in steps, and until now tie-ons haven't been a whole lot better. But check out the Step Ladder from Sppets International.

These little V-shaped steps are light, super stable, and mount to a tree with minimal effort. They're available in packs of 8, 10, and 12 and can get you way up a tree in no time at all. Sppets International - PO Box 860 - South Casco, Maine 04077 - 207-655-5105.


Mathews MQ-32
Mathews has once again pushed the limit of bow technology. The MQ-32 may be the first short compound that's truly shootable.

The MQ-32 has an axle length of just 32-inches, making it the most maneuverable adult bow on the market. And despite it's tiny size, the bow is very easy to shoot accurately. This is likely due to the bow's very forgiving 8-1/2" brace height.

While the MQ-32 isn't a speed burner AMO of 230 fps and IBO of 305 fps it's plenty powerful enough for any animal in North America. For anyone looking for a compact bow, the MQ32 may be perfect. Mathews Archery - P.O. Box 367 - Sparta, WI 54656 - 608-269-2728.

Summit Copperhead & Mamba
Other treestand manufacturers have had the idea of eliminating noisy attachment chains and cumbersome belts, but no one has implemented this idea better than Summit. The company's new Copperhead & Mamba treestands employ a very simple, but stable wire- mounted bracket which easily attaches to a tree.

The two stands, which are nearly identical but for the Mamba having a larger, more conventional seat, are exceptionally quiet, sturdy and rock solid. The hanging brackets are also available separately so you can mount them at various spots and carry just one treestand. Best of all, the Copperhead sells for under a $100.00! Summit Specialties, Inc. - P.O. Box 786 - Decatur, AL 35602 - 256-353-0634.

New HotShot treestand by BuckShot
For hunters looking for one of the quietest and most comfortable climbers on the market, try the new
HotShot. It can be used to hunt facing the tree or with your back to the tree. The HotShot is unique because it is the first stand/up, sit/down climber with an open shooting window and a movable seat cushion.

The HotShot is for the hardcore bowhunter featuring a huge 20" x 30" foot platform and a carrying weight of 21 lbs.

Taking advantage of telescoping arms the HotShot quickly sets up on trees 8" to 18" in diameter and has a capacity rating of 300 lbs.  The HotShot comes with a pair of backpacking straps, safety tie lines, a pair of EZ-Cinches, safety belt and an instructional video.

Visit BuckShot Treestands on line at

SVL Limb Savers
The trade-off has always been a simple one: the more string silencers quiet your bow the more they slow it down. There's a new approach to silencing your rig, however, and it's one that won't affect bow speed at all. It's called Limb Saver from Sims Vibration Laboratory (SVL).

All you do is mount these little rubber-like buttons an inch away from the limb forks on the belly of your bow. (There are ones designed for split-limb bows too.) According to SVL, they'll soak up vibration by as much as 65% and reduce noise by as much as 12 decibels. I was amazed at how much difference they made to my hunting bow, despite it already being deadly quiet.

This is the same technology SVL employs in deluxe models of aluminum Louisville Slugger baseball bats, Wilson tennis racquets and Powerbilt golf clubs. Watch for an upcoming noise/recoil reducer from SVL which will mount to the front of most stabilizers. Sims Vibration Laboratory - 450 W. Enterprise Rd., Suite 102 - Shelton, WA 98584 - 360-427-6031.