It’s been a long time ago, but I vividly remember the excitement that accompanied the Sears and Roebuck Christmas catalog that arrived at our house around Thanksgiving each year when I was a kid.
With colorful images of Lone Ranger cowboy outfits, youth-size football helmets, Lego sets and other treasures, it heralded a coming season that promised to be exciting and magical.
Nowadays, when the fall hunting catalogs begin showing up in our mailbox, I get the same feeling – well, not quite but almost. With opening of bow season for deer right around the corner, I can almost feel the cool breeze wafting past my tree
stand while a ten-pointer eases through the underbrush below me. The archery season opens statewide on Sept. 7 and, in the Wildlife Commission’s Northeastern and Southeastern hunting units, remains open until January 1.
If this year is anything like the past, it will be hot as Hades around here when bowhunters first take to the woods. But, that doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm now.
Until then we can lounge in air conditioned comfort, browse through those catalogs and just imagine how the neat gear they feature can make bagging a big buck a reality. A few of the “must-have” items that are new on the scene this year are:
- Easton T64FMJ arrows: There’s an old saying that “The most important thing ain’t the arrow, it’s the Indian.” That’s true. But, it’s also a fact that a quality arrow can make any hunter (Indian or otherwise) more effective. The Easton Company
has introduced one that promises to do just that. The T64 has a “micro diameter” shaft (4 mm) from about midway back, which will reduce wind drag and improve penetration. But at the forward end, it’s 6 mm. That means hunters can use
standard broadheads without any special adapters. It’s described as having a “high FOC” (front-of-center) construction. With a MSRP of $299 per dozen, the arrows aren’t cheap but Easton has been in business for almost 100 years so they must
know what they’re doing.
- Breadcrumb Trackable Nocks: If you’re using one of Easton’s new arrows, you definitely don’t want to lose it after a shot. The key to that may be some new nocks that have Bluetooth-activated radio chips built in. They can communicate
with an archer’s Smartphone if he gets within 50 yards. At that point, the nock begins flashing an ultra-bright LED light and giving off a loud chirp. At $120 for a 3-pack, they’re also a little pricey but good insurance if you’re using some of
- New broadheads: Bowhunters are always looking for better – which means more effective – broadheads for the business ends of their arrows. Two companies are offering some this year that might just fill the bill. Muzzy is taking a step
forward by going back in offering a one-piece broadhead made 100% from machined steel. It has no parts to break – no screws, no hinges, no weak points - and can be sharpened over and over. With a 1 3/16” cutting diameter, it sells for
$50 for 3.
Rage, a pioneer in mechanical broadheads, is offering a new model that holds the blades in place with a spring system rather than the traditional plastic collars that can fail on occasion. Called the Hypodermic NC, it’s all-steel, with a chisel
tip, two blades and a 2” cutting diameter. It also goes for $50/3.
- Sitka Fanatic Pack: Every bow hunter needs a day pack in which to carry all his gear. Ideally, it will be durable; have plenty of room in several easily accessible compartments; be comfortable to wear and quiet to use. The Sitka Company has
one with all those features. The Fanatic Pack was designed by scientists at the University of Georgia who also happened to be bow hunters. They came up with a camouflage model that has plenty of storage space in main and side compartments;
compression straps for carrying bows; and virtually no noisy parts (buckles, Velcro, zippers).The last might be the most important feature. It’s about $200 but might be the last day pack a hunter ever needs to buy.
In retrospect, the most important thing a bow hunter might need as the season approaches isn’t a thing but somebody. It’s an experienced, knowledgeable archery technician that can make sure a bow and its various components are functioning as they should.
Modern compound bows are complex mechanical systems and, as such, can get a little out of whack on occasion. At the very least, they need to be tuned up once in awhile and have accessories installed correctly. An inexperienced individual
who tries to do it himself is sort of like a “shade tree mechanic.” He might fix something very simple, but he may also screw up other things that can make his bow inoperable or even dangerous to use. If that happens on the eve of opening
day, he’s got real problems.
There are a number of outdoor stores in this area who have archery technicians on their staffs. A few are:
Terry’s Archery Plus – 2970 Aurora Rd., Ernul; 252-638-2349
Neuse Sport Shop – 225 New Bern Rd., Kinston; 252-527-5058
Eastern Outfitters – 4819 Richlands Hwy., Jacksonville; 910-347-4868
Eastern Outfitters – 1810 N.C. Hwy 210, Hampstead; 910-270-2823
Sportsman’s Warehouse – 4715 New Centre Dr., Wilmington; 910-821-7000
EJW Outdoors – 4667B Arendell St., Morehead City; 252-247-4725
Hopefully you won’t need one of those folks to make your bow work but, if you do, it’s nice to know they’re there. I recently had Terry Lewis at Terry’s Archery adjust the pull weight on mine down a bit so I can use it without putting excessive
stress on an aging shoulder. Now, all I have to do is practice in the back yard, hope or cooler weather, and check out the catalogs to see what new gear I just have to have.
Ed Wall can be reached at email@example.com or 252-671-3207. His web site is www.edwalloutdoors.com