Looking for a neat new hunting rig? Whatever your bowhunting goals for 2017, here are six stand-out compounds that deserve some serious consideration.

Elite Option 6 900Elite Option 6 & Option 7. It’s always good to have options—and the 32-inch axle-to-axle Option 6 (pictured above) and Option 7, the names of which denote respective brace heights, offer two worthy of a closer look. Both retail for $1,399, and feature a 7075 T6 skeletonized riser with dual Riser Cages that provides a 65-percent greater strength-to-weight ratio than previous models. A newly engineered cam is designed to maximize performance and a new LTR (Lateral Tuning Roller) roller guard provides fine tuning. This strong, yet lightweight 4.3-pound package is rated up to 342 fps and is available in draw weights from 50 to 80 pounds, and in half-inch draw increments from 26 to 30 inches for the Option 6, and 27 to 31 inches for the Option 7.

Envoy2 900Fleetwood Envoy2 Compound Bow. Tired of all the sticker shock that comes standard with today’s premium bows? The Envoy2 is an incredible new state-of-the-art bow designed for both entry level and experienced archers alike—both youths and adults—and it comes at a true family friendly price: $300 for the complete, ready-to-shoot package that includes the bow, sight, rest and stabilizer. This smart new design features a fully adjustable draw length from 19 to 30 inches, and adjustable draw weight from 20 to 70 pounds. This means the Envoy2 will fit most youths and adults, but even better, the wide-ranging adjustability means it will grow right along with your youngster, making it the last bow you’ll ever have to buy. It’s available in Next G1 camo, Muddy Girl camo, and Black, ideal for hiding inside a ground blind.

Prime centergy900Prime Centergy. For its new three-bow Centergy Series ($1,200 each), Prime combined a Center Balanced Targeting System (CBTS) with TRK Parallel Cam technology and a Flexis-AR roller to create its most balanced and easy-to-aim bow yet. Built around the new center-balanced 82X aluminum riser, the CBTS incorporates a strategically designed “Swerve” into the heavier lower end of the riser to reduce lateral movement during the draw cycle for less noise and vibration, and greater accuracy. The all new TRK Cam System, the latest enhancement of Prime’s parallel cam technology, provides higher efficiency even in shorter draw lengths—reportedly sacrificing only 4 to 6 feet per second per inch of draw length vs. the standard 10 fps per inch with conventional cams. At 33 inches the Centergy is middle of the road in length, but its 333 fps speed bumps into the upper echelon; mass weight is 4.3 pounds. Also available is the Centergy Air, which weighs in at 4.1 pounds, and the Centergy Hybrid, which measures a  slightly longer 35 inches axle to axle, and weighs in at 4.5 pounds. Brace heights vary from 6.5 to 7.5 inches depending on models, which are available from 40 to 80 pounds. 2017PSEEvolve900PSE Evolve. The principal component of PSE’s new Evolve ($950) is the namesake Evolve Cam System (ECS) and its numerous features. For starters, its draw curve smoothly eases you from peak weight into a deep valley before resting in a consistent and relaxed pocket with a solid back wall. Its rotating cam modules allow for toolless, no-press adjustment of draw length (from 24 1/2 to 30 inches) and letoff from 80 to a whopping 90 percent with a standard module (65 to 75 percent letoff with an optional high-speed module). And, the quad-track cable design with split 3D cable grooves and a centered string tack eliminates cam lean and lateral nock travel for a more stable and accurate shot. The end result is a compact (31-inch), lightweight (4.3 pounds) speedster (346 fps) that’s very comfortable to draw, hold and shoot. ObHemorrhage900Obsession Hemorrhage DE. Obsession has established itself as a legitimate performance bow maker over the last couple years, a reputation that will be further solidified with this year’s Hemorrhage DE ($999). The “DE” denotes a new Dynamic Energy cam, which is designed to provide a very smooth draw and 80-pound letoff while also delivering blistering speeds (up to 340 fps). All that is accomplished with a forgiving 7-inch brace height. That, combined with the 30-inch axle-to-axle length and 4-pound weight make it maneuverable and light, all definitive features of a high-performance hunting bow. And, Obsession’s PerFex system allows for easy, half-inch draw-length adjustments from 27 1/2 to 31 inches.

Halon32 900Mathews Halon 32. Hot on the heels of last year’s 30-inch Halon, the Halon 32 ($1,099) offers the same features as its predecessor, in a slightly longer package. Most notable is the efficient No Cam-inspired Crossentric cam system, which uses a partially concentric string payout and AVS Technology for a quieter draw and greater consistency, which translates to increased accuracy. Wider, more torsionally rigid limbs and a dual-bridged riser are specifically designed to support this powerful cam system, and a true-center nocking point ensures straight and level nock travel for even more consistency and accuracy. You can choose between brace heights of 5, 6 or 7 inches, draw lengths from 25-32 inches and draw weights from 40 to 70 pounds, with a maximum speed rating of 350 fps. 

Consistent flight. Deep penetration. Devastating performance. The newest broadheads offer these and more; here are several new designs to consider as you build your 2017 bowhunting arsenal.

Slickss copy 900Slick Trick RaptorTrick. Slick Trick engineers cited “the consistent demand of diehard bowhunters” as their inspiration in designing the RaptorTrick ($48/3-pack), which just might be the first and only expandable broadhead you can fine-tune to your bow’s speed. In flight, the stainless-steel ferrule’s streamlined profile provides field point accuracy, regardless of bow speed. But the real secret is a unique multi-position O-ring you can secure in the front notch for high kinetic energy (KE) bows and crossbows, in the middle for standard KE bows and in the rear for low-energy bows, ensuring blades remain fixed in flight yet deploy on contact. Then, a four-edge bone-splitting tip followed by two .035-inch steel blades, placed at an optimal angle for extreme penetration, deliver a powerful punch and a two-inch cut.

Rage_Hypo_Trypan 900

Rage Hypodermic Trypan. Improving on the immensely popular Hypodermic head was no easy task, but Rage engineers found a way with the new Hypodermic Trypan. First they replaced the stainless steel ferrule with a tougher, more durable and corrosion-resistant titanium ferrule. Stronger material also allows them to make the ferrule more streamlined for better flight performance. Less ferrule weight then allows for thicker (.039-inch), stronger stainless steel blades that now produce two-inch “slap-cuts” on entry and feature a new “Super Sweptback” blade angle for even better penetration. Rage Hypodermic Trypans ($55) come in a three-pack with a practice tip.

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G5 Outdoors Dead Meat. At the heart of the Dead Meat is a new SnapLock retaining collar system. It features an integrated clip that “marries” with a tiny knob on the back side of the blade, creating an audible “snap” when each of the three blades is securely locked in place so there’s no worry about in-flight deployment. And the profile is designed to fly like a field point. The ferrule of this all-stainless steel machined head features a razor-sharp yet rugged chisel tip for bone-breaking initial contact, followed by three heavy-duty blades that deploy for a 1.5-inch diameter cut. Available in 100 and 125 grains and in a Crossbow configuration. $55/3-pack.

Wacssss copy_edited-1Wac’Em Expands Mechanical Offerings. To build their first expandable (last year), Wac’Em started with the same cut-on-impact tip design used on their fixed-blade heads. They then added hardened stainless steel mechanical blades, but placed them far enough back so they do not deploy until half of the broadhead’s body has penetrated, a blade design that drastically reduces deflection as well as in-flight kinetic energy loss. The initial versions were obviously well received as they’ve expanded (pardon the pun) the line to now include two (two-blade and three-blade) American-forged steel versions. Both are 100 grains with a 1.5-inch cut diameter. $45 per 4

TruGlos New copy 900TruGlo TitaniumX Broadheads. No, that’s not a typo. TruGlo engineers teamed up with broadhead designer, Bruce Barrie (former owner of Rocky Mountain Broadheads) to develop an all new TitaniumX family of mechanical and fixed-blade 100-grain broadheads for both compounds and crossbows (crossbow models shown above). Their one-piece ferrules and Tru•Cut, cut-on-contact tips are CNC-machined from Grade-5 titanium while their .031-inch thick Tru•Thru stainless steel, replaceable blades are precision-sharpened. The narrow flight profile of the mechanicals—available in large cutting diameter 2-blade and dual-stage 4-blade models—is designed for field-tip accuracy. Package includes replacement blades and installation tool. $41 per set.

Few products are seeing the large leaps in technology that you’ll find in crossbows, and the class of 2017 certainly continues the trend. Here are some noteworthy examples.

Ravin R9 900 copyRavin R9. Back in January, I don’t believe any one product generated more interest at the 2017 ATA Show than the new Ravin crossbows, the R9 and R15. Both use patented HeliCoil Technology to achieve an astonishingly small 6-inch (at full draw) axle-to-axle width, and more. It works by coiling cables away from both the top and bottom of the cams in helical grooves to keep them perfectly balanced. This allows the cams to rotate to a near full 340 degrees

VIDEO: Team ScoutLook Test-Fires Ravin R9 At 100 Yards

while keeping them perfectly level for increased speed and downrange accuracy. It also allows the string and arrow to free-float above the rail, reducing noise and friction while providing a quieter, quicker shot and vastly improved string life. And, it enables the Trac Trigger Firing System to create a perfectly balanced draw, and works in conjunction with the Versa Draw Cocking System for easy cocking and un-cocking with minimal effort. The R9’s 195-pound draw weight and 13-inch power stroke are rated at 390 fps. It comes with six Ravin arrows, nocks and field points; removable cocking handle, quiver and mounting bracket, 100-yard illuminated scope and built-in cocking mechanism, all for $1,549. CAMX BeautyShot_900CAMX X330. You wouldn’t throw your crossbow against a brick wall, would you? Paul Vaicunis did, repeatedly, just to show how tough his new X330 ($1,000) is. Part of that toughness is attributable to the single-piece aluminum Monobloc system and all-steel Weaver-style scope rings that prevent the ARC scope from shifting. Tips of the Armor Tuff limbs are enclosed in metal caps, and the wheels are recessed inside the limb tips to prevent excess wear and abrasion. How about safety? Patented Thumbsaver technology prevents fingers from entering the string path but unlike every other such system, this one slides out of the way while cocking to ensure a more even, and accurate, draw. Then, a multiple-point trigger safety and fully-enclosed Pivoting Arrow Retention system make it impossible for the bow to be dry-fired. And if that’s not enough, every bow is factory assembled and tested and guaranteed to shoot 1-inch groups at 20 yards, at 330 fps.  Parker TornadoXbow 900Parker Tornado XXtreme. Along with their Tornado XXtreme ($850), Parker for 2017 introduced a new Xbow Xtreme Technology (XXT) that incorporates four proprietary innovations. 1) Inverted Cam technology reverses cams to maximize power stroke while minimizing overall length, resulting in greater stored energy and higher speeds. 2) Split Limb Array technology arranges limbs in a parallel configuration to reduce width and weight. 3) High Performance (HP) Synergy Cam technology builds force quickly and holds stored energy steady at peak throughout the draw cycle until letoff, providing greater efficiency, better performance and a smoother release off the trigger latch. And 4) Parker’s Cavity-Back Riser technology spreads limbs apart creating an opening in the riser for the foot stirrup, dramatically reducing overall length and weight.

TenPoint RCX 900TenPoint Carbon Phantom RCX. This super-efficient new crossbow’s power plant consists of a new, relatively lightweight 160-pound reverse cam bow assembly with 10.5-inch RCX limbs and Brownell Rhino string and cables. Yet when paired with a middle-of-the-road 15.5-inch power stroke it’s capable of generating arrow speeds up to 385 fps. All that is mounted on a 19.9-inch (strong, lightweight) wrapped carbon fiber barrel and ultimately a newly

VIDEO: More On Carbon Phantom RCX, TenPoint Entry Level Crossbows

engineered ACX (Adjustable Comfort Crossbow) stock molded from PolyOne OnForce polypropylene and featuring a one-piece adjustable cheek and butt plate that can be secured in different positions to match length-of-pull. The TenPoint Carbon Phanton RCX Package includes cocking mechanism, scope, six Pro Elite carbon arrows, String Dampening Rods (SDR) and a quiver. $1,719 with ACUdraw 50; $1,819 with ACUdraw. Barnett BuckComm 900Barnett Buck Commander Revengeance. I may show a little bias on this one but I’m a sucker for reverse-limb bows, primarily because they offer better balance, less shock and noise and more power with less power stroke, not to mention a considerably narrower configuration. Thus I was delighted to see an old favorite reborn as the new, improved Buck Commander Revengeance. This 155-pound version offers more speed—400 fps—and energy (129 foot-pounds), as well as a new crisp, smooth “rifle-like” Triggertech trigger and a new brush arrow retainer. The BC Revengeance package ($999) includes side-mount quiver, two 20-inch arrows, rope cocking device and illuminated 4×32 scope.

More features. Better resolution/image quality. Extended battery life. The newest trail cams offer these and maybe something even more exciting: affordable prices.

MoultrieMCG 900Moultrie S-50i. Moultrie is now assorting their ever-growing line of game cameras into four categories to help consumers find the model that best suits their specific needs. New to their premium “S” or Signature series is the S-50i ($200). Just some of its many features are: 20 mp images and true 1080p HD video with audio, 0.3-second trigger speed, 80-foot detection range and 100-foot flash range both day and night, the latter accomplished with 48-LED iNVISIBLE Infrared Flash technology. Extended battery life allows for 28,000 images to be taken while a built-in two-inch full-color display lets you view images or use Moultrie Mobile System technology to access images and videos on your mobile devices.

 BrowningBTC 900Browning Command Ops. One benefit of constantly advancing technology is that it continues to drive down the price of consumer goods providing incredible value, game cameras being a general example. A more specific example is Browning’s new Command Ops series, which offers 8MP image resolution, 0.67-second trigger speeds, 720p HD video with sound and Infrared LED nighttime illumination, all for a mere $120. Menu options allow for a range of still and video capture modes and “data strip” displays, and it all fits in a compact 5x4x2.5-inch case.

 Wildgame 900_edited-1Wildgame Innovations Silent Crush Cam 20. A trail camera that frightens game is of limited utility. Yet that’s exactly what you get with noisy shutters and conventional cameras that use mechanical filters to compensate for changing day-night light conditions. And, images taken during peak twilight periods are often of poor quality. Wildgame Innovations addressed all these issues with their Silent Crush Cam 20. Rather than mechanical filters, it captures 20MP still images and HD 720p video clips using separate,

VIDEO: More On The New Silent Crush Cam 20

dedicated cameras, each with components optimized for respective daytime, nighttime and twilight performance. And a patent-pending SLS (Silent Lens System) Technology eliminates shutter noise. The standard model ($150) employs a 42-piece high-intensity LED IR flash with a nighttime illumination range up to 100 feet while the LightsOut version ($160) uses a 42-piece high-intensity invisible BLACK LED IR flash for stealthy nighttime illumination out to 90 feet. Both feature sub-half-second trigger speeds, glass lenses and special anti-fog lens coatings to combat dew and moisture.

 Primos ProofCam 900Primos Proof Gen203 Blackout. This latest Gen2 iteration of Primos Proof cameras offers a faster, 1-second recovery rate for more hits and fewer misses; a longer, 100-foot nighttime detection distance, and a new auto exposure feature for better light detection with no more whiteouts. Available in three models, the 03 BLACKOUT ($188) boasts a 0.3-second trigger speed, up to 16 mp image and 720 HD video resolution and 60 BLACKOUT LEDs for improved short- and long-range nighttime images. Setup is simple with illuminated sliding switches; the camera will run up to a year on 8 AA batteries.

StealthCam DS4K 900Stealth Cam DS4K. Technological advancement allows manufacturers to push the envelope for consumers who always want the leading edge. For example, Stealth Cam’s DS4K ($300) is the first trail camera to offer 30MP resolution and Ultra HD, 4K Video technology. That’s along with other premium features like dual image sensors for optimal day and night high-res images, 42 NO GLO IR emitters for 100-foot “true invisible” nighttime illumination and Matrix Advanced Blur Reduction and Retina low-light sensitivity for better quality low-light pictures. You get all that (and extensive software capabilities and options) in a surprisingly affordable package.

VIDEO: SpyPoint Offers New Cellular-Service Trail Cameras 

From killer bargains to new fletching options to the reappearance of a vintage shaft color, the newest hunting arrows are ready to hit the mark.   

FleetwoodArrows 900_edited2Fleetwood Carbon Arrows. One of the few drawbacks of premium arrows is their price. New Fleetwood Arrows are bucking that trend, and bowhunters everywhere stand to benefit. These fine carbon arrows come Team ScoutLook approved (see them in use on The Chronicles and in our upcoming Ultimate Broadhead Field Test) and feature multi-layer rolled construction; they’re built to .006 straightness and a +/- 2 grain weight tolerance per dozen. They even include 100-grain points, fairly amazing when you consider they cost just $60 per dozen (fletched with Blazer vanes for compound users; $70 per dozen fletched with 5-inch feathers suitable for traditional bow setups). The makers of Fleetwood Arrows (arrows shown above feature optional wraps) have been in the archery industry for three generations, and know what archers look for in a quality arrow. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective option when buying quality arrows (and who isn’t?) your search should start here. Fleetwood Carbon arrows are available in spines from 350 to 800, to fit virtually every archer on the planet.

CXMayhem Hunter 900CXMayhem Hunter 900CXMayhem Hunter 900

Carbon Express Mayhem DS Series. Carbon Express is now incorporating technology from its high-performance arrows into the mid-tier price class with the new Mayhem DS Series of performance arrows. Most bowhunters already familiar with the Maxima Red and Blue arrows are also well aware of the advantages of Carbon Express’ proprietary Dual Spine (DS) Weight Forward technology, which fuses different carbon materials at different locations on the shaft to better manage dynamic spine and energy for improved speed, accuracy and penetration. You can now get DS technology in the Mayhem DS Hunter (as well as standard Mayhem DS and Mayhem DS Hot Pursuit) as well as CX’s BuffTuff finish, which enhances both durability and penetration. Available in 12-pack shafts ($120) or 6-pack fletched ($65) in 250 and 350 spine sizes, DS Hunters feature weight sorting tolerance of +/- 1.0 grains, laser-checked straightness to 1/10,000 of an inch, Launchpad precision nocks, Quad Raptor performance vanes and Mossy Oak Obsession camo. EastonAutumnOrange900EastonAutumnOrange900EastonAutumnOrange900Easton Autumn Orange 6MM FMJ. In an interesting union of retro and modern, Easton has incorporated the same Autumn Orange finish that adorned their original XX75 arrows from the 1970s through the 90s, into their new Autumn Orange 6MM FMJ shafts. The aluminum jacket over high-strength carbon core construction of the full metal jacket arrows provides increased velocity and downrange energy. Meanwhile, the trendy 6MM reduced diameter enhances penetration and accuracy. The 6MM retro ($80 per 6) are available in three spine sizes: 470, 390 and 320 with pre-installed 6MM (H) nocks and 6MM RPS 8-32 inserts.

GTValkyrie 900GTValkyrie 900GTValkyrie 900Gold Tip Velocity Valkyrie. In addition to aggressive graphics and lightweight construction the new Velocity Valkyrie comes factory-fletched with four low-profile vanes. Why four? According to Gold Tip Senior Product Manager Jason Harris, “… four vanes give you increased stability, faster stabilization and tighter groupings.” In

VIDEO: More On New Gold Tip Velocity Valkyrie Arrow

fact, Gold Tip claims group size reductions of 20 to 75 percent with broadheads. Valkyrie arrows ($130 per 12) also boast 0.003-inch straightness and +/- .5 grain weight tolerances and are offered in five spines: 300, 340, 400, 500 and 600.RageArrow3Pack 900Rage Simply Lethal Arrow Package. You gotta wonder why nobody thought of this before. The new Rage Simply Lethal Arrow package ($65) combines three Gold Tip pre-fletched carbon arrows—pre-cut and fully equipped with nocks, inserts and 2-inch GT vanes installed—with your choice of either the Rage SC 2-Blade 100-gr. or the Rage SC 2-Blade Chisel Tip 100-gr. broadheads and a set of field points. Arrows are pre-cut to 29.5 inches, based on what will fit most archers, are spined for draw weights up to 70 pounds, and feature ±.006-inch straightness and weight tolerance of ±2.0 grains. Meanwhile, the cut-on-contact Rage SC 2-Blade offers a proven 2-blade Slip Cam design with advanced Shock Collar technology to keep blades in place until contact and the Rage SC 2-Blade Chisel Tip incorporates a bone-crushing chisel-tip design and features the Shock Collar retention system.

VAPTKO350 900VAPTKO350 900VAPTKO350 900Victory VAP TKO Elite. The primary goal of a hunting arrow is to maximize accuracy, penetration and transfer of kinetic energy. The latest addition to Victory’s recently launched line of VAP Low Torque arrows, the VAP TKO Elite ($160 per 12), boasts an industry-leading straightness rating of +-.0001, which means greater consistency among and between shafts for improved accuracy. This 100-percent carbon micro-diameter shaft is manufactured through a MaxxKe Technology process, which uses a unique 45-degree carbon weave to reduce torque imparted during launch for quicker and better flight stability for still greater accuracy. The minuscule .166 inch (ID) also means less surface area and wind drift for improved speed and penetration. The latter is further enhanced by the increased FOC afforded by aluminum or optional 303 stainless steel Shok inserts and a Nano Ceramic “ICE” coating.

How to use trail cameras to conduct a fairly reliable population index of your deer herd, and at the same time increase your hunting odds this fall.

GameCam7 900Ever wonder how many deer you really have on your hunting grounds? Perhaps your state wildlife agency has given an estimate, but I’ll bet you know more than one guy who is skeptical of it. The Weekend Warriors think there are far fewer deer while the meticulous, serious guys might consider the estimate too low. This all provides plenty of fodder for debate in hunting camp or at the local coffee shop. The truth often lies somewhere in between, and thanks to an infrared-triggered camera survey technique developed by a team of researchers from Mississippi State University, you can actually come up with a fairly accurate estimate all on your own. GameCam1 900According to MSU researchers Dr. Stephen Demarais, William McKinley and Dr. Harry Jacobson who developed the technique, one camera per 100 acres is sufficient. I’m guessing you already have a few cameras out and if you’re using your HuntStand Map to its maximum potential you have their positions saved (see image below) open up your map and see if you meet the desired ratio. Add or subtract as needed but don’t worry about being too precise, or having too many cameras. Also, they need not be evenly spaced; it’s okay to bias your results by placing cameras in areas heavily utilized by deer, and it’s helpful if you can access them easily. Two-tracks, skid roads, the edges of food plots or agricultural fields or heavily traveled deer trails are all ideal.

GameCam2 900You also need to pair a feeding station (check local regs) with each of your survey cameras. If you’re already feeding, you’re ahead of the game. Existing supplemental feed stations are probably close to the desired 1:100 ratio. You likely have a camera on them already, and have them plotted on your ScoutMap found in your HuntStand app (see above). Also, deer are conditioned to visiting them. You’ll have to pre-bait new sites for at least five days before running your surveys.

P254-360-256-371-00h-006-09-0360-1080-0359-1079For optimum results conduct two surveys, one before hunting season and the other after. Again, be sure to check the baiting laws in your state. If baiting is not legal where you hunt, conduct the first survey far enough in advance of hunting season to meet legal requirements. You can begin as early as late August, and end as late as early February. In any case, provide enough feed so there is some present at each station throughout the survey period.

GameCam4 900To begin, make sure cameras are working properly and loaded with fully charged batteries. Set the stamp to record date and time on each photo and set cameras on a 10-minute delay to avoid a glut of unnecessary images. You’ll also find it helpful to clear all vegetation from the detection zone and face cameras north or south to avoid backlighting and prevent false events.

P010-256-256-256-17f006Short survey periods of 5 to 10 days are adequate, but you’ll achieve greater accuracy with a longer 10- to 14-day survey. This should ensure you are photographing close to 90 percent of both bucks and does in your area.

GameCam7 900Time To Analyze Your Images. After the surveys are complete, compile all of your photographs and carefully count the number of bucks, does and fawns. For bucks, count: 1) total number of bucks in the photos, including repeats; 2) actual of number of individual (unique) bucks. This is most easily done using antler characteristics such as number of points, abnormal points, tine length, spread or other distinguishable antler or body characteristics. Exclude any deer that are unidentifiable from the survey (there will usually be a few). The result will be your buck population. GameCam8 900For does and fawns, count the total number of does and fawns in the photos, including known repeats. Estimating (and yes, this is an estimate) the number of does and fawns takes a few simple calculations. Take the number of unique bucks (#2 above) and divide this by the total number of bucks photographed (#1 above). Then multiply the resulting population factor (#2 divided by #1) by the number of does and fawns counted in the photos. That’s it.

GameCam9 900From this information, you can also calculate a buck:doe ratio and a fawn:doe ratio. If you’re skilled enough, you can even take a stab at aging the bucks, then sort them by age class to determine age structure. Repeating the survey over multiple seasons allows you to observe trends, which can be more valuable than an actual population estimate for any given year. GameCamLEAD 900By the end of each survey you’ve also collected a wealth of information that can have direct hunting applications. For example, add photos from your pre-hunt survey to your HuntStand app Saved Locations. By studying the time and date of each photo and then comparing them to locations on your HuntStand map you may be able to detect patterns—such as where a particular buck is likely to be at a certain time, or how he moves through the property. Post-hunt photos can tell you which bucks made it through the season and where to start your search next year.

And that’s just scratching the surface. There’s plenty more you can garner from combining your survey results with the many HuntStand app features, and we’ll tell you about them in the weeks and months ahead.

Removing antlerless deer from the population is an important component of a sound wildlife management plan. But which does should you remove and when is the best time to do it?

DoeHuntLEAD 900Ask a wildlife biologist “Which is the right doe to shoot?” and he’s likely to say, “The one that’s closest to you.” It’s a bit of an inside joke among wildlife managers but as is usually the case with us scientist types, there’s a certain thread of seriousness to it. If your goal is to reduce the deer population then any doe will do. Still, there are ways to fine-tune your efforts to fit specific goals and circumstances.

DoeHunt2 900As most deer hunters know, antlerless deer are the foundation of every whitetail population and therefore any associated management plan. But before you can figure out how to proceed you need to know where you’re starting from. In my previous article (Advanced Trail Cam Techniques: Conduct Your Own Deer Survey) I discussed a rather simple way to use trail cameras and feed stations to conduct a census of your deer herd. It’s a more thorough and accurate assessment, but there are simpler and easier ways to figure out where your herd is in relation to its habitat.

DoeHunting1 900One way to determine your deer herd/habitat relationship is a browse survey. By noting the presence or absence of certain preferred food plant species, and to what degree they’re being browsed, you can get an idea how much pressure your herd is putting on the available habitat. However, because this technique requires adept plant identification skills and following certain specific protocols, the average landowner would be best off hiring a consulting biologist for the task.

DoeHunt3 900Measuring yearling antler beam diameter (YABD) is another way biologists assess herd health. Years of research have demonstrated a direct correlation between YABD and carrying capacity.  Average YABDs of 15-16 millimeters or less generally indicate that the population is exceeding the carrying capacity. The 17-19 mm range indicates deer are near carrying capacity. When average YABD exceeds 20 mm, it’s a good indication that deer are below the carrying capacity and there is ample nutrition.

Though it’s far less scientific and accurate, you can still get a rough idea of deer numbers and age and sex ratio simply by adding Logs to your Saved Locations in your HuntStand app each time you hunt. Some info you’ll have to go back and decipher for each entry, but HuntStand also has a helpful function that will instantly compile the buck:doe ratio for all of your personal logs.

DoeHuntADD 900Which Does Should Be Targeted? Several factors may influence which doe you should shoot, and they can vary with circumstances and specific objectives. Again, if your population is too high removing any doe helps. However, removing mature, healthy individuals has the greatest short- and long-term effect because they have the greatest reproductive potential.

Research shows that does typically reach breeding age as yearlings—during their second autumn—and most often give birth to a singlet fawn. However, in areas of high nutrition they may breed as fawns. For instance, researchers in Iowa found more than 70 percent of the doe fawns are bred, while studies in the Southeast found only between 10 and 40 percent reportedly breed, and less than 16 percent of doe fawns likely breed in the Llano Basin of Texas. In subsequent years, beginning with a doe’s third autumn, it’s more common to produce twins and even triplets. In one study on supplementally fed deer in a Michigan enclosure, 14 percent of mature does had triplets.

Within your HuntStand app Hunting Logs you can also record the number and ratio of does with fawns seen at each stand, in your Saved Locations. Over time this provides an index to productivity—how many fawns are being produced.

DoeHunt5 900If your herd is about where you want it and you’d like to keep it that way you still need to remove some does each year. In this instance, you might want to target those with the lowest reproductive potential: doe fawns too young to breed, or over-mature does. Doing so does not come without its risks.

DoeHunt6 900Shooting fawns carries the risk of accidentally harvesting a button buck (see above). A certain amount of buck fawn mortality is acceptable, but try to keep it to a minimum, especially if you want to improve sex and age ratios. (Hint: Never shoot the first deer on a food plot as it’s more than likely a button buck).

Still, you’re better off targeting young deer because the “old dry doe” is largely a myth. Captive deer have been recorded breeding and successfully raising fawns into their teens, far longer than most deer live in the wild.

 DoeHunt7 900 How Old Is That Doe? In order to successfully target young deer, you need to be able to differentiate adult does from fawns, and there are several ways. One of the best is the relative shortness of a fawn’s face/nose compared to its head. A fawn’s forehead and nose will appear much shorter (similar to an 8-ounce soda bottle) in comparison to the adult doe’s head (similar to a 16-ounce soda bottle). Of course, it’s much easier to compare if both young and adult are present, such as in the photo above. Another is body shape. Fawns have short, square bodies, short necks and less muscle development. Adult does have larger, rectangular-shaped bodies, long necks and swaying backs or sagging bellies.

DoeHunt8 900_edited-1Where To Cull Does. If you want to know which locations offer the best odds of producing does, simply go back to your HuntStand app Logs again, and see which are the most-consistent producers of doe sightings. But first, a couple words of caution. Removing does may have a short-term effect of discouraging deer activity in the immediate vicinity. Avoid culling on food plots or around your best rut stands. 

DoeHunt9 900When To Cull Does. Deciding when is the best time to remove does also depends on your baseline and objectives. Again, if your numbers are too high the simple answer is: whenever you can. If you’re trying to maintain or allow slow growth, you want to remove deer during the fall hunting season, first because it’s the only time we can, and second, because it will mean relatively more available food for surviving deer during the period of lowest nutrition (winter).

Though there’s a subtle difference, you can refine this approach even more by considering energy balance. If you remove does prior to the rut, less energy has been expended by both does and bucks toward the next generation. Wait until after the rut, and both sexes have expended a lot more energy that will never be realized by the birth of new fawns. Besides, fewer available does means more competition among bucks, which can produce a shorter, more-intense rut that most hunters find more desirable

Editor’s Note: The author is a certified wildlife biologist with B.S. and M.S. degrees in wildlife biology. He has served as a biological consultant to several publications focused on white-tailed deer and conducted research on some of the first controlled deer hunts in the northeastern U.S.

Aerial land views. Prevailing winds. Steep ridges and hill-country benches. Insight into all of these funnel-finding clues can be found in your HuntStand app. FunnelsOne 900

I’m probably dating myself by merely mentioning his name, but years ago I approached legendary bowhunter Myles Keller at a sportsman’s expo in Maine. At the time I was still a relative greenhorn and he was considered one of the most-accomplished whitetail bowhunters in the nation. Keller was giving a seminar on hunting big bucks, but being from the upper midwest, much of the information he shared was not directly applicable to us northern New Englanders.

I asked how he would go about scouting the big woods in a state like Maine. He scratched his head and thought for a moment. “Hmmm,” he began. “This has got to be just about the most difficult place in the country to be a deer hunter.” Then, after another pause he continued, “The best you can do is look for funnels, however subtle. Try to find places where terrain or habitat would make deer want to go one way rather than another.” I have since adopted that as a basic tenet of my scouting routine.

Dissect The Habitat. There are different types of funnels so let’s start with the low-hanging fruit first—habitat. This is where folks like Myles Keller and anyone else who hunts the more-open habitat of the midwest or west has a decided advantage. Deer tend to avoid open areas during daylight hours, preferring to stick to thick cover.

FunnelsFour 900You can find funnels by walking around but they show up much better from an aerial view. Open your HuntStand app and its ScoutMap feature and look for places where a dark green ribbon of trees runs through a patchwork of light green (fields and pastures) or tan (agricultural areas). A great example is the image above. This will narrow down your search considerably. If you can combine this type of terrain with other features, like water, scouting potential stand sites gets even easier; and these types of travel routes often coincide with river or stream corridors.

FunnelsSix 900Now we’re going to add one more variable: wind. Drop a pin on your ScoutMap somewhere you think might be a prospective ambush spot, and look at the ScentCone and prevailing wind direction. Those corridors aren’t straight. They twist and turn like a snake. Find a place along that corridor where the deer will have to compromise—where they won’t be able to use the wind to their advantage—and you’ve got a killer funnel.

FunnelsFive 900Those of us who hunt the big woods can still use the same philosophy. We just have to hunt a little harder to find our hunting spots. We don’t have agriculture but we do have logging, which creates openings that deer will travel less in, but may also bed in. A great example of a typical logging operation is shown in the image above. Depending on the shape of a cut-over area there will be at least four corners, and deer will tend to travel around the outside corners. Find the one where prevailing winds offer the greatest advantage and you have your funnel.

Aerial Views Show The Way. Bowhunters, especially, are taking some really nice bucks from fairly developed/more-urban areas. In these areas you face a whole different set of challenges, the biggest being access. But before you go knocking on doors do your homework. Go back to your ScoutMap and look for areas where narrow ribbons of green wind through blacktop and back yards. With a couple clicks of the mouse you can switch to the Land Use imagery—and the picture becomes even clearer. Here again, anywhere along that route might work, but the ScentCone feature will help you highlight the better spots.

FunnelsTwo 900How Topography Can Tell The Tale. With fewer open areas and relatively homogenous forest habitat where I live, I’ve come to rely more on topographical features to find funnels. In the old days I never went afield, whether scouting or hunting, without a U.S.G.S. topo map in my pocket. Today I have the same information—contour intervals—on the HuntStand app in my smartphone. Those subtle white lines superimposed on the maps and photos can be extremely useful in finding funnels. I’ve been using topographical features to find funnels for longer than I care to remember. I took the buck pictured above in a spot where a relatively shallow slope created a very subtle bench, just enough to nudge deer into a narrower corridor.

Deer wage a constant battle for survival so any way they can conserve energy is beneficial. That’s why when undisturbed, they tend to follow the path of least resistance. I won’t belabor you with how to read topo lines as most folks (should) already know. Suffice to say the closer together the lines, the steeper the terrain.

Mountainous terrain provides ample opportunity for exploiting funnels, as steep ridges funnel deer movement into narrow areas such as finger ridges. Rather than travel down one sideslope then up the other to cross a deep draw, deer will more often travel along the sideslope until they reach the head (the “V”) of the draw, which makes for a prime funnel. The same is true for ridge points. Deer will often travel around the point of a ridge rather than climbing up and over.  Obviously, the steeper the terrain, the more effective the funnel. Saddles or low areas between peaks are also great spots to place a stand because they provide an easier route for deer.

FunnelsThree 900On bigger ridges or mountains you’ll sometimes see wide, flat areas or benches along the sideslopes. Whitetails love to travel, and bed on these benches and you’ll often see sideslope trails funneling through them. And again, the more info you can add, like changes in habitat or human features like roads, human habitation, agricultural fields or cut-overs, the more you can refine your funnel finding. Remember: even the juiciest looking funnels may not pay off, so don’t be afraid to supplement your scouting efforts with Trail Camera logs and ScoutMarx (see image above) to see which potential funnels are actually getting the most use.

Every situation is unique but the above examples should at least get you thinking about how you might apply this information to your own neck of the woods. Deer spend the majority of their day in bed and only move around during a very narrow funnel of daylight hours. If you want to be more successful you need to find the geographical funnels they use during that critical window.

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SightsIQDefine9001IQ Define Range Finding Sight. IQ has raised the bar on its already innovative no-torque sighting system by integrating a laser rangefinder directly into the new Define premium-quality 5-pin archery sight ($379.99), allowing for precision ranging during critical moments leading up to the shot, even while at full draw. Driven by high-performance circuitry, the laser-rangefinding system provides accuracy to +/- 1 yard, instantly displayed


on a vivid blue OLED, conveniently placed within the user’s line-of-sight. One-touch trigger-activated scan mode and full angle compensation take the guesswork out of moving or stationary targets for up to two minutes and eliminate additional movement associated with a handheld rangefinder. Powered by a single CR2 battery, the rangefinding unit is both compact and lightweight with minimal impact to the pin sight’s overall measurements (6 ¾”Lx4 1/8”W) and weight (18.5 oz). Five fully contained .019 FO pins with integrated sight light provide exceptional brightness through a full range of tool-free micro adjustment of both windage and elevation.garmin-xero-studio-900Garmin Xero A1 & A1i Bowsights. Ground-breaking? You bet. The Xero A1 ($799.99) and Xero A1i ($999.99) are auto-ranging digital laser bow sights that automatically measure the distance to a target AND provide a precise, virtual lighted pin for the shot. A silent, single-button trigger mounted on the bow’s grip lets you range targets at rest or at full draw, virtually eliminating distance estimation and hunter movement. The laser rangefinder instantly provides the precise angle-compensated distance—up to 100 yards on game or 300 yards on reflective targets. The Xero then projects a precise, virtual LED pin that is only visible to the archer, and without the clutter of multiple physical pins. An ambient light sensor ensures the pin brightness is optimized for various shooting conditions. The Xero A1i includes many additional features. Laser Locate estimates the arrow’s point of impact and transfers that location to a compatible Garmin device (sold separately) so hunters know where to begin their recovery of game. The A1i also enables the archer to configure multiple arrow profiles, to easily transition between a target or hunting setup without readjusting the sight. SightsAXRT 900Axcel RheoTech Multi-Pin Hunting Sight. This sweet sight offers adjustable pin brightness for various lighting environments from dawn to dusk, and treestand to ground blind, with a simple twist of its Rheostat Cover. Micro-adjustable windage and elevation gang adjustment knobs, featuring new Gear-Tooth lock levers, allow ultimate security of left-right and up-down settings. The RheoTech ($289.99) also features a new Diamond-shaped mounting bar for added strength


and durability, and new, true third axis adjustment screws. All RheoTech hunting sights are ambidextrous and are available in 4-, 5-, and 7-pin models, which feature 18 inches of super tough, .010 or .019 fiber running length-to-tip in new ultra-bright RheoTech-exclusive FirePins. And they still have Axcel’s popular co-planar internal aiming ring at the same depth of the pins, as well as an internal level bubble to help the archer notice any unwanted torque at a quick glance to ensure the shot will be true. An angled sight light port accepts all 3/8″x32 threaded sight lights.SightsHHA 900HHA Optimizer Tetra Bow Sight. Latest in the HHA Sports line-up of Optimizer single-pin bow sights, the Optimizer Tetra ($249.99) features an integrated SP-50 Infinite-Adjust bracket that offers a full 2.1-inches of vertical travel and allows for infinite adjustability to the scope housing, so shooters can dial their bow to extreme levels of accuracy while maximizing range of the preprinted yardage tapes. An all-new windage adjustment allows for both major adjustments as well as micro adjustments while second and third axis adjustments have also been integrated into the Tetra for


those wanting unlimited perfection and accuracy, all with tool-free adjustability. As with all HHA sights, the Optimizer Tetra features patented R.D.S. (Range. Dial. Shoot.) Technology so once you’re dialed in at 20 and 60 yards, you’re on target—to the yard—out to 100. Each sight is CNC-machined from aircraft-grade aluminum and the sight pin, (available in .019 and .10) is protected by HHA Sports’ A.R.M.O.R. Pin technology. The adjustable rheostat controls the amount of fiber optic exposed to light to ensure your pin is bright and viewed as cleanly and clearly as possible, regardless of the time of day. A straight frame, hunter-style mounting bracket fits all bows. The Tetra will accept HHA lens kits and well as the 2500 Burst Light and is available with a 1 5/8-, or 2-inch scope housing.

TrophyRidgeH4Trophy Ridge React H4. This full-featured yet affordable sight still has innovative React Technology which, after only two pin adjustments, automatically sights-in the remaining pins for dead-center accuracy. With this version you can easily correct windage and elevation with advanced tool-less adjustments, make axis corrections via integrated knobs and pin adjustments with a hex wrench. Designed for bows from 195 to 330 feet per second, the React H4 also features soft-touch Ballistix CoPolymer construction to reduce vibration and weight, and ultra-bright fiber optic pins and a rheostat light for better visibility in low and fading light. SightsSinglePin900TruGlo Archer’s Choice Range Rover Pro features, among other things, an ultra-smooth Zero-In adjustment dial with over 80 pre-marked yardage tapes (included) for remarkably precise Micro Adjust elevation tuning. You’ll also find PWR•DOT illuminated CENTER•DOT technology, wherein the innovative scope housing has a circle with lighted center dot (with adjustable green and red LED with 11 brightness settings) for honing your long-distance accuracy. Other fine features of the Range Rover Pro ($179.99) include an updated bracket design for increased compatibility with more bow models, a precision click micro-adjustable windage design, toolless yardage and windage lock and laser marks for windage and elevation adjustments. The sight housing accepts a 1.87-inch scope lens (sold separately), is adjustable and comes with an adjustable quiver mount and lens cover included.

By mid October, the whitetail woods are filled with fresh scrapes, with more to come. Make sense of these important signposts and you might taste hunting success before Halloween hits.


Looking for Love—SWM (single whitetail male), physically fit and well endowed (with antlers) seeks companionship of SWF for brief, intimate encounter. Not into long-term relationships. Must enjoy the outdoors and should also be in good physical condition.

If whitetails could post personal ads they would probably look something like the lines above. The fact of the matter is, they actually might, just not in the same manner as we do. While humans do most of their communication verbally, and in print, whitetails use scent as their primary means of communication. And while they leave scent wherever they go, they intentionally leave scent at certain locations, not the least of which are scrapes. In human terms they function as a sort of message board, and in some cases maybe even a Personals ad. If you know how to read them, you might be able to post one of your own.

HumpScrape1 900

Not All Scrapes Are The Same. Scrapes and rubs have several things in common, not the least of which is that deer make them for several reasons. Some rubs are merely created when removing velvet or as an act of aggression, while others function as signposts where deer deposit scent from their forehead glands. Similarly, some scrapes may be simply the result of a sudden surge of testosterone or an encounter between rival bucks, who will posture, snort-wheeze and paw the ground to show off their vigor and intimidate their rival, leaving combat as a last resort. In the image above, the buck on left, bristled up and with ears back, is posturing to show dominance and intimidate a potential rival. He may also paw the ground creating a scrape that in all likelihood will never be tended or visited again. As pre-rut kicks in, bucks will also open a number of scrapes, many of which they’ll never re-visit. All these are random and will seldom be of little value to the hunter. Often you can recognize them more for what they lack than what they have.

HumpScrape3 900

The Licking Branch. Traditional scrapes or those visited on any kind of regular basis all have one thing in common: an overhanging limb often referred to as a “licking branch.” This is at least as important as the scrape, possibly even more important. (Deer also have traditional licking branches that may not have a scrape underneath). While making or tending a scrape a buck will sometimes rub-urinate, grinding its tarsal glands together while urinating on its legs. This potent stew of urine, fatty acids and hormones leaves a strong olfactory message. At the same time, the scrape maker will also rub their head on the branch, leaving scent signals from their forehead and infraorbital glands. Subsequently, and far more often, the scrape maker and other deer will visit the scrape, sniff and lick the overhanging branch and leave their own scent without urinating or pawing the ground. The location of these scrapes, with overhanging branches, are the ones you want to focus your attention on and save as Map Markers in your HuntStand Custom Maps.

Hold on. Deer Visit Scrapes Year-Round? It’s true. While most scrape creation and visitation occurs in the fall, which is when we’re most interested in them, deer do create and visit scrapes at other times of the year, particularly in the spring. While there’s no real science behind it, yet, I believe spring scraping is a result of daylight length being similar to that of the fall, possibly creating a minor “shot” of testosterone. Keep an eye out for them while you’re turkey hunting and record their location in your HuntStand app so you can revisit during fall scouting trips. Don’t confuse turkey scratchings with scrapes; again, look for the tell-tale licking branch.

HumpScrape2 900

Scrapes Say A Lot. As previously mentioned, bucks leave a scent message when they make and tend a scrape. And while we’ll never know exactly what that message is, biologists speculate it says a lot about the buck that leaves it. From the urine and glandular scents deposited, other deer may be able to identify the sex, health and possible status, and probably even the identity of the individual that left it. For at least the latter, we can also do the same thing by setting a camera on the scrape. At the very least, it will tell you if the scrape maker is a buck worthy of your attention. Adding photos as log entries in the HuntStand app then makes it easier to start recognizing movement patterns of individual bucks in your Hunt Area.

HumpScrape7 900

Most Scrapes Are Tended At Night. Research has shown most scrape visits occur at night, which makes scrape hunting a low-percentage proposition. If you’re going to hunt on or near a scrape, your best odds will be probably around twilight. However, the operative word is “most.” Bucks do sometimes visit scrapes during the day and I’ve killed several while they were tending them. Furthermore, other bucks and even does will visit scrapes, especially those on regular travel routes. That makes scrape hunting a good option during the rut, when bucks are seeking does.

HumpScrape6 900

Remote Sensing. Rattling experiments in Texas found that bucks often respond to rattling not by charging in, but by circling downwind and scent-checking the scene first, to avoid potential danger. Similarly, much the same holds true for scrapes as well. Because they are signposts that attract other deer, a buck will sometimes check his scrape from some distance downwind. For obvious reasons you should always set up on the downwind side of a scrape, but you may want to consider setting up well downwind. Look for subtle trails and dense cover that bucks might use to scent-check a scrape without being detected, and set up downwind of that rather than the scrape. You can use the HuntZone feature of your HuntStand app to see prevailing wind patterns in your Hunt Area, and to view expected winds on the days you plan to hunt.

Offer A Challenge. As already mentioned, deer use scrapes to communicate specific messages, possibly things like: “I’m the dominant buck here, looking for love and willing to fend off all rivals.” By presenting a challenge, you may be able to lure that buck into exposing himself during daylight. I once read a tip on how someone took soil from one scrape and deposited it in another scrape. That seems a bit extreme, and labor and time intensive. You can probably do the same thing by simply applying commercial scents in and around a scrape. Urine-based scents are one option, but I also like to use glandular scents, especially the gel type as they last longer. Pour or spray some on the ground, as well as on the overhanging branch.

HumpScrape8 900Make Your Own. What if the scrape you find doesn’t offer a huntable situation? Or what if there are no scrapes at all on the ground you hunt? Years ago, Michigan deer researcher John Ozoga discovered that by creating a licking branch, you can sometimes induce deer to scrape underneath it. Since then hunters have come up with all manner of devices and methods for creating mock scrapes, including scrape drippers and even artificial licking branches. The bottom line is, if you build it, they will come… sometimes. Of course, you’ll be far more successful in your efforts if you try to make deer go where they already want to. Using HuntStand’s multiple base layer option you can create maps of your Hunt Area that include satellite imagery, topographical lines and Map Markers of specific features you’ve identified. Look for cover, terrain and things like primary deer trails that encourage and show concentrated deer movement, then build your mock scrape on, in, or near them.

As with rattling, calling or any other tactics you might employ, the most important thing to remember is that none will make you a better hunter. You still have to put your time in scouting, studying, recording and analyzing sign. Stealth and scent control are essential (which is where HuntStand can help immensely) and even the best-laid plans don’t always work out. But the level of gratification you receive when it all comes together is directly proportional to the amount of effort expended. Good hunting.

Bob Humphrey is a certified wildlife biologist and a registered Maine guide who has hunted and studied whitetails across North American for nearly half a century.