This is part 1 of a 3 part wrap-up of the 2010 SHOT Show.)
Vendors called it the “dungeon”.
At this year’s Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas, many of the smaller, upstart companies as well as some still hungry veterans displayed their goods in the basement floor of the building.
Cramped for space and leaving me feeling a bit claustrophic, the “dungeon” provided a glimpse at the ingenuity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that is driving the shooting and hunting industry in 2010.
Take Scentite blinds for example. This company makes a box blind for tower (or ground) stands that holds in scent put out by the hunter, which in and out itself is a pretty impressive innovation. However, at closer look, you see the blind has shooting windows on the corners of the blind, an area overlooked in virtually every other commercial or homemade blind.
How many times have deer or other game snuck by that one blind spot in most of our blinds? We may never know but thanks to this company that has been put to rest and I am sure others will follow suit.
D.T. Systems out of Dallas have new dog training collars that offer up to 50 levels of stimulation. That way a hunter can condition his or her dog to respond to light reminders to more serious disciplining in training or in the field in tiny increments. The controller is not only waterproof but is the only one on the market that floats, which is a huge advantage for hunters like myself who tend to drop things.
Game calls of all kinds were a very popular item down in the “dungeon” and this year I noticed some real upgrade and forward thinking on the part of manufacturers.
Hunter Specialties (H.S.) in particular had two that really grabbed my attention. The first is The Kruncher Deer Call.
This hand operated call simulates the sound of a deer feeding on corn, acorns or other mast. The company said the sound relaxes deer in the immediate vicinity of your stand. It can also call in other deer that think there is food available. It calms spooked deer, stimulates deer to feed and stops deer in a relaxed manner.
“Just like imitating a deer’s grunt or recreating the rattling of antlers, the sound of a whitetail feeding on acorns can cause a positive reaction. While grunting and rattling can generate emotions of anger and aggression, The Kruncher has the opposite effect. It calms spooked deer. The sound of crunching acorns actually stimulates deer to feed and puts them into a relaxed state,” they said.
The second impressive call from H.S. is a turkey hen squealer call that mimics the often-overlooked sound of a hen mating.
The Squealing Hen call was developed by H.S. pro staffer Eddie Salter.
“My family raised turkeys when I was a kid,” Salter said.
“Watching the behavior of our pen-raised birds helped me learn about turkey vocalizations. I often heard the hen make the squealing sound during breeding so I started experimenting with calling wild birds using the squeal and had a lot of success. Now turkey hunters have an easy-to-use call that reproduces the same sound.”
Haydel’s has tapped into the growing wood duck hunting market. With three birds legal to take in Texas more hunters are turning their attention to woodies. They are now offering four different kinds of wood duck calls including one that specifically mimics the “whine” often heard from male wood ducks.
Besides upgrading their gear, many companies were downgrading pricing while keeping a high level of quality. Take TenPoint Crossbows for example. They have a new line of crossbows out called Wicked Ridge that will retail around $500. Anyone who has priced crossbows lately knows that is not bad, especially from a company known for producing higher end hunting instruments.
Upgrades, innovations and price drops were not the sole property of upstarts featured in the downstairs floor. The big boys also had plenty of unique twists on old items and totally new products to show.
One of the first companies I visited was Mossberg who have a shotgun out designed specifically for precision turkey hunting.
Their 500 Tactical Turkey allows the hunter to reduce trigger pull down to three pounds for those shots at the back end of effective range. Hunters have often complained that shotgun triggers can lead to missing big birds (since hunters take head/neck shots on turkeys) at longer distances. This gun however works around that problem and gives hunters a unique edge never dreamed about when turkey hunting started to really take off in Texas back in the 1990s.
Leuopold has a product that had the entire show talking: a laser rangefinder called the Vendetta that mounts on a bow in line with the sites.
Every bowhunter can relate to missing shots because of bad range estimation or losing a deer because they got busted reaching for their range finder.
This instrument allows hunters to turn on the rangefinder with a simple touch of a button affixed to the grip and get exact range as they line up the site with their target. Weighing only 10 ounces, it adds minimal weight to already ultra light modern bows.
The first product I noticed while perusing the new product section was Tink’s Miss November, an ultralight, inflatable deer decoy that is photo realistic. At a distance it is virtually impossible to tell from a real dear as it has a photograph of a doe printed all over the body. Many hunters shy away from deer decoys because they are cumbersome, but this one is super light, can be put in a backpack and inflated on the scene.
In my limited use of deer decoys I have had some approach but once they got within 50 yards, they backed off. Something this realistic could help aid that final approach that is so important, especially for bowhunters.
This year’s SHOT Show was actually exciting for me, a person who easily gets tired of sales pitches and looking at the same old products.
What is hitting the market beginning just about now will provide hunters and shooters with some really unique items that will aid their pursuits and in many cases not break the bank.