By Tony Martins
Continued from Best Of SHOT 2016 – Hunting: Part 1.
Thoughtful design that begets functionality and performance coupled with quality manufacturing for durability – that’s how I would describe Eberlestock products. Credited with creating the first true hunting pack that stays with you whether hauling gear in or packing meat out, founder and design genius Glen Eberle continues to create innovative products for the outdoorsman. The Nosegunner is an excellent and versatile binocular or camera chest pack, and the first to incorporate a built-in holster for handgun or rangefinder. The unit features a quiet magnetic top for the main compartment, as well as interior and side pockets. With unique MOLLE-type back panel, accessories like hydration carriers and scabbards are easily attached. Its 3D mesh harness is breathable and comfortable enough to be worn under a pack. Nosegunner MSRP: $129.00.
Glen Eberle, Eberlestock founder and chief designer, demonstrates features and configurations of the new Nosegunner binocular chest pack. The ultra-light Mainframe (right), Big Top and Little Big Top lightweight pack systems are also new for 2016.
Also new for 2016 is the Mainframe – an ultra-light (4.3 lbs.) frame pack that can be combined with duffels, dry bags, scabbards and piggy-back packs to build the exact pack to meet the needs of any outdoor activity, all in a matter of seconds. The new 6100 cubic inch Big Top and 4000 cubic inch Little Big Top function as stand-alone packs, as well as modular attachments for the Mainframe. They feature dry-bag style roll-tops, big frontal openings, and lightweight but exceptionally tough construction. MSRP: Mainframe from $169.00, Big Top from $329.00, Little Big Top from $249.00.
Mojo Outdoors, the world leader in spinning wing decoys that literally revolutionized waterfowl and dove hunting, is at it again with a host of innovative new products on display at SHOT. First up is the stunning new Fatal Front decoy line, with a patent pending “color shifting” paint scheme that mimics the green head of the mallard drake, and high definition detail that adds dimension to fool leery quackers. These innovative decoys also feature a patent pending Folding Keel for easy storage and deployment that is split in the center so movement can be maximized as conditions change, or folded up out of the way when not needed in calm waters. The new Mojo Whirligig is a fascinating butt-type decoy that combines wing motion for attention with sound from splashing water and body movement, for a realistic and deadly combination. A specially designed pump and discharge system sprays water onto specially designed wings, causing them to rotate and disperse water droplets while the decoy body twists and turns. The Whirligig operates for up to 8 hours on a 12-volt rechargeable battery (battery and charger both included). Get ready to cut’em boys!
Terry Denmon, Mojo Outdoors CEO and Host of Mojo TV, demonstrates the new Flock A Flicker attractor decoy, one of several new Mojo products (left). John Godwin (center left) and Justin Martin (center right), along with Mojo TV Co-Host Mike Morgan (far right) and Denmon, celebrate Duck Commander endorsement of the new Mojo Rippler motion decoys.
More big news: A collaborative effort with their famous friends from Duck Commander (and neighbors in the Monroe, Louisiana area) has given rise to the new Mojo Rippler. Touted as the most realistic water motion decoy on the market, Mojo President & CEO Terry Denmon told me they studied video of live ducks and found that most motion decoys make ripples in the water that are more rapid and smaller in amplitude than those made by real ducks. Video of the Rippler in action was impressive, and I’m looking forward to adding it to my decoy arsenal. What may be the most significant advancement in motion decoys since the invention of spinning wings however is the revolutionary new Flock A Flicker. To be sold in a 6-pack, these spinning magnetic wings were designed to disperse flash through a decoy spread just like the flash of real ducks beating their wings. Pre-programmed with different on/off timers, the flash from the rotating wings brings the decoy spread to life. They work on water or dry ground, and, positioned near a fence line with dove decoys, the Flock A Flicker will attract these popular game birds as well. Units operate up to 30 hours on 3 AA batteries (not included). The new Mojo offerings for 2016 are not yet available, but look for them soon. MSRP: Fatal Front Decoy $39.99, Whirligig $129.99, Rippler $39.99, Flock A Flicker $99.99 (6 units).
BURRIS / STEINER
With the launch of Burris Ballistic Services, the premium optics company gives customers a system that will calculate the trajectory of favorite rifle loadings, and then print a ballistics table based on the rifle/load-specific data… for free! Admittedly a little late to the party, the company will be offering custom elevation turrets for selected scopes based on this data, as well as knob conversions from covered hunter-type knobs to exposed target-type knobs, and vise-versa. The new Modular Adjustment Dial (MAD) System allows for custom knobs to be added to the riflescope to perfectly match the trajectory of any ammunition. A variety of MAD System knob styles are available including; Mil or MOA marked, in capped (low and tall) and exposed (low single-turn, and tall multi-turn) and Custom-Lasered, in capped and exposed. Conversion from Hunter knobs to Target knobs runs $80.00 and from Target to Hunter runs $40.00. A convenient on-line custom knob order form is now available (https://orders.burrisoptics.com/orderCustomClicker.php), and it includes a list of Burris scopes that will accept the MAD System knobs. Veracity and other select models will be delivered with a special access code to order your choice of custom knob for your new riflescope.
Steiner came to the party with some brilliant new binoculars and line extensions. The new HX series takes binos for hunting to a whole new level, with features like Fast-Close-Focus to minimize rotation of the focusing wheel for sharper images at varying distances, and ergonomic eyecups to reduce eye fatigue created by peripheral light, wind and dust. HX series binoculars feature Steiner’s hydrophobic molecular lens coating that repels water and is resistant to dirt, dust and fingerprints. The N2 Injection System pressure seals the binos with nitrogen for waterproofing, and the NBR Long Life rubber armoring creates a tough chassis that can endure impacts up to 11 G’s, but they’re also remarkably light. The big 15×56 model for example weighs only 2.75 lbs. and handles like a dream. MSRP: 8×42 $919.99, 10×42 $999.99, 10×56 $1499.99, and 15×56 $1379.99.
Steiner / Burris Marketing Manager Dennis Phillips shows author details of the Burris ballistics services program used to calculate trajectory for a wide range of bullets and velocities, and to create custom turrets for MAD System riflescope lines offered by the sister companies. New lines of full size but lightweight HX binoculars and compact Wildlife XP binoculars by Steiner were also featured at SHOT.
With expansion of the Wildlife XP binocular line to include compact versions, the world of mini-binos is forever changed! The roof prism Wildlife XP Compacts feature fluoride glass, precision ground lenses and a new Ultra-HD optical system with phase corrected prisms. These little beauties offer bird watchers, naturalists, outdoorsmen and hunters a wide field-of-view, true color fidelity, and crisp edge-to-edge sharpness. And, unlike most compact binoculars, the Wildlife XP Compacts are pressure-filled with nitrogen, fogproof, and waterproof up to 2 meters. Delivered with a padded travel case, removable rain guards for the ocular lenses, objective lens caps and ClicLoc strap release system, these compacts are a remarkable value. MRP: 8×24 $402.99, 10×26 $379.99.
Plano Synergy is a wholesale distribution conglomerate with more than a dozen brands and enough products to hold their own SHOT Show. With so many products to review, this creates a problem for the reviewer! And although I really liked the new Plano Field Locker Mil-Spec Gun Cases, Tenzing Predator hunting packs, and Avian-X duck and goose decoys, what really caught my eye was a new trailcam from Wildgame Innovations, known for their extensive lineup of scouting cameras. The new Crush 20 LightsOut Invisible Digital Scouting Camera has it all – and at a price that company accountants are likely assessing as “stupid!” As an outdoors writer and wildlife photographer, I really appreciate good quality trailcam images, and the L20B20 (model number) has more in common with professional photo and video production equipment than a game scouting camera! This unit sports an eye-popping 20 megapixel processor that produces crystal clear images, with a wide angle 16:9 option that is ideally suited for food plots and large, open area reconnaissance – features likely suggested by Crush TV hosts Lee & Tiffany Lakosky. The L20B20 also shoots 30-second HD video (720p) with full audio.
Director of Brand Management for the Wildgame Innovations Division of Plano-Synergy and trailcam guru, Sheldon Lovelace, explains features of the new 20 megapixel WGI Crush 20 LightsOut Invisible IR Digital Scouting Camera.
While video in a trailcam is often useful, it’s a real battery killer. WGI techno-geeks have solved this problem with FlexTime+ Time Lapse Technology. A CD is included with the cam that helps users select from a variety of settings to capture still images or video at predetermined intervals. The L20B20 is powered by 8 AA batteries, and includes a battery port for use with optional WGI external battery packs. Other features include: inconspicuous TruBark camo finish, fast one second trigger speed with 54 pc Invisible LightsOut Infrared Flash that’s good out to 100 feet, and full color TFT display with Active View Technology that allows photos and videos to be viewed right on the camera. The new Crush 20 LightsOut Invisible Digital Scouting Camera should be available soon and frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on one! MSRP: $199.99.
Working my way through the high-security New Products Center on Day 1 at SHOT, I came across a new DU-HA (Down Under Holding Apparatus). This All-Terrain model fits mid- and full-size Polaris Rangers and Bobcat UTV’s, providing 2.3 cubic feet of storage space for gear, tools and firearms under a sealed lid that protects against dust and moisture, and comes with a lifetime warranty. Next day I visited the company’s exhibit and was greeted by Dan Ouren, inventor of the original DU-HA – a storage unit that fits neatly under the seats of pickup trucks and can be locked into place to prevent removal. After discussing the new UTV model and another new one designed to fit the Ford Explorer Police Interceptors, Dan showed me his latest invention – a colorful, eye-catching gun protector that is both breathable and water-resistant (sounds like Gor-Tex!), called the Dri-Hide. Unlike silicon impregnated gun socks that may retain moisture, the Dri-Hide does not – making it suitable for field use as well as year-round storage. The unit is lightweight and easy to use in the field, or stored inside vaults and/or traditional hard or soft gun cases, to provide additional protection for your valuable firearms. Other features include Velcro secured closure for easy opening and closing, and an I.D. tag that can be marked for easy identification without having to remove the gun inside. Dri-Hides can be rolled into a tight little package for storage, or clipped to a belt or pack when not in use. They’re available in shotgun and scoped rifle versions, in attractive Flushing Pheasants (shotgun) and Whitetail Racks (scoped rifle) camo patterns, both with and without shoulder straps. This is a wonderful invention that provides a great deal of bang for the buck in terms of protection, from a great little company (http://www.du-ha.com). MSRP: DU-HA All Terrain $275.00, Dri-Hide $24.95 with strap, $19.95 without strap.
Dan Ouren, creator of the DU-HA truck storage containers, shows off his latest innovation. Dri-Hide gun sleeves wick moisture away from firearms, and are available with or without shoulder straps.
If you’re like me, you have probably tried every type of gun rest known to man. I was a bipod guy, but they’re not tall enough for African brush. I made my own shooting sticks then moved up, purchasing some fancy telescoping ones…until they clanked off rocks blowing the bull elk I was glassing off his bed and into the next county! And there was the time we spent 3 hours searching for sticks after my partner missed a pronghorn, because they were “too expensive” to leave behind – there just doesn’t seem to be a rest that is convenient to carry and works well in most hunting situations. Enter Curt Lackey, and his amazing Little Sure Shot Gun Rest.
Promoted as the world’s smallest, most versatile gun rest, the Little Sure Shot is 6-1/4 inches long, weighs <6 oz. and quickly attaches to fallen limbs, branches, saplings, sticks, fence posts and even utility vehicle supports, to provide a solid resting platform for your rifle. Running through the rest is a J-hook that attaches quickly to almost anything vertical by tightening with a large knob. The Big Mouth Model fits vertical supports from 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter, while the Ultra Big Mouth fits 1-1/2 to 2-3/8 inches. Rest height can be quickly adjusted with a twist of the knob, and the semi-circular recess atop the rest is padded with poly-foam to absorb sound and dampen recoil and resonance. After use, just slip it in a pocket or pack until the next shot opportunity. The company also makes the Sidekick Gun Rest for tactical and sporting rifles, which attaches to the swivel mount on the rifle forearm, for left- or right-side deployment. A small, retractable steel-claw flips open in a tenth of a second for resting against any vertical structure available. Thunderbolt Customs provides a customer satisfaction & money back guarantee with every gun rest. MSRP: Little Sure Shot Original, Big Mouth and Ultra Big Mouth Gun Rests $19.99, Sidekick Gun Rest: $39.95 (3 models).