2015 ATA Show Recap


The 2015 ATA show has come and gone, and as usual, the SELFILMED crew was onsite to report on the action. I myself have been fortunate enough to participate the past two years, and I have toata5 say, the ATA show is quickly becoming one of my most anticipated trips of the year. Along with the excitement of seeing all of the newest products on the market, it is a great opportunity to see old friends and make new relationships alike.

I remember in my days prior to attending the ATA show, I heard many people say things like “the ATA show isn’t that great”, “I don’t really think it’s worth the trip”, or “the ATA show really isn’t a big deal”. Well let me tell you, the ATA show is a BIG deal! Imagine everyone in the iata3ndustry, big or small, all gathered together under one roof. That’s the ATA show for you. Manufacturers, personalities, consumers, they are all there. One of the best things is you can go up and speak to any of them at will. This isn’t necessarily the venue to get star struck over your favorite hunting celebrity, but it is certainly feasible to have a conversation with them, and perhaps even a long one aata6bout what has helped them along the way. The ATA show is a place where relationships are made, ideas are shared, and where the archery community comes together as one.

Now I know all of that sounds really serious, and I know that it is. But let me tell you what else the ATA show is, the ATA show is fun! If you are like me, you have checked your mail before, only to find you received your annual copy of the Cabelas hardback edition master catalog. You browse for hours upon hours, dreaming about the new gear you will buy. The ATA show lets you do the same thing, but you don’t just look at the products, you pick them up and handle them. Shoot a new bow, sit in a new treestand, you name it. It is safe to bet if it’s made for bow hunting, it’ll be at the ATA show.

If that isn’t good enough, any questions you may have on a new or possibly older product you own, can be right then and there. And often times, you can ask the folks who literally thought the product into ata1existence. Who better to ask about your Carter release than Forrest Carter himself? Or if you have purchased one of the many great products from Firenock, but you just don’t quite understand how to maximize it’s effectiveness, Dorge Huang would be more than happy to set you on the right path. To have this opportunity alone makes the ATA show worth attending.

Aside from all of the functional perks, it is amazing just to think about all of the time and energy that has to go into setting up such a huge show.  To see the extravagant displays some of the companies setup really speaks well to how excited they are about the products they make. After all, making a quality product is only half the battle, and adding in a great presentation never hurts your business.

And speaking of presentation, if you are one of those people who got to the ATA show in a rush like I did and didn’t really haveata4 time to prepare your personal presentation, have no fear…hair cuts were being given on site! I mean really, who wants to go make new friends when you haven’t had the time to properly groom yourself.

One last thing I should mention, for those of you who don’t already know, the ATA show is not an open to the public event. And despite all of the fun to be had there, at the end of the day, the ATA show is focused on business. One thing is for sure, if you have a chance to attend, don’t let the opportunity pass you by.

For more information on the ATA show and how to get there, visit their website at http://www.archerytrade.org.

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Sitka Gear – New Whitetail Line

This year at the 2015 ATA show, Dennis Zuck, Whitetail Category Leader for Sitka Gear was kind enough to give us a look at their all new Whitetail line of hunting clothing. Over the years, I have grown used to the exceptional quality of clothing that Sitka Gear produces. But this year, they took things to a whole new level starting with a completely re-engineered pattern, Elevated II.

Elevated II plays successor to the original, and highly successful Optifade Forest pattern. Elevated II was designed using the same scientific principles as its predecessor, however Elevated II now sports a higher level of contrast throughout the pattern. Still considering the micro/macro pattesitka4rn science for those close encounters, the higher contrast now allows Elevated II to break up your silhouette better at longer distances as well. Another great thing about Elevated II is that by introducing lighter tones, the pattern works better as an all season camo where as Optifade Forest was less suited to the inevitable change in the fall foliage.

Elevated II by itself was a huge hit for SITKA GEAR this year, but it was far from the only change introduced at the ATA show. Nothing was safe from internal scrutiny as SITKA GEAR put everything back on the drawing board. Starting with new materials, SITKsitka3A GEAR rebuilt their entire Whitetail line to better meet the needs of the treestand hunter.

I won’t go into the Sitka Gear methodology in terms of why they develop their clothing the way they do, I’ll leave that reading to you. If you care to study up on the company, you can find all of the information you need HERE. Instead, I’m going to delve right into the new products and enhancements made for 2015.

To start things off, we have the CORE series. These are considered to be next-to-skin/base layer garments. Sitka has introduced 10 new items to their CORE series, 8 of which contain their Polygiene Odor Control Technology. Within the CORE series, there are 3 standard weights, Lightweight for early season, Midweight for cooler temperatures, and Heavyweight for those days the thermometer bottoms out. Each item is designed to provide optimal results in it’s respective temperature limitations. And a great new feature for the CORE series tops, they all feature an extended tail in the back of the shirt to make sure you don’t get any unwanted breezes.sitka2

Next are the insulation layers. Sitka has introduced two products for this line. The Celsius Jacket and Celsius Shacket. Both pieces contain PRIMALOFT insulation. The Celsius Jacket is described as the Whitetailer’s puffy jacket. But it’s not your typical puffy jacket. Sitka has sheathed all of the jackets PRIMALOFT in an ultra-quiet Micro-Fleece to make it warm as wellsitka7 as quiet. The Celsius Shacket was one of my personal favorites at the show this year. The Shacket is a first of it’s kind! It is designed to give you insulation where you need it, and only where you need it. Featuring short sleeves, the Shacket is features a quilted design and very little bulk. It is ultra soft and quiet, with none of the typical noise you get from other insulation jackets. The Shacket is a must have for 2015!

Next we have the Outerwear. For those of you who have previously complained that Sitka Gear was too limited in their Whitetail series offerings, prepare to be silenced! Sitka Gear has released 11 new pieces this year. A few of the outerwear pieces are largely unchanged from last year, however all Whitetail gear from Sitka is now offered in the new Elevated II pattern. But for the new and improved items, they are sure to satisfy even the pickiest whitetail hunter. From the warm early season until the bitter cold late season, Sitka Gear has you covered. The early season Equinox Series features a durable 4 way stretch material that is both water repellant ansitka8d super quiet when traversing through thick underbrush. The newly designed Stratus features and all new Gore WINDSTOPPER material that is the most quiet WINDSTOPPER to date. Whether you choose to wear the Stratus Jacket and Pant alone, or pair it with the new Stratus vest, you are certain to appreciate the extreme versatility of this system. The newly designed Fanatic Series features the same WINDSTOPPER as the stratus, but is more robust and engineered for the truly fanatical whitetail hunter. Both the Fanatic and Stratus series are super quiet and guaranteed to keep you comfortable on the stand. Best of all, the Fanatic series offers three different tops: The Fanatic Jacket, The Fanatic Hoody, and the Fanatic Lite Jacket. Both jackets come with diagonal zippers to free up room for valuable real estate on the front of the jacket for pockets. The hoody isn’t just a hoody, it is a hoody on steroids. Sitka coins it a “stealth hunting apparatus”, and from our initial impressions it will be just that. In my opinion, the Fanatic Hoody is going to be another must have for my collection this year.

Moving on, Sitka has taken their Accessory line and developed it to the max. No matter your preference of gloves, hats, belts, etc…once again Sitka has you covered! They have ramped up their accessory line to a total number of 25 sitka5items, each one serving a well thought out purpose. A trend you’ve likely noticed by now in all of Sitka Gear’s products.

Wrapping things up, Sitka has introduced 3 new packs for the Whitetail line. The Tool Box, Tool Bucket and Launching Pad. The Tool Box and Tool Bucket are very similar in design as a top load pack. The Tool Box is geared more towards half day sits and the Tool Bucket is designed for the hard-core hunter who makes those all day sits through the critical days of the rut. Both packs are extremely durable and designed for maximized organization and efficiency in the treestand. The Launchpad is a brand new idea from Sitka Gear. It is for all intents and purposes a way to get your gear from home, to your hunting area. Focusing on keeping your clothing from being contaminated by foreign odors, the Launchpad has large mesh pockets which are ideal for organizing your hunting clothing so that you can quickly get dressed once your arrive to your spot. The Launchpad also features large mats positioned in the center of the pack that are used to step on so you can dress more easily without running the risk of getting your feet dirty or sitka6wet. Lastly, the Launchpad is capable of holding your bow as well, so once packed, the Launchpad can be grabbed without fear that you are forgetting anything.

I think it goes without saying, this is not the Whitetail line of old. Sitka has put massive amounts of time and energy to develop a line of outdoor gear that will not only meet, but exceed the expectations of the Whitetail hunter. As much as I would love to go into granular detail on every new item released in the Whitetail line by Sitka Gear, there is simply too much to cover in one article.

For more information on the Whitetail line, as well as the other great lines by Sitka Gear, be sure to keep an eye out for updates on http://www.sitkagear.com.

For a nice video overview of the Elevated II pattern and Fanatic series, be sure to check out our 2015 ATA Video HERE.

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Grim Reaper – Hybrid Broadhead

gr1The Hybrid broadhead by Grim Reaper is nothing short of amazing. Combining the pinpoint accuracy of a true flying 2 blade fixed head and the devastating cut of a mechanical, the Hybrid makes for a truly terrifying 4 blade that is sure to put your game down in sight! That is exactly what Grim Reaper intended when they first developed the Hybrid broadhead. But it takes more than an idea to be successful. It takes the kind of quality engineering that has put Grim Reaper at the front of the broadhead market for years.

Grim Reaper has already had amazing success with their mechanical lineup of broadheads. Thgr3e shock absorbing spring that is used on the Razortip, Razorcut SS, and Fatal Steel can also be found on the new Hybrid. And while the Razorcut SS is also a cut on contact, it does not match the Hybrid for it’s initial cutting abilities. Seated between two of Grim Reapers patented mechanical blades is a 2 blade broadhead that would be plenty lethal all on its own. Built up from premium 70 series aluminum feral, this broadhead sports 440 grade stainless steel that is sure to be durable and dependable even with the biggest animals.

Although this is not a brand new broadhead for 2015, the Hybrid is relatively unknown to mgr2any Grim Reaper shooters. If you are new to Grim Reaper, or even if you have been shooting their heads for years already, be sure to check out the Hybrid. It will not leave you disappointed.

For hunters out there who are looking for a lower cost broadhead, Grim Reaper has also become the distributor for a secondary line of broadheads titled Old Glory. Available in two configurations, a rubber band supgr4ported mechanical and a three blade fixed head, these lower price point broadheads are sure to satisfy the archery that is looking for a quality head without breaking the bank. One other great thing about Old Glory broadheads, they share one important trait with Grim Reapers, they are made right here in the USA.

For more information on Grim Reaper Broadheads, be sure to visit their website at http://www.grimreaperbroadheads.com.

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GamePlan Gear – 3D XL

gpg2 Fresh from the 2015 ATA show, GamePlan Gear has introduced their all new 3D XL Tournament Series bowcase. With the competitive archer in mind, the 3D XL is made to fit longer axle to axle bows up to an overall length of 45”. The 3D XL also features a pocket configuration much more suited to tournament and 3d archers.

For starters, competition archers typically use much longer stabilizers than normal. The 3D XL has you covered with a stabilizer pocket that will fit stabilizers up to 36” in lgpg3ength. The 3D XL also features a large front pocket that easily fits an arrow box as well as other necessary archery accessories. Perhaps one of the ggpg5reatest things about the 3D XL is that, like all other GamePlan gear, it is built to last. The 3D XL is excellently constructed, featuring the same rugged quality that you will find in all GamePlan Gear packs.

Also on display at the 2015 ATA show was the rest of the GamePlan gear lineup. It is easy for one to get lost in the wide assortment of packs and accessories offered by Mike and crew. From sight covers, to bow slings, to backpacks, GamePlan Gear has you covegpg6red. And in the future, don’t begpg4 surprised to see GamePlan Gear cross over into other markets with their top cutting edge packs. For more information on GamePlan Gear, be sure to visit them on the web, at http://www.gameplangear.com.


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Firenock – Arrow Chamfer Tool

firenock1 For those of you who have stopped by the Firenock booth at any of the previous trade shows, you know that there is bound to be something that will blow your mind. 2015 was no exception as Dorge had a whole new lineup of cool new gadgets.   Each and every product designed to perfection, and will most certainly takes the equipment variable out of the “bad shot” equation.

Firenock recently introduced the AEROINSERT-A with a reverse taper design to prevent a mushrooming effect on the end of your arrow shaft upon impact. The AEROINSERfirenock3T-A found great success, but it left an imperfect contact between the insert and the arrow. This year at the ATA, Firenock revealed a new arrow chamfer tool that would allofirenock2w you to quickly place a 45 degree chamfer to your arrow allowing the shaft to perfectly mate to the interior surface of the AEROINSERT-A.

The tool itself is made of diamond and silver, and retails for $29.95. It is extremely durable and simple to clean. Using the arrow chafirenock4mfer tool is a breeze, you can attach it to any drill, align the shaft so that the insert end makes contact with the arrow chamfer at a 90 degree angle. It may seem impossible to get the arrow perfectly perpendicular, however the length of the arrow makes alignment very easy. Run the chamfer on the arrow only long enough to create the beveled 45 degree edge and you are ready to install your AEROINSERT-A.

Firenock also made some great improvements to the AeroRest for 2015. The new AeroRest is now equippedfirenock6 with Magic 96 degree design to make setup more simple. The new 96 degree design allows for the stacking of titanium spaces so that AeroRest can fit arrows from 4mm to 12mm outside diamefirenock5ter. The new AeroRest for 2015 is sure to be a pleaser on the archery range or in the field.

For more information on these, and more great products by Firenock, be sure to visit their website at http://www.firenock.com.


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HECS – New and Improved HECS Suit


When the HECS suit first hit the market, it was widely regarded as a “too good to be true” type of outfit.  Mike Slinkard, the owner of HECS, quickly showed the hunting world that not only doesHECS1 the HECS suit work, but also it can revolutionize the way they hunt.  Over the years, the HECS suit has only gotten better and better, and for 2015, the bar has been raised a little higher.

HECS suit has been newly redesigned this year.  Though some HECS users wear thHECS2e garment by itself as an outer garment, many people wear it as an under layer.  To make this more simple, the new HECS suit features thumHECS3b-hole slits in the ends of the sleeves to help you put on your outer layers without your sleeves rolling up as well as an open fly design on the pant.  The collar of the HECS shirt also features an embroidered logo which is more visible.

Although introduced last year, HECS now has begun actively shipping it’s new 6 pocket pant.  This pant features 6 large pockets capable of carrying most ofHECS6 the gear you need while in the field.  And if the 6 Pocket pant and redesigned HECS suit is not enough, a new partnership with Gamehide may HECS4convince you to invest in some HECS technology.  Gamehide plans to launch several outfits fully lined with HECS material providing more choices in your HECS outfit choices.

Don’t wait until you watch the trophy of a lifetime flee your hunting spot, get a HECS suit today and find out what you’ve been missing!  For more information, visit the HECS website at http://www.hecsllc.com.

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Spot-Hogg – FAST EDDIE

Spot-Hogg has once again introduced a new sight in their “Hogg Mobb” adjustable sight series. New for 2105, the FAST EDDIE is the latest addition to the Spot-Hogg family. Based off the previous TOMMY HOGG platform, the FAST EDDIE is approximately 20 percent lighter and provides a more simple to use design. The FAST EDDIE also comes standard with the new DOUBLE PIN scope, which was also debuted at the 2015 ATA Show.

The DOUBLE PIN scope utilizes BulletProof pin technology in a single pin design with dual fiber optic aiming points. A standard option on the new FAST EDDIE, it is one of many great features that make this sight a must have for 2015. The FAST EDDIE also features a rugged lightweight mount and retains the same 2nd and 3rd axis adjustments Spot-Hogg users have come to love. And while the ability to quickly adjust your yardage with the Yardage Knob is the same, you will find that the Yardage Knob on the FAST EDDIE no longer sports the laser engraved markings. Instead, the FAST EDDIE now displays an eye-pleasing graphic in its place.

One feature that is especially nice on the FAST EDDIE is the newly designed Quick Release lock for the Yardage Knob. Silent and simple, the Quick Release lock affords users the ability to quickly adjust their FAST EDDIE without fear that an animal in close proximity may hear them. The FAST EDDIE is a lightweight, super functional sight that is sure to help you find success in the field in 2015.

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Carter Enterprises – 1st Choice

Carter Enterprises never fails to deliver at the ATA show. For 2015 Carter not only announced a new release, but they upgraded a few “oldies but goodies”. Carter has long been known for their quality design, but also for their diverse handle styles. No two people are made exactly the same, and with that in mind, it has been Carter’s mission to develop a release for everyone.

The Too Simple was a big hit in 2013, and while it has been a top seller, there is always room for changes even when there is not really room for improvement. Enter the newest release in the Carter lineup, the 1st Choice. Built with the same comfortable handle style as the Too Simple and the Simple 1, the 1st Choice features a neck that is a half-inch longer to match the neck of Carter’s standard target models. Still equipped with the set screw tension system, the 1st Choice is an excellent option for the archer who likes the feel and functionality of the Too Simple but prefers the longer neck of, say the Insatiable 3.

Another big hit by Carter this year was the new brass edition releases of their older, more popular models. These new brass edition releases are of course much heavier than previous models, providing better weight and stability, as well as inertia on the shot execution, all of which help improve overall accuracy. To find a full listing of all of the models now available in a brass edition, be sure to go to http://www.carterenterprises.com.

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Hunt by Benchmade – Steep Country and Saddle Mountain Skinner

If you were to have a conversation with your fellow outdoor enthusiasts concerning who make the best knives in the world, it would not take long for someone to mention the name Benchmade.   Over the years, Benchmade has been the standard by which all knives are measured. Already having a stronghold in several markets, Benchmade took the hunting world by storm in 2014 when they introduced their new Hunt series of knives. In 2015, they continued to build on a solid lineup of knives by introducing a few new models, as well as making improvements to some existing knives.

The Steep Country is a new knife packed full of great features. It comes in two models, one featuring a standard drop points blade and the other with gut hook. Both knives come standard with Santoprene handles that provide a superior grip to other rubbers. Unlike other polymers, Santoprene retains it’s physical attributes in the cold as well as when it is wet. Where most rubber grips become very slick and hard to hold on to, Santoprene ensures you will never lose your grip under any conditions Mother Nature can throw your way.

Like many of the Hunt series knives, the Steep Country models come standard with the durable Kydex sheath. These sheathes provide a solid hold on your blade, making sure your knife does not come free unless you want it to. They also allow for multiple carry positions to suit your personal needs.

Another release for 2015 is an additional configuration to the already popular Saddle Mountain Skinner. The Saddle Mountain Skinner can now be purchased with a gut hook. Featuring the same Dymondwood grips as previous Saddle Mountain Skinners, this excellent drop point is just another option to an already superb family of knives

All Hunt knives by Benchmade are covered by a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner and are eligible for Benchmade’s Lifesharp service. No matter how good your knife is, with enough use it will eventually become dull. Simply send your knife back to Benchmade and it will be sharpened and checked for warranty repairs.

For more information on Benchmade’s Lifesharp service go to http://www.benchmade.com/lifesharp to find out how you can keep your knife performing at it’s highest potential.

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My Wyoming High

sf2-2I grew up being very fortunate to hunt my family’s private ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Being a subscriber to the big western magazine company’s like Eastman’s and Western Hunter, where DIY hunts on public land are the main focus. I’ve always loved the mountains and have wanted to hunt them quite a few years. I finally made a few summer sf-6scouting trips out to an area in the Bighorn mountains of Wyoming and found a high country spot I believed would produce some good bucks.

After missing the draw in 2013 I would have another year to plan for the 2014 season starting in September for archery. After securing my tag in the spring I began looking at Google earth and other maps more frequently as well as making a scouting trip in July, where I did see a few bucks that I sf2-1would be happy with. The way Wyoming’s license I really drew was the rifle tag good for October 15-31, but with the purchase of their additional archery tag it let me hunt the entire month of September with my Mathews in hand. My original plan was to reserve the first week of September to begin my hunt, then return on the weekends when possible between school and family obligations, if I wasn’t successful the first week. I never thought I would need to break the rifle out.

Things changed drastically for my fall plans when I accepted a job field producing for Best of the West TV out of Cody, WY. The first two sheep hunts were projected to run the first 10 days of September, with an additional friend’s archery elk hunt the third week of the month, I soon began preparing mentally and strategically for a hunt crunched for time. We ended up spending more time after the sheep than expected, which left me an evening and one full day to sf-2see what I could get done with the stick and string. Now in the mountains, you never know what the weather will be like day-to-day or even hour to hour, and I was depending on good weather for my primary spot between 10 and 11,000 ft. Unfortunately about two days before arriving it had snowed quite a bit and started pushing deer down into the trees at lower elevations. Hoping a bigger buck was still hanging high, and not really knowing what else to do, I stuck to my plan of sitting on a few choice glassing points throughout the day. I really didn’t know what to expect out of the deer as the weather warmed back up throughout the next couple of days.

The day ended just like the evening before. I was only able to turn up a doe, fawn, and a small 2-year-old buck running together. With few deer sightings and very little time the next morning before a 10 hour drive, I decided to pack up camp that evening and head off the mountain for a hot meal, shower, and real bed. While leaving the area I knew I wouldn’t be back again during archery sf-3season, so I hit the maps and the phone once again to gather as much intel as I could about some lower country spots that may have potential for the October rifle season. We had one antelope hunt planned into my season so I broke out my .300 win mag from H-S Precision, hoping to get at least a couple of days in between hunts to try out my luck. When our antelope hunt unexpectedly got cut short, it softened my timeline enough to get about 3-4 days in on the mountain.

I had heard the deer had been migrating down early so I left my original area and headed a lower elevation directed to me by a friend who had hunted there before. The first morning I took a 7 mile hike out of camp and tried to find a good glassing spot but the whipping wind up top made it difficult to glass much so I headed back down to camp. After a sf-1breakfast skillet meal from Mountain House, I decided to jump in my vehicle and cover some ground. After a few hours of glassing and staring at maps I found a really good-looking mountain side covered with aspens and sage brush, divided with small cuts. I decided to sit and glass the hill-side that evening. About 20 minutes before pitch black I picked up the outline of a deer about 3/4 of the way down the mountain and could tell he had descent height but only about as wide as his ears. Having this be the only buck I saw so far and the third deer total for the day I decided I’d be back on him in the morning.

I got up an extra half hour early the next morning to be sitting behind my spotting scope as it got light. Besides a few nice 300″ type bull elk my morning went without a deer. I checked a couple more drainage’s that morning but still no sign of deer. With the weather warming up quick and all animals bedding down I decided to head 30 miles down the mountain to the nearest town to fill up with fuel and use my phone. Playing the wind and thermals I figured I could side hill into the area I had seen him last and be within 500 yasf2-3rds for a shot. I got about 3/4 of a mile across the hill when I heard 3 gun shots on the far side of the hill-side from me. About the time I started thinking how bad the elk hunters had probably blown out the hill-side I caught movement ahead of me behind a tree. I paused, threw my binoculars up in time to see a respectable 3×3 walk out and look in my opposite direction. Immediately after looking at his frame I was almost sure it was the deer I had seen the night before.

I took off my backpack, tossed it over a sage brush plant and rested my gun over that and settled into a rock solid rest. By this time he had calmed down and bedded facing straight away from me. At 200 yards my rifle would be shooting 5″ high, wind was left to right but not enough to make a significant difference. After laying sucked into my rifle and thinking about the approaching shot for 1 1/2 hours he finally stood up after the sun had dropped off the horizon andSF-1 the air started to chill. He was facing straight away from me for probably 5 minutes, scratching his back with his antlers and rubbing his face on his legs. He finally started moving while he fed. He was coming close to moving behind a tree when he turned enough for a quartering away shot. I put my crosshairs for an exit on the opposing shoulder, compensated the 5″, exhaled and squeezed it off. The shot felt great and he fell in his tracks.

I had a few moments to realiSF-3ze what I’d just done, pay my thanks, and figure out how I was going to get him back to camp. Luckily there was a two-track mountain road 1/2 mile or so down the hill I was pretty sure I could get into with my pickup. After punching my tag and a quick gut job with my Saddle Mountain Skinner from Benchmade HUNT, I latched onto his antlers and started dragging him towards the road. I reached a small tree in the bottom near the road with him after dark. After a mile or so pitch black hike back to the pickup I got on the trail and drove down to pick him up. I let him air out overnight back at camp then took pictures and quartered him up the next morning to head back home to western Nebraska.SF-2

I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to harvest a mule deer and live the experiences in the mountains of Wyoming solo. Hunts never seem to go as planned but I suppose that’s a driving reason we do it year after year. I’m already thinking about next season and the different areas I may get into and deer or elk I might see. I encourage everyone to take a trip to the mountains and experience what it’s like to live near the stars.



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