Throughout my life I have always heard the saying “Do what you love and you will never work another day in your life.” Well I still don’t know that feeling or experience, but this past week at the 2017 ATA show was about the closest I have come to seeing and experiencing that first hand being a truth. Since being a child I have wanted to be involved in the outdoor industry one way or another. Whether that is a career, TV show, staff member, or anything that is just more than casual hunting. All that being said, with a dream like mine the ATA show has always been my personal Superbowl since I really got into archery and bow hunting. The personalities, products, innovation, and everything else I saw on a yearly basis were something I thought I would only see through various outlets supplying me the overwhelming amount of wallet reaching news. That was until 2017. Through my decision to stop dreaming and start doing back in August when my fiancé, Krystle Mahoney, and I created Whitetail Widow Makers we were able to form some wonderful relationships that allowed us to attend the ATA show this year. I bounced around helping out with Advanced Treestands, and gathering info about new products to bring the followers of Louisiana Bowhunter. That brings me back to my opening statement. Krystle and I left the show all three days after working from 8am-6pm as exhausted as we have ever been, but instead of the normal response to an exhausting workday we would literally get to our hotel room to relax for a moment before dinner and laugh as we talked about the excitement of the show. It was an experience I will never forget and that I hope to be a part of for years to come. That’s enough about me though. Let’s talk about some of the new and innovative products I saw while I was there. I am going to break them down into categories and go over the ones I thought stood out from the rest. No rankings so just because it is first of last doesn’t necessarily mean I think it was best or worst.
First I will talk about arguably everyone’s favorite new item to learn about year to year and see what new crazy design companies have come up with to attempt to poke out. Yep you guessed it BROADHEADS!!!! This was probably the most widely displayed product at the show with a large percentage of booths offering some type of tip for your arrow with the claim to provide the most accuracy and most devastating result.
- Cheap Shot Affordable Broadheads made by Cold Steel. These things really stood out to me because they look like a Native American arrow head, are made out of hard plastic and are $5 for a 10 pack. Not to mention they have videos of testing done where they perform through ballistic gel and wood very similar to high priced name brand broadheads. Very honest people admitting that they were not going to stand up to the same abuse as a metal head, but if you have a varmit problem these would be a great alternative to wasting a good head on a pig or coyote.
- Dead Ringer broadheads. I didn’t even name them all due to the fact that they released new ones and redesigned almost their entire existing line. They use Switchback technology that gives you the option to shoot fixed or expandable, but also released a few true fixed blade heads and a bow fishing head. Oh did I mention that Uncle Ted shoots one of the new fixed blade heads???
- Trypan by Rage. Had to throw this one in there for all the Rage lovers. This head is very similar to the hypodermic, but with a redesigned tougher ferrule and the thickest blades from Rage ever. They also released a Turkey Xtreme broadhead and a new designed 3 blade chisel tip broadhead.
- X Shot Ti from Hot Shot Archery. This is one wicked looking fixed blade broadhead. It had 4 super tough Titanium blades that create a 1 1/8” cutting diameter. It may look small but this thing is going to be as tough, accurate, and deadly as they come.
Next up is another product that people will argue is the best all day long, but at the end of the day with this product I have found to each his own. I am talking about BOWS!!!! Compound bows to be exact. These new speed demons are taking archery to the next level. Here are a few that peaked my interest.
- The whole Bear Archery line was extremely impressive. Offering something to every hunter whether you were looking for speed, a smooth experience draw to release, something for women, something for kids, or something for the target range Bear had you covered.
- Elite continued to stand true to its claim to be the “Most Shootable Bow”. This was honestly my first time to shoot an Elite and boy that claim is very accurate. Their new lineup is so forgiving and just feels from draw to release so comfortable in the hand.
- The Mathews line that includes the Halon 32, Avail, and the Stoke. These bows continue to carry on the Mathews reputation of being extremely well designed and engineered bows. The Avail is one of the best designed womens bows I have ever witnessed and the Stoke is the first high performance youth bow.
- The PSE Evolve and New Carbon Air. Both use the new Evolve cam system that gives a 90% let off option that truly allows for almost endless amount of draw time before having to release. The air is a true carbon frame that when you pick it up you will see where it got the name “air” from. The absolute perfect mix of speed and feel in a bow.
The next item is something everyone seems to just have hanging around all over the place. You guessed it TREESTANDS!!! Another product that there just seemed to be endless variations around the show.
- Advanced Treestands released a new stand called the Swing Down that will come with their newly released 20ft set of climbing stick for a total price of only $229. The sticks have a unique hook that fits into the side of the stand allowing easy hanging. They will also be sold separately.
- Millennium Treestands released the M360 Revolution which you just have to see to truly appreciate. It is a round platform with a swivel trademark Millennium lounge seat in the center allowing 360 degrees of vision and range of motion.
- Hawk announced a new partnership with the Bone Collectors and released multiple newly designed stands, seats, and chairs. The one that really stood out to me was their newly introduced climbing stand with the unique Hawk designed cables and the trademark Hawk comfort.
This next category is for all you smelly folks out there that really need an advantage during hunting season. I am talking SCENT CONTROL gear or items. This will include gadgets, attractants, and clothing..
- Wind Pro, who are the makers of a very successful mock scrape system, released a new synthetic ultra-absorbing licking branch vine so that you can now create a mock scrape and licking branch anywhere you desire.
- Scent Lok is getting into the fashion game with the release of an all new line of dress socks that I must admit look right up my alley. They also introduced an upgraded model of their mid weight best-selling suit.
- Scent Blocker probably had the coolest looking booth at ATA. It was a giant yellow spider, synonymous with their safety harness logo, that spread out over their entire booth floor where they used the legs as places to display various items. They released an unnamed mystery suit that will not be named until a later date, but was chock full of innovation, comfort additions, and very sharp looking.
This next category of items probably provokes the most excitement and optimism following a scouting trip or routine trip to the woods. I am talking about TRAIL CAMERAS and that giddiness that we all get when we are about to put that sd card into our readers or computer to figure out how to pattern that big buck you have creatively named.
- Reconyx released a trail camera that looks very similar to a mall security camera called the MicroFire. With an easy to mount system, its own cell phone app that is wifi enabled to connect directly to your phone, and cellular options this camera is in a class of its own.
- SpyPoint officially made it able to own a cellular camera at an affordable price with the Link-EVO that will sell for an industry first $249. They also offer the same camera in their trademark integrated solar panel version so you never have to worry about dead batteries again.
At some point if you are unlike me this season you are going to harvest an animal or if you are like me you are just going to need one of these to keep your camp food and drinks cold. Either way these COOLERS will help you out for sure.
- Boss Buck has officially entered the cooler game with the Rotomolded Cooler. These things have a rugged and tough look that goes hand in hand with the Boss Buck name you have grown accustomed to. They have an integrated LED light inside the cooler to provide light in dark situation, a very unique push button opening system, and are made right here in the USA!!!!
- Orion Coolers was an unknown brand to me before the show, but I will never forget what I saw at their booth during my visit. A truly unique to the word graphic system to where no two coolers are the same color or design no matter if I ordered 100 of the same color. A customizable cooler top pad, standard cutting board with utensils, and just about every connectable accessory option you can truly dream up plus about 10 more.
- Yeti now has colors and lots of them!!! Not only that but they will custom design their famous cup variations to fit your needs and desires. They also released a smaller version of the very popular Hopper which is called the Hopper Flip. That’s not all though. They now offer a Yeti rambler in half gallon and gallon size with a carrying handle, accessory options, and best of all a magnetic screw top that sticks to the top of your rambler so no worries of losing the top.
No catchy way of introducing this last category. I know your disappointed. These are just all the archery accessories I wanted to cover or any item that didn’t necessarily fit into a category previously stated.
- Advanced Treestands not only released sticks and a stand, but they introduced what I believe to be a true game changer in the hunting world and a soon to be must have on every stand, camera, and anything else needing protection or safety. It’s called the Lockdown and it is a steel cable ratchet strap with a integrated locking system. Don’t overcomplicate the mental picture it really is just that simple.
- HHA Sports released an HHA first 3 pin sight for some folks that want the single pin adjustment, but with two set pins for that Murphy’s Law moment. They also released a new fall away rest that looks to be very well built and a new serious player in the bow rest game.
- Spot Hogg released some new sights, but the real eye catcher(literally) was their new neon yellow/green ring system around the house of the sight designed to optimize the visibility of your eyes in any light condition.
- Sitka released a new camo pattern called sub alpine for us folks that need more of a green camo pattern. It is also going to be available in some lighter weight options than the existing super warm sitka gear. They also released a full women’s line and a partnership with Lacrosse boots.
- Thermacell gave their already must have early season gadget a facelift. Same great effectiveness. Same ability to fit all your existing holsters, butane cartridges, and blue pads. Just a new slick black design.
- The Pro Master Sight Level is truly probably one of the most simple, but also most effective items I found during my time at the show. It is a piece of hardware that mounts to your sight, but faces toward the shooter rather than downrange like the sight. At the end of the hardware it angles into your line of sight of whatever sight you are using and has two strings vertically parallel to each other. They idea behind it, which I must say I now own one because it truly does work, is that if your pins are in between the two strings after you anchor your release and look through the peep then you are using proper technique, but if the pins are on or outside the strings your anchor point is off or you are torqueing your bow. Truly genius!!!!!
Obviously there were tons of other items that were great items so I encourage you to do your research to find out all the new and innovative products released this year. Last two things before I finish. First, if you love the sport of archery and you ever have the opportunity to attend the ATA show I encourage you to do so. It truly is an eye opening and unforgettable experience. Lastly, if you have a dream no matter what it might be don’t be afraid to go for it. You will never know where it may lead you if you just quit dreaming and start doing.
Taylor Hance/ [email protected]