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Tips & Tricks

Trail Camera Buyers Guide

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Trail cameras are an extremely valuable hunting tool that even the most skeptical old timers can appreciate. These cameras provide hunters with key forest intel 24 hours a day that can drastically improve your odds of success.

While they started out as basic motion sensing camera their features and capabilities have grown in power and complexity. This guide will help you understand more about the features available on modern trail cameras and what trail camera is right for you.

Product Spotlight

Broadhead Buyers Guide

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Choosing the right broadhead for your crossbow hunt is almost as important as the crossbow itself.

Broadhead Buyers Guide

Our broadhead buyers guide was but together to help you find the perfect broadhead for your crossbow hunt
Here are the most important factors you should consider before choosing a crossbow broadhead.

Style

Crossbow broadheads come in three distinct styles, fixed blade, mechanical blade, and hybrid broadheads. Each has their own strength and weakness which can also vary greatly depending on variation. Here is a breakdown of each of the main styles:

Fixed Blade Broadhead

Fixed Crossbow Broadhead

Fixed blade broadheads are designed either as a  solid one-piece blade or as a ferrule which utilizes separate, replaceable blades. One piece broadheads are machined from a single piece of material and are extremely durable. They do however require blade sharpening after heavy usage. Replaceable fixed blade designs can also be sharpened but offer you the convenient option of simply using new blades instead. These can also be extremely robust and come in two-blade, three-blade and four-blade configurations.

Pros:
  • Durable design can often be reused for a long period
  • Low maintenance as there are no moving parts
  • Broadheads can be shot and tested in compatible targets without risk damage
  • Smaller blades will result in better penetration
Cons:
  • Limited Cutting diameter, fixed blades will plane in flight therefore fixed blade broadheads don’t normally exceed a 1.5” cut diameter
  • Open blades affect flight, luckily you can test them to determine how they fly in comparison to field points
  • Some designs are formed from a solid piece of metal, if a blade is damaged here the entire broadhead must be discarded
 Bottom Line:

Fixed blade broadheads are tried and true style that’s been around since the beginning. They will never match the cutting diameter and accuracy of a mechanical but the design lends itself to repeatable flight characteristics that can be tested on broadhead compatible targets. In addition they have excellent penetration, are durable and can be reused over a long period of time with minimal maintenance.

Mechanical (Expandable) Broadhead

Mechanical Crossbow Broadhead

Mechanical broadheads are designed to fly like a field point by using a system where their blades are folded up during flight and only open on impact, when a mechanical system triggers them to do so. For the most part, modern mechanical broadheads are available in two styles: over-the-top (front deploying) and rear deploying.

Over-the-top broadheads have blades that are hinged at the rear of the ferrule, and pivot out from the front upon contact. The blades typically open up after they are inside the animal, which ensures the blades are razor-sharp when cutting through vitals. The entrance holes from over-the-top broadheads are smaller than rear-deploying broadheads.

Rear-deploying broadheads have front-pivoting blades that deploy outward from the rear of the broadhead, resulting in full-size entrance and exit holes. This style maximizes blood trails and guarantees the blades are deployed before reaching an animal’s vitals.

The mechanisms used to hold and then deploy the blades vary but generally use either a rubber o-rings, or a steel clip system. Both can be effective but it’s important to keep a close eye on both deployments mechanisms. If the o-ring or clips become damaged in any way it could cause premature deployment of your broadheads blades.

It is also important to purchase the crossbow version of a mechanical broadhead. While companies often sell what appears to be an identical broadhead for vertical bows, the deployment mechanism maybe different. Mechanical broadheads designed for crossbow have been adjusted to account for the additional torque of a crossbow to ensure they don’t deploy early.

Pros:
  • Larger cutting diameter makes for quicker/easier game recovery
  • Customization is possible, as some mechanical allows you to adjust them to your preference
  • Consistent flight performance, embed blades reduce variations while in flight
  • Fly similar to field points allowing you to practice with fields points
Cons:
  • Risk of premature deployment is always a factor with mechanical broadheads
  • Large cutting diameter can reduce penetration
  • Mechanical failure may occur on impact and reduce effectiveness
  • Maintenance required before the shot to ensure performance and after if you choose to reuse the broadhead
Bottom Line:

Mechanical broadheads are popular because of their accuracy and devastating cutting diameters. However, they aren’t nearly as durable as a fixed blade and will require extra care to ensure they perform as intended. Also, don’t forget to make sure they designed for or compatible with crossbows that match the speed rating of yours. This will reduce the risk of a deployment failure.

Hybrid Broadhead

Hybrid Crossbow Broadhead

Hybird broadheads are the newest design on the market and have come about in order to appeal to shooters that are undecided between mechanical or fixed blade broadheads. They are basically two broadheads in one. With that they benefits from both sets of advantages but also suffer for some additional disadvantages.

Pros:
  • Maximum cutting damage caused by multiple sets of blades
  • Fixed blades offsets risk associated with mechanical blade failure
  • Best of both worlds, fixed blade for initial penetration and mechanical for tissue cutting
  • May allow for multiple configurations and blade customization
Cons:
  • Combination of Fixed and Mechanical blades can cause inconsistent flight patterns
  • Premature mechanical deployment is still a risk
  • Larger total cut can reduce ability to attain a pass through
  • Hybrids require most maintenance
  • Difficult to test how they fly without using actual broadheads on targets.
Bottom Line:

Hybrid broadheads can yield some truly devastating results when they impact. Their combination of fixed blade penetration and mechanical blade cutting will result in a quick harvest of your game. However, their combination of both fixed and mechanical blade make them difficult to practice with and can cause erratic flight patterns. They also require the most maintenance to ensure both sets of blades perform. That being said if you want to put the effort into dialing them in they are a great option for someone looking for the best of both worlds.

Cut

Broadheads cutting is measured in two distinct ways.

  1. Cutting Diameter: The width of the cut the broadhead deliver.
  2. Total Cut: The combined length of the surface area of the blades on the broadhead.

For Example: If you have fixed blade broadhead with four .5 inch blades it’s total cut would be 2 inches because that would be the result of all four blades added up. However, the cutting diameter would only be 1 inch because the total width of the cut it deliver would only account for 2 blades.

While mechanical broadheads almost always have a much larger cutting diameter than fixed blade broadheads their total cut is often comparable.

# of Blades

The number of blades on a broadhead does two things, it:

  1. Increases your total cut (not diameter) and therefore your odds of slicing through a vital go up.
  2. It creates friction both while flying through the air which creates problems with flight and while passing through the animal which make it hard for your bolt to attain a pass through.

If a mechanical broadhead used a system where each blade deployed independently it would also increase the risk on a mechanical failure.

Leading Edge

The tip of your broadhead is often the last thing people look at but it should be a consideration, especially if you’re planning on hunt small game. If the objective is to attain maximum penetration and score a pass through a chisel or razor tip is what you want. If however your hunt small game and don’t want a complete pass through a blunt tip broadhead maybe a better option as it will attain the same result without wasting meat.

Weight

The ideal weight of your crossbow broadhead will depend on a few key factors:

  • Bolt – The length and weight distribution of your crossbow bolt will affect how heavy you want your broadhead to be. Lighter broadheads fly faster but their minimal weight  may not result in an optimal arrow Front of Center which will  hurt your accuracy.
  • Use – if you’re hunting very big game then maximum penetration is key. Therefore a heavier broadhead is recommended as it will deliver the most kinetic energy to your target. However if game isn’t excessively larger (bigger than a whitetail) then a pass through can be attained with lighter broadheads .
  • Your Crossbow – You need to make sure the broadhead and bolt combination meet or exceed with minimum requirements for your model. If they don’t your crossbow may not be able to handle the additional stresses and could result in similar results as a dry fire.

Cost

Most Fixed blade broadheads are reasonably priced and while quality can vary, a good set can get you through a lot of seasons with minimal added cost. On the other hand any crossbow broadheads with mechanical blades will usually be more expensive up front and by nature require tuning, parts and blade replacements.

Final Thought

Most crossbow broadheads will get the job done so this decision is going to come down to compatibility with your crossbow, the game your hunting and personal preference. Just make sure you put the time into dialing in whatever you choose and keep those grouping tights because at the end of the day it’s all going to come down to accuracy..

Product Spotlight

Crossbow Buyers Guide

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To be sure you don’t get stuck with a crossbow your unhappy with; you will have to give some thought to which one will suite your needs.

Crossbow Buyers Guide

If you’re new to crossbows, choosing the right one can be a tough decision. There are more makes, models, and sizes available than ever before.  While modern crossbows often look and operate similarly there are some key differences you should take into consideration.

This crossbow buyers guide will outline the most important crossbow factors that you need to consider before making a decision.

Product Spotlight

Treestand Buyers Guide

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What is the perfect stand for crossbow hunting?

Truth is their is no such thing as the perfect all around treestand. The trick is picking the best stand that suites your hunting style and location. With an ever increasing number of stand styles and options that decision is becoming much more difficult.

Here’s a quick guide to help you decided which direction to take:

Ladder stands

AdvantagesSafest tree based hunting stand and easy to access.

DisadvantagesTime consuming setup limits mobility especially during a season.

OptionsLadder stands variations are usually set by the number of people or size of the seating area. Most are single or two man units. Model will vary in basic options such as shooting rails, seat height, foot rests, platform size.

MaterialsOver 90% are steel with some companies offering aluminum models.

Height – 10 to 20 feet

Overall – If you have hot spot on private land this is the way to go. Ladder stands take little time to setup but are well worth it to have a stand that is safe and easy to access all season long. Crossbow hunters will benefit greatly from a shooting rail and added mobility of the two-man stands.

Climbing Stands

Advantages – Extremely mobile and most versatile hunting stand you can choose.

Disadvantages – Climbing stands can be dangerous without proper safety gear and noise created limits stealthy entry/exit.

Variations – Climbers come in two primary styles. There is a traditional climber which features a shooting rail and a compact climber that is without. The compact models are preferable to vertical hunter who wants the freedom offered by an open ended unit and the advantages of a lighter unit.

Materials – Steel and Aluminum

Height – Unlimited

Overall – Climbing stands offer hunters unlimited options for mobility and setup. These are the way to go if you’re hunting in a wooded area and especially if your hunting public lands which usually prohibit use of fixed treestands. Hunters using these should be in decent physical condition as they do take some effort to climb. Also, safety must be your primary concern as these stands are never fixed and can destabilize if you’re not cautious, especially if climbing hardwood trees.

Hang-On Stands

Advantages – The most affordable elevated hunting option and the lightest weight.

Disadvantages – Does not come with a mechanism for climbing, and can be the least comfortable option.

Options – Hand-On stands do have some slight variations in design which make some lighter and quicker to setup than others. Most the innovative design feature in this class come in the way of a separate mounting bracket which allows the hunter to quickly detach the seat/platform from the tree. This reduces the number of stands required and instead allows the hunter to attach separate mounting brackets to different locations. You can then hike in your stand and quickly hang it on a bracket.

Materials – Steel and Aluminum

Height – Unlimited

Overall – Hand-On stands are great way for hunters to setup in multiple locations as they are cost effective, light and easy to access. The downside is you need to supply your own access to their position, either by way of climbing sticks, tree steps, or old fashioned tree branches. Also, treestands don’t offer a shooting rail which many crossbow hunters have come to highly value.

Tripod Stands

Advantages – Standalone structures that aren’t limited to existing landscape and offer 360 degree shooting.

Disadvantages – Not very mobile and require a solid flat surface to ensure stability

Options – Tripod stands consist of a three legged independent structure with a seat/platform mounted on top. Where they vary is in stability (stronger structure), accessibility (better ladder), cover (fully or partially enclosed seat), and height.

Materials – Steel

Height – Up to 20ft

Overall – Tripod stands are great solutions for those locations that just don’t have any suitable foliage to hang a stand out of. They are stable when setup properly and as easy to access as a ladder treestand. They do require some setup and while some are advertised as mobile it is recommended that you treat them as a fixed structure as setup tends to be time consuming. Tripod stands offer an unrivaled 360 shooting angle that is perfect crossbow hunters because there aren’t any obstacles to navigate the limbs around. Also, most come with a shooting rail.

Tower Stands

Advantages – Safe and stable standalone structure that offer hunters protection from the elements.

Disadvantages – Heavy and time consuming setup and cost.

Options – Most tower stands on the market have a fairly standard four legged base with an integrated ladder. On top of the base will sit a hard shelled box blind that can vary greatly in size and options. The most valuable options can include added insulation, sound proofing, clear windows, integrated seating, storage, roof overhangs, and added weatherproofing.

Materials – Steel

Height – Up to 15ft (out of box)

Overall – Tower stands are fixed structures so you will need to be hunting private land before considering these a viable option. If this is the case and you have the funds then setting up a tower stand will be a major upgrade. Tower stands offer great stability, protection from the elements, accessibility, and unrivaled convenience. For crossbow hunters it is always important to give yourself lots of room when hunting from an enclosed structure in order to ensure your limbs aren’t contacting anything. Look for box blinds with wide, horizontal windows. Just be warned, it might be tough going back to a treestand after sitting in one of these luxury boxes.

With all of these stand options how do you pick one that will give you the best opportunity for success? That’s easy, choose a stand that best suites your local habitat and ultimately your capabilities as a hunter. Are you still having trouble deciding? Check out the most recent models and prices available. Also, to get a better idea of what each model looks like try to visit a large outdoors store such as Cabela’s that will have demo units setup. This will give you a better idea of features, size, and quality.

Click below to see hunting stand selection at:

Or check out Cabela’s Canada and save on the exchange:

Tips & Tricks

Morning Hunt Tips

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A number of hunters skip them but morning hunts offer a unique and advantageous hunting opportunity if approached correctly.

Here are some crossbow hunting tips that will help you to capitalize during those early morning hunts.

  1. Early Bird – Get to your hunting area early so you can take your time and sneak in quietly.  It’s always better to be in your stand a hour early than an hour late.
  2. Stealth Mode Turn off your truck/car radio before your park, dim your high beams, close doors quietly, and try to limit or reduce conversation to a whisper.
  3. Organization – Spend the day before getting all your gear ready to go. Nothing worse than scrambling to organize your gear in the morning,  only to realize once you’ve reached your stand that you forget something.
  4. Clear A Path – Try to clear a path to your crossbow stand that isn’t going to be too noisy (easier said than done, especially on a brisk fall morning with a forest floor covered in crunchy leafs).  You’ll never be a completely silent but moving slow or and mixing up your walking cadence should keep your game unsuspecting.
  5. Natures Noise – If there is a creek or river, you can walk nearby and use it to mask your noise.
  6. Scents Sense – You are never going to be 100% scent free but you can eliminate the majority of your body odor by having a shower (use unscented body wash/shampoo). Don’t forget to give your teeth a good brush, as your breath is one of the biggest sources of human scent.
  7. Big Gulps? – If you want to maximize your morning sit don’t drink too much of anything in the morning. Don’t dehydrate yourself but limit intake and stay away from caffeine.
  8. Breadcrumbs – Have your trail well marked so you don’t have to make unnecessary noise trying to find your way.
  9. Lights Down– Try to avoid shining your flash light directly into the brush and instead shine it at the ground, using the ambient light to guide you.
  10. Spooked Situation – If you recognize that you have spooked the animal wait and listen to for them to stop. Once they do, use a call and you may be able to fool them into thinking you were another deer.

Outfitters

Wingfeather Outfitters

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Waterfowl - Canada Goose - Turkey - Whitetail Deer

Located outside of a small town in Ontario, Canada you’ll find Wingfeather Outfitters. These guides offer some of the most versatile and successful hunting north of the border.  At Wingfeather Outfitters they serve up a wide array of hunting options, all of which offer exceptional trophy opportunities.