August 10, 2023
There is a lot to be said for being an organized hunter. Knowing your gear intimately and being able to head out the door at a moment’s notice helps identify and define those hunters who really do not want to miss an opportunity. This includes being well prepared from the accessories standpoint.
When it comes to accessories, crossbow manufacturers package most premium bows with the essentials necessary to get into the field and shoot. An optic, quiver, bolts and cocking aid are all vital for using the crossbow, but in some cases they are basic. That said, they can all be upgraded. For example, advanced optic options on the market nowadays range targets, provide aiming points or utilize turrets for adjustments. A premium optic can reduce the time needed to take a shot, see the target clearly or provide aiming options to offset trajectory.
Slings and Packs
One of my favorite accessories is a good sling. Carrying a crossbow in hand can cause muscle fatigue, and packing a crossbow through the woods quickly reminds us they are front-heavy, wide and sometimes awkward. A quality sling will hold in place on synthetic fabrics and allow the bow’s weight to be carried across your shoulders, helping to make travel easier.
When hunting in rough or uneven terrain, a good backpack with a crossbow holder helps to maintain balance and protect your equipment. A pack can also assist with keeping the crossbow string protected, especially if you are traveling with a cocked bow. One example is the ALPS Matrix pack, which is designed with a dropdown pocket to hold the buttstock of the crossbow. Two padded straps then wrap around the bow to tighten it on the top end.
When you’re on the move, keeping your bolt in the quiver until you anticipate a shot is the best course of action for safety reasons. Never travel, hike, climb or stalk with a bolt loaded on the rail!
Having a solid support to steady a crossbow provides a hunter with a considerable advantage. So, as you prepare for your hunt, make sure to incorporate accessories to support the front of the crossbow for any shot.
The Primos Trigger Stick is handy when stalking game or when you are on the run, like when hunting elk. The sticks can be used in a treestand with the legs supported on the foot platform or tucked into the top of a boot. There are also some newer options on the market, including the Swagger QD72 Bipod, which is flexible and stable, allowing it to be used in any terrain. In addition, TenPoint makes the SteddyEddy, a telescoping, two-section monopod that attaches to your crossbow using a 360-degree rapid-pivot tube and clamps under the stock when you want to store it out of the way. You can set the desired length for standing or sitting with a turn of the extension pole.
With the advancements in technology, most crossbow enthusiasts now want a de-cocking device. Not having to shoot your crossbow at the end of the day can save bolts, and it allows you to leave your hunting area undisturbed. Plus, you don’t want to leave your bow cocked for long periods to help prevent limb issues from developing.
TenPoint, Ravin, Excalibur and other bows have de-cocking options built right in, but there are also aftermarket options for most crossbows. Another option is an unloading bolt that the hunter uses to discharge his bow at the end of the day. Some of these are biodegradable for one-time use, while others can be shot into soft earth, recovered and used again.
Lubricants and Waxes
Rail lube and string wax are sometimes overlooked items that reduce string wear and help protect against the elements. The best advice when crossbow hunting is to have tubes of lube and sticks of wax in your crossbow case, daypack or anywhere else you can find them quickly. Seeing these items in your case or pack is a good reminder to use them. The newer crossbows will heat up a string quickly when shooting without lube, so it should be applied every 10 shots or so. Carrying a small piece of leather to work the wax into the string is also a good idea.
Quality crossbow cases should be considered necessary accessories for protecting your investment and equipment. The traveling hunter will want a hard case for airline travel, while soft cases are necessary for accessing hunting areas on an all-terrain vehicle or even a truck or boat. These cases help protect crossbows from accidents like stepping on them or bumping the limbs with force. Most important, the cases protect the string and prevent debris from getting caught in the cams or other moving parts, which could cause a derailment when cocking the bow. In addition, the protective padding helps to prevent shock and jarring of the bow in transport.
A bolt case is often overlooked but keeps bolts and vanes pristine. Cramming bolts into a case can curl vanes and could cause flight issues for the bolt. A dedicated case means your bolts are perfect for hunting or target practice whenever you use them. Cases also allow you to hold bolts set up and tuned with broadheads. A broadhead case is another option for storing heads and ensures they do not accidentally find your bowstring or cause other damage.
If you want to secure your bolts tightly in your quiver, consider purchasing some Velcro straps from a Dollar Store or elsewhere. They also come in handy to wrap around cocking handles to ensure they do not wiggle loose or fall out.
The speed of modern crossbows means bolts create a lot of friction when they enter a target, making them challenging to retrieve. However, a bit of planning will make this task easier. For example, arrow release fluid, bolt pullers and even a bar of soap are great ideas for getting your projectile out of a target.
There’s no doubt that the little things often make a big difference when it comes to success in the field. Being prepared with accessories and gadgets may sound trivial, but it can definitely impact success. Upgrading components, especially optics, can expedite a shot and reduce movement and the need for a separate rangefinder.
I have a set of Allen wrenches in every archery case and pack that I use, and a small tool set that stays with my bow in its carrying case. You never know when you’ll need them, but they come in handy when you do and you’ll know where to find them.
One last bit of advice is to make a packing list for the range or your next hunting trip and put it in your crossbow case so that you double-check that you have everything whenever you head out. In my opinion, being organized and accessorized is the only way to go.