With crossbows now firmly entrenched in the archery industry, it was with plenty of excitement that I accepted my first hunting invitation that involved a horizontal bow in late March of 2013. ALPS OutdoorZ and Browning Camping — along with public relations firm Howard Communications — brought a group of outdoor writers from across the nation to the great turkey state of Nebraska in search of the popular Merriam.
To say we got into a couple of birds would be quite the understatement. Our group braved temperatures that started at 7 degrees on a slow opening morning, but after the weather heated up later that afternoon, the turkey hunting was quick to follow.
In all, we finished well into double digits in kills, and a lot of that had to do with the great gear we were using for the hunt.
Here is the gear that worked for us. Don't take my word for it though — give the following items a try for yourself.
ALPS OutdoorZ Matrix
The Matrix pack from ALPS OutdoorZ
solves potential problems before they occur due to its unique design, which allows you to attach your crossbow to each side of the pack and carry it on your back. In other hunting situations, a gun or compound bow will also easily attach.
Features include an organizational pocket inside the main compartment, extension lashing straps for extra large loads, a padded waist belt, a center aluminum support, a blaze orange rain cover and a hydration pocket and port. With 2,700 cubic inches of storage space for your calls, optics and turkey gear, the Matrix is a perfect choice for the turkey woods. The pack weighs in at 4.1 pounds.
Browning Camping Shadow Hunter Series
has updated its Shadow Series
of pop-up blinds with a new Silent Track Window System that allows hunters to quickly and silently adjust for unexpected shot opportunities. All four Shadow Series models (Powerhouse, Phantom X, Phantom and Mirage) now feature window curtains that ride on silent tracks and can be quickly adjusted for any height or opening size.
In addition to the new window system, the Shadow Series features custom carry bags that can accommodate your bow and blind chair, oversized zippers, an included bow hanger, oversized stakes, brush loops, four interior gear pockets and strong, flexible frame poles. The Powerhouse stands 82 inches tall so shooters can stand upright when shooting.
The Mirage offers a complete 360-degree view, while the Phantom blinds allow for 180 degrees of shooting availability with an added ground skirt.
199.99 (Mirage), $
239.99 (Phantom), $
299.99 (Phantom X & Powerhouse)
Flambeau MAD Shady Baby Upright Hen
Compliment the nearby gobbler decoy with the realistic MAD Shady Baby Upright Hen, also from Flambeau Outdoors
. Any light breeze will provide the necessary motion for the universal decoy stand to drive incoming gobblers crazy.
By the time they're close enough to realize anything might be amiss, you'll already have him on the ground. Her lightweight, compact and collapsible design adds to the convenience of setting up in the morning and breaking down after the day has passed.
Flambeau Flocked King Strut
The strategic use of decoys can play a key role in the success of a turkey hunt. On our Nebraska hunt, we utilized the Flocked King Strut from Flambeau Outdoors
. Standing tall at 32 inches from the ground to the top of the fan, the gobbler is 100 percent portable and easily packs right into your turkey vest.
Construction ensures there is no shine to alert turkeys due to the flocking fiber on the exterior. It also features UV paint so it replicates what real turkeys truly see when they look at another bird. Add lifelike wings, a beard and a fan and you'll be in business in no time.
Rage Crossbow X
The 100-grain Crossbow X broadhead from Rage
certainly did the trick on our birds with its cutting diameter of more than two inches. A Shock Collar is present on each head for proper blade retention, and shooters will feel comfortable with the .035-inch stainless steel blades that are durable and razor sharp.
Designed specifically for the high speeds of today's crossbows, the Crossbow X will allow the bolt to fly as if it were tipped with a regular field point. Customers will also receive a free practice head upon purchase.
44.99 (per 3)
Under Armour HAW 800G
We've all been hunting in situations where the weather reports aren't exactly accurate. Unless you want to suffer through a forgettable hunt, you need to be prepared for everything. The HAW 800G boots from Under Armour
may be the perfect answer for unexpected weather.
The 800 gram Primaloft insulation is lightweight, water-resistant and breathable, and is able to compress without losing its warming capability. A technical air-mesh lining increases airflow inside the boot and wicks sweat to keep your feet dry and light. A durable EVA midsole provides top-notch cushioning and quality shock absorption. Boots are 16 inches high and weigh 39.4 ounces. Mossy Oak or Realtree finishes are available.