Want to know what’s hot in hunting gear for the coming hunting seasons? Check out our picks from this year’s SHOT Show.
by Jace Bauserman
In typical fashion, SHOT Show 2020 didn’t disappoint. Throngs of manufacturers from around the world unveiled their latest and greatest. Here’s a few that caught our eyes…
Primos PhotoForm Jake Turkey Decoy
The Lowdown – Years in the lab allowed Primos to cook up the PhotoForm Jake Turkey Decoy ($95). Noted by Team Primos to be the most realistic decoy on the market, the lightweight fake boasts a proprietary process that permitted Primos engineers to take actual imagery of a live Jake and print it on 3-D molded foam. Hen options are also available. www.primos.com
Quick Review – My time in the Primos booth proved the decoy’s realistic nature, and due to its lightweight molded foam, even the slightest breeze gives the Jake imposter-realistic movement.
The Lowdown – Continuing the trend with the manufacturer’s 2019 ZeroTrace, Wildgame adds to its scent-elimination line with the ZeroTrace Trunk ($249.99), which features a sizable interior for maximum gear storage. The ZeroTrace Vehicle ($39.99) ensures on-the-go scent elimination via a cord that plugs into vehicle cigarette lighters, and the ZeroTrace Portable ($99.99) fits into cupholders. Of course, all ZeroTrace products are powered by PureION technology to eliminate odors quickly and quietly. www.wildgameinnovations.com
Quick Review – This is a great three-part scent-elimination system. The units proved easy-to-use, and I was surprised by the amount of storage the Trunk offered.
The Lowdown – Badlands’ coldest weather garments to date, the Pyre Jacket ($359.99) and Bib ($379.99) showcase 160-gram Primaloft Silver Insulation, and the jacket is lined with a thick layer of soft, warmth-retaining fleece. The bibs feature an uninsulated upper to allow for better mobility while the bottom half is filled with the same Primaloft Silver Insulation found in the jacket. The jacket features a large upper pocket complete with a rangefinder tether and bungy, and the bibs feature oversized hand-warmer pockets and boot zippers that come up past the knee. www.badlandsgear.com
Quick Review – Both the jacket and bibs felt great. I also appreciated the Velcro on the sleeve cuffs to ensure a custom fit and to keep weather out. The YKK zippers also proved extremely functional.
The Lowdown – Cellular trail camera technology is all the rage, and Browning’s new-for-2020 Defender Pro ($219) should only fuel the fire. The unit is small and compact, and it works with both AT&T and Verizon networks. This 18-megapixel camera features a 120-foot IR flash, and Illuma-Smart Technology automatically adjusts the IR flash to ensure quality nighttime images. The camera has an adjustable trigger speed between .22 and .7 seconds and can be set to snap up to eight images per trigger. www.browningtrailcameras.com
Quick Review – I was thrilled to see the camera was compatible with a solar-panel system. In addition, consumers are going to love the fact that there are no contracts. You can pay month-by-month and only use your cameras when you need them.
The Lowdown – Forever rooted in rubber-boot lore, LaCrosse dips its toes in the backcountry boot world for 2020. Dubbed the Lodestar ($220), this boot features GORE-TEX 100 percent waterproof liners and Vibram outsoles. The best thing about the outsoles, however, (and I speak from experience) are the multi-directional lugs, which promise great ground grip. The shank system is lightweight and disperses weight evenly underfoot to boost torsional rigidity. Keeping the heel in place is the DuraFit rubber heel cups, and the HexGuard rubber toe ensures durability no matter the conditions. www.lacrossefootwear.com
Quick Review – I loved the boots’ lightweight yet obviously durable nature. I’ve trusted throngs of hunts to my LaCrosse rubber boots, and I have no doubt the Lodestar will be a top-performer for elk, mule deer, and pronghorn ventures.
The Lowdown – A first-ever design from the minds at Leica, the GEOVID 3200.COM ($2,999) is a Bluetooth-compatible laser-rangefinding binocular. The unit, of course, is fitted with legendary Leica glass, which promotes clarity and low-light functionality you must experience to fully appreciate. In addition, the 3200.COM ranges reflective objects out to 3,200 yards and, according to Leica, provides substantially better range on soft targets than previous GEOVID models. Compatible with an easy-to-use app, the unit can be programmed via the app or internally, and then be connected to a Kestrel. All the ballistics happen on the Kestrel side, which allows the rangefinder to have no long, drawn-out readings.
Quick Review – The unit features a durable and ergonomic body, and the yardage readout, which allows for easy brightness adjustment, is rapid. Plus, the unit can be paired with an Apple Watch so silent communication can be had between spotter and shooter. www.us.leica-camera.com
The Lowdown – I know there are throngs of knife processing kits on the market, but this one struck my fancy. First off, it’s hard to beat the 9-Piece’s price tag ($59.95), and secondly, it comes with everything you need to do your own in-the-field and at-home butchering. All handles feature a no-slip texture and the kit comes complete with the following: Butcher Blade XL, Butcher Curved Blade, Boning Blade, Gut Hook Skinner, Bone Saw, Rib Spreader, Small Sharpener, X2 Gloves, and a shrink wrap with colored paper. Other features include a carry case. All products are of stainless-steel. www.hmeproducts.com
Quick Review – All the products seemed sharp and durable, and I loved the ergonomic, no-slip grip on the handles. This unit was built to cut meat. Period.
Muddy Ambush Safety Harness
The Lowdown – Streamlined and lightweight, the Muddy Ambush Safety Harness ($99.99) is available in the much-coveted-by-hunters Optifade Elevated II camo pattern. Adding icing to the cake is the fact that the harness features a one-hand quick-set carabiner clip and flexible tether for 360-degree in-the-tree movement. Binocular cables are also included. www.gomuddy.com
Quick Review – The harness felt great on the body and doesn’t require a Harvard degree to put on. Numerous buckles and clips ensure a form fit.
BAKCOU Storm G2
The Lowdown – E-bikes are quickly becoming a staple of the backcountry crowd, and BAKCOU’s all-new Storm G2 ($5,398) is a true Cadillac. The Bafang Ultra Mid-Drive motor showcases all-metal gearing as well as an upgraded inside-the-motor torque-sensor. This sensor feels the amount of pressure being placed on the pedals to provide increased control and power when you need it most. The Rockshox Monarch shock sits mid-body in the frame and promises a comfortable ride. The gearing system also got a facelift. While the bike is still a 9-speed model, the tooth system now goes from an 11-tooth to a 40-tooth to assist in smoothness and better climbing. www.bakcou.com
Quick Review – The bike is comfortable and gives the rider confidence that they can conquer any terrain. The battery features extended life and is easily removable.
TRUETIMBER Inflatable Hunting Blind
The Lowdown – A leap forward in ground blind design, the TRUETIMBER Inflatable Hunting Blind ($N/A), rather than using traditional fiberglass poles, was designed with inflatable tubes to support the blind’s structure. The build makes the blind flexible and more resistant to weather (like heavy snow). The larger version includes a rim around the middle underneath the windows to create a lower rest for a rifle. www.truetimber.com
Quick Review – I fully expected the blind to be flimsy, but that wasn’t the case. The blind was stout and durable, and a TRUETIMBER staff member showed how portable and easy the blind was to setup via a pump system. Setup was completed in less than two minutes.
Flambeau Gunning Series Decoys
The Lowdown – As migrating fowl gets pickier about the fakes they commit to, Flambeau ups the design in decoy make and function. The Gunning Series Mallard 6-Pack ($99.99) includes an upright swimmer drake, preener drake, low-head relaxed drake, surface feeder drake, upright swimmer hen, and a surface feeder hen. Live-action independent movement, which happens even in the slightest breeze or surface currents, is created by minimized drag and water displacement via the curved and low-profile keel. Plus, the natural, anatomical curvature of the hull forces moving water down and away, allowing the decoy to ride and glide on top of the water just like a live duck. www.flambeauoutdoors.com
Quick Review – Though I’ve yet to field-test the deeks, I am a serious waterfowler and was very satisfied with the decoys’ life-like movement in the pond Flambeau had set at the show. The decoys look ultra-lifelike and the new proprietary composite construction seemed durable and quiet. The decoys come in multiple duck species.
Beavertail Phantom Sneakboat
The Lowdown – Waterfowlers are constantly on the prowl for ways to access hidden honey holes without breaking the bank. Enter the Phantom Sneakboat ($429.99) from Beavertail. A waterfowl kayak, the Phantom was engineered to overcome the challenges hunters encounter while hunting from smooth-bottomed conventional kayaks. The hull is a catamaran style; a platform that is stable enough to support the additional weight of hunting gear and the extreme lateral movements that come with shotgunning from a kayak. The kayak tips the scales at 75 pounds and sports an overall length of 9’L x 32″W x 13″D. www.explorebeavertail.com
Quick Review – I was in love with the Marsh Brown color and the water-resistant storage compartment located in the front of the craft. Handles can be found front and rear, and the kayak is fitted with a non-skid floor and interior footrests.
TenPoint Vapor RS470
The Lowdown – TenPoint’s latest horizontal incarnation, the Vapor RS470 ($2,949.99-$3,049.99), clocks speeds up to, you guessed it, 470 fps and hits with a whopping 191-foot-pounds of kinetic energy. Measuring 6.5 inches when cocked, the bow is fitted with a new two-stage, zero-creep design roller sear system and a MICRO-TRAC Barrel designed to reduce string-to-rail contact by up to 50 percent. The TEC-X STOCK is airy and minimizes stock size on this eight-pound crossbow. www.tenpointcrossbows.com.
Quick Review – I loved the balance of the RS470, which is evident the second you pick it up. In addition, the reverse-draw system provides a 17-inch power stroke that generates more speed and increases the distance the arrow nock is engaged with the string. A safety hat-tipper is the ACUSlide Cocking & De-Cocking System.
MOJO Triple Threat
The Lowdown – MOJO’s all-new Triple Threat ($239.99) is sure to get some looks in the coming months. Designed by MOJO’s Terry Denmon, the Triple Threat is a three-part complete Calling System that includes everything you need to be successful in the predator woods. The unit features a quality cone speaker and comes with 80 proven sounds on an SD card. Of course, additional sounds can be downloaded. The remote-controlled decoy, which is magnetically connected to the MOJO Critter Decoy, has won numerous awards. The decoy design is fitted with a built-in tripod to get the decoy off the ground and the sound wave above blockages that would otherwise distort it. www.mojooutdoors.com
Quick Review – Most notable was the system’s sleek design and ease of use. The remote, and yes, I tested it at the show, works up to 300 yards and the charging port is included for rechargeable battery use.
Federal Terminal Ascent Ammo
The Lowdown – Available in an array of caliber options, Terminal Ascent Ammo ($47.99-69.99) was engineered for maximum effectiveness at any range. A bonded-bullet construction was designed to penetrate deep on close targets, and the patented Slipstream polymer tip initiates expansion at velocities 200 fps slower than comparable designs. The AccuChannel groove improves accuracy and minimizes drag. www.federalpremium.com
Quick Review – The side of the bullets looking sexy, and a number of charts and previously shot rounds showed the effectiveness of the bullets at various ranges. The results were undeniable.