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Hunter tech: Gear and gadgets to help you on the trail

May. 9, 2013 - 04:06PM   |  
Johnny Stewart Executioner Manufacturer photo
Johnny Stewart Executioner Manufacturer photo ()
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Whether you’re hunting coyotes or turkey, gemsbok or grouse, new products are hitting the outdoors retail market that are designed to increase your odds of success, degree of comfort, shooting skills and more. Here’s a look at some that got our attention.

Alpen Optics Teton ED HD Binoculars

A perennial best buy, Alpen Optics expands its line of Teton binoculars into larger models, including 10x42, 10x50 and 15x50, the larger model expected to be popular in places such as the western U.S., where it’s possible to spend hours daily glassing vast expanses. The new ED (extra-low dispersion) HD (high-definition) optical system is designed to deliver crisp viewing even in the worst dawn or dusk conditions. They have fully multicoated, BAK4 phase coated optics, long eye relief for eyeglass wearers, unique twist-up eyecups and fully hermetically sealed body construction. Weights start at 22 ounces for the 10x42. Suggested retail prices are $713-$826, but with the great military discount, those prices are $321-$371. Call Alpen toll-free at 877-987-8370 and mention “Army Times” to get the discount. Alpen offers a “No Blame/No Fault/No Problem” transferrable lifetime warranty.

Johnny Stewart electronic predator calls

Electronic calls can increase shooting opportunities when you’re predator hunting. They produce sound away from where you’re hiding, lessening the chances the predator animal will see or smell you. Johnny Stewart Wildlife Calls’ four new calls can play two sounds simultaneously and have preloaded sounds and rotating speaker horns. They run six to eight hours on a set of eight AA or eight C cell batteries.

Jury ($147): Includes 25 sounds with capacity to hold 128 MB. A 9-watt audio output pushes sounds through an omnidirectional speaker. The wireless remote operates up to 75 yards.

Bloodhound ($272): Has 50 preloaded sounds with 2 GB of internal memory. The wireless remote has a range of up to 200 yards. An external audio jack lets you add another speaker.

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Gallows ($492) and Executioner (shown/$599): Come with remotes operable to 300 yards. A full control unit on the base allows operation without a remote. Auxiliary jacks let you run an extra speaker or self-powered decoy. Standard mode plays precisely as recorded; Sound Shuffle randomly shuffles sound segments of the original loop; and Custom Sequence plays sounds as programmed by the user. Gallows has 75 Johnny Stewart authentic sounds, 12 sound presets on the remote and 12 sound presets on the base. Executioner is preloaded with 100 Johnny Stewart sounds, with 16 presets on both the remote and base. Add up to 4 GB of additional sounds. Executioner also features built-in tracking GPS.

Lacrosse Aerohead boots

Lacrosse’s popular Alpha Burly rubber boots quickly found favor among hunters who routinely traversed shallow streams, damp morning meadows and other places where feet and lower legs get wet. But market share dropped over the years as new brands emerged. Lacrosse’s new Aerohead 18-inch waterproof boots look and feel like winners. The boots have a comfortable, ankle fit and a rugged rubber outsole that resists slipping. The core is insulating neoprene. An exterior polyurethane shell is bonded to the core, and an Armor Weld liquid rubber coating protects all seams. The adjustable back gusset and strap helps get boots on and off more easily. The boots come in Realtree and Mossy Oak camo patterns. The version with 3.5mm of neoprene weighs just 4 pounds per pair (suggested price $130). The heavier version, with 7mm of neoprene, weighs 5 pounds per pair ($140).

Wolverine Bobwhite boots

The Bobwhite bird-hunting boot is lightweight and durable, designed to take abuse in tough terrain. It has a lightweight EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) outsole with rubber forepart and heel pads for cushioning and nonloading traction, waterproofed leather and 1,000-denier nylon upper lined with a wave mesh waterproof membrane, and an odor-control sock liner. Comes in 5- and 7-inch-high versions, uninsulated or lightly insulated with 200 grams of 3M Thinsulate. Available in August. $130

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Browning Strutter folding chair

A wise hunter once said, “Patience kills more turkeys than anything else.” But patience is easier when you’re comfortable. Sit tight in the Strutter folding chair. It positions you low to the ground and at an angle where a good knee rest shot is a cinch. It has a coated steel frame, Realtree camo fabric and rotating, adjustable feet for uneven terrain. It weighs 6.5 pounds and folds into a carry bag or can be carried on your shoulder with the padded carry strap. $49

Bushnell PowerSync

Bushnell joins the portable power market with an array of innovative products designed to keep your technology fueled up when away from electrical outlets. The SolarBook, SolarWrap (shown) and SolarMini are solar energy collection systems with a USB plug-in for attaching things such as phones, tablets, cameras and MP3 players. In an amazing video demonstration of the thin film solar collector’s durability, the unit took a shotgun blast and, despite some damaged collectors, still managed to pull in ample solar power for storage and transfer it to an electronic device. Recharge times range from four to 10 hours depending on the device. Both the Wrap and Mini versions are light and compact enough to be added to any backpack easily. Available in May. $60-$300

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

Sharpen everything from fish hooks to camping tools with this compact sharpener. This tool has sharpening surfaces on all sides, including two diamond plates (coarse and fine), two ceramic rods (coarse, fine and fish hook groove) and a leather strop. The “guided” component comes in via the built-in angle guides, which get you started at a perfect 20- or 25-degree angle to help ensure a consistent bevel angle across the blade’s edge as you push or pull the blade across the finishing surfaces. The sharpener and ceramic rods can be cleaned with warm water and dish soap, and the diamond plates may be removed for cleaning. $34.95

Winchester Ammunition AA TrAAcker

This innovative ammo is designed to help you become a better wing shooter. A specifically designed aerodynamic wad cup releases the shot while also tracking the shot cloud’s flight path in a speed visible to the eye. It shows you where you missed, whether behind, over, below or ahead of the target. A couple of boxes expended at the range should help you identify any systemic issues in your shooting. It was fun to watch and fun to shoot. An optimum scenario is to shoot with a partner who can keep an eye on the tracking wad while you pay attention to shooting form and technique. The loads are expected to cost about $1 more a box than standard AA shot shells (usually about $8-$10). Plus, the hulls are reloadable.

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Barnett Vengeance Crossbow

Crossbow innovation is through the roof as more states liberalize hunting with this powerful archery tool. Bows are delivering more velocity without increasing draw weights. The Barnett Vengeance has a 140-pound draw weight and delivers 365 feet-per-second velocity. Just a few years ago, bows with 150 pounds of draw weight were barely pushing 300 FPS. This new bow defies your notion of what a crossbow looks like and might not be for everyone, except “early adopters,” with its reverse draw configuration and forward-facing limbs. It shoots quiet, handles well and is lighter than it looks, thanks largely to a 43-percent-lighter carbon riser. It feels more balanced than many traditional crossbows, which have more forward weight. A front pistol grip helps with handling. The Barnett anti-dry fire trigger won’t let the bow fire until a bolt is seated properly. The bow isn’t as fast as the Ghost 410 and is a little heavier at 7.8 pounds, but it doesn’t require 185 pounds of draw weight, either. It comes with an illuminated scope, quiver and three 20-inch arrows. $999

Zippo Windproof Stove

Zippo applies the windproof design of its legendary lighters to propane camp stoves with this new product. This stove’s stainless steel chimney helps shield the dual burners from wind while still letting air through to the flame, independent leveling legs (with a bubble level for added precision), rubber feet and a 270-square-inch cooking surface. $249

Mojo Outdoors Shake-n-Jake

This new jake decoy pirouettes just like real gobblers often do while raising and lowering its distinctive tail fan. Such flagrant opposition to a boss gobbler’s authority by an impertinent juvenile male often prompts the bigger tom to come over and teach the youngster a lesson. The remote controller works up to 150 feet. The motor operates on four AA batteries. The bird mounts on a 2-foot steel mounting stake. A blaze orange carrying bag is included. Check to ensure motorized decoys are legal in your state. $149

Ken Perrotte is a Military Times outdoors writer.

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