Best New Crossbows For Hunters

crossbow 10 pointOur friends at Petersen’s Bowhunting Magazine give us the specs on 6 new crossbows that were unveiled at the 2018 Archery Trade Association show.

Since getting a good buck with a crossbow on TV is high on my bucket list—while I have killed my share of deer with vertical bows, I have never even shot a crossbow, much less bagged a deer with one—this article was of interest.

Some one-liners that caught my attention–I did not realize that crossbow technology and engineering had come so far so fast:

…the (Mission) SUB-1, so named for its ability to consistently deliver groups less than 1 inch at 100 yards.

At just 6 inches wide, the Stealth NXT (pictured) headlines TenPoint’s next generation of high performance bows.

Excalibur’s 360-fps Assassin (has) an integrated silent Charger cranking system (that) allows for quiet, fast and easy loading and unloading, virtually eliminating draw weight concerns by reducing its 285 pounds of draw weight to a mere 12 pounds.

(CAMX’s) patented Thumbsaver technology protects the shooter’s forehand without restriction for the full travel path of the string. The A4 comes pre-sighted at the factory from 10 to 100 yards with four Accuspine arrows and field points…

…the compact, ambidextrous Versa-Draw Cocking System (Ravin R20) is integrated into the stock and provides the ability for simple cocking just 12 pounds of draw force and uncocking without having to fire the crossbow.

What really stood out (and in some cases shocked me) was the MSRP price of these new crossbows. While the PSE is around $600, the others in this overview run from $1,200 to $1,600 to $2,600. I had no idea that a Xbow costs that much, but then like I said, I did not realize that crossbow technology had advanced so much. Apparently with a new Xbow, like anything else, you get what you pay for.

I don’t know yet which one of these new horizontal bows I will get and hunt with this fall, if any, but I really do want to try it.

How many of you hunt with a Crossbow…how do you like it?

Why Do People Knock TV Hunters?

tv hunting blindRecently on social media (which has no doubt helped to recruit young and millennial hunters, but which has also done plenty of disservice to our sport and way of life in my opinion, though that is a topic for another day) there has been an inordinate amount of bashing of TV hunters or “celebrities.” (BTW, I do not like that latter term; just because a guy or gal hunts on TV that does not make him or her a celebrity or, God forbid, a “professional hunter,” another moniker that really peeves me.

Just this week on Facebook I saw 2 different posts: 1) What annoys you most about TV hunters? And 2) What do you hate most about hunting TV shows?

To the second poster I ask: Why do you assume everybody hates hunting TV just because you do?

Then, predictably, in response to these posts comes the wave of rude and negative comments as hundreds of people with nothing better to do cut loose and pile on those of us fortunate enough to hunt on TV for a living. (For the record, I cherish my opportunity and never take it for granted; I know I am lucky and blessed, and I have a responsibility to act, speak and hunt responsibly on BIG DEER TV.)

Being in the unique position of both TV host/producer and blogger, I respect and encourage opinion and criticism. Somebody saying, “I just don’t like so and so on TV” or “I don’t like that show” or “Hanback, I don’t agree with something you said the other night” is perfectly fine.

But that is not the way it goes in most of these threads, which quickly turn ugly. Peppered amid the respectable comments (and often hijacking the discussion) are the petty and the vitriolic, like: “All those guys on TV make me sick…they all hunt in high fences…it’s all about the money…put these guys on public land and they’d never kill a deer…I hate so and so…”

To the latter I say careful, people, hate is a strong word.

I’ve long wondered: Why this anger and resentment toward people who hunt on television? I have theories.

Envy: People who think they are great hunters (they may or may not be) get jealous and take out their resentment on people with shows, feeling they could do it better.

TV hunters behaving badly: On occasion (infrequently) a TV host gets busted breaking a game law, and it hits the fan on Facebook. I cringe when this happens because social predictably explodes with comments like: “typical of celebrity hunters”…they all do it…”

Well, that offends me. I have been in the business a long time and tell you 2 things: 1) All the TV hosts I associate with are honest, hardworking and law-abiding people; 2) No, we don’t all hunt in high fences. I hunt wild deer on lands just like you hunt.

Our “tear-you-down” world:  Sadly, unfortunately, we’ve gotten to a place in society where bitter people criticize, name call, speculate, and downright lie in a misguided attempt to ruin a person and their career before moving on to their next destruction project. An outdoor TV host/show is an easy target.

On a more positive note, while the bashers are a rude and rowdy clan, they are a tiny minority. Social has given them a megaphone to spew their bitterness, one of the reasons I say Facebook has been a disservice to the hunting way of life. But most people, the silent majority, enjoy watching Outdoor Channel and Sportsman.

Why do you think the TV hunter bashing goes on? I know that fair, responsible, deep-thinking hunters read this blog, and I’d like to get your thoughts. I respect your opinion.

Garmin Xero Rangefinding Bow Sight

garmin xeroThe Archery Trade Association (ATA) show 2018 is going on right now in Indianapolis. I’m not there, but from what I hear this digital range-finding sight from Garmin is the big news, and I can see why. I just wonder why it took a company so long to come up with one.


From Garmin:

We are excited to announce the Xero A1 and A1i, two groundbreaking auto-ranging digital laser bow sights that automatically measure the distance to a target and provide a precise, virtual lighted pin for the shot.

 A silent, single-button trigger mounted on the bow’s grip lets the archer range targets at rest or at full draw, virtually eliminating distance estimation and hunter movement …The laser range finder instantly provides the precise angle-compensated distance – up to 100 yards on game or 300 yards on reflective targets. The Xero then projects a precise, virtual LED pin that is only visible to the archer, and without the clutter of multiple physical pins. An ambient light sensor ensures the pin brightness is optimized for various shooting conditions.

The Xero A1i includes many additional features. Laser Locate™ estimates the arrow’s point of impact and transfers that location to a compatible Garmin device (sold separately) so hunters know where to begin their recovery of game.

Super intriguing, this sight will interest all deer hunters. The only downside I see is retail price. Would you spend  $800 to $1,000 for a bow sight? Serious whitetail bow hunters are a passionate lot, and I’m betting a lot of you will if the Xero proves to perform as Garmin says it will.

BIG DEER TV Season 7 Coming Summer 2018 on Sportsman Channel


We’re 80% wrapped filming another season of BIG DEER TV, and what a ride it has been once again. I don’t have the luxury of hunting sprawling private farms, or high-dollar lodges. And that’s fine. I don’t want hunt like that.

We travel around North America and hunt wild deer in woods and on farms that are very similar to those that you hunt. Like you, most days we don’t shoot a buck. A few days we do get lucky. My show is all about real-world deer hunting with real-world hunters.

At least once a year, I take a flyer and go hunt an area and a type of whitetail I’ve never hunted before. This year, in December, we went deep into extreme southwestern Texas, into 5,000-foot mountains 20 miles from the Mexico  border. That is where Carmen Mountain whitetails, the smallest strain of huntable whitetail deer in America, live.

These little deer, which weigh 90 to 110 pounds on the hoof, are tough to find and hunt. A good buck scores 100-110″ and a 120″ buck is exceptional. I was lucky to shoot a nice 9-pointer (top left picture) and look forward to telling you the story of this little known deer in an episode next summer.

The biggest buck of 2017 goes to my friend and Sportsman Channel colleague Graig Hale, who on the last evening of our hunt in southeast Kansas shot a 160-class brute (top right). As you will see in that episode there is a good theme of “be patient.” All us deer hunters need to learn more patience, and this shows why.

A friend of mine leased a 300-acre piece of prairie with few trees in sight and wondered if there were any bucks on it. It certainly was unique, bald habitat. I said I’d hunt it and find out. Sure enough I saw some deer and shot the buck bottom left in the photo.

No season would be complete for me unless I hunted the provincial forest (government crown land, public) of north-central Saskatchewan. It is supposed to be cold in Canada in November, but the below zero temps were abnormal and brutal during our week there, hard on man, and cameras and batteries. The rut activity was spotty, but I managed to kill a great buck the last day (bottom right) after 50 hours of sitting and shivering in a ground blind in the wilderness.

The crew and I are heading for Alabama Saturday for one last hunt, hoping to hit the January rut just right. A few more shoots this spring to wrap things up and we can put a  bow on what I know will be another great season of BIG DEER. Let the editing and post-production begin.

Thanks for your Support and Watching our show!–MH

Virginia: Cactus Crossbow Buck!

va cactus buck 2017From North American Whitetail: Look at this crazy buck (2017 season) taken by John Linens in Ringgold VA, using a Tenpoint crossbow with Rage broadheads.

So what’s up with John’s buck?

Scientists explain that a buck like this, which is extremely rare, has “cryptoridism.” This condition can result from a birth defect or disease that causes a buck’s testicles (one or both) not to drop normally. Or, at some point in his life a buck may injure his privates, say jumping a wire fence (ouch).

A cryptorid buck doesn’t engage in the seasonal rituals of a normal whitetail buck; he lacks the chemical stimulation to rub, scrape or express dominance or individualism. His neck doesn’t swell and he doesn’t breed.

This type buck never sheds his antlers, which remain in velvet year-round. The fuzzy antlers can continue to grow over and around the old antlers as the animal matures. Older-age-class cryptorchids can grow to become true freaks, known as “cactus bucks.”

John’s amazing deer is a prime example of that, great trophy man!