I guess you could call it a survey. It was minor, but it was a survey. On a recent vacation with my family I visited five archery shops in four different states. I love to do this — pop into shops, see how they operate, visit with the customers. This year I took it a step further. I developed a single question to ask five customers at each of the five different shops. I received some interesting answers, but one response trumped the all others. Check out the results below.
I don’t have a NASA pedigree, but the results aren’t hard to digest. Fourteen out of 25 bowhunters labeled “scouting” as their primary preseason method to ensure fall success. And guess what? All 14 noted they purchased multiple scouting-gear items each year. Could stocking preseason scouting tools and developing a solid marketing plan around this niche boost shop sales? All 14 bowhunters said they would rather purchase scouting-type tools from their trusted local pro shop than from big box stores. Just food for thought. If you wish to take the idea a step further, here’s some top-end scouting tools to place on your shelves.
Stealth Cam Ultra HD DS4K
Stealth Cam’s (877-269-8490) Ultra HD DS4K ($250) trail camera is fitted with dual image sensors to ensure quality day and night high-resolution images. Fitted with 42 NO GLO IR emitters, this stealthy camera promises true 100-foot night-time illumination married with a split-second trigger. The DS4K uses Matrix Advanced Blur Reduction and Retinal low-light sensitivity to guarantee images captured at dawn and dusk offer premium quality.
Wildgame Innovations Nano 22
Ideal for off-the-beaten path scouting sojourns in high-pressured hunt areas, Wildgame Innovations’ (800-847-8269) Nano 22 Trail Camera ($150) measures 3 x 2 1/4 x 3 1/4, making it one of the smallest trail cameras on the market. Your customers can toss a passel of these cameras in their pack and head to the field. Showcasing a 1/2-second trigger speed and a wide-angle 16:9 aspect ratio, the camera boasts a 90-foot detection range and 42 infrared LEDs, and its TruBark HD texture blends into almost any tree.
Browning Strike Force HD 850
Browning’s (888-618-4496) Strike Force HD 850 is the latest in a line of small, high-performance trial cameras. This easy-to-tote unit features a rapid .4-second trigger speed and .8-second recovery time. This means centered, cleaner images of the game your customers plan to hunt. Measuring 4 1/2 x 3 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches, the Strike Force produces 1280 x 720 HD video clips and is designed to work with SDXC memory cards, which are capable of holding up to 512 GB. This is perfect for those customers who plan to leave a camera in the field for months on end.
Cuddeback IR Plus
Disappearing into nearly any tree, the slender IR Plus from Cuddeback (920-347-3810) is an economical option loaded with dependable features. The camera’s 1/2-second trigger speed means that it can capture that buck of a lifetime, and the unit’s super-simple setup makes it totally foolproof. Thanks to the camera’s Genius Mount, your customers can simply strap (or screw) the mount to the tree. The camera slides on or off the mount as needed. This feature boosts in-the-woods stealth.
An economical option backed by a proven name, Moultrie’s (800-653-3334) A-30i ($100) captures 12MP images and boasts iNVISIBLE flash technology. The camera is a true working-man’s scouting tool that features a 60-foot detection range and records 15-second HD video clips. Eight AA batteries power the camera for approximately 16,000 images, and the sturdy case with waterproof plastic exterior keeps your customer’s investment protected.
Covert’s (877-462-1799) MP8 ($130) heeds the scouting call – the unit is light and ultra-compact. In addition, the MP8 captures quality 8MP images, features a one to 10 turbo burst-shot mode and comes with Maximum Silence Image Capture. The one-inch color viewer allows for easy in-the-field image viewing, and each photo is stamped with the time, date, temperature and current moon phase.
Spartan GoCam 4G LTE
Spartan’s (770-582-0004) GoCam 4G LTE ensures rapid image transmission, improved battery life and, for the first time, video transmission to your cellular device. That’s right — as long as you’ve got a solid Verizon signal, this innovative camera will keep your customers’ phone dinging with the goings-on around their favorite stand locale. The new GoCam will continue to use the GoWireless app and web portal, which provide full remote camera management.
MTN OPS Enduro Cardio Enhancement
A cardio enhancement supplement that will, if used regularly, help with overall endurance on long scouting forays, Enduro Cardio Enhancement ($40) from MTN OPS (888-760-3393) works in harmony with your body’s cardiovascular system to increase hydration, performance and endurance during intense physical activity. Containing L-arginine, a naturally occurring amino acid that helps increase blood flow and oxygen to muscles and cells, this innovative drink mix is a must-have for those who scout the vast West.
Slate River EZ-Aim Mount
Keep trail cameras hidden from game and other bowhunters with Slate River’s (262-853-4015) EZ-Aim II Trail Camera Mount ($25). The mount features a ball-and-socket that allows 360-degree rotation and tilts the camera up to 45 degrees up or down for precise positioning. Hang your cameras high or low and still angle them perfectly. The auger boasts a corkscrew tip and CNC-machined threads, making it easy to drive into any tree.
Wilderness Athlete Altitude Advantage
Nothing will end a mountain scouting trip faster than altitude sickness. Keep headaches, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat away with Wilderness Athlete’s (800-300-1215) Altitude Advantage ($30). Though not guaranteed to prevent acute mountain sickness, Altitude Advantage is formulated to address the body’s extreme physiological demands of ascending to and remaining at high-altitude environments.
Rambo Bikes R1000XP
Meet the adventurous spirit of those customers who long to chase big game in remote locations where others are reluctant to go with Rambo Bikes’ (952-283-0777) all-new R1000XP Extreme Power Bike. Designed for accessing steep grade conditions, trail riding in rugged terrain or just cruising around the local whitetail woods in total stealth, the R1000XP tips the scales at 66 pounds and sports an aluminum-alloy 6061 frame. The bike’s top speed is 26 mph and runs off a Bafang BBSHD high-torque mid-crank motor. Financing plans are available.
ALPS OutdoorZ Traverse EPS
The ALPS (800-344-2577) Traverse EPS ($180) features a premium H-frame design and a multi-layer foam waist belt. Ideal for carrying lots of gear, the pack boasts a pocket designed specifically for protecting your customers’ spotting scope. In addition to the scope pocket, the pack sports two easy-access pockets on the waist belt, a large main compartment, a side pocket, internal pockets and a pair of wind pockets. If their scouting mission still calls for more room, there are side compression straps to attach even more gear.
Mystery Ranch Divide
Long on organization, the tri-fold design of Mystery Ranch’s (406-585-1428) Divide ($250) make this pack ideal for backcountry bowhunters on the move. Two vertical side-accessed torpedo pockets offer quick access to larger items like a spotting scope, and top and bottom compression flaps with stretch gussets allow the user to completely secure the load. The Divide also boasts multiple internal pockets for organizing smaller necessities.
Tenzing TZ 3000
Tenzing’s (800-226-9868) TZ 3000 Big Game Hunting Pack ($310) gives the stay-for-a-few-days scouter 3,100 cubic inches of total storage space, is equipped with nine specialized pockets and, like a snake unhinging its jaws, has the ability to open up away from the frame to take on a much larger load. The TZ3000 weighs 6.8 pounds, is H20 compatible and comes with a foldout rain cover.
Available in Badlands’ (801-256-1875) new Approach pattern, the SuperDay ($200) is a great scouting/hunting pack option. Weighing 3 pounds, 15 ounces, the 1,950 cubic-inch pack showcases molded foam suspension, which means it conforms perfectly to the human body. Five external straps allow it to haul even more gear.
Nikon EDG 8×42
Nikon’s (800-645-6687) EDG 8×42 binos ($2,400) are a great option. Featuring legendary ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass lenses, these optics deliver superior sharpness and color correction for amazing detail resolution. The Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coating provides almost the same brightness perceived by the naked eye, as well as clear, high-contrast images that display accurate color reproduction even in low light. Those who spend hours behind the glass will also appreciate the new ergonomic construction.
Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD Binoculars
Built for picking out distant, hidden big game, Leupold’s (800-538-7653) BX-5 Santiam HD ($1,819) binos showcase a large, forgiving eyebox designed to make those extended glassing sessions headache free and comfortable. Extra-low dispersion HD lenses and the Twilight Max Light Management System combine to give your customers the most vibrant, crisp image possible. The binos come with a binocular tray tripod adapter, go-afield shoulder strap, go-afield binocular case, lens covers and lens cloth.
Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 20-60x 65mm
An economical spotting scope that promises great quality, Bushnell’s (800-423-3537) Trophy Extreme 20-60x 65mm ($300) features an easy-to-adjust sun shade with built-in objective cover to protect the unit’s 65 mm objective. Premium fully multi-coated optics and a porro-prism design will lead your customers to hours of enjoyable, highly effective glassing. The scope comes with a premium waterproof hard-sided case, a compact soft-sided case and a compact tripod with window mount.
Vortex Optics Summit SS-P Tripod
Featuring a 3-Way Pan Head design, the Summit SS-P Tripod ($130) from Vortex (800-426-0048) is an ideal combination of size, weight, durability and, perhaps most importantly, price. Perfect for attaching to a back, this quick-to-set-up tripod extends from 6.3 to 54 1⁄2 inches and weighs a mere 4 1/2 pounds.
Big & J BB2
When it’s legal to place an attractant, nothing will help your customers get a better inventory of the game living in their hunting area than BB2 Granular ($35/40-pound bag) from Big & J Long Range Attractants (866-210-7781). With a powerful aroma — the result of a proprietary refining process — BB2 draws deer and other big game from miles around. Once it draws them in, a TDN (total digestible nutrition) level higher than most all other premium feeds keeps them coming back.
Napier Outdoors Backroadz SUV Tent
Designed to wrap around the cargo area of your vehicle, Napier Outdoors’ (800-567-2434) Backroadz SUV Tent Model 13100 ($250) provides maximum comfort on any scouting sojourn. The patented removable sleeves fit around hundreds of SUVs, CUVs and minivans. This durable tent comes with a partial tape-seamed rainfly to keep you dry in inclement weather. The tent is spacious, measuring 9 x 9, and it offers 7 feet of headroom and sleeping space for up to five adults. It’s a perfect product for a scouting venture.
Featured photo: John Hafner Photography