My Wyoming archery elk hunt was a weather adventure. The floods that ravished Colorado spilled into Wyoming and my week saw frequent downpours, wild lightning storms, and marble-sized hail. Each day began with an hour’s climb in the dark and ended with a weary descent. The first day featured two 10,000-foot jaunts covering more than six miles. The rugged elements were the perfect test track for a number of great products you may be considering right now. I took four sets of hunting clothes, two types of boots, several packs, and a host of other gear. Here’s what I learned:
Mission MXB-320: Almost any crossbow works well in a ground blind or a large tree stand, but what about climbing, hiking and sneaking through timber? As a mobile hunting bow, I give the Mission an A+. Weighing less than seven pounds, this bow is very mobile, maneuvered in and out of dark timber, and could be tucked comfortably behind my right shoulder. The Mission cocks in seconds with a standard cocking rope. Thanks to the elimination of the cocking stirrup, you get a much better mechanical advantage. Some reviews of this bow have questioned the lack of a stirrup, but you absolutely don’t need one. The bow has better balance, is shorter in tight spaces, and cocks easily. The bow performed consistently even in rainy, rugged conditions. It was cocked and discharged at least twice each day; each time, its accuracy was tested by using a quality foam discharge target. Still somewhat of a novelty in many archery camps, other archers shot the bow and often commented how quietly it released. “Cool,” was the most common first reaction.
As an experiment I used an Aimpoint Hunter H34, red-dot scope, sighting the bow in at 30 yards, so that it would be a few inches high at close range, dead on at 30, and six inches low at 40. Since elk hunting is such a high-intensity quest, having a single pin for multiple ranges allows a hunter to focus on an exact spot and eliminate the possibility of “pin confusion” by multiple reticles. Sportsmen transferring from rifle scopes to a crossbow can frequently find they have a tendency, at that moment of great excitement, to shoot the top reticle regardless of range.
The extensive and persistent rain drastically reduced the effectiveness of hunting near wallows and waterholes, a mainstay last year. I was scouting near one major watering area when a bull bugled violently on top of the mountains. Moments later he roared again, clearly closer. Instantly, I sat against a stout evergreen as the beast emerged from the timber 100 yards away, his heavy six-point rack shoved skyward. My heart pounded as he headed right for me, but turned suddenly and headed up the far side of the mountain. He just as easily could have stopped in front of me, allowing the Mission and AimPoint to do their work. Tomorrow: More great gear.