We knew that there was a gap in our product line and that a synthetic base-layer was needed. Therefore, we recently introduced the Phantom QZ. The THLETE Phantom Quarter Zip is a midweight synthetic layer that is well suited for most fall excursions. Weighing in at 290gsm, the fabric is not to light and not too heavy, offering a robust middle-weight garment that allows high durability and heat retention.
Synthetics serve an essential role in outdoor apparel; they fill a gap and perform differently than apparel made from natural fiber. Synthetic fabrics derive from man-made textiles whereas merino and other natural fibers come from animals. Though very different in composure, both should have a place in your apparel setup. Synthetics, such as polyester, nylon, and spandex, are very breathable and outperform natural fibers in moisture wicking capability, which means that they also dry very quickly. Synthetics also tend to be very durable and can withstand substantial pressure without tear or puncture. Many outdoorsmen prefer synthetics for high exertion, warmer climate hunts due to its comfort, moisture wicking, and durability.
THLETE Phantom QZ – DEADFALL
The THLETE Phantom Quarter Zip is a synthetic layer with a high heat to weight ratio. This versatile piece of gear offers warmth and maximum moisture control in a mid-weight design. Form fitting sleeves allow for maximum string clearance when shooting a bow. The Phantom is abrasion resistant and the quarter zip allows you to keep warm and also dump heat when on the move. We added a gray accented chest pocket for additional storage and versatility. As a base layer, the Phantom will become your go-to shirt for everyday field wear.
With hunting seasons wrapping up across the Midwest, now is a good time to look back and reflect. I have never had a bad season, but this past year was one of the toughest I have faced as a whitetail hunter. A lack of mature buck sightings during daylight hours led to an overall mad scramble to locate a buck that I felt worthy of sliding an arrow through. All said and done, the 2017 season brought highs and lows, but above all else, I learned a heck of a lot about whitetail deer. I ran more cameras on more properties than I ever have in the past to up the odds of gaining deeper insight towards mature buck movement. I studied moon phases, temperature and wind directions and applied them to trail cam photos to decipher any correlation between environmental circumstances and big deer movement (which I will document in a later article). Today though, I want to pay homage to a buck that got the best of me, a buck I hunted and inevitably did not kill. He is not the biggest buck I have pursued, but he is a buck that I have a history with. This particular buck is a mainframe 8 with a distinguishable split on his right G2 which he has carried for the past two seasons. Prior to this year, he had a pass, but once his velvet shed in the early fall of 2017, he rose to the top of the list; albeit a short list at that.
Like most of you, I try not to get overly excited about summer bucks. During July and August, they are fun to watch as they casually feed in hay fields, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings; but in the back of our minds, we know that the odds of them sticking around through fall are 50/50.
As September rolled around, I thought I might actually get a chance to kill the G2 buck. He was occasionally slipping up on the way back to his bedding area each morning and being that our property is virtually unpressured for the majority of the year, I thought that he might give me a window to kill him. Throughout the first two weeks of September, my hopes grew each day as the calendar ticked down to opener on 9/16. I mapped his entry and exit routes, wind preference and travel times like a CSI timber detective. The last photograph that I had of G2 was on 9/13, three days before the opener and 20 minutes before the close of legal shooting! I was ready to move in and kill him, or so I thought. I waited until the time was right and all the conditions were in my favor. I set up where I thought he would be, and honestly, I felt I had a descent chance to kill him during the first week of the season. Long story short, I never saw him a single time, he vanished. My flaw was refusing to acknowledge that like so many mature bucks, he would migrate to his breeding ground, and that is just what he did. The G2 buck packed up shop, and I had no way to track him down.
The rolling hills and farmland of central Wisconsin have the potential to grow some BIG bucks. For the majority of the year, the woods are untouched by human intrusion and the deer roam casually without much caution. However, as hunting seasons commence, that quickly changes and travel habits are abruptly altered. I am a firm believer in low intrusion hunting, hunting the edges and not pushing deep into the timber unless circumstances are utterly ideal, and that is how I both scouted and hunted the G2 buck. That being said, the G2 buck had other plans.
Throughout the summer and fall, I ran eight cameras on 160 acres and had a general idea of which bucks were regulars and which were on the fringes of their home turf. I hunted that property hard through October, November and into the early days of December. With each sit, I hoped that the G2 buck would meander through his summer range looking for a hot doe, it never happened; not a single sighting or photo. Gun season in central Wisconsin often bears a resemblance to a national holiday, landscapes that sit undisturbed all year become speckled with blaze orange bibs and parkas. Although the season is brief, the hunting pressure is often overwhelming on the deer heard and I knew that the likelihood of G2 surviving firearms season was sparse. I officially hung up my hopes of laying eyes on him once muzzleloader season concluded, I had little faith that he had survived.
On a bitter cold late December evening, I made the 90-minute drive to check one of the few remaining cameras that I had left hung adjacent to a standing corn field. As I scrolled through the pictures, there was not a whole lot to get excited over; a couple of 8’s, a decent 9 that I opted to let walk, and a lot of up and comers. I had already succumbed to the fact that the likelihood of a shooter showing up was slim, and with each picture, my hopes sank a bit more. And then, on December 27th, there he was; one blurry picture of the G2 buck. He had not only survived the onslaught that is Wisconsin deer season, but he had returned home. A smile slowly rolled across my face, right then and there I felt humbled. I had doubted his sense to elude hunters and survive firearm season in a high-pressure area. I had not given him the benefit of the doubt; I had written him off and looking back, I should have known better. By telling myself he was dead, I was preparing for the worst.
I learned a lot this past season, but the lesson highlighted above is the one that stands out above all others. A mature whitetail is a seasoned survivor and has all the tools necessary to elude predators in some of the most unlikely terrain. Where bucks go and why is not determined by chance, they are artists of elusion, big bucks are survivors. Although there were still two weeks of season remaining, I opted not to hunt G2. I knew I had been bested and he had earned the right to forgo the remainder of the season unpressured. On top of that, with the abundance of standing crop on our farm, he will likely live to see the fall of 2018. With a little luck and a lot more hard work, on a cool September evening when conditions are just right, we just might cross paths, and the saga of the G2 buck will come to a timely end.
Innovation drives all industries. In a sport like archery, which has gradually evolved from a method of survival into a leisure activity, innovation drives the question of how much technology is enough? Isn’t archery supposed to be a primitive sport, isn’t it supposed to be challenging? A slow evolution has become in essence a race to modernize what is at heart, a very difficult activity; much of the evolution in the last 20 years. Equipment that was groundbreaking in the sport of archery a mere decade ago is now considered outdated. Most innovative products solve a problem, they simplify a complex design or concept; a company known more for GPS mapping is trying to do just that. Garmin is looking to forever change the game.
I have attended the ATA show many times and have to admit that most years there is not all that much to write home about along the lines of truly innovative gear. Last year, Scent Crusher made the biggest splash with ozone infused storage systems, but I would not classify them as groundbreaking. To me, a product has to have a legitimate impact on the way that we hunt to garner that title. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to the show each year, any archery nut would not pass an opportunity to get a first look at gear before it hits the market, but revolutionary products are indeed rare. This years ATA show is set to have at least one product that will turn heads and undoubtedly garner a lot of attention. If one booth is going to have retailers standing ten deep, my prediction is that it will be Garmin. A hunting buddy of mine sent a text early this morning detailing the press release of Garmin’s new archery sight that is set for its big reveal at the 2018 ATA show in Indianapolis. Garmin is not a sight company or even an archery company for that matter, so the Xero is a product that will be charting new waters for them and also be challenging the concept of the traditional fixed pin archery sight.
The Xero simplifies the ranging of game animals by taking one step out of the ranging process. Until now, the archer was forced to first range the distance with a handheld rangefinder before drawing to shoot. The Garmin Xero eliminates that step by allowing the shooter to range the distance of the shot while at full draw. With immediate ranging at your fingertips, the shooter will no longer have to worry about re-ranging a game animal as it moves. Any archer knows the value of this; the reduction in movement and time could potentially allow for increased shot success. Garmin is attempting to streamline that very process with the Xero A1 and A1i. A single trigger button that attaches to the grip of the bow allows the archer to range the distance of a target at both rest or full draw. On top of that, once calibrated, the Xero easily calculates angles and the calculated shot distance out to 100 yards. Once the button is pressed, an LED pin-light appears in the site housing eliminating any additional ranging guesswork. Like all Garmin products, additional technology was crammed into the Xero including a shot odometer, point of impact for arrow recovery, arrow profiles and shot dynamics. The first thing I thought of when I took a closer look at the Xero’s specs was a Garmin golf watch that I received as a gift a few years back. With features like distance to the pin, golfer profile and shot counter, the wristwatch was sure to improve my game. To date, I have used that watch precisely one time. Reason being the idea of simplifying my golf game with a watch designed to take the guesswork out of ranging felt unnatural; I found myself relying more on technology than I did my brain.
All said and done; we have come a long way from the cedar shaft arrow and the recurve bow. I am sure that there were a lot of turned up noses when aluminum was introduced, needless to say, carbon. Lighted bow pins, trail cams and increased let-offs; expandable heads and lighted nocks, there have been many significant advancements over the years. And what about the bow itself? My father picked up my compound bow a few years back and chuckled, his perception of my Elite Impulse and the array of expensive accessories hanging off of it, “this is almost cheating,” he mumbled. Coming from a guy who still has his XI Legend Magnum with Easton XX75 aluminum shaft arrows (which he has often compared to broomsticks) hanging from a dusty set of mule deer antlers in the garage. “Finger tabs, Zwickey, Easton…what happened!?”
I am not taking sides on the modernization of archery because I find technology an integral part of the industry, I am simply posing a question. As long as there is room for advancement, the industry will move forward. I guess what it comes down to is how far we are willing to go to pursue innovation. How far is too far for you? Bottom line, as long as state law does not ban the Xero (some of which already do), it is an individual choice of where to put the cap on the amount of technology used in your setup. I am for anything that will, in essence, create better hunters and cleaner kills but I am still on the fence over where the Xero will land. For the ridiculously low price of only $799 (A1) or $999 (A1i), it’s all yours. But come to think of it, the $340 CBE Tek Hybrid and $400 Sig Rangefinder sitting on my archery table beside me cost just as much, so who am I to judge? Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the Xero at all, in fact, I would love to test one out. However, the concept of the sight poses the question of when does innovation surpass the definition of what archery’s core fundamental value is, the concept of a primitive weapon sport. I have to set my bar somewhere as well, but for now, I am excited to get my hands on the Xero for further analysis of its relative “fit” into the archery world.
Now, for the first time, I can see bowhunting from my father’s eyes. I will inevitably come across a young man at the archery range, touting all the latest and greatest gadgets that are hanging off his bow, and when he hands it to me, under my breath, I will say “this is almost cheating.”
Initially, we anticipated that merino would outsell alpaca due the consumers familiararity of its characteristics, we were wrong. To date, our top selling baselayer remains the Alpaca Hybrid. We opted to introduce a quarter zip version in Sage after a lot of you wrote in looking for something other than the standard crew neck. Take a look at the specs below:
Specs: – 70% Baby Alpaca/30% Merino Construction – 220g Alpaca/Merino combo
– Warmer and lighter than traditional wool
– Greater odor dispersal than wool – Hollow alpaca fiber promotes Superior wicking
– Faster dry time than Merino – Less itch than Sheep’s wool
– Naturally odor resistant – Form fit, Interlock knit
– Machine washable Made in Benson, MN USA
The Alpaca Hybrid is a unique base layer that offers attributes that exceed the warmth and comfort of merino. When it comes to hunting in cold temperatures, there are few fabrics that can match Alpaca. Alpaca is incredibly warm and dries much faster than merino and on top of that, it is very comfortable and soft to the touch. If you are looking to try something new, check out the THLETE Alpaca Hybrid.
We as hunters do our best to stay in tune with our deer herd. We know when the population rises and we can easily distinguish when the population is down. We are managers; we manage our hunting property to better accommodate and grow healthy deer and offer the best cover and food to promote good health and survival. But inevitably, despite our efforts, many fawns will die before weaning age and there is a myriad of influences that can lead to their demise. Malnutrition, disease, predation, parasites, starvation and stillbirth are just a few of the contributing factors that can lead to a mortality rate as high as 90% among fawns. While most of the influences are out of our hands, there is one that we can control. We as land managers cannot dictate the weather and disease, but we can manage predators and the impact that they have on whitetails. In this post, we will take a closer look at fawn mortality rates and predator control.
A study was recently released from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources unveiling data from the first of a four-year survey of collared whitetail fawns. Researchers collared a total of 90 fawns, 45 male and 45 female during the spring of 2017 to better understand the contributing causes of fawn mortality and population fluctuations. The collared fawns were monitored each day through the end of August, during September the monitoring was reduced to once a week. If a collar was remotely checked and the fawn had not moved in 4 hours, researchers would enter the area immediately to determine the cause of death by obtaining site data and DNA swabs. The key to the study was speed. If a fawn died, getting to the scene before predators discovered the carcass was imperative to determining the cause of death before the site was contaminated. Through the end of September, 32 of the 90 fawns did not survive. Of the 32 deaths, eight were determined a mystery. The top distinguishable cause of death was predation which accounted for 16 of the 32 deaths. Aside from predation, three fawns died of starvation, another three from disease/injury, one from a domestic dog and one was accidentally killed by farm equipment. Of the eight “no data” fatalities, it is assumed that predation played a role in some of those deaths as well.
Weather conditions are a significant variable in mortality rates from one year to the next. The above study was conducted in southwest Wisconsin and also followed a relatively mild winter which means that malnutrition and starvation statistics were below average. The severity of winter conditions fluctuates considerably, in the great plains and far north fawn mortality rates related to weather conditions can easily overshadow predation during an unusually harsh winter. It has been documented that harsh winters in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin can account for very high death tolls among fawns, as high as 71%.
What the study accurately portrays is how predation can affect whitetail populations. We can ascertain that a minimum of 20% of fawn mortalities can be linked to coyotes and Bobcats. That number is actually on the low end according to many researchers who believe predation realistically accounts for a minimum of 40% of fawn mortalities. Another variable that should be mentioned is how data was collected and the method of collaring. Most fawns are not collared until they are at least one week old. It is widely believed that the majority of fawns that succumb to predation fall in the first week of life which could dramatically alter the research data.
Fawn studies have become increasingly popular in the past decade and more studies are being conducted each year across the country to distinguish the direct impact that predation has on the whitetail population in a given area. Coyotes remain to be the top predator, but there are a few others that do play a role. It was previously believed that black bears killed a significant number of fawns, but studies have revealed that bears do not actually seek out fawns like coyotes, bears are more opportunistic and will kill a fawn if given a chance, but do not necessarily hunt them. It is believed that in areas with high black bear populations that up to 10% of fawn mortality can be attributed to bear kills. Bobcats seem to thrive in the regions that receive heavy snowfalls. Areas such as Northern Michigan have reported that Bobcats do just as much damage as coyotes, but this is not typical on a broader scale.
Bottom line, coyotes take a lot of fawns in the first few weeks after birth. A new scientific study that allows researchers to collar fawns immediately after birth is currently underway but until more data is collected, we will not know the exact impact that predation has on whitetail fawns. There are a lot of influences that we cannot control, but we as hunters have the ability to control the impact that predation has in our area. Most states have very liberal coyote seasons which remain open all year long allowing for continuous predator management. There has not been enough testing implemented, but informal studies have shown that if coyote populations are dramatically reduced, fawn survival rates can double.
Sounds simple right, head out in January and do a little coyote population control? While predator control will have an immediate impact, it needs to be followed up each year to be successful. Reason being that coyote populations have the capability to fluctuate considerably and if the population is reduced by hunters, a female will likely have a larger litter in the spring to rebalance the population; where two or three pups are the norm, a female may have upwards of 8 to 10. So, with that being said, you can accidentally create a boom in the coyote population if you do not implement predator control each year. It is a long-term management approach, not a one-year solution. Kip Adams, a biologist with QDMA, is confident that a minimum of 75% of the coyotes must be removed each year to see positive results.
As a land manager, it is up to you to determine which approach best fits your hunting grounds. Unfortunately, the future is already set. Coyotes are here to stay and without rigorous management, they are very difficult to keep in check. If you have the resources and time to manage your coyote population, it can be a great way to ensure fawn survival. However, if you are looking to leisurely pop a few coyotes for pelts, you may be inadvertently causing a minor boom in the coyote population the following spring.
We are looking for skilled outdoorsman to enlighten the hunting world with tales and tactics from the whitetail woods. The door is wide open along the lines of article content as long as it is original and applies to hunting. We are not looking for the next Hemmingway, just some insight from our customer base.
Share your stories, tips, and tactics to win free gear. A few subjects to get the ball rolling:
-Tips from your hunting experiences
-Stories of hunting a particular animal or memorable season
-Your insight/outlook on hunting and the industry
-Tactics to become a better hunter
-What you love about our sport
Tip: If you have pictures that apply, send them with the article.
What’s in it for you? Good question. If we publish your article on the THLETE blog, you will automatically receive a free THLETE Guide Hat. All submissions will automatically receive a one-time promo code for 20% off an order. If you blow us away with your writing style and hunting insight, we may contact you to discuss becoming a contributing writer, in turn, you will receive free gear upgrades in exchange for your content.
You get the idea; if you find it interesting, we want to hear about it! You will be given full credit for your insight and the article will be posted on the THLETE Blog. If you are interested, feel free to contact me at email@example.com for more info, or you can submit an article for immediate review. Correct spelling and grammar are a bonus but are not mandatory for article submission. We will proofread all submissions before publication on the THLETE Blog.
Today’s post is not about hunting camo or even outdoor gear for that matter; instead, it is about comfort. When it’s cold and miserable outside, there is one product that is a true luxury and believe it or not, it’s affordable. Scrape the change from under your car seat and cup holders, march into a Walgreen’s, Target or CVS and pick yourself up a pack of ThermaCare Heat Wraps. Initially, this ingenious product was designed for pain relief, but when applied to cold weather hunting conditions, the benefit of this simple product far exceeds curing a backache.
ThermaCare wraps pump out a substantial amount of heat and when placed over the vitals they will keep you quite comfortable when the temps dip below freezing. Heat increases blood flow and therefore stimulates core warmth. At $3 per wrap, there is not a less expensive alternative to maintain a proper core body temp for extended periods of time, up to 14 hours in my experience. On extreme cold weather hunts, the neck/shoulder version is a great option as an add-on to the lower back wrap. Using both wraps simultaneously increases blood flow throughout the entire body. It should be noted that this product is not reusable, when the heat cells run out, toss the wrap in the garbage.
Back Heat: $3.50 for 1, $9 for 3
Neck Heat: $3.25 for 1. $7.49 for 3
There you have it, a simple trick to staying warm on late season hunts. I tend to stock-pile ThermaCare wraps like an autumn squirrel stocking acorns knowing that once the temps plummet, I will go through them quickly. Give ThermaCare heat wraps a try and you will not be disappointed. $3 for a full day of comfort in cold weather is well worth the cost.
All too often, late season hunts are cut short due to foul weather. Cold December temps cause shivering and excess movement, a major no-no on late season hunts. By adding an insulation layer to your arsenal, you can combat the effects that cold weather has on your body and stay in the field longer.
A quality insulation layer is essential for late season hunting for a few reasons; most importantly, because it is very warm. The air that is trapped inside the insulation filaments is heated by your body and creates a buffer between you and the elements leading to greater thermal capacity; the loftier the filaments, the higher the thermal capacity. Second, most quality insulation layers are not air permeable meaning that wind will not penetrate the fabric and pull heat away from your body. Third, they are lightweight and easy to stuff in a pack. The Tailwind Puffy utilizes a Toray polyester face and Primaloft Gold fill which is regarded as premium synthetic insulation. Quality components and USA manufacturing combine to create a top-tier hunting shell that is perfect for cold weather hunting scenarios. Our premier insulation jacket, the Tailwind, keeps you warmer and more comfortable in the field.
Tailwind Specs: 42g Polyester Rip Stop Shell
Primaloft Gold 133g Insulation (Body)
Primaloft Gold 100g Insulation (Sleeves)
Very high warmth to weight ratio
YKK Coil Conceal Zippers
We recently received our second shipment of Tailwind Puffy Jackets and need to move some before the end of the season. We are offering the Tailwind at $119.95 ($70 off) through Thursday 11/30.
The 2017 season is quickly coming to an end; we would like to thank all of you that supported our limited inventory brand launch in this year. We had a great response and received a lot of valuable feedback which allows us to improve our product line as we move forward into 2018. This week, we are offering the Basecamp at 20% off to all of our customers, followers and Facebook fans. The Basecamp Crew was our top selling item in 2017 and now is an excellent time to save a few bucks on our USA made merino baselayer. Check out the specs below:
PROMO CODE: Basecamp20
The Basecamp Crew is a mid-weight 100% merino that is designed for the active hunter. The crew neck design is cut to be very comfortable when worn under other garments. Merino wool is also an odor-resistant fiber meaning that you can wear the garment for long periods of time and have minimal odor saturation. The Basecamp 260 Crew is an excellent weight for everyday wear.
Specs: 100% New Zealand Merino
Shoulder panels eliminate seams for added comfort
Warm when wet
Naturally odor resistant
TMC New Zealand Merino
100% designed, stitched, and made in Benson, MN USA.
Again, we thank all of you that supported our brand this past season and we look forward to advancing our camo brand to offer top-notch apparel and gear. We anticipate a full inventory launch by March of 2018 and will update you as more apparel arrives from our various manufacturing facilities. Happy Holidays.