Twenty years drags like a lead-filled wheelbarrow for youngsters looking to the future and seems to fly by for those of us with jobs, mortgages and life in general.
By Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor
So when I stumbled across the 1992 “Deer Hunters Equipment Annual” produced by Deer & Deer Hunting a few weeks ago at our home office in Wisconsin, the discovery didn’t come without a bit of laughter and nostalgia. The magazine comes out in mid-summer and highlights the new firearms, ammunition, apparel and accessories introduced at the annual winter Archery Trade Association and Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade shows held in January.
The 192-page edition had a cover price of $2.95, a bargain for the slammed-full pages featuring just about everything any hunter could think about. The cover was a nice scene-setting photo that included a red-black check wool shirt, leather boots, a lever-action rifle, muzzleloader, two modern scoped rifles, a rocking chair, tanned deer hide, recurve bow and a compound that would make today’s string-pullers giggle and shake their heads.
Among the authors with stories in the ’92 annual were Jim Casada, Dave Henderson, Laurie Lee Dovey, Kent Horner, Richard P. Smith, Charles Alsheimer, Bryce Towsley and Peter Schoonmaker. Horner, like me, was a fellow Alabamian who regularly contributed stories for me in my former life as a newspaper outdoors editor. Fine folks, all of them, and regulars among the outdoor magazine mastheads.
Another veteran scribe, Nick Sisley, began his story about new firearms thusly: “I don’t need another rifle for hunting white-tailed deer.” I laughed, because how many of us have uttered those same words? Quite a few, yet we still take a gander at the latest bullet-flinger that hits the market and, often, have an itch to try something new.
One thing that stood out was how, to our advantage, technology has increased in the last 20 years. Not to say that traditional bows or flintlocks don’t work. They do. The old .30-30 lever action your father hunted with still kills deer. But for those who enjoy and appreciate today’s technological improvements, faster bows or bullets, warmer clothing and top-line accessories, the available options to choose from are fun to use.
Here’s a quick rundown of a few things that caught my eye in the ’92 annual. Some are gone, some are still around.
— Trebark, Tru-Leaf, ASAT, Skyline, Realtree and Mossy Oak camo patterns. The latter two have run through multiple designs. ASAT still offers the same pattern loved by many hunters. Realtree and Mossy Oak were still infants, so to speak, with Mossy Oak touting its beloved Bottomland and Realtree with its “new” All-Purpose. The Realtree advertisement featured a guy wearing a cap that must have been six inches tall … he could have hidden squirrels under it for warmth.
— The “new” Mathews SoloCam compound bow, which changed the industry, and the tiny-wheeled Darton Viper. My, how things have changed.
— Easton XX78 SuperSlam aluminum arrows with the new UNI nock-bushing system. Anyone still using aluminum arrows?
— Ranging Rangefinders, giving hunters the chance to “use a rangefinder before game shows up to correctly measure distances and landmarks.”
— A photo with the story “The Modern Arrow Nock to Broadhead” features a hunter with a nocked arrow that looks like it’s three feet long. Was that a bow or a spear launcher?
— Muzzy was introducing its 3-blade broadhead with the Trocar tip, while Satellite’s new Titan 100, 145 and Express broadheads joined the 125-grain offering. Both were highly regarded by bowhunters.
— Wildlife Research featured its Ultimate Scrape-Dripper, which looks the same today. Hard to argue with success, eh?
— Connecticut Valley Arms featured the .50 caliber Apollo Sporter for $255 and Hawken caplock rifle for $250. Knight Rifles, then located in Centerville, Iowa, and founded by Tony Knight, proclaimed the virtues of its Green Mountain Barrel and dual safety on its new BK-92 inline.
— Thompson/Center gave muzzleloader hunters the 3-piece Break-O-Way sabot, with a felt donut pre-lubed with Bore Butter on the bottom of its bullet encased by a split sabot. The sabot and lubed felt would break away after leaving the muzzle like pieces of a rocket’s spent fuel tanks as it shot into orbit.
— Trail cameras were making inroads at the time, too. The Cam-Trakker 9000XG Series was a stout $375 while the Trail Master Infrared Trail Monitor was more moderately priced at $195. Others included the Trail Timer “Plus” and Deer Finder Game Monitor. Anyone want to trade in their Cuddeback, PlotWatcher or Moultrie camera for one of these oldies?
One final thing I saw that made me cringe was the Easy-Up Climbing Belt, which basically was an upgraded lineman’s belt for climbing trees. No harness. No security ropes or anything. Just the thought of wearing a belt like that and falling, hanging upside down and suspended, and the number of hunters who used them but did get home safely … wow.
At the time it was the safe thing; at least it was something, right? But looking back, I’m definitely glad we have the safety harnesses, Prussic knots, dual safety lines and other great features of today’s safety harness systems for hunters to use. Buy a harness and wear it when you climb.
Do you remember any of these products or did you use them? Tell us below about your experiences with the old bows or trail cameras!