Gear check: New gadgets for archery season

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Archery season is underway in Montana for deer and elk, and it’s hard to argue that any pursuit is more specialized when it comes to gear.

Bows, arrows, broadheads, calls, attractants, cover scents, decoys, scent-reduction products, blinds, camo clothing, range finders — well, the array is dizzying for those new to the sport.

For longtime hunter Bill Archie, who is in charge of the gun and hunting departments at Snappy Sport Senter in Evergreen, he recently talked about what types of gear are most popular with bowhunters.

“We’ve seen a strong increase over the last five years or so in scent killers,” Archie said. “Bowhunters need to be within 40 yards or less and at the distance, elk and deer’s noses are able to smell the garlic on a sausage sandwich from three weeks ago from your jacket.”

Archie said there are a huge number of cover scents and attractants available, whether a hunter is chasing deer or elk.

Cover scents are meant to mimic the hunter’s environment, while food- or urine-based attractants draw an animal in.

Game bags are a critical part of any hunter’s pack once they get an animal on the ground.

“The temperature is by far the biggest thing you are dealing with once you get an animal down. Warm weather can spoil meat quickly,” Archie said.

There are new microbial bags that Archie said breathe much better than traditional bags and don’t allow insects inside.

Archie said personal protection has become a favorite of bowhunters.

“There have been hunters that have bagged a deer or elk and while they are dressing it, been approached by predators, so the chest holster has become pretty popular,” Archie said. “Research seems to say bear spray is more effective, but it’s generally a personal choice.”

Blinds and even decoys are something that seem to be catching on with bowhunters.

“If you are hunting on private property, then using them can be effective, particularly if you have patterned the animals,” Archie said. “Blinds allow a certain amount of movement that you can’t always get away with it if you are sitting on a log or stump.”

Decoys are being made that don’t weigh much and fold up to easily fit into a pack, vest or jacket.

Calls are another critical item.

Deer grunt tubes, doe bleat calls, rattling antlers, elk bugles and cow calls can be staples for many hunters.

Bow season started Sept. 1 for deer and elk hunters and will continue through Oct. 14.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker can be reached at (406) 758-4441 or

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