Archery openers and the excitement of the firearms seasons are months away, but Father’s Day is the perfect time to shop for the gear that can help your dad enjoy his best deer season ever. And, hey, if the special people in your life are as sick of buying you ties as you are of receiving them, point them to the list below, which contains eight products we’ve tested and come to love.

Canyon Coolers

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Just a few years back, I went on an out-of-state whitetail hunt with two buddies. While I tagged out on the second day, my partners had five days of hunting to enjoy. I butchered and caped my buck, but finding a place to store my meat was a challenge. My problem would have been solved with the Outfitter 125—a one-piece, roto-molded, super-insulated cooler that preserves ice up to three weeks. The spacious 30×20-inch interior easily holds two boned-out whitetails (or one elk) and stores neatly in a pickup bed.

It’s no secret that flagship bow prices are getting a little crazy. I didn’t know the MSRP on the Approach when I shot it at this year’s ATA show, but once I did, it made my “show highlight” list. The Approach features a 6-inch brace height, 75 percent let off, weighs 4 pounds, and at 340 fps IBO, it’s plenty quick. But perhaps the most important spec? The price tag on this pleasant-shooting bow is about 50 percent less than those hanging on most flagships.

Whitetail Institute

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If Dad is dipping his toe into the world of food plotting, this is the perfect entry product. The Whitetail Institute has been developing deer food longer than anyone, and they’ve assembled some of their most popular and successful seeds and blends in this starter kit. Six seed packets— enough to create a half-dozen 100 square-foot food plots—are included, as well as an instructional DVD that teaches a budding plotter everything he needs to know. Two 5-pound bags of deer-attracting mineral sweeten the deal.


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The Assassin was another ATA show-stopper for me—mainly because, while I’ve always admired the bulletproof simplicity of recurve crossbows, I hated cocking the things. Excalibur solved that problem with the Assassin by installing their Charger cranking system, which cocks (and decocks) the bow easily. There are plenty of other great features on the Assassin, including an adjustable Tru-Fit stock and a very nice two-stage trigger. Sure, wheeled crossbows are all the rage, but if something bad happens to one, you’re looking at a trip to a pro shop. If something bad happens (highly unlikely) to an Assassin, you can probably fix it yourself.

Outdoor Metrix

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Smartphones do everything else, so why shouldn’t they make us better deer hunters? This easy, intuitive app lets you mark stand locations, trail cam sites, and deer sign/sightings on aerial photos of your hunting properties. Then it does what would take weeks to figure out on your own: Outdoor Metrix will analyze your data by integrating as many factors as you choose (weather, moon phase, wind speed, etc.) to help you understand peak movement times, places, and conditions. Oh…and it will do the exact the same thing for your other hunting (and fishing) adventures.

Stealth Cam

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Stealth Cam has been around since the start of the cam-craze, and the G45NGX (yeah, I agree, they need a better name) is their latest model. With a 22- megapixel camera and 45 No-Glo transmitters, this cam sports an adjustable detection range and, most impressively, a ¼-second trigger speed. In my experience the quicker the trigger, the more, and better, pics and videos you get of bucks. For under two hundred Benjamins, this camera delivers the goods.

Big & J

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Where mineral licks are legal, there’s no better spot to get summertime pics of velvet bucks in your area. The problem with creating or freshening most licks is the burden of hauling a heavy bucket of material around to umpteen sites. Big & J solves that problem with Meltdown, which is packed with a concentrate activated by water. Pour some water in a sack of Meltdown and the bag heats up in your hand as the activation takes place. Then pour the stuff on your site and—bam!— you’ve got a lick that whitetails love, and can smell, from a long ways off.


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Sure there are a ton of blinds out there, but this one caught my attention because it’s roomy and tough. The Soft Side 360’s interior measures 6×6 feet, which means fitting two adults (or an adult and two kids) is a snap, and the combination of vertical and horizontal windows creates plenty of shooting opportunity. But my favorite feature is the powder-coated steel frame. I like leaving blinds out on elevated platforms, but I always worry about hard winds buckling the walls or blowing the whole thing away. That’s not going to happen with this blind, which is not only heavy-duty, but packed with features.