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The Field & Stream Best of the Best awards program is designed to find and honor the absolute best new and innovative products in hunting and fishing each year. In this, the program’s 14th year, we will announce the winners in the Hunting categories in the September 2012 issue.

Below are the categories for the Hunting divisions. The rules for qualifying, details of the judging process, and a list of category judges are included.

If you plan to submit an item or items for Best of the Best consideration, please check the rules carefully and make sure that you are entering the correct category or categories. Remember, we are looking for new and innovative products and not variations on old ones. If you have questions, please contact us at

There are 11 categories in the Hunting division.

All-Terrain Vehicles ATVs and similar vehicles for outdoor recreation only (no racing), ATV accessories

Ammunition Bullets, cartridges, shotshells, slugs, black powder, and muzzleloading projectiles

Boots Footwear for hunting, shooting

Bowhunting Bows (compounds, crossbows, longbows, recurves), arrows, broadheads, releases, other directly related items (blunt points, etc.)

Clothing Hunting outerwear–including cold- and warm-weather clothing, rain gear, hats, gloves, vests for hunting, base layers

Firearms Hunting handguns, muzzleloaders, rifles, shotguns

Knives Fixed blades, folders, multitools, for hunting

Miscellaneous Products that don’t fit within the other hunting categories, that straddle two categories, or that impact a number of areas. Examples: boats for hunting, hunting packs, outdoor cooking apparatus, shooting glasses, targets, tents, tools, tree stands

Optics Binoculars, monoculars, rangefinders, riflescopes, shotgun scopes, spotting scopes Technology GPS units, mapping software, trail cameras, walkie-talkies, flashlights and headlamps, lanterns, related electronics

Trucks Pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, appropriate accessories.
There are 10 categories in the Fishing division.
Deadline for submission is September 1, 2012.

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting Rods

Spinning Reels

Spinning Rods

Electronics (depthfinders, flashlights, GPS units, etc.)

Fly-fishing Gear (fly rods, fly reels, fly line, fly vests, accessories)

Outerwear (waders, rain jackets, etc.) / Soft Goods



General Accessories (tackle boxes, tools, vests, sunglasses, etc.)

1. Products and Technologies
The product or technology in Hunting division categories must be in stores and/or consumer catalogs, or have been announced, with a firm on-sale date, and that announcement or introduction must fall between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, to qualify for the 2012 Best of the Best Awards in Hunting.

Products need not be sold in the United States. A product can be submitted for an underlying technology, such as an innovative braking system in an all-terrain vehicle, or a new trigger design in a rifle.

Products or technology in fishing fields must debut or be announced between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012 to be considered for the 2013 Best of the Best Awards. In addition, the products must also be available for editorial evaluation at the time of submission.

2. Entry Forms Product or technology must be entered by filling out and submitting the entry form on Applications for Hunting categories must be submitted between January 1 and March 15, 2012.

3. Product Submission All products will be tested by members of our editorial staff. Please supply information with your application about how we can obtain the product for testing.

The Best of the Best judging process is overseen by Deputy Editor Slaton White. For each product category, a Field & Stream editor will lead a panel of judges–veteran contributors who are experts in their fields.

We will consider every product entered, though judges may also consider products that have not been formally entered. The judges will winnow the entries to produce a list of candidates for each category. From this list, we will choose one Best of the Best Award winner in each group. The total number of winners in each category is based on merit and may change. Judging is final and confidential. There is no connection between advertising in the magazine or website and these awards.

Among the judging criteria are: the significance of the innovation; the quality of the design and the finished product; the originality of thought; and the ambition and scope of the project. These criteria will vary in accordance with the category. Complete entry forms are important in helping the judges understand the strategy and intent behind the development of the new product. Field & Stream will announce the winners in the Hunting division in the September 2012 issue as well as on the website.

Winners will be required to sign a release form.

Lead Judge: Slaton White, Deputy Editor, Field & Stream

Category Chiefs:
All-Terrain Vehicles: Lance Schwartz, Contributor

Ammunition: David E. Petzal, Field Editor; Philip Bourjaily, Field Editor

Blackpowder: Brad Fenson, contributor

Boots: Slaton White, Deputy Editor

Bowhunting: Scott Bestul, Contributing Editor

Clothing: Keith McCafferty, Field Editor

Firearms: David E. Petzal, Field Editor; Philip Bourjaily, Field Editor

Knives: David E. Petzal, Field Editor

Miscellaneous: Slaton White, Deputy Editor

Optics: Thomas McIntyre, Contributing Editor

Technology: Slaton White, Deputy Editor

Trucks: Slaton L. White, Deputy Editor

Baitcating Reels: John Merwin, Editor-at-Large

Baitcasting Rods: John Merwin, Editor-at-Large

Spinning Reels: John Merwin, Editor-at-Large

Spinning Rods: John Merwin, Editor-at-Large

Electronics: (depthfinders, flashlights, GPS units, etc.), John Merwin, Editor-at-Large

Fly-fishing Gear: (fly rods, fly reels, line, accessories), Ted Leeson, Contributing Editor

Outerwear (waders, rain jackets, etc.): Ted Leeson, Contributing Editor

Lures: Joe Cermele, Fishing Editor

Lines: Joe Cermele, Fishing Editor

General Accessories (tackle boxes, tools, vests, sunglasses, etc.): Joe Cermele, Fishing Editor