Dustin Huff didn’t know he was going to kill the world record crossbow whitetail deer, as well as one of the largest Boone & Crockett typicals of all time, when he headed to the Indiana timber last month. But Huff, an experienced hunter who’s been chasing whitetails since boyhood, was confident in his gear and clothing. While there is certainly nothing necessarily fancy or expensive in Huff’s hunting setup, the Hoosier State hunter relied on quality deer hunting products and knew how to use them well.
Obviously, having the best compound bow or rifle on the planet and being dressed in the right clothing is never going to be a guarantee of success. You need high-level hunting skills, plus a little luck, to tag that buck of your dreams. But let’s face it; when that buck of a lifetime is finally heading toward your stand, having good gear—and the experience to make it work—can spell the difference between tagging a trophy, or going home with a tale of woe. Dustin Huff was intimately familiar with his hunting equipment, and when one of the biggest bucks in the long history of whitetail hunting appeared in front of him, Huff was ready to make the most of his opportunity. Here’s a look at his setup.
Crossbow: Stryker Solution
Huff’s familiarity with his Stryker crossbow was an integral part of his success that day. In addition to delivering a rocket-fast bolt at 390 fps, the Solution package includes a multi-reticle scope that’s intuitive to set up and use. “I practice regularly and knew the approximate range to the buck,” he said. “All I had to do was hold the proper reticle on the buck’s vitals and just try not to shake too much.” The Stryker package includes five bolts, the multi-reticle scope, a quiver and a rope-cocking device.
Broadheads: Rage Trypan
Rage has enjoyed wild success with their line of expandable broadheads for many years, so it was little surprise when they developed a head designed specifically for crossbows. Huff used the Trypan, which features a hybrid tip based on their slim Hypodermic design to insure excellent flight from the fastest crossbows like the Stryker. Upon impact, the rear-deploying .039-thick stainless steel blades deliver a devastating 2-inch cutting diameter, and the machined stainless steel ferrule guarantees the toughness needed when the target is a mature, heavy-bodied whitetail. They did an amazing job on Huff’s buck, which expired within sight of his stand.
Hunting Boots: LaCrosse Alpha Burly Pro
LaCrosse has been an industry standard for boots for whitetail and turkey hunters for decades, the Alpha Burly Pro does double-duty: In addition to being a waterproof boot designed to handle creek crossings and dew-soaked grass, the Burly Pro keeps deer from smelling your scent trail as you enter and exit stands. Huff relies on Burly’s to do just the latter on his Indiana deer hunts, and credits the boots for not only good performance, but comfort. Burly Pros are built with a premium natural waterproof rubber that encases a layer of neoprene for insulation and comfort. The neoprene upper gusset insures a good fit along the calf, and aids in easy removal. Finally, the outsole features a terrain-gripping tread for stability and traction.
Scent Control: Scent Thief Spray
Russel Epperson was trying to develop a scent-control product that would help him become an even better trapper when he concocted a mixture that drastically reduced an animal’s ability to detect odor. “I have used Scent Thief for several years now and have been pleased with it,” Huff said. “I spray it on trees and brush near my stand, and did so the day I shot my buck.” According to material released by Scent Thief, the spray should be employed downwind of a stand or blind. When animals inhale Scent Thief, the odor produced by the product relaxes the epithelium layer inside their nose and prevents further, short-term scent detection.
Hunting Pants: Carhartt Rugged Flex Rigby Camo Dungarees
Long known for producing high-quality work clothing, Carhartt brought their A-game when they jumped into the hunting world. Huff said he made the right choice when bought a pair of Rugged Flex pants, constructed of 8-ounce cotton spandex canvas for comfortable fit, without sacrificing the brand’s reputation for toughness. The pants feature a right-leg secured cell-phone pocket, reinforced front slash pocket, and sewn-on-seam belt loops.
Tree Stand: Summit Viper Climbing Stand
Summit is one of the country’s oldest and most trusted stand companies, and when they introduced the Viper in 1998, they knew they had a winner. “I’ve had mine since I was in 8th grade,” Huff said. “It’s my go-to stand when I want to get mobile and just set up in a new spot where I feel a buck might be hanging out. I used it the day I killed my buck because all I’d been seeing were basket racked deer and I knew I had to do something different.” While the Viper is no lightweight at 30 pounds, the steel construction insures years of use. The generous platform—20×28.75 inches—and expansive seat—18×12 inches) makes this one of the most comfortable climbers going, and helps explain why the Viper remains in the Summit lineup after more than 20 deer seasons.
Deer Scent: Tink’s Hot Shot
Using scent to attract deer into bow range is probably as old as bowhunting itself, and perhaps no company has been commercially producing deer scents as long as Tink’s. The company started in 1972, and continues to innovate with products like Hot Shot spray, which delivers a mist of doe urine into the air to attract bucks from a distance. According to the company, an innovative “bag in can” system allows the scent to be dispensed without being contaminated by aerosol propellant. “I use the Hot Shot frequently, especially during the rut,” Huff said, “and I sprayed some on the hunt for my buck.”
Day Pack: Allen Terrain Vale Waist Pack
Transporting gear and accessories is a personal challenge for any deer hunter. Most of us try to balance the roominess needed to carry enough stuff while not becoming overloaded and bulky. Huff’s answer is the Allen Terrain Vale waist pack, which for him strikes the perfect balance between spacious yet compact. Featuring a 600-cubic-centimeter main compartment, the pack also has four exterior zippered pockets and a water bottle pocket. The quiet outer shell features Realtree Edge camo and the waist belt is adjustable up to 52 inches.