2015 Western Hunt Expo’s 5 Best Over and Under $500

So I may or may not have built a Christmas chain as a count down image1-26to the 2015 Western Hunt Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Doesn’t everyone?

If you find it un-relatable that I compare feelings of Christmas to those felt before, during, and after the expo, then you clearly have never attended the Western Hunt Expo. For the avid hunter and attendee, I am sure you can relate. Get out your wallet and ready your mouse because these 10 companies are making some pretty cool products.

As a side note, I am not a paid advertiser for any of these companies. I’m just a guy who loves to hunt! Take a minute and click the little follow button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Instagram @jdheinerblog




1. Gohunt.com INSIDER – Annual Membership $149: gohunt.com “Insider” membership is an absolute must have for any Western big game hunter. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to research the various state units, draw odds, terrain, weather, success rates, access, etc. If your head is not yet spinning, add to the mix the various regulations, cost, and deadlines. You will quickly realize you need an effective strategy to win!

As an “Insider” you will be equipped to develop that strategy!

I have followed gohunt.com from the beginning. It was at this year’s expo I learned I had yet to scratch the surface of this company’s technology. The reality is their vision, content, and technology are ahead of the curve. Their product is the result of a unique pairing between the tech nerd and the hunter. That is not an easy task.

Product’s Key Features:

  • Technology powered research tools covering several Western states
  • Unit, state, and specie profiles
  • Strategic insight from experienced hunters
  • Monthly gear, tag, and hunt giveaways
  • 10% off the largest selection of landowner tags in the West

Don’t be left wondering why you aren’t hunting some of the best units in the West! Visit www.gohunt.com and sign up for an “Insider” membership today.


2. Caribou Gear Game Bag Combos <>$69: These game bags are an absolute must have for any backcountry hunter. They are sold as a combo with enough bags to quarter or bone out your harvest in the field. They are designed for repeated use. Lightweight, DURABLE, and compact! I have used various game bags in the back country and few have me as excited as Caribou Gear. It is the below key features that enticed me to place a waiting list order of the sold-out caribou combo. Visit www.biggamebags.com to learn more.

Product’s Key Features:

  • Synthetic blend for optimal air circulation
  • Stain resistant, washable, durable
  • Pull string closures with cord lock
  • Locking loops for ease of hanging
  • Reflective tabs


3. Spotter (Tines Up) $50: One of the highlights at this year’s expo was the ladies and their 3 giant bulls at the Tines Up booth. Those bulls certainly drew me in; however, it was some pretty neat products that kept me around. One of those products was the “Spotter.”

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time behind the glass. Maintaining one eye closed can be tiring. The “Spotter” allows you to keep both eyes open while experiencing zero squinting fatigue. It works by simply blacking out one eye despite both being open. I do recognize a person could buy an eye patch for around $2; however, this product allows for great transition from glassing to non-glassing. For this reason, it is a must have for any spotter accustomed to closing one eye while glassing. Visit www.tinesup.com to learn more.

Product’s Key Features:

  • Malleable arm for perfect fit to the left or right eye
  • Ease of use, application, and attachment
  • Comfort accordion style eye piece
  • Ease of transition from glassing to non-glassing.


4. RaptoRazor <>$100: I have used nearly every knife company and style of skinning tool available to the modern hunter. I am a fan of many. RaptoRazor takes it to the next level with their field dressing designs and engineering.

The ease with which RaptoRazor products process game is astonishing. Nothing is worse than processing big game in the back country with dull tools. For this reason I love a disposable blade and efficient design. This product truly is “faster, safer, cleaner” as noted on their site. Visit www.raptorazor.com to learn more.

Product’s Key Features:

  • Disposable blade design with easy installation and removal of blades
  • Easy grip handle with survival compartment
  • Initial replacement blades included
  • Educational video library demonstrating product in the field
  • Blade guards included


5. PhoneSkope <>$80: PhoneSkope is one of those products that is reaching widespread adoption. I am not one to simply jump on the bandwagon; however, this wagon is worth riding. If you are looking for one of the simplest ways to capture close up images and videos of the hunt, this product is the best thing out. Besides, sometimes it nice to solidify your stories with proof. Without proof, it didn’t happen. Visit www.phoneskope.com to learn more.

Product’s Key Features:

  • Widespread phone and scope applications available
  • Simple application and attachment to various scopes
  • Share real time video (where cell service is provided) via video chat with friends that couldn’t join you on your hunt.
  • Utilize the one item you’ll likely never leave home without – your phone.

5 BEST OVER $500


1. Maven Optics <> $1,000.00: Their tag line says it all, “Performance, Personalization, Perfection.” Maven has focused their efforts on bypassing the middle-man and their hefty mark-ups. They’ve done this by taking their product straight to the end-user.

High end glass makes the difference in the field, especially in low light conditions. I am always skeptical when a new optic manufacturer positions their product with the most premier of optic companies. I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Maven optic. Take the quality of a high-end glass and add to it customization options unheard of in the optics industry and you have a Maven. Visit www.mavenbuilt.com to learn more.

Maven – (-ven) 1. A trusted expert 2. One with knowledge based on accumulation of experience.  “Performance is non-negotiable, the rest is up to you”

Product’s Key Features:

  • Customization including the following: body armor, neck strap rings, focus wheel, ocular lens rings, objective lens rings, tripod cover plate, labeling, and engraving
  • Competitively priced
  • Highest level of quality and performance found in some of the biggest optic names out on the market today.


2. Felt Electric Outfitter Bike $5,499.00: This one gets me excited! The reason for my excitement is simple: I have seen it, FELT it, used it. Until you have done just that, you may not understand. It is worth a trip to eSpokes in either Salt Lake City or Saint George, Utah in order to experience it first hand.

Having had an opportunity to ride this bike, I knew immediately that it deserved a spot on this list. Packing essential gear on any hunting expedition can be difficult. This bike’s smooth electric motor and peddle assist make it possible for you and your gear to reach some of the most remote locations in the West. Human power is required; however, this bike’s motor picks up the slack and sends you effortlessly up the trail. Biking and hunting may not historically travel together; however, this bike is changing the way we think! Visit www.espokes.com or www.feltelectic.com to learn more.

Products Key Features:

  • Fully charged in approximately 4 hours
  • Up to 75+ Miles per charge or 2-8 hours of riding time per charge (dependent on level of assist – 5 levels)
  • Power assists up to 20 mph
  • Bomb-proof BOSCH electric motor
  • Saddlebag and trailer accessories for all your hunting and camping gear.


3. Barebones Tents <>$1000: Barebones Living was established with the vision of providing the bare essentials to those in need throughout the world (food, water, SHELTER, power). Their roots are inspirational. Essential to building a product that could withstand conditions year round is their design, durability, and quality. These tents are unmatched and are a must for base camp hunting. Visit www.barebonesliving.com to learn more.

Product’s Key Features:

  • Barebones custom aluminum and nylon frame system is relatively lightweight and includes a lifetime warranty
  • Durable and weather resistant synthetic weave shell, designed for year-round weather exposure
  • Loft nine-foot ceilings allow you to stand upright, regardless of where you are in the tent
  • Built-in ports make running power, heat and water lines effortless
  • Barebones frame anchors to multiple surfaces, including concrete, wood and dirt
  • Tent designs for 4-8 people
  • Additional accessories including heat, power, and light sources


4. Traeger Grills <>$899: This is actually a product I have owned for some time now. I share this with you because this thing has made me an absolute hero in my home. Your next grill purchase should not be anything but a Traeger.

This product takes the guess-work out of outdoor cooking. The reality is this grill can be used as a grill, BBQ, smoker, or a wood fired convection oven. Choose from a variety of wood pellet flavors, load the hopper, plug it in, select and temp, and wait. These machines are unbelievable! Visit www.traegergrills.com to learn more.

Product’s Key Features:

  • Ease of use including multiple cooking applications: grill, BBQ, smoker, wood fired convection oven.
  • Simple to clean
  • Multiple online Traeger cooking resources and recipes
  • Unmatched customer care and support


5. Dark Widow Venom and Venom-X <$1,349: Oh the fun I could have with this one! Dark Widow has come out with an incredible product. Can you say night vision on your current setup with a potentially effective distance of up to 550 yards? Welcome to the world of Venom and Venom-X.

I had an opportunity to hop into Widow’s dark room at the expo and check this thing out. My mind raced to all the possible applications for this product. The reality is we’ve all dreamed of getting our hands on this type of technology.  Now is your chance. Visit www.nitesiteusa.com to learn more.

Product’s Key Features:

  • Use Day or Night – Black and White picture.
  • Converts your scope setup into Black and White night vision
  • No re-zeroing needed
  • Identify targets up to 550yds depending on scope
  • Manufactured in the USA

That concludes the Top 10 products featured at the 2014 Hunt Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tell me what you think? Do you agree or disagree with this Top 10? What is your Top 10?

Donnie Vincent, Hunting Isn’t So Hard To Explain

Have you seen it? Donnie Vincent filmed a short video posted to Vimeo and www.donnievincent.com titled “Who We Are.” It is a film that I have wanted to write about for some time. This short 7 minute film addresses the controversy surrounding the sport of hunting. It clears the air. How can you be a hunter? Why do you hunt? Donnie states “its hard to explain.”

Truth be told, hunting isn’t hard to explain when explained so perfectly. Donnie accomplishes just that in an absolutely stunning combination of footage and dead on narration. I have been captivated by this film’s scenery and message. What started as a 7 minute clip has turned into hours of re-runs of which I proudly admit my consumption. What starts as a topic “hard to explain” becomes crystal clear during this films narrative.


That being said, one cannot in general terms define all the people that hunt. As with all things, there are a select few that make the rest of us look like idiots. Those select few do not represent the vast majority. Those select few do not represent the true hunter. Donnie Vincent’s “Who We Are” is a representation of the true hunter. To count yourself a hunter there are 3 core principles taught in Donnie’s film that should guide your pursuit.

1. Preserve: Hunting plays an essential role in preserving our wildlife resources. This is clearly a guiding force in Donnie’s pursuit. If not for the hunters’ attention to conservation, our wildlife resources would be starved. PETA, hug a hunter for it is the hunter that sustains the resource for which you vow to protect. It is a love for the animal that sustains a drive to hunt, kill, and preserve this incredible resource. That’s right folks, it’s not simply about the “kill.”


2. Provide: You wouldn’t be here if not for the hunters and gatherers that have gone before you. I love that. Fact is, it’s true. Like Donnie, I find great pleasure in providing clean and sustainable meat for my family. I know where it comes from and I respectively harvest and utilize each and every kill. Donnie’s film touches perfectly on the pride that comes from harvesting an animal. It is a pride that comes by way of providing.


3. Push: Hunters understand what it means to work. They push their limits. They push the limits of their physical endurance and their equipment. They are fully vested in the process from start to finish. This level of work ethic is not found and discovered in your living room. “To experience fantastic things, you have to put yourself in fantastic places.” Hard work will get you there. Working hard is a key attribute of the true hunter.


In a day and age where everyone seems to be filming their own hunts, Donnie sets a standard few will achieve. This film is an absolute must see. If you have seen it already, watch it again. The principles taught should guide every single one of your hunting adventures. Nice work Donnie and team!

Visit www.donnieviscent.com for some amazing content. This film is clearly just the beginning for Donnie Viscent. With additional films like “The River’s Divide” and “Terra Nova,” I can’t wait to see what comes out of Donnie’s camp next! Your next stop should be the Donnie Vincent Store! Simply inspiring!