The animals looked enormous in the distance. Carl Drake was only going to get one chance. After traveling across the globe from central Indiana to New Zealand, this was going to be his best shot at a red stag, a quarry he had dreamed of hunting for years.
Like many of us, Drake cut his teeth on North American big game – animals like whitetail deer that carry familiar proportions. But these New Zealand stag were different. Their large bodies supported obnoxious racks with spreads appearing as large as North American bull elk. The unfamiliar sight dropped Drake’s jaw. The terrain was different, too. Looking slightly upslope at the bedded stags from an adjacent ridge confounded Drake’s inherent sense of scale.
Rather than attempt a risky stalk across the open terrain, plans were made to set up along the animals’ most likely travel route – a game trail leading down into a meadow. The party relocated, and Drake checked and re-checked each piece of his equipment. Hunting New Zealand isn’t exactly an every-day thing, so this hunter was amply prepared.
Drake was carefully concealed just above the trail with his Barnett crossbow cocked as the stags began moving towards him. As the animals came into view just downslope, Drake quickly located the largest stag and prepared for what he assumed would be a fifty-yard shot. But a final check of his rangefinder argued otherwise. Drake’s Halo XRay read just 34 yards.
Drake steadied and held the beast’s vitals on his 35-yard sight. He released his bolt, which crashed through both lungs of his first New Zealand red stag approximately .3 seconds later.
“Without that rangefinder, I know I would have cleanly shot over the animal,” Drake recalls. The stag’s large rack and body, combined with the downward angle of the shot, had fooled the experienced hunter’s well-trained eye. But they hadn’t fooled his Halo rangefinder.
Today’s laser rangefinder models are far more advanced than those from only a few years ago. They are faster, more accurate, better in low light and more compact and ergonomic than ever before. And some offer additional technologies that make them even more effective.
Bowhunters, treestand hunters and those who hunt in varied terrain often struggle with the challenges of accurately shooting up or downslope, as the effects of gravity impact a projectile differently than when the hunter and target are at the same elevation.
Halo Optics’ Angle Intelligence Technology compensates for these angles and results in a simplified read-out of true ballistic distance. In layman’s terms, this means the unit compensates for elevation change between hunter and target. It’s no longer necessary to aim high or low to adjust for elevation differences – one less thing the hunter needs to worry about during the moment of truth. Forget about angles and slope. Simply hold dead center for the distance displayed on your trusted Halo rangefinder.
Drake’s hunting lifestyle tests his rangefinder in a variety of environments, each presenting unique circumstances. The Plano Synergy pro’s passion for the outdoors is a testament to the real world testing of his equipment. “For me, having a rangefinder is just as important as having a bow or gun when hunting,” he says.
Drake starts his season in south Florida, chasing turkeys, and wild hogs with his bow each spring. The terrain varies, and while he occasionally hunts from a fixed tree stand, quick set-ups with ground blinds are the norm. Such hunts present ever-changing scenarios and diverse target ranges. Having a rangefinder that automatically compensates for true ballistic distance, as well as offering 6X magnification to scan the thick Florida underbrush, is vital. Shots are often close and quick, offering exhilarating outcomes.
Later in the year, Drake finds himself in Kentucky chasing coyotes, where shots out to three hundred-yards are possible. With the kill zone of a coyote being no larger than a softball, extreme accuracy is required. Even after dozens of uses, Drake is still amazed by the long-distance accuracy of modern rangefinders. “My Halo gives me the assurance that when I range a coyote, I’m within one yard regardless of the distance.” Appreciation rings in his voice.
Exotic hunts also factor into Drake’s schedule. Trips to Africa and New Zealand are included on his resume, along with regular, in-your-face, spot-and-stalk ‘gator hunts in south Florida. And while he cycles equipment in and out to meet the particular demands of each scenario, Drake packs the same dependable Halo rangefinder on every hunt.
Hunters across the globe take a similar approach. Given the simplicity and affordability of these incredibly accurate and highly-practical rangefinding optics, hunting without a rangefinder is simply foolish. Halo’s new XL450 Laser Rangefinder, for example, offers the same 6x magnification, Angle Intelligence Technology, and +/- one-yard accuracy as other high-end models, yet retails for under $100.
The advantages are priceless. Regardless of how much practice one puts in at the range or the type of firearm, bow or crossbow one carries into the field, no other single variable plays a greater role in hunting success than knowing the actual distance to the downrange target. At best, just a few yards of misjudged distance can result in a miss, and, at worst, a wounded animal.
A laser rangefinder eliminates any need to measure or guess distance to game, giving hunters their best chance to make a clean, ethical shot, ensuring rapid results. After taking one of his greatest trophies to-date, thanks to his Halo, Carl Drake agrees. And, as he prepares for his next hunt, you can bet his rangefinder gets packed first.