In general I’m not a fan of “shooting poles” because I have a hard time paying $50-$80 for a piece of equipment I can make out of a STICK. However, there is an issue for when I’m in a ladder stand or tree stand needing stability. My ladder stand does have a safety/shooting rail that flips down in front of me, however, it is fairly low so it does me almost no good unless the target is directly under me. On top of all the hunting gear, I’m also doing the filming for The Heroes Hunting Foundation (www.facebook.com/heroeshunting.com) which includes a lot of self-filming, so adding yet ANOTHER piece of equipment to haul in and out of the woods is not on my “to do list”.
Then the YPOD from Live Oak Tek shows up at my house. Probably one of the best advantages for being a writer of HuntingLife.com is that random items show up at your house to be reviewed. What makes that even better is that I get to keep them AND I get to write exactly what I think about the item. This isn’t a “give us your stuff and no matter how good or bad it is, we will spin it in a way to help you sell it” website. The Hunting Life was created and ran by a REAL hunter. He REALLY goes out into the woods any chance he gets to make a harvest for whatever season he is in. This also applies to the staff, we are all REAL hunters that want items that REALLY work. Good or bad, we will always give an honest opinion. From that point it is up to you if you want to give it a try. That being said, personally I am almost always looking at five things: Convenience, Claims Made (and if it met them), Reliability, Ease of Use, and Price
The YPOD is not a shooting stick, so much, but rather a “Y” shaped stabilizer/front grip detachable mono-pod for your rifle or crossbow. Fully collapsed it is 9” tall and just over 4” wide, weighing only 8 oz., easily fitting into a cargo pocket or hunting pack. A YPOD can either be left as a solo unit or you can actually attach it to the rifle via a mounting strap which is an elastic band that hooks to each side of the “Y” arms around the rifle. Of course, you aren’t going to be doing this with a crossbow, but my crossbow rests in the “Y” just as easily. Criteria one met, easily taken in and out of the woods.
A mono-pod device can’t really make a lot of claims, but this one from Live Oak Tek actually makes a couple. Granted, this depends if I go with the information sheet that comes with the product when I make reviews or the packaging. Generally, I just use the packaging and company website, as that is what everyone else will see.
The packaging, which is simple and not flashy to draw the eye like a lot of other products, while also not making too many claims other than “…easily adapts to any shooting rail quickly…provides the hunter with a more comfortable shooting position.” Below these statements they even show how it is used on a shooting table at the range or on a rail in a tree stand hunting. www.LiveOakTek.com does make ONE claim that drew my attention “The most versatile shooting rest on the market at an affordable price…” The words “Best” and “Most” in a products claim ALWAYS draw my eye and focus my attention, as about any and every product will make some claim using these words. I don’t blame them, because everyone wants the best, right? Who goes out looking for the “second or third best” anything?
Heading out to my stand and tower blinds, I’m armed with a shooting pole, my bi-pods, a YPOD, and along the way, I find a stick that is easily made into a shooting pole. I’m not going to use the YPOD in a ground blind, because it isn’t designed for that, it simply isn’t a shooting pole, it’s a mono-pod. I am however headed to my 8×8 tower box blinds, my hanging tree stand, and my ladder stand. The bi-pod I have attached to my rifle and crossbow worked in only the tower blinds, as I had a window ledge to put them on. When trying to put the two legs of the bi-pod on a shooting rail in the ladder stand it kept falling off the rail as I made side to side adjustments and there was no chance of use in my hanging stand. My shooting pole and shooting stick worked well in all three, but the ladder stand and hanging stand has pretty large holes in the platform, so you had to find the right place to put them or they would fall through. This took my eyes off the target and also didn’t give me a “warm comfy” feeling when shooting. Finally, I used the YPOD in all three locations, and I have to say it was very reassuring. The base of the YPOD is formed in a way that it can either rest on a flat surface or hook on a rail. Shooting from the window was just as easy as using a bi-pod, but lighter and more quiet. Live Oak Tek also did a great job of making sure that it used materials that do not bind or make much noise when adjusting. Am curious as to how silent the screw adjustment mechanism is once I have used it often and dirt starts to get inside. Is the YPOD the “most versatile for the money”? That could very well be possible, as it performed well even in the hanging stand. Not having a rail to use, I simply extended it to the furthest point, and set it on my knee.
Giving this item to my 200lb lab and 120lb boxer to play with as a chew toy, the YPOD was scuffed and scraped, but still functioned just as it should. The only reason the YPOD weighs 8 oz. is because of the thick plastic material it is made of combined with the rubberized material of the base and “Y”. I believe if they went with a lighter type or thickness it would not only cheapen the product, but make it less durable. Just to go over the top I whacked the arms of the “Y” on the concrete of my drive a couple times, but due to the rubberized plastic, they just flexed and took it.
EASE OF USE AND PRICE:
My kids aren’t just my hunting partners during youth season, they are my “Ease of use” barometers, being as they are 6 and 9. Both are just starting to get into hunting, so they make for great, unbiased, test subjects without even knowing that is what they are doing for me. Granted, my kids are not dumb and well trained being as my job in the Army was to teach soldiers to shoot, but I like to just hand them items and see what they do with them. I can easily see if they understood how to use the product, if they needed me to show them, or if they didn’t get it at all. Let’s face it, no matter the training, if a 6 year old can figure it out, we all should be able to as well.
Bryce, my 6 year old, is starting to get pretty good with a BB gun in the back yard versus the birds and pop can targets. However, he is always trying to get in the right shooting position due to the elevated level of the deck. A lot of times, being on the seat is to low and being on the rail is too high. Tah-dah, “here, try this”, handing him the YPOD, I explained what the top and bottom was, and away he went. Making some quick adjustments, he was steadily plinking cans, wearing out my arms, as I’m the one that has to do the pumping to get it to work. Bryce asked about the dangling strap, to which I showed him how it worked and attached the YPOD to the BB gun. He liked this, as it made him feel more stable when he was shooting, but what he liked MORE was that he now had a front hand grip for working on his standing unsupported shooting, which he is now trying to get down.
With a $30 price tag, it seems very appropriately priced, though if possible, they should work to get it more to a $20 price. I’m like everyone else and would like to see items I want reduced in price, but I’m also a businessman and understand how manufacturing cost to price points work. Would I like to see the YPOD more toward the $20 mark, yes, but do I understand the $30 price, absolutely. The YPOD’s durability pretty much ensure you are only going to be buying one of these in a lifetime unless you have others in your hunting family that will need one.
I did find some things I didn’t like about the YPOD, but they were minor. One is that there is no “stop” on unscrewing the adjustment. If you need to fully extend the YPOD you need to be aware that it will unscrew until it is no longer attached, which can lead to drops, which lead to sounds in the woods you don’t want to have happen. Also, the screw mechanism is silent, but I would like to see them work on getting a quick grip style release and adjustment. Something that while I’m holding it, which is holding my weapon, can just be gripped to make height adjustments, up or down.
Keep in mind Live Oak Tek was just founded in 2014 and this is the first time they have produced a product. I’m curious to see what else they follow the YPOD with and at what price points. In the meantime, THIS chewed on, scratched up, cement whacked, but still functioning YPOD is going in the hunting pack to use this season.