By Kevin Tate
Thanks to continuing innovation, hunters may now have as steady a shooting rest as they’re willing to carry, a task not nearly as daunting as it may seem.
Whether you hunt from an elevated stand, a shooting house, a ground blind or on foot, there’s no reason for your shooting rest not to be as steady as possible. From improvised rests against trees to paired sticks lashed together as a field expedient, to light weight, telescoping poles that carry with ease and weigh next to nothing, hunters have long been acquainted with various versions of the same concept.
A new idea
All of these methods work with the rifle from one point of contact, the forearm. All have been used to great success for many years and countless hunters shoot very well while using them. A new offering from Caldwell proposes to improve on this method though, and I have found it does so very well.
Caldwell offers a broad line of shooting rests and accessories, and a new set of offerings this year includes the DeadShot FieldPod and Magnum DeadShot FieldPod, tripod rests for shooting from the ground, and a DeadShot TreePod which mounts to the floor of a lock-on-style tree stand. All three use two points of contact with the rifle, fore and aft and, in my experience, the result is easily twice as steady.
No matter the experience level of the hunter, for those hunting on foot, the higher their shooting rest rises from the ground the more unsteady it becomes, standing shots from shooting sticks being the most so. Many hunts in open terrain don’t allow for anything else though.
Worth the effort
I recently purchased the Magnum DeadShot FieldPod and used it on a spot-and-stalk elk hunt in eastern Kentucky and was very impressed. The DeadShot FieldPod is designed to be used while sitting on the ground or in a chair, and the Magnum DeadShot can best be used while sitting in a chair or standing, as it adjusts up to a maximum height of 60 inches. The former, which I also tested, includes a center brace to limit how far apart the three legs may spread. The latter has no such brace, its absence a necessity since many side-hill situations require more flexibility to find three solid points of contact with the ground.
Weighing in at 10 pounds, the Magnum DeadShot seems to strike a good balance between durability and portability. Its tension adjustments for windage and elevation pivoting are effective. In a firing range setting I found it to be so steady I used it for sighting in, and I carried it hunting confident I could shoot well from it from a standing position out to 300 yards, a range that far exceeds my ability with traditional shooting sticks.
The Magnum DeadShot’s legs telescope for portability but aren’t meant to be adjusted on the fly in a spot-and-stalk situation, so I carried it on my shoulder in the fully-extended position. With my rifle riding in a sling on the other side, setting up quickly when shooting time came was easy.
Ground blind special
Here at home, either model would work very well from a ground blind, and the TreePod would appear to do the same for a hunter seated in a tree stand, though I’ve not tested it. The models retail in the $100 to $200 range, and carrying an extra 10 pounds on a spot-and-stalk hunt is a bit of a sacrifice, but I believe both cost and weight are well justified by the steadiness of the rest.