Lightweight, portable bipods and tripods can help both guns and cameras to stay on target.
By Gibbs Milliken
Most hunters find it is best to travel light, with gear that can be set up fast for that once-in-a-lifetime chance at a trophy animal. Offhand shooting can be very effective at close ranges, but some situations require making a long shot by the hunter or wildlife photographer. The support from a set of shooting sticks can make the difference in getting a clean shot or photo without blur.
The smallest all-metal bipod shooting rest is the Pole Cat. Fully extended, it is 39 inches high, but folds down to a convenient 14 inches for transport. The bipod legs deploy quickly using internal bungee cords. The unit is small in diameter, lightweight and simple to carry in one hand or back pocket. The drawback with this short bipod is that it requires taking a kneeling or sitting position and must be held securely to prevent movement.($34.95, Pole Cat, Stoney Point Shooting Sticks, McBride's Guns, 512-472-3532, www.mcbridesguns.com)
Another Bipod Shooting Stick is made of a lightweight carbon composite and extends to 40 inches, folding down to 14 inches. Like the Pole Cat, it's small enough to carry anywhere and set up quickly with its internal bungee cords. The Bipod brand sticks have a unique rubber loop-lock that cradles around the weapon. This mount is designed to rotate for use against your torso, a wall or a tree. ($32.95, Composite Bipod Sticks, 800-979-6878, www.bipodshootingsticks.com)
A heavy-duty and extremely stable design is the Bog Pod. These all-metal sticks form a very solid tripod with red non-slip grips. The 360-degree swivel head has a wide padded fork that's ideal for steadying a gun, pistol, binoculars, spotting scope or long camera lens. Ruler-like markings make it easy to adjust the height on all three legs from 22 to 68 inches. The pod-feet have both rubber pads and steel points for a good surface bite in any sitting, kneeling or standing position. ($99.99, Bog Pod with carry bag, 928-595-0264, www.boggear.com)
It is hard to find real handmade African Tripod Shooting Sticks. This 70-inch set can be unscrewed into sections, allowing it to fit into any standard gun case for air travel. Made of durable hickory wood, these are very stable and sport a leather-padded fork to prevent scratching the gunstock or camera lens. ($189, Platinum Grade African Take-Down Sticks, 70 inches with Red Oxx case, Sporting Wood Creations, 419-529-5599, www.sportwc.com)
Many trekkers and hunters prefer a simple but strong staff for hiking into rough country. The Stalking Staff is a custom exotic wood design with a unique fallow deer fork crown. The owner can add leather thongs with feathers or hair tassels as a wind-direction indicator. ($279, 60-inch Take-Down Stalking Staff with Red Oxx case, Sporting Wood Creations)
Remember, true sportsmen take only shots they can make — and a set of shooting sticks can help improve the odds in your favor.