Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Hunters Club review the Bison

The Tatonka Bison is quickly becoming New Zealand's favourite hunting pack. Find out what Dave Shaw (camerman and producer of The Hunters Club) thought of his Tatonka Bison 75+10. 


When The Hunters Club was born back in 2014, the Tatonka Lastenkraxe was my pack of choice. Being a load carrying system capable of taking odd shaped items, it was a no brainer for me given that I regularly needed to carry a bulky and cumbersome Pelican Case into the bush. This hardened, water tight case provided the necessary protection against the elements for my rather delicate camera gear, lenses, audio recording equipment and the ever present drone, which has captured some of the most talked about footage within the show. The downside of this configuration for me though was that the case alone weighed 6.5kg, so I often found myself carting a fair bit more than the hunters I was documenting.


My Lastenkraxe & Pelly Case system was put to the ultimate test on a 10 day mission into the Lower Glaisnock wapiti block, a place that takes no prisoners when it comes to the weather. I'm pleased to say that it came through with flying colours, although there were definitely times when I felt and looked a bit like a nepalese sherpa, with a gargantuan case and tripod stropped to a chocka block pack. 


Dave Shaw with the Tatonka Bison 75+10In recent years, as drone technology has improved and the devices as accessories have become smaller, I've now found that I can get away without the bulky pelican case on some of our more intensive missions, where every kilo counts. However, I soon found that cramming $25K worth of camera gear into the single chamber Lastenkraxe packsack wasn't ideal, so for the 2017 Roar I opted to retire my old mate & give the Bison 75 +10 a crack. 

Straight off the bat, I noticed a huge difference. The compartmentalised system is a game changer, instead of fighting my way through my pack to find a spare battery, back country cuisine meal, or intervalometer cable, I could quickly and easily access what I needed with a minimum of fuss. I also found that whilst fatigued, when the brain wasn't working all that well, in 95% of the time the item I was after was living in the first pocket that I looked in. There was no strategic packing being done; I just seemed to find things simply by thinking where would I have put it?  


This scenario replayed itself on a number of occasions - finding replacement AA batts when a radio mic went down in the heat of the moment, locating a tiny screwdriver to fix a loose lens connection, gaff tape to fix a broken shotgun mic assembly after a fall, accessing my LED Lenser in the dark mid way through a long walk back to camp. The Bison just seems to built to the way my brain is wired, it's a user friendly pack.


In terms of comfort, I really couldn't fault the X1 carrying system. We found ourselves hunting in some pretty high temperatures early on in the trip, and I'm one of those guys that tends to spill a lot of gravy when working hard, but the padding was able to move moisture easily away so it didn't feel like I was carrying a forge on my back. 


But it's under a heavy load that the pack really came into it's own. Without giving away too much to spoil the episode, I was comfortably able to carry two hind legs, backstraps, head and antlers, Phantom 4 drone, tripod, wet weathers and all my regular camera equipment (a total weight of around 45kg) up some quite steep and undulating country in the dark for a solid hour and half without feeling any specific hot spots on the shoulders, lower back etc. Sure, the legs were burning under the weight, but the well padded shoulder and hip straps made for a surprisingly smooth carry out.  


Luckily for us, we didn't have the chance to test the pack's waterproofness given that we were blessed with 10 days of settled weather, but I'm sure over the coming years I'll get that chance. For now, I'm just happy to have a pack that improves my overall hunting experience, and consequently, improves the quality of the show.


Find out more about the Bison 75+10 or the full Tatonka pack range