Gear Review – The Exxus Thumb-trigger Release from Scott Archery

I have been using the Exxus from Scott Archery for two years now.  It wasn’t the first thumb-trigger release that I tried – however, it has been, and will likely continue to be the last one that I use.

The Scott Archery Exxus

The benefits of a handheld release are numerous. They provide a more comfortable and consistent anchor point, they can help defeat target panic when used with proper technique, and, for me, they just feel better.

For more information on the benefits of thumb-trigger releases in general, check out this two-part series that I wrote for — Part 1 | Part 2.

In the video I point out four attributes/benefits of the Exxus that I love – comfort, consistency, adjustability, durability. Let me expand on those areas, and highlight a few more benefits of the Exxus.


Comfort is such a critical factor for all bowhunting equipment. Hunters have this vs. that debates about what gear is “better” all of the time, but what’s truly best is what feels best to the individual and will perform the same time after time. The Exxus is that release for me.

The Exxus in Full-Draw

I love the Exxus’ ergonomic, tapered design, radiused edges, and balanced weight. I have shot with dozens of releases, and handled many more – none feel as good as the Exxus for me.


The Exxus can be counted on to feel the same and perform the same from shot-to-shot for thousands of shots. I have used other releases that felt nice and crisp for a while, but eventually started to feel “mushy” on the break.

In the two years that I have been shooting it, the Exxus has yet to feel any different than it did on day one. I’m sure that Scott’s choice of high-quality, 440c stainless steel internals and anti-wear titanium coating play a huge factor in the long-term consistency of the Exxus.


The Exxus’ trigger is fully adjustable for tension (“weight”) and travel. Personally, I like a heavy trigger that doesn’t have any travel; this allows me to use back tension and get a surprise release. But, if a light trigger or some trigger travel meets your preference, the Exxus can do that as well. The Exxus comes with three interchangeable tension springs (light, medium, heavy), and each spring can be micro-adjusted via a set screw.

The Scott Exxus Being Adjusted

The thumb barrel and trigger level arm are both fully adjustable as well. The trigger arm can be moved in and out from the release body, and it can also pivot around a moon-shaped track. The thumb barrel can be rotated or canted to fit you hand exactly where and how you want it to.


As I’ve mentioned, the Exxus’ internals are made from a high-quality, 440c stainless steel – which is a type of steel that’s known for extreme hardness and offers precision when machined. In addition to the materials, the overall build quality of the Exxus leads to durability. And since it is a Scott Archery product, the Exxus is backed by a lifetime warranty.

In addition to those four categories, let me conclude by mentioning a few other things that make the Exxus a great release.

Scott claims that the Exxus features a “sound dampening technology”. I have no idea what they use to make the Exxus quiet, but whatever it is — it works. The Exxus isn’t as silent as a spring-driven wrist strap release, of course, but it isn’t nearly as loud as many other thumb-trigger releases that I’ve tried.

The Exxus Hooked Securely on a D-Loop

I also love the security that the Exxus provides. The positive-lock, closed-jaw design works great for hunting — allowing me to connect the release to my d-loop and leave it hanging there, ready to use when needed.

The Exxus is built upon the same platform as my favorite series of Scott back-tension releases – the Longhorn. I can use both releases interchangeably without being forced to used a different anchor point at full-draw, or have a significantly different feel in the hand.

Finally, I’ll mention design and engineering. The designers and engineers at Scott build their products with the input of world-class, professional archers that make a living using Scott products. I won’t even pretend to know all of the details of design minute decisions that they make to optimize accuracy and forgiveness, but I do know that I shoot my best with their releases.


The Exxus is a phenomenal release. If you’re new to the idea of a handheld release, then the price tag might be off-putting, but the quality of the product matches the investment. There are cheaper thumb-trigger releases on the market, but having tried many of them, it is my opinion that none of the competition provides the consistency, adjustability, feel, and long-term performance of the Exxus.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Buy Now at S&S Archery

The Exxus from Scott Archery

First Lite, Doing it Right

If you have followed Sole Adventure for a while, you know that I use quite a bit of First Lite gear.  I have published numerous reviews of their hunting clothing, and there will be more reviews to come.  But I don’t want to talk about gear today.

First Lite truly supports what we do, and that’s one of the reasons that I support what they do.  There are many hunting brands are run by hunters, and many companies that give lip-service to supporting the pursuit.  But few companies can rival First Lite’s commitment to the future of hunting by fighting to protect public lands, ensure hunter access, and improve wildlife habitat.

First Lite recently launched a new Partner in Conservation program, which allows customers to support conservation while making any purchase from  This program is just one example of how First Lite is continuing to strengthen their longstanding support of conservation.

Thank you, First Lite, for actively supporting our public lands, our access to hunting, and the future of wildlife habitat – and for showing us that principles and profit don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

3 Steps to the Shot – Basic Strategies to Create Shot Opportunities in Elk Hunting

How do you find elk and create shot opportunities?  Great question – because finding elk is one thing, and having a chance to put an arrow in one is another.  Let’s look at some basic strategies for creating shot opportunities while elk hunting…

Hunting Elk in the Timber

First, I’ll have to lay the disclaimer out there: there’s not one answer. There are obviously a myriad of different factors that can affect a strategy for getting into shooting range – from weather and wind, to the location of the elk, to the amount of vocalization, to the time of the year, etc.

But in terms of trying to kill a bull in archery season, there are some general principles that you should be aware of. There are “best practices”, common techniques, and other good things to know. And, thankfully, Jerud and I had the opportunity to prove a few of these concepts last season.

What I want to share in this article is a mix of some common recommendations that I have received from veteran elk hunters, along with the experience that Jerud and I had while killing his bull (putting ourselves in the position to kill multiple bulls, actually).

Let me start where the story started. After several long days of hiking in search of elk, Jerud and I made our way into a new area.

First lesson: cover ground until you find elk.

Don’t spend too much time “tip toeing” around or silently stalking when you don’t know if elk are even in the area. If you aren’t actually finding or hearing elk, you need to get aggressive until you do. This isn’t whitetail hunting.

You can’t kill an elk until you find an elk.  Pre-hunt scouting is critical; it can help you determine where to look, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll find elk.  As the oft-repeated phrase goes, “Elk are where they are.”

Second lesson: once elk are located, stop and assess the situation.

Ask yourself questions like… Why are they here? Where might they be going, and why? What are the chances that there are more elk than I am seeing/hearing? What’s the wind doing? What is the best way to approach the area?

There is a “hurry up and wait” aspect to elk hunting. You need to bust your butt to find them, but once you do, you should stop and assess all of the conditions and variables before making a move.

Elk Hunting in the Timber

When Jerud and I sat at the meadow and heard the first bugles, we didn’t rush right after them. We sat for a bit, then cautiously made our way to them until we thought they were staying put for a while. There’s a fine line to balance here – if you’re too patient then you risk letting the elk move away and potentially losing their location – but if you rush right in without a solid plan, then you might blow them off.

If the elk are moving, try to keep up with them while keeping a safe distance. You want to know where they’re at, but you don’t want them to know where you’re at. Ideally, you want the elk to stop so that you can make a strategic move, which brings us to the next lesson…

Third lesson: get close, then call.

You might have seen a show where a guy calls a bull a half-mile across a canyon – and, yes, that can happen in real life – but it isn’t normal.

Think of it like this. You know there’s a bull on a distant ridge; maybe he responded to a locator bugle that you threw out there. But why should he cover ground? If you’re another bull at a “safe distance”, then you’re no threat. If you’re cow calling from a distance, then he has to be incredibly lonely to come a long ways and “get you”. Now, throw in the fact that he might already have some cows with him, and there’s pretty much no chance he’s leaving his position to challenge a distant bull or bring in a distant cow.

But, if you can close the distance and invade his comfort zone, you’ll get him worked up. Whether you’re calling as a bull (a threat) or a cow (a treat), do it from a close proximity and you’re chances of success will skyrocket.

By “close”, I’m recommending within 100-150 yards at the minimum, and ideally within 75 yards for greatest effectiveness. Distance to elk can be hard to judge if you’re new to hearing wild elk vocalization, and/or you’re hunting in thick timber. Use your best judgement.

In addition to distance, consider the elevation. If the winds allow it, you want to be at (or near) the same elevation as the elk. And being above them is better than being below them. Like hunting wild turkey, elk can be more hesitant to approach if they have to move downhill. If they’re allowed to travel on the same elevation, or come up to the sounds, then their ability to escape is much improved. Use this habit to your advantage.

The second bull that came in silent on me while I was calling-in Jerud’s bull came up a slope, which made it incredibly easy for him to turn around and disappear down the mountainside in a split-second.

The other advantage to approaching from the same elevation is that the winds are typically either coming up or down the mountain, and by approaching from the same level as the elk, you’ll almost always be hunting a cross-wind.

Next up, we’ll talk about some specific calling techniques and strategies on how to “seal the deal” once you’re in position.

Bow Review – 2015 Elite Archery “Synergy”

All-new for 2015, the Synergy is the ultimate example of Elite Archery’s dedication to “Shootability.”

Before we get into the specifics of the Synergy, let’s talk about shootability for a minute. Ask a dictionary to define the word and you’re going to have trouble.  Elite created the term shootability to define what sets their bows apart from the competition. Is it a marketing strategy? Sure. But, having shot Elite for years now, I can say that the claims about shootability really do matter.  The shootability of Elite bows have made me a more effective bowhunter.

Why “Shootability” Matters

Drawing the Elite Synergy

Shootability begins with the bow’s draw cycle. When compared to the competition, the Synergy will hit peak weight later in the draw cycle and spend less time at peak weight throughout the cycle. So if you’re shooting a 60-pound bow, you won’t be pulling 60-pounds right when you begin to draw, and you won’t be pulling 60-pounds for a very long time as you draw. Pound-for-pound, the Synergy is one of the easiest bows to draw – a fact that matters a great deal when you’ve been sitting in your treestand for hours upon hours in the cold and.

Shootability doesn’t stop when you reach full-draw. Elite bows have an incredibly solid “back wall”, thanks to dual limb stops. This solid back wall helps shooters use consistent and repeatable shooting form and anchor points, which leads to consistency and accuracy downrange. Elite bows also have less holding weight at full-draw, as well as a generous “dwell zone”. Put simply, Elite bows are easier to hold at full-draw while you wait for that buck to take the last step needed before you have a clear shot. And if you do happen to let the string creep forward a little bit, the forgiveness of the “dwell zone” means that the bow isn’t going to try and jump forward out of your hands immediately.

Now that we’ve described what shootability is, and how it helps bowhunters be more successful, you can begin to understand what makes the Synergy – the ultimate example of shootability – such a great bow.

Let’s take a deeper look at the design and features of the Elite Synergy…

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My New Role with S&S Archery

Nearly four years ago I made a call to Steve Speck at S&S Archery.  I had been shopping for a bow sight and stumbled upon Black Gold sights on the S&S website.  I had some questions about the product, and there was a phone number on the website, so I figured I’d place a call and see if I could get some help.  Although I had no idea who Steve was at the time (and he definitely didn’t have an idea of who I was), he was incredibly friendly, helpful, and even talked me out of spending some money on custom options that I didn’t need for my sight.

I ordered the site through Steve, used it for quite a while, and eventually reviewed it here on Sole Adventure.  Steve and I stayed in touch throughout the years.  He has helped me learn about elk hunting, given me the chance to be an early tester for a broadhead that he designed, and I have had the opportunity use my skillset to help him on some projects.  But what matters more than hunting, gear, and business, is that Steve is now a friend.

Last month, I officially accepted a part-time position to work for Steve.  S&S Archery is gear for backcountry bowhunters, from backcountry bowhunters.  And I’m proud to be a part of it.

I wanted to share this with you guys for several reasons.  First and foremost, I never want there to be anything that could be considered “shady” about this site.  I have some product reviews coming up soon, and S&S happens to carry some of those products.  I’m not reviewing these products because I’m simply trying to make sales for S&S.  For example, I have been using the Scott Exxus archery release for two years.  The review is a long-time coming and is a product of my real world experience.  I happen to use a lot of gear that S&S carries (First Lite clothing, Black Gold and CBE bow sights, Solid Broadheads, TightSpot Quivers, etc.), and I’ve been using much of this gear for several years – well before I was associated with S&S Archery.

But I am also sharing this news with you because I do want to see S&S Archery grow.  If you are in the market for First Lite apparel, hunting optics, archery and bowhunting accessories, backpacking gear, and more, then I would love for you to consider giving your business to S&S Archery.  We will have a new website launching in the coming months, as well as expanded product offerings.

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If there’s anything that I can do to answer questions, please let me know.