MAGEE RETRIEVER PRODUCTS
Review by Dennis R. Voigt
ou Magee is a FC field trial retriever owner who has started up a new line of retriever training products. I have had a chance to test and use a few of them and I provide a review them here.
At press time, there were 5 models available ranging from 3 pole units at 48” or 54” tall, a 4 pole at 54” tall and 5 pole units at 54” tall with and without a door. The latter are big enough to use as complete “wrap around the retired gunner” units. I tested the 4 pole which is likely to be the most popular and commonly used size. It is 10’ long when laid out. At 54” it is high enough to prevent handlers dressed in white interfering behind the line at a trial or while training. The construction of these is as heavy duty and strong as any blinds I have seen. While this makes them a little heavier, I have been using it most days for over a month now and not found the weight to be a problem.
The poles are made from powder-coated steel tubing. The most important part of a blind is the foot pegs. It is here these holding blinds excel as they have excellent welded double feet that can be step-pushed into the ground or even pounded in. I find some smaller diameter feet are difficult to pull out of the ground. These are the right size to come out more easily while still having the strength and length to hold up in all sorts of conditions. I tested the unit in a 50 mile an hour wind and it hung in there remarkably well.
The material used for the cover of the blind is a heavy and tough 600 denier waterproof material. It is a Timber camo pattern on the outside and black on the inside. When placed along a forest edge that was mostly greys and browns it really blended in well. When out in a green field or an old dry brown field it stuck out more and needed some grass camo to mask it. The construction of the material is excellent as it is nylon webbing reinforced at the top and the bottom and around the poles. It’s even stitched with a heavy duty UV inhibitor thread fastened to the poles with stainless steel rivets. There is a small pocket attached in the inside which accommodates a two-way radio nicely.
Prices range from $100-200 and my sized unit was $135. You get what you pay for and the construction, strength and durability of these units makes them a serious consideration for heavy duty use on a daily basis. Clubs and professionals and amateurs, that bang their equipment around in serious use, will find these blinds should stand up and last a long time. There are some additional photos on the website at www.mageeproducts.com.
There are many types of “stick-men” or stand-out gunners that are primarily used with remote launchers or during various drills. The Magee gunner is an innovative folding design. Like the holding blinds, it is very well made and with top materials and construction. When folded up, it is like a narrow 51” long “tube” that is easy to transport. Unfolded, it stand 63” tall and is quite wide (see photo). It has a double foot peg like the holding blinds. The steel pole is powder-coated. I had my unit out in a gusty 50 mph wind and it eventually got pushed over on an angle but it never bent or fell down!! Meanwhile, all my other stickmen of various types were on the ground and even some of my remote launchers blew over! The design takes about a minute to set up although you will get quicker at that. When it is rolled up, a waterproof camo fabric piece at the bottom rolls around and Velcro attaches as a cover.
The gunner comes in two versions. One has bright white nylon on both sides and the other has a large black diamond in the middle which can be kept up or folded down. I am not usually a fan of white and black patterns including those zebra-like white and black handling jackets. Often, they just break up the look and act as camo. WWI Battleships were painted black and white for the same reason zebras are hard to see by lions! Nonetheless, there are situations where the black could improve visibility. I found a few of those during a month of use. The unit sells for $65 and an extra $10 for the black diamond option.
The Hatchman Retiring Gunner
Here’s another ingenious product that has specialized application. I received a very early prototype unit and so can’t comment on changes that might have been made as I know improvements were being made right up to production time. However, I can describe its use. It is designed to work with wingers and by hooking up to the pulley it will drop down and thus “retire” when the winger is triggered. A small camo holding blind hides the white drop down. The linkage to the winger is via a cable tie and is easy to rig and reliable. The unit is also a folding design with the same white material as the standout gunner and, again, a camo cover with Velcro fastener. I found in use it flopped around in the wind much less than the old white shirt on a pole device or coat-hanger method. Again, it is well constructed for heavy duty use and should last a very long time. The Hatchman (named after Chris Hatch of California) comes in two sizes to fit large and small wingers. My prototype was perfect to use with a Malcolm retiring device. When using the Hatchman with the Malcolm you have the camo holding blind built in (again with a strong double peg foot) and when hooked to the Malcolm, it would retire up and down. That is always great for training flexibility (see my article in this issue on starting retired gunners). Incidentally, the Hatchman can also be used as a non-retiring stickman if you don’t hook it up to a pulley but rather tie it to the frame of a launcher The Hatchman sells for $65 and there is a extra $10 option of a black diamond as for the stand out gunner.
More pictures, and perhaps in the future more products, can be found on the website as well as contact, ordering and shipping information: www.mageeproducts.com.
The Magee Holding Blind has extremely solid and durable construction; this is the 4 pole, 10’ X 54” size.
The all white Magee Stand-out Gunner is readily visible at long distances.
The optional fold down/up black diamond can help visibility with certain backgrounds or lighting.
The Magee Stand-out Gunner folds up compactly.
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