Michael R. Shea | Photos By Shannon Vandivier & Bowen Parrish | 9.24.2019

Science of Sound

  • Pursuit: Whitetail

Creating the New Fanatic.

The brush of a shoulder against a tree. The zip of a zipper. The rub of a sleeve reaching for a rangefinder. The draw of a bow. Factor in sound-dampening snow. Negative temperatures. Zero wind. Add a mature whitetail tuned to hear every out-of-place noise in the woods. These considerations hatched the new Fanatic: the quietest jacket, bib and pack system ever made by SITKA. Designed by experts; informed by the most advanced science on how deer hear.

Two years ago, Chris Derrick, SITKA Whitetail Product Line Manager, brought together leading minds in textile development, behavioral deer research, acoustics and late-season bowhunting. At the Gore Comfort Lab in Elkton, Md., engineers analyzed 20 different laminate combinations, recording how each sounded within a controlled desktop robot: the Gore Noise Analyzer.

The material was rubbed, rustled and crinkled thousands of times—without any human influence—and the sound data was recorded. Then, the Comfort Lab team built a one-of-a-kind test facility: a silent room within the Environmental Chamber at Gore, which can cool to -58 or heat to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (°F), outfitting the room with microphones designed to record at the frequencies deer hear best.

According to Dr. Karl V. Miller, Distinguished Professor of Deer Management at the University of Georgia, although a whitetail may hear higher pitched sounds better, a whitetail’s hearing ability is similar to a human’s. Whitetails hear best in frequencies ranging from 1 kilohertz (kHz) to 16 kHz with peak sensitivity around 8 kHz. The research team focused on recording and analyzing sounds specifically within a whitetail’s peak sensitivity. The temperature was decreased to -4°F—the lower limit at which the microphones still functioned—and testers drew a bow, rustled hands in pockets, rubbed against a tree and ran zippers repeatedly over hours of testing.

James Black, a Bozeman-based acoustical engineer and instructor at Montana State University, analyzed the results. They were far better than even the team expected.

The newly-designed Berber fleece, PrimaLoft® Silver Ultra Hi-Loft and GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ with WINDSTOPPER® package cut the audible engagement distance in half compared to the original Fanatic. This means if a whitetail could have previously heard the rustle of the original jacket when a bow was drawn at 20 yards, in the new Fanatic, that sound discrepancy is now cut to 10 yards—all without any appreciable loss of warmth.

This is the new Fanatic. It is the most sophisticated whitetail gear system ever designed. With GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ with WINDSTOPPER® technology, new PrimaLoft® Silver Ultra Hi-Loft, plus YKK Vislon Ultra-Quiet zippers, it is the most advanced late-season system for staying quiet and warm, keeping you in the stand—and on the hunt—longer.

The Constant-Connect SITKA® Safety Harness Pass-Through Port means you can put on and remove the jacket without disconnecting a safety harness. The diagonal zip jacket is available for right-handed and left-handed shooters; the bow arm contoured for optimal string clearance. The jacket and bibs have been mapped in burr-resistant fabric. No more picking stickers in deer camp. The pack, developed with input from SITKA athlete and legendary whitetail outfitter Jim Hole Jr., has an innovative unstructured design that uses no buckles or exposed hard components to ensure absolute silence for fanatical whitetail hunters.

Never before has a team of scientists, engineers, academics, acoustical experts and elite whitetail hunters like this ever been assembled. This the Fanatic. This is SITKA.