Looking to buy a new compound bow in the $800-$900 range. Any recommendations on brand or models? Mostly for deer hunting in PA and if I ever get bold enough turkey.
Ask 10 archers... Get 10 opinions...
Are you planning on hunting from a tree stand or blind? How much clearance do you need? Longer (axle-to-axle) bows are typically more forgiving, quieter, and easier to tune. Shorter bows are easier to handle in tight blinds, and while a bit tougher to tune can be just as quiet and as accurate as a longer bow (but, not necessarily more forgiving). How much do you figure you'll be drawing, and at what draw length? Lot's of guys forget to think of brace-height, but a 5" brace, while faster than a 6" or 7" brace, is also much less forgiving and can be a real booger to tune. Longer braces are always more accurate, and always slower...
As for bows... Pick your poison and test drive them at a range to see how the draw feels... The whole draw... From brace through the peak, the break-over, and the wall. How well does the grip center in your hand, and how well does the bow balance at rest, at full draw, and on the release?
My son was a Hoyt shooter for years... Then he test drove a Mathews Halon-32 - - game over for Hoyt's. My D.I.L. shot a lower end Bow-Tech, then went to Hoyt, and now she also owns a Mathews. I've had a few bows over the years, and never really put to much credence in brand loyalty. But, now I also shoot a Mathews - - a Halon-X... I found this one barely used, and picked it up for $400 less than retail. Even with that, it was $900... But, it is also the last compound bow I'll probably ever buy.
I assume you have shot compounds before, since you said you are looking at getting a new bow. If so, then you already know pretty much everything you need to make your decision.
If that assumption is incorrect, then slip into a good shop and see what shop bows they have that you can test drive. If they are pushing only one bow on you, and have nothing else for you to test drive, walk away and find another shop. If they are happy to set up two, three, or four of their shop bows for you to test drive, then this is probably a good shop that will let you shoot and help you to make a solid decision for yourself.
Won't say you need "this brand" or "that brand" or "this particular model" or "that particular model"... Too many personal differences between each of us for anyone to endorse a specific bow for anyone else... You just have to shoot a few of them and see for yourself. But, having said that, when it feels right, it will really feel right...