Delivering the Kill
Posted on December 11, 2012
The broadhead and arrow you choose can have a huge impact on your hunting success. Here’s a look at some important facts.
I was slowly picking my way up a rocky slope when something caught my eye. I glanced sharply uphill and noticed a massive mule deer
looking straight down toward me. With the wind right, and covered up by some limbs and brush, I was slightly camouflaged, but the deer
was growing more and more suspicious by the moment.
Which broadhead you choose will greatly affect your shooting confidence when faced with a tough shot.
I knew I had to react fast. With my rangefinder still tucked away in its hip pouch, I quickly guessed the range. It looked to be
less than 40 yards, and
with the 60-degree slope I began subtracting yardage appropriately. Within a few split seconds, I decided to take a step to the left –
to achieve a clear
shot — and shoot the buck for a touch over 30 yards.
Miraculously, the deer stayed put but then began to step away. I drew smoothly and swung the sight pin in place, and touched the
shot off just before he went into the trees.
A hollowly “thump,” followed by a back-leg kick from the deer, had indicated a sure hit. A short time later, I followed the blood trail
that led to my prize — my biggest mule deer ever. The arrow had struck a little far back, yet the deer had only gone 150 yards or so.
It was obvious, my broadhead and arrow setup had proved incredibly devastating, despite a shot that hit off the mark.
Large game like elk require broadheads that will hold together. Anything less is absolutely unacceptable, whether it’s a fixed or mechanical head. The author arrowed this big bull using a Striker 100-grain broadhead, which did the job perfectly.
Balancing Lethality & Accuracy
I’ve heard the phrase, “The best broadhead is an accurate one,” and I couldn’t agree more. However, accuracy is far from
everything. A good broadhead is not only accurate but it’s incredibly lethal. Meaning, it must cut with ease using scalpel-sharp blades, blow through bone when necessary
, and most importantly, it must stay intact, regardless of the circumstances.
This, in my opinion, is where the problem occurs. We’ve got lots of compact-size fixed heads and mechanicals that
are designed for all-out shooting precision, but when it comes to reliably cutting big entry and exit holes and holding together, they just don’t make the grade.
Unfortunately, bowhunters find this out after the fact… after they’ve shot an animal or two and notice that the
broadhead that shot so great all summer long are truly lousy for putting game down. And so the quandary begins.
Deadliness Is In the Details
As bow’s become faster and more efficient, arrow speeds follow. This has lead to a universal trend in
compact-sized fixed heads and more and more mechanical models. But, after exhaustive testing in the field and in controlled shooting environments (shooting plywood, foam, sheet metal, etc.),
I’ve found many of these heads to lack true deadliness, or to simply emit that confidence I require for serious hunting use.
Again, by deadliness I mean reliable cutting ability (despite angled impact), sufficient blade surface area, ultra-sharp
blades, and adequate cutting width. Many of today’s heads have one or two of these elements but few have them all — and really, you need them all.
Let’s take a look at what I feel is necessary in choosing a quality broadhead. I’ll cover fixed heads first, then mechanicals.
What a quality fixed head offers that just can’t be beat by any mechanical is rock-solid dependability.
This equates to no-fail strength to cut, penetrate and to stay together until the job is done. This provides added confidence in tough shooting conditions, when hitting solid bone may
occur, or when tackling large game like elk, or simply when the arrow doesn’t pass through and the arrow jockeys around when the animal flees, allowing the broadhead to cut and cut, doing even more damage.
Of course, aerodynamics is the fixed-blade’s nemesis. Too much cutting width and too much blade surface and shootability decays quickly. For this reason, some compromise must be made.
This brings us to today’s compact fixed head. From a distance, the majority of these heads look alike, but upon closer inspection, few actually reveal the merit needed to group tightly, to cut cleanly and consistently, and to hold together like a true chunk of steel.
To read more, see the December 2012 issue of Bow & Arrow Hunting. Subscribe now…
By Joe Bell