Whitetails and Mechanical Broadheads
Posted on February 1, 2013
Today’s bows and arrows are technologically advanced, but does this mean you can just screw on any broadhead and hunt? Common sense says no.
Each season in deer camp, I notice more and more bowhunters using expanding-blade broadheads over smaller fixed-blade-style heads. This is true testament to the improvements made to the expanding or mechanical head over the past five years or so. Unquestionably, they have been transformed into better designs with blade mechanisms that require less force to open, offering both greater penetration and blade-cutting reliability.
However, in the last couple years, many of these heads are now featuring extra-wide cutting diameters in order to create larger wound channels, more overall terminal performance and greater chance of animal recovery (specifically, despite an unfortunate strike to the mid-section or gut).
The problem I see is that for every gain there seems to be a possible downside when it comes to archery gear. And using extra-large cutting broadheads, especially a mechanical style, doesn’t come without a cost, unless your gear matches these heads appropriately and you have some knowledge of how they will perform under certain shooting conditions.
More Cut, More Energy
Mechanical heads with 2 to 2 ½- or even 2 3/4-inch cutting swaths simply require extra arrow force to push the head clear through a deer’s chest for an entrance and exit wound. On a broadside shot, this force doesn’t have to be substantially more from my experience, given the blades on the head open straight back and with little required force.
But when the shot is at an angle or the broadhead collides with bone, then much more arrow energy is required for the broadhead to perform with stellar results. By “stellar,” I mean that the head will cut and drive deep into flesh in the same direction that the arrow intended it to.
If arrow energy is minimal, then this “straight-line force” usually won’t occur as expected. Instead, the extra-wide and long cutting blade (on the side that is closest to the hide) will likely produce a slight skid-out effect, causing the arrow to penetrate away from the hide and away from direct vertical axis of the arrow shaft, which of course, can cause an assortment of problems and lessen the killing effect of the broadhead.
By Joe Bell