Deer & Deer Hunting Editor Dan Schmidt with his Minnesota buck. This is the kind of broadhead performance you can expect from a big expandable on chest hits. Shoulder-blade hits can be a bit more tricky. Photo by Chris Hermans.
I received a note last night from a Facebook friend and loyal Deer & Deer Hunting subscriber from Pennsylvania. John had the unfortunate experience of shooting a big buck in the shoulder last week, and he didn’t recover it. He was using a large two-blade expandable and only got about 3 inches of penetration. John writes:
"I know I should have stopped him or waited for him to get alittle quartering away, but I went blank and took a very slowly walking broadside sho. I have watched your Deer & Deer Hunting TV shows, and I know better! My question is: Would another broadhead have penetrated farther? I shoot 60 pounds of draw weight."
My heart goes out to John, because I know exactly what he is going through right now. As bowhunters, we always replay those shots in our head and wonder what might have been. The important things to note from this experience are that the buck is probably no worse for the wear, and that a change in equipment might be in order. The key word there is "might." Let me elaborate.
First, about the buck. Whitetails have extremely high levels of Vitamin K in their blood. This assists in almost immediate blood clotting. I’m very confident this deer will live to see another season … if John doesn’t get another crack at him this year.
Second, about the equipment. Even with the best brands of bows, arrows and broadheads, I’ve always recommended shooting fixed-position broadheads when shooting lower draw weights (60 pounds and under). This is just my personal preference, and a lot of that goes back to the old-school thinking of having that broadhead inside the deer, cutting it up, as it runs off. There are seemingly countless quality fixed-position broadheads out there. I’ve shot most them over the years and have had great success. Some of the more impressive ones I’ve used include the New Archery Products HellRazor
, Steel Force Phathead
and Muzzy Phantom
(cut-on-contact styles), and Sullivan Innerloc
and Muzzy MX-3
This isn’t to say that you should give up on expandables. The more I shoot these new expandables, the more I am impressed with their performance. It is really hard to argue with 2-plus inch entry and exit wounds. I shot a buck in Minnesota this fall while filming a TV show with Chris Hermans, and was absolutely amazed that the 2-blade Rage Titanium
I was shooting actually severed the buck’s radial bone (the bone that connects to the scapula). It literally cut the bone in half before hitting the heart and exiting the other side. I’m shooting 65 pounds of draw weight this year. Would I have had that same performance had I hit him in the scapula? Probably not. The scapula is there for a reason — to protect the deer.
I’m curious to hear from the rest of you. What has and has not worked for you?