Yep, it is the biggest curse word for any bowhunter. Want the best deer hunt to go bad in a heartbeat? Want the best broadheads to fail to do the job? Want the biggest buck you’ve ever seen to bound away never to be seen again?
Then hit this paddle of a bone squarely with your broadhead-tipped arrow. I’m not saying you will automatically lose your deer, but you won’t be in for an easy bloodtrail.
Yesterday, I helped a friend (and avid Deer & Deer Hunting reader) trail a buck he shot the previous evening. It was a big 10-pointer, he said, and it came past his stand on a straight line after hearing his faux grunts. My friend was about 18 feet up in a ladder stand, and the buck was about 25 yards away when he unleashed the arrow. The deer whirled and ran across a grassy field, heading toward a thick stand of red pines.
Upon unleashing the shot, my friend knew his arrow hit high of its mark … resulting in the dreaded "Crack!" sound of the broadhead hitting the shoulder blade. He found his arrow about 250 yards from the scene; blood on the arrow indicated only about 3 inches of penetration. A dead deer? Most likely not. Although that much penetration would definitely puncture a lung on a straight hit to the chest cavity, it would mostly likely take 5 or 6 inches of penetration on a scapula hit. The problem here is the the arrow must first penetrate an inch or more of hide and hair then break the thick, rigid scapula and penetrate beyond that bone and penetrate the chest cavity. Such hits will truly test your mettle … and your blood-trailing skills.
One more thing to keep in mind when hunting big bucks: The scapula moves in 15 degree angles (or more) as the buck walks. The above photo will help you visualize how that happens, and how the bone can cover the vitals at various angles.
I’m curious to hear shoulder-blade hit stories from all of you, especially on deer that were recovered. Tell me about the blood trail (or lack thereof), and explain which tactics you used to find your deer. Just hit the REPLY button below to share your experiences.