Editors Blog

The Case for Mechanical Broadheads (and Lighted Nocks)

Happy blood trails and meat for the freezer get thanks, in part, to the effectiveness of mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks.

Happy blood trails and meat for the freezer get thanks, in part, to the effectiveness of mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks.

Where have you gone, Bruce Barrie?

It’s been almost 15 years since you unveiled that crazy-looking 100-grain Snyper Broadhead at the Archery Trade Show. I remember it fairly well. A lot of guys looked at with raised eyebrows. Thought it was gimmick.

They were wrong. Dead wrong.

In case you’re too young to remember what was going on in the hunting industry in 2001, that was the year that Barrie’s company, Rocky Mountain Broadheads, came out with a broadhead featuring the “Cam Action Blade System.” That technology was later sold to Rage Broadheads and is now also licensed by other companies, including New Archery Products.

Admittedly, it took me years to embrace these broadheads, much less any expandable. I was one of those set-in-my-way types of bowhunters. The good, old-fashioned three-blade replaceables killed deer fine, thank you very much. But that’s ancient history.

A photo is worth a thousand words when it comes to the expansive wounds created by mechanical broadheads.

A photo is worth a thousand words when it comes to the expansive wounds created by mechanical broadheads.

After many years of hunting with superior expandable broadheads, I cannot think of a scenario where I’d go back to shooting anything but. Granted, technology has come a long way, and the expandables of today are exponentially better than they were in those earlier days. Case in point, this short video:

Back then, it was recommended that no one hunt with an expandable unless they shot max poundage (65 or more). Today’s designs allow for vertical bow poundages of much less than that, and some expandables are made for low poundage bows.

Why expandables? Simple: They’re easy to tune and (more important) they gash huge entry and exit wounds in deer, causing massive blood trails and quick death.

Yet, expandable broadheads are banned in some places. You read that right: Illegal.

There’s no handy guide detailing equipment restrictions for all the states but as far as I can tell, three states still ban the use of mechanical broadheads:

  1. Washington
  2. Oregon
  3. Idaho

That is absolutely ridiculous. Watch the above video again. From my count this doe was down in 16 seconds and dead within 21 seconds of being shot. As hunters, we strive for quick, clean kills. It doesn’t get any more humane than that.

I shot that deer with a Barnett Recruit crossbow and a Headhunter® arrow tipped with a 100-grain Rage Xtreme Crossbow broadhead (combined arrow/broadhead weight of 403 grains). This rig flings arrows at 300 feet per second, plenty enough speed and kinetic energy to drive that broadhead through the deer and into the dirt.

It's hard to argue that mechanical broadheads aren't effective, lethal and humane with wound channels like this and 21 seconds from impact to death.

It’s hard to argue that mechanical broadheads aren’t effective, lethal and humane with wound channels like this and 21 seconds from impact to death.

Precise shot placement is key to any bowhunting success story, but the sheer lethality of this instance (and countless others across North America this fall) is and will be due to the scalpel-sharp blades and the swath of a cutting surface provided by that Rage broadhead.

I’ve shot Rage Xtremes through my vertical bows for four seasons now and have never lost a deer. I’ve also shot deer with the ShockWave expandables from New Archery Products. These broadheads cut insanely wide wound channels — advertised at 2-plus inches, but the results have far exceeded that in almost every case. I don’t have proof that this happens, but I honestly believe the blades hyperextend and, hence, cause wider cuts when hitting a deer that is slightly quartering.

You can’t quite see it in the video, but I was also using a Nocturnal broadhead nock on that arrow. Lighted nocks are a godsend for both vertical bowhunters and crossbow hunters. I firmly believe that all archers should use lighted nocks for the simple reason that they assist with shot recognition and, obviously, in finding the arrow afterward. The most critical decisions in blood trailing — when, where and how to take up the trail — are often made by the evidence indicated on the arrow.

Yet, three states still have bans in effect for the use of lighted nocks. Colorado just changed their allow to allow for their inclusion. Woot! for Colorado!

  1. Idaho
  2. Montana
  3. Oregon

It is absolutely ridiculous that such bans are still in effect. I’ve made the plea several times on social media: Give me one good reason why lighted nocks should be banned, and have yet to receive an answer. One hunter said something to the effect that lighted nocks, although helpful in making blood trailing decision, might encourage a hunter to shoot at a deer after hours, because he would know that he could retrieve his arrow. That makes zero sense to me, and I cannot envision any scenario where this would increase poaching activity whatsoever.

C’mon, folks. It’s time that the entire bowhunting community embraces the equipment that makes us more efficient and more humane. We owe it to ourselves, the hunting community and, most importantly, to the animals we pursue.

 

GEAR WE LOVE:

T6253

If you struggle with field-dressing deer by yourself, check out the High Tail Assistant. It’s easy to use and makes the field-dressing process simpler and more efficient.

Features:

  • Field dress your deer by yourself in mere minutes!
  • Keeps the rear-end off the ground
  • Easy to set up in seconds
  • Secure and easy one-person job
  • Conveniently folds to fit into included canvas carry bag

One thought on “The Case for Mechanical Broadheads (and Lighted Nocks)

Comments are closed.