A friend of mine and I have two things we are total opposites about: weather and hobby sports.
I, being a fisherman, love the warm weather and water. He, being a hunter, loves the cold and woods. We often jab at each other about the skills required to participate in each other’s hobby and we never fail to point out the temperatures when they begin to favor one side of the thermometer.
The first day of summer is an event I always look forward to because for me that means the water is warm, the days are longer and I can stay out all night fishing. The weatherman predicted a nice hot one for this occasion and my friend, being the best pal he can be, notified me early in the morning (I assume so I can think about it all day) that there is just a bit over 90 days until hunting season begins.
That’s right, three measly months and all the glory of the summer season will begin giving way to fall. So, with a momentary lapse in my joyful demeanor, I challenged him to find a hobby besides hunting so he would stop wishing my summer away. With a smile, he pulled out his phone and showed me what he has been doing in his spare time.
The photo was of the hunting arrows he is making for hunting white-tail deer with a compound bow.
I have to admit I was intrigued. He knew it too and smiled as he took me through a 20-minute debriefing session on exactly what I was looking at, which was an arrow kit used by bow hunters who are looking to reduce the opportunities for deer to run, and run far enough to bleed out and possibly not be found.
He recounted an incident last year where the deer did just that. Never finding the deer has led him to spend his non-hunting months searching for methods of becoming “a more ethical hunter.”
According to him, when a deer runs with an injury that is not efficient or clean (so that they die quickly and very near the sight of impact) they will often wander. If found, the meat is highly likely marbled with the same adrenaline that was coursing through their veins while on the run. That can lead to gamey tasting meat no matter how you cook it. Should it take a while to track the deer down, you run the risk of losing some of the harvest.
Loss of harvest is high as well, when the penetration tears through the skin, causing more damage on impact or entry, but damage that is not immediately fatal. Now more harvestable meat is torn away, and again, the deer could wander. Worst-case scenario, the deer bleeds out, never being harvested.
“That’s wasteful,” he said, “and not the reason I hunt.”
He added that while he does enjoy the sport of the hunt, his focus is on achieving an efficient kill.
“I enjoy putting food on the table,” he added. “And if the shot isn’t a kill shot and a deer runs, I like knowing that with a cleaner entry, the animal will have a greater chance to heal if not found.”
So how does a hunter deliver a more efficient death to the deer?
Better gear: Stainless steel arrowheads (non expandable) on carbon shafted arrow bodies is his suggestion, as well as some of the well respected product reviewers.
This combination is supposed to provide a cleaner, deeper penetration, with a greater stability of arrow flight, which in turn provides a more efficient death.
The type of arrowhead used directly affects the penetration, and the type of penetration, as well as the depth of penetration detail whether or not the death is or will be efficient.
For example there are three types of arrowheads used in hunting whitetail deer. All three are considered broadheads and used for big game hunting, but each enters the target differently and works for the hunter differently.
Fixed blade arrowheads have blades that are either built into the ferrules (center portion of a broadhead where the blades attach) or that utilize replaceable blades that fit into slots along the broadhead ferrule. These are used by many traditional-style bowhunters and by bowhunters who are shooting bows with lower draw weights, these broadheads.
Removable blades are designed so that the blades can be replaced on the ferrule, so there is no need to discard the entire broadhead if only the blades are damaged.
Mechanical blades are retracted close to the ferrule and expand to expose the cutting edges upon impact.
These blades are recommended for use only with bows rated 50 pounds or more because most mechanical heads require additional energy to open upon penetration and therefore reduce the potential energy and subsequent penetration of the arrow.
Unfortunately, these cause a lot of tissue damage upon impact, ripping through tissue and tendon with a wider, messier aftermath.
After considering the cut of the blades and the entry aftermath created, there is also the composition of an arrowhead to consider. A variety of materials are used but what seems to be a favorite among the hunters striving for accuracy and efficiency are stainless steel, non expandable ones.
These arrowheads are noted for cutting a clean through path and are easy to tune. Weighted at 400 to 500 grains, it can be a mid to heavy weighted arrowhead which is perfect for deer. When delivered in a kill zone (on the deer) and with accuracy, this arrowhead will most assuredly deliver a nice clean kill.
Accuracy. Without it the type of arrowhead does not matter. A bow hunter requires accuracy in reaching his targets. Simply put, he has to hit the target as perfectly straight as possible each time. That ability provides accuracy. Accuracy produces more efficient kills.
This is where the use of the carbon body arrow shaft enters the scene.
These arrow shafts are known for their durable, featherweight features which have the most versatility for being manipulated to fine tune the entire arrow. This is achieved by manually influencing the overall weight (spine and grain) and stiffness of the shaft, which will also influence the speed of the arrow. They also offer many options for nocks and points.
Carbon arrows are easier to get “on target” because they are noted for having faster in-flight recovery.
If you don’t understand the importance of spine and grain weight, you may be shooting a shaft that is unsafe or one that won’t perform well on the game you’re hunting. Mismatched arrows may not fly correctly or accurately.
Arrows that are too lightweight for your bow may cause you to essentially “dry fire” your bow. But when you purposefully pick the right pieces to match with the right arrowhead, you can create an arrow that has solid stability.
Why wouldn’t you want solid stability from your arrow when hunting?
The arrow is the only accessory that, once it has left the bow, will be interacting with your target so if you want to be more dead on with your hunting, go for stability. Good stability allows for straighter flight, more accurate impaction and a clean through path; a cleaner kill, which brings us back full circle to my friend who has spent some of his “off season” studying on how to be a more efficient hunter.
That is the first part of the answer given to me when I asked him what hunter’s do after the kill.
In the handful of years Travis and I have known each other, we both have become somewhat fond of the other’s sport of choice. By fond, I mean interested enough to share some real, useful and nerdy knowledge about fishing or hunting.
In fact, our most recent ongoing topic of conversation has been how we spend those months when our hobby sport is “out of season.”
It is my intention to share some of these conversations with you, the reader, over the next couple months.
There is no real off season for hunters because the real aspect of “sport” hunting includes all the steps taken that lead to the final moment before one spots their target.
The Life section is supported by Brethren Care Village in Ashland.