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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why I fell out of love with Mechanical Broadheads

Mechanical Broadheads vs. "Cut - on - Contact"

Those mechanicals look cool and a lot of hunters love them but I will take a cut-on-contact broadhead always as my first choice. There is a nice looking "one piece" cut on contact broadhead pictured.

I tallied reviews at a large sporting goods store for a popular mechanical broadhead and most folks couldn't say enough good things about mechanical broadheads. There were 157 reviews but I worried about the 19 folks who didn't enjoy good results and didn't have good things to say. They gave this particular brand very low marks. That is about 12% of the survey audience who weren't very happy. The problems come in three categories. First, the unhappy 12% reported that the mechanical can open on the way to the target and fly off like it was part of an air show. Second, the broadhead might not function correctly when it initially comes into contact with the intended or unintended object. There were reports of ricochet shots off the animal with no penetration. I remember one hunter saying it was like a "pole vaulter" as he watched the arrow glance off the deer hide.(Probably an active imagination.) And finally, there were reports that the mechanical didn't open at impact and behaved like a field point on pass through shots. That is a lot going on. It's only 12%. You figure that some people are unhappy with anything they buy and never have a good thing to say. So maybe its really only 5%. Heck, it might just be 1%. Still a high percentage when the monster of the big woods makes an appearance. 99% isn't good enough then. I fell out of love at last light and the buck was 20 yards away. I was experimenting with the mechanical types just to see for myself. I messed up. There was a small vine between the buck and my shooting position that I forgot about as the sun set below the horizon. Maybe the mechanical deployed from the force of the release. Maybe I pulled the shot. I let the arrow fly and heard a metallic click instead of the expect "thump". I will never know what really happened. I have seen deflections before with broadheads but my guess is that the mechanical snagged a leaf, opened and headed off somewhere else....or it just opened. It was my fault. I just knew that my trusty cut-on-contact would have powered through that little vine and would have found its mark one way or another. It was the "click" that bothered me. I joined the unhappy 5% - 12%. I know I can't talk you out of your mechanical broadhead. They do fly like a field point - right? I can just tell you about the evening that I fell out of love with mechanicals.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Crossbow Hunting - Learning from Experience

Who is the wiser hunter? When you are out in the field, your skills will likely improve if you pay attention to the older, wiser hunter as shown in this photo.
The keyword is "wiser."
Dumb folks won't teach you much and can be dangerous especially around things that shoot bullets or arrows.
Here are four items learned from "wiser hunters" over the years that will prove meaningful in the field.

1. Deer can be very active in the rain.
That means you should be in the woods on a cloudy, rainy day when everyone else is watching the football game. An intermittent rain is ideal. Now a heavy downpour will likely stop all game movement as the animals head for cover --- but a nice "off and on" drizzle could mean a cruising buck dropping by your stand.

2. Consider the routes animals will take. This doesn't mean setting up right on their expected path. It means allowing for an area for the younger deer and does to move into range and not become alarmed by your presence. The larger animals will move in later. If the first animals become alarmed and move off, the whole situation is busted up. Last year, following this advice, I set up on a travel route but always 25 yards on either side of the expected path depending on the wind. A nice buck moved routinely on the same trail each evening like he was following a bus schedule.

3. Study your game target carefully before taking the shot. The message here is "don't rush your shot." THINK. Have I ever taken a bad shot? Yes. In each case, the shot was rushed and not evaluated properly. Both shots were taken from tree stands and the shots were high. The animals survived and no vital areas were hit.

The reason behind the two misses was simply taking the shot too quickly and not thinking the shot through. In one case, I aimed at a center of mass instead of the vitals in the excitement of the moment. In the second instance, I neglected to compensate for the downward angle from the tree stand. At a distance of 30 yards with a 30 degree downward angle, a shooter taking a modern crossbow or compound bow shot should use an aim point 3.8" lower versus taking the same 30 yard shot on level ground. Rush the shot and neglect to do the mental computation and you will shoot high every time.

4. Don't silhouette yourself. Whether on the ground or in a tree stand, you can't be just hanging out there like you don't belong. A good treestand will have cover behind and around your position. Going up a solo tree out in the middle of the woods like a telephone lineman will have deer wondering what is hanging out there from 100 yards away. Conversely, even a hunter on the ground can be very effective with favorable wind conditions and minimal silouette. Consider the hunter with his back against a large oak tree trunk where the tree width is wider than the hunter. Add in a few ground bushes that provide additional cover and with no hunter movement to alarm an approaching deer, the good sized buck passes by at distance of 6 yards. Farfetched -- not really. That happened just last year. Stay safe out there and Good Luck !