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September 03, 2018 2 Comments

The pace at which archery tackle is technologically changing boggles my mind. But, for me, a Traditional Archer, a couple different types of bows, and the right arrow/broadhead set-up has been set-in-stone, since 2005.

I was just one year past my first Traditional kill, using a 125Gr. Two-Blade Eclipse Broadhead (from my friend Blake's line of Broadheads), on a fine old Mule Deer (Revert, at 7.5 yrs old.).

I had been proto-typing our Binocular Harness and One is All/Greengate first generation pack (1st generation iteration of the WholeShabang!), on this hunt.

I had been building my own 350 grain arrows with a 125 gr. Two-Blade Eclipse, Broadhead, to take a fine Mule Deer Buck.

At 475 grains, my arrow/Broadhead combination for mule deer, seemed O.K.

This set-up flew well and it had made a complete pass-through on this buck at 25 yards--what else could you ask for right? Hells Canyon traditional killed mule deer

Well, in 2005, my follow-up opportunity for a Trad. kill became a poor hit on a satellite-six-point Bull Elk, at 14 yards. He whorled at my release, getting at least 24" of penetration from my full-length arrow (32"). I never found this Bull after tracking over three days, once rain then snow for 24 hours set in, erasing his trail.

This was my first big game loss, in thirty years of hunting--I was outraged at myself for thinking Elk could be thought of like mule deer.

The Traditional Bowhunter magazine, had been publishing Dr. Ashby's broadhead studies. I consumed every ounce of wisdom from those articles, and my experiences over the last three years.

So, now my arrow of choice is cedar, cap-dipped, stained and about 678 to 700 grains (200 grains more than my first hunting arrows!!), with a single-bevel two-blade, 160 gr. Grizzly (Now they offer 155 gr.), from my Fox, 56# High Sierra, take-down Recurve--11.6 grains of arrow weight per pound of pull.

This is a weight-forward (F.O.C) set-up, that flies well and gives spectacular results when things go bad--a worst-case-scenario! ALL archers should be prepared in this manner! I don't care about feet-per-second, even though the bamboo-limbed, Fox High Sierra Recurve, shot 212 FPS with the 475 grain arrows.

I may soon try 190 gr. Kodiak broadheads, if I can find they fly well. It's all in the momentum. If you were hit at a railroad crossing, which would you rather be hit by? A freight train, or VW Bug? I know which one, and don't tell me about "kinetics!!" Tell me why it takes a mile to stop a freight train, and 240' to stop a car at the same speed!

I also own and shoot longbows, but haven't decided my arrow/broadhead combination to be hunted with yet. I'll decide that for my 2020 Colorado hunt.

The photo below is a Spike Elk that took a 678 gr. single-bevel Grizzly, through the right upper-leg. The single-bevel spiral fractured the right-side Humerus. It proceeded through his heart and traveled into the opposite shoulder, breaking the cedar-shaft behind the broadhead, and leaving it in the opposite humerus

Always process your game animals as if there is hidden razor-blades inside!.There are many stories of hunters finding broadheads in animals, whether rifle-killed or archery killed. Typically they are about 100 gr, and expandable or triple-blades. 

 Heavy Arrow Weight damage

Note, the incredible hemorrhage, the incapacitated front shoulder--the right side. (The rear-leg incapacity on elk can allow an animal to travel many miles). See the hit, then the spiral fracture below...

 Single-bevel broadhead performance

The end result, a quick and humane kill in a worst case scenario hit!

Spiral fracture

A  worst-case-scenario that ended quickly due to the right arrow/broadhead combination. If you look closely at the picture below, there is a small hole that finally stopped the arrow in the opposite shoulder.

Opposite shoulder of elk

I should also add, I have guided three years for a Bend, Oregon-based outfitter, and I'm sad to report the losses from lightweight arrows and 100 gr. broadheads are sickening.

Hunting elk with expandable broadheads and lightweight tackle is just irresponsible. I will fight for heavier arrow weights/draw weights however I can, as well as keeping expandable broadheads out of the field, for archery elk hunting, in Oregon.

Additional photos of the "Quick-Quarter" process, or as some call it, the "Gutless" Method, in a future Blog.

I've given seminar's on meat care, meat hauling and proper care of wild game. If you don't  know some of the principles of game care, especially as a solo-hunter, or a backcountry hunter, then look for another Blog post on, Backcountry Meat Care, in a few weeks.

2 Responses

Karl J. Findling
Karl J. Findling

July 24, 2020

Sean,I can’t speak as an authority on tuning a compound bow,with plastic vanes, but, it is similar to Traditional bows.

Many tune through paper, and use a bare shaft without vanes. I had great luck with First Cut broadheads many years ago, but there are many new single bevel broadheads available for compounds (Carbon arrows), as well.

Check out Alaska Bowhunting Supply (Now in Bend, OR), and a few others that offer heavy broadhead/arrow combinations.


March 01, 2019


I appreciate your informative article. I am looking for a setup recommendation. I shoot 300 spine arrows on a 29" draw, 70# compound flying somewhere around the 335 fp range. I have been shooting 125 gr 4 blade fixed but am considering the single bevel design and something heavier. I really would like to be able to use the same arrows. Is there a weight and type of head you would recommend? I would like to stick with one head that I can successfully take white tails and elk out to 30 yds. And I am curious to know if my trajectory between 10-30 yds will be significantly spaced apart on pins compared to 125 grain heads. Thanks for your help!


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