Here’s that same photo I showed you last time. But today, never mind the bullets. Instead, check out those two bits of steel over toward the left, the ones that look like twisted fragments of a razor blade. They’re from an expanding broadhead.
Over on the far left, you can see four broadheads that were recovered from deer. Although the arrow shaft is broken or missing on all four, the fixed-blade broadhead is totally intact. All three of the expanding broadheads have pieces missing. Sharp pieces.
(Even though I have other photos showing these broadheads more clearly, I decided to go with this one in case anyone is here on their lunch break. The broadheads had just been set aside, and they unfortunately hadn’t yet been cleaned.)
I myself am not a bowhunter; I may give it a try someday. But I’ve talked to some real experts, and here’s the deal. Many bowhunters prefer mechanical broadheads that are designed to expand when they hit a deer. In theory, because these points have less surface area, they make for more accurate arrow flight than you’d get with conventional “fixed-blade” broadheads. In theory, after hitting a deer they instantly scissor open to a larger diameter, thus cutting an even larger wound channel than you’d get with ordinary broadheads.
In practice, it doesn’t always work that way. These points often come apart, especially when they hit bone. At Hursh, and probably at most processors, there are special blanks on hunters’ check-in forms. First, “Bow or gun?” Next, bowhunters are asked to state whether they recovered their broadhead. No matter what the answer, they’re then asked whether they used an expanding broadhead. And in either case, they’re also asked to describe exactly where the arrow hit.
On one of my visits to Hursh Meat Processing, I talked with Clyde Hursh, a butcher who’s also a bowhunter himself. He’s shot dozens of deer with a bow, and every fall he butchers hundreds more for other bowhunters. He’s seen first-hand what works and what doesn’t. He told me it would be a kindness to butchers everywhere if fewer bowhunters used expanding broadheads. Just as important, it would be a kindness to deer.
All too often, Clyde explained, these expanding broadheads don’t expand as designed. Even when they do, they often come apart when they hit bone. They fail to penetrate, or else they pentrate without creating the kind of wound channel that leads to quick, humane kills. Plus, there are those twisted bits of razor blade that could end up in your steaks or Clyde’s fingers.
Clyde has seen these failures with pretty much every brand of mechanical broadhead out there. He told me, on the other hand, that the more reliable fixed-blade broadheads can actually be quite accurate. He also told me there’s just one word I needed to remember about broadheads: “Muzzy.” This was apparently an unsolicited, unpaid testimonial for a particular brand. Since he’s a butcher and a bowhunter, I’ll take his word for it. But whatever brand you choose, maybe those expanding broadheads aren’t such a great idea after all.
© 2011 Al Cambronne