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Thread: Thoughts on expandable broadheads

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    Default Thoughts on expandable broadheads

    With the proposal deadline for new statewide regulations due soon are any of the forum members in favor of legalization of expandable broadheads? Personally, I have hunted with both fixed and expandable blade broadheads, and with compounds vs. traditional for big game. Granted, I don't feel it responsible to use expandables in traditional bows, but with the kinetic energy transfers possible with the compound bows today I think that this should be allowed. I am just curious to hear other peoples comments on the issue because while I don't think any expandable will ever be 100% effective on all big game animals they do approach the 98% mark in my mind and are far more shooter friendly as far as accuracy is concerned. Which places it in to the similar discussion of the accuracy of a .22 caliber rifle vs. a heavy hitting cannon; meaning shot placement over power. Any comments?

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    Member FullCryHounds's Avatar
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    For some animals, I'd say they are fine. But for thick haired animals, never. We shoot several hundred Bison each year and I will no longer allow expandibles. I could post dozens of pictures of bison with a half dozen arrows flopping around because they only penetrated 2-6 inches. And the hunter following along behind the animal because he shot all his arrows and he's waiting for another arrow to fall out so he can try again. And each one of them gave me the same BS story before the hunt how great their broadheads were. Just because you get lucky and do have a few clean kills, why take the chance when there are much better options readily available that have a better proven track record.

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    They are already legal and they work just fine.

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    you are right I reviewed the regs and saw that. I don't know where I thought I read they weren't legal or if it was a new change but there are arguments for and against them nonetheless.

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    This is going to be my first year hunting with expandable broadheads but not for thick haired animals like FullCry mentioned. I'm kind of excited about just due to the fact with my bow when I shoot fixed broadheads they sail on me and it drives me nuts or other ones I got to readjust them from practicing with field tips, I now have 3 fixed broadheads I use for practicing only. With the expandable broadhead I shoot the Rage Chisels and they fly just like a field tip if not even better. Again not for thick haired animals but saying that will be attempting taking a black bear over a bait station this season and have been told and witnessed no problem with using them on bears.

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    I used expandables for the first time last year and was pretty impressed. I went to them looking to get something to fly a little better in windy out of state hunts. (Having a tough time getting by bow finely tuned for fixed blades - yes I know I suck.) Shots on an antelope and a whitetail with the rages were absolutely devastating. Pass throughs, gaping exits, major blood trails, both died in sight. Small sample I know but encouraging early returns.

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    If you can't get fixed blade broadheads to fly the same as your field points, try tuning your bow.

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    Agreed, tune your bow.

    The arrow has no choice, but to fly the same with fixed blades, expandable blades, or field tips. If the bow is tuned.

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    Keep in mind a poorly tuned bow even with mechanicals is not a cure all. If the arrow does not have true flight penetration will be severely limited

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    Member Longbow6360's Avatar
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    I'll preface by saying I've hunted with a longbow and fixed-blade heads for about thirty years. I'm not sure how many animals I've killed but I stopped counting at 28 around 1995. I am NOT against compounds or some of the new-fangled equipment most bowhunters use these days. I'd gladly share a campfire with any bowhunter out there. Just so you know.
    This is not directed at any poster here, but, I hope you'll take my experiences into account.....
    If you have a broadhead that you wouldn't shoot at thick skinned game but would use on thin skinned game then why in the world would you use them at all? Are they just adequate enough for deer but not for brown bear? (There might be a hidden ethics issue here.) Who can't get a fixed-blade on a properly spined arrow to "fly like a field point"? I've guided for outfitters in Utah and Idaho and one of them would not allow expanding broadheads because of many past failures. I've seen client's broadheads open in mid-flight on several occasions, one of which bounced off the side of an elk. I've seen where only one blade has opened inside a muledeer. I've seen mechanicals "blow through" on an antelope and leave an awesome exit hole like pro-mechanical head guys like to boast about, but, upon inspection, the head didn't open until the last second before it exited. If that antelope would have been a bear, we might have been in trouble. I also saw a bowhunter make a textbook shot behind the shoulder of a cow elk where the head opened immediately and penetrated only 6-8 inches. I heard a "crack/slosh" sound when it hit. It wasn't a long bloodtrail but the blood was sparse. To be fair, I've also seen quick kills with mechanicals. Less windplaning? I'll buy that too. But I wouldn't spend a ton of money, planning and effort on a dream hunt and depend on a broadhead that I didn't dare shoot at anything but easy-to-kill animals. If you shoot a bear or any animal that is hard to kill or can eat you, I don't want to be in the point position on the bloodtrail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Longbow6360 View Post
    I'll preface by saying I've hunted with a longbow and fixed-blade heads for about thirty years. I'm not sure how many animals I've killed but I stopped counting at 28 around 1995. I am NOT against compounds or some of the new-fangled equipment most bowhunters use these days. I'd gladly share a campfire with any bowhunter out there. Just so you know.
    This is not directed at any poster here, but, I hope you'll take my experiences into account.....
    If you have a broadhead that you wouldn't shoot at thick skinned game but would use on thin skinned game then why in the world would you use them at all? Are they just adequate enough for deer but not for brown bear? (There might be a hidden ethics issue here.) Who can't get a fixed-blade on a properly spined arrow to "fly like a field point"? I've guided for outfitters in Utah and Idaho and one of them would not allow expanding broadheads because of many past failures. I've seen client's broadheads open in mid-flight on several occasions, one of which bounced off the side of an elk. I've seen where only one blade has opened inside a muledeer. I've seen mechanicals "blow through" on an antelope and leave an awesome exit hole like pro-mechanical head guys like to boast about, but, upon inspection, the head didn't open until the last second before it exited. If that antelope would have been a bear, we might have been in trouble. I also saw a bowhunter make a textbook shot behind the shoulder of a cow elk where the head opened immediately and penetrated only 6-8 inches. I heard a "crack/slosh" sound when it hit. It wasn't a long bloodtrail but the blood was sparse. To be fair, I've also seen quick kills with mechanicals. Less windplaning? I'll buy that too. But I wouldn't spend a ton of money, planning and effort on a dream hunt and depend on a broadhead that I didn't dare shoot at anything but easy-to-kill animals. If you shoot a bear or any animal that is hard to kill or can eat you, I don't want to be in the point position on the bloodtrail.

    Awesome food for thought! Question on fixed blades then, do certain one fly different or is it all in how you tune your bow?

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    Here's what I do.

    Tune the bow the best you can with field tips, ie paper tune, nock & rest allignment, have a buddy watch the arrow flight, etc... Then sight in the bow. Next, put on a fixed blade broadhead perfectly straight, ya know square up the insert and stuff like that. Shoot a few arrows like this and any "non-tuned weirdness" in your bow/arrow set up will be exagerated more with fixed blade broadheads. From there make adjustments so that your field tips and broadheads are hitting in the same spot.

    That's just what I do, others may do it differently. I still get the occaisional broadhead design that just won't fly very well out of my bow. I stick to 100 grain Innerlock Broadheads and get excellent results. They have aluminum ferrules with a steel center pin, so it works for me.

    Good luck.

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    My view on expandables is that is one more thing that can go wrong. There are already so many things that have to come together that I wouldn't want to chance a blade not opening and possibly only wounding an animal. With fixed blade you don't have this problem.

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    Bullets kill by trauma, shock, tissue damage and knockdown power. A well placed bullet might drop the critter DTR. Arrows are designed to kill by cutting blood vessels and tissue. Blood trails are inevitable in bowhunting. The deeper the penetration, the more blood vessel and tissue cut, the shorter the blood trail. Razor sharp, cut to point fixed heads, offer the best penetration available and require the least amount of force to penetrate with the least amount of shock transferred to the animal on impact. We've all cut ourselves with a sharp knife and didn't know it until we saw the blood. Expandable heads require energy to open. This energy has to come from the arrow. The wasted energy robbed from the arrow is transferred to the animal on impact. More shock on impact might enhance the fight or flight reaction and could lengthen you blood trail. Just one more thing that can go wrong in a sport that requires everything to fall into place.

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Thought on expandables? Never again.

    Vietnam - June 70 - Feb. 72
    Cancer from Agent Orange - Aug. 25th 2012
    Cancer Survivor - Dec. 14th 2012

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    Quote Originally Posted by MntMan69 View Post
    Awesome food for thought! Question on fixed blades then, do certain one fly different or is it all in how you tune your bow?
    I think some wider heads are harder to find a matched spine weight arrow. I shoot Black Diamond Deltas and I've never had a problem. Three blade heads seem to be the easiest to tune. Tune your bow with properly spined arrows and a matched broadhead and you should be golden.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boud'arc View Post
    Bullets kill by trauma, shock, tissue damage and knockdown power. A well placed bullet might drop the critter DTR. Arrows are designed to kill by cutting blood vessels and tissue. Blood trails are inevitable in bowhunting. The deeper the penetration, the more blood vessel and tissue cut, the shorter the blood trail. Razor sharp, cut to point fixed heads, offer the best penetration available and require the least amount of force to penetrate with the least amount of shock transferred to the animal on impact. We've all cut ourselves with a sharp knife and didn't know it until we saw the blood. Expandable heads require energy to open. This energy has to come from the arrow. The wasted energy robbed from the arrow is transferred to the animal on impact. More shock on impact might enhance the fight or flight reaction and could lengthen you blood trail. Just one more thing that can go wrong in a sport that requires everything to fall into place.
    True words right there.

    Speaking of sharpness and pain, while stalking a brown bear last fall my arrow fell off the rest and into some brush. I couldn't take my eyes off the bear because we were about 25 yards away so I quickly glanced at my arrow and reached down without looking. The wind swirled and the bear huffed off into the alders. My son and I stood up and he said "Dad, your finger is bleeding". I looked down and blood was running out of the tip of my finger. I had no idea I had cut myself.

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    I'm a compound shooter. Have been since my first Pro-Line back in '89 with the laminated maple limbs. I was 23 and itching to bowhunt and like most eager pups with a new jones I was impatient to be accurate enough to hunt. I had a flipper rest with a Berger button and a guard-less, 3 pin, all metal sight (20, 30, 35). I shot 2215 Autumn Orange XX75's with a tab. I tipped them with 125gr Thunderheads because they were tough, simple and fairly easy to tune. Nowadays I shoot a nice little Parker I picked up on clearance. I've got a newer sight fiber optic sight and a Whisker Biscuit rest. I also use a release because it's d a m n near impossible to find a compound bow with a long enough axle-to-axle length to accommodate a finger shooter. And rotsa-ruck finding a rest as well. From then until now I have always striven to keep my equipment as simple and rugged as possible. I have resisted the incessant pressure from "the industry" to upgrade my gear to stuff that seems more oriented to the 3D course than to the real world of alder-banging with a 60lb pack on your back.

    I tell you this because I have witnessed a fair amount of the evolution of contemporary bowhunting and I'm telling you that there is very little anyone can do to "improve" archery. It still boils down to consistency--of arrows in terms of weight, spine, symmetry, balance and drag. And in consistency of the shooter's form. Bow set-up is important but only to the degree of the complexity and sensitivity to change of the bow. At it's essence, competency for an archer is a function of consistent accuracy at a given shooting distance and achieving that requires practice. How much practice is a function of several variables but no matter how innately talented or newfangled the gear, the ethical novice must invest a significant amount of time BEFORE they become good enough to enter the woods.

    With that said 99% of all new products are designed to attract the ever lazier to bowhunting by making that initial investment less. Everything on the market these days is a dayglo shortcut to Successville. And if I see the word extreme on another archery gizmo my head is going to explode...but I digress. To get back to the topic my opinion about expandable broadheads is as follows:

    They may well be adequate for relatively easy to kill deer sized animals but I will never hunt with them because of all the products out there, expandables cater specifically to the so-called bowhunter unwilling to invest the time to ensure his arrows are flying perfectly. We have enough lazy, shortcut hungry slobs in the woods as it is. We don't need products that draw in more of them.

    Do they fly like field points? I'm sure they do but then lots of guys shoot field points (from bows with tuning issues) with acceptable accuracy. Maybe I'm weird but I enjoy tuning my arrows and getting them as close to being clones of one another as possible. Yes, it's time consuming. Yes, it can be tedious but as someone who places greater value in those things which have to be earned, I value the investment of my time in tuning my bow/arrows/broadheads, which, in reality doesn't really take that long AND it inspires confidence in my equipment knowing it's no-kidding dialed in.

    On another level I am uncomfortable with shooting a thing with moving parts at an animal I intend to kill quickly because parts that move fail more often than parts that don't.

    I have only killed a few animals with a bow and all of them died within seconds after suffering a lateral pneumothorax induced by a fixed blade head.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    I won't shoot them. Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned. I shoot a compound made about 1985 and use Zwickie broad heads. I'm only getting about 210fps with a 600gr arrow but they go clean through caribou the long way. I have watched a bunch of bowhunting shows and have seen a bunch of deer shot with only about 10" to 15" of penetration. I don't know if that is from expandables or what but I'm not chancing it. My set up is accurate enough to consistantly hit a paper plate at 50yds and that is good enough for me.

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    My buddy has harvested a black bear couple years ago in Oregon with a expandable and he said it worked awesome and would recommend them. Now I know the bears down there a little smaller then up here but I'm thinking it should work pretty good. I guess it would all be on personnal experince. Bait staion days have finally come apon us and hopefully my stars will aline right this weekend and I will for sure give you guys my low down on how it all went "if" I get one. Now I'm not saying I'm going use them after I'm done with the three I bought, might as well use them since I spent the money, but LongBow for sure gave me the motivation to zero in my other broadheads, muzzy, and take the time and effort to get them on target. Good information here! Thanks!

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