Choosing Arrows and Broadheads for Elk Hunting

Choosing Arrows and Broadheads for Elk Hunting
Building the perfect elk arrow depends on many factors, including broadhead design, arrow weight, front-of-center balance, and the draw weight and draw length of a well-tuned bow.

Q: I am an avid reader of Bowhunter Magazine, and I look forward to each issue and the information and hunting stories you and the other writers contribute! I am planning an elk hunt in Montana with my brother, nephew, and close friend. Could you make some recommendations on arrow/broadhead choices for the hunt? Scott Cool, via e-mail

A: Thanks for your e-mail. First, let’s establish the number-one goal of every elk hunter — a bilateral pneumothorax — otherwise known as a double-lung collapse. If you only puncture one lung on an elk, the odds of recovery are close to zero. That makes maximum, and hopefully two-hole, penetration more important than on just about any other North American big game animal.

There are many factors to consider: draw weight/length, arrow speed/weight (both kinetic energy and momentum), and broadhead construction. All of these factors are intertwined in their importance. If you shoot low poundage, or a short draw length, your arrow speed will be adversely affected, necessitating a heavier arrow and a broadhead designed for maximum penetration. Heavier draw weights and longer draw lengths make the other factors less critical, but they are still important.

Personally, I tend to vary my arrow weight according to the species I am hunting. I may want a flatter trajectory for antelope, deer, or caribou, but for a very tough animal like an elk, I prefer an arrow in the 500-grain range. I have a 30.5-inch draw, and I typically shoot 67 pounds. Because this setup delivers plenty of energy and momentum, I can shoot most any quality broadhead from fixed blades to heavily built mechanicals like the Rage Trypan and not worry about penetration.

See also  6.5mm Creedmoor for Coyote Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Coyote Hunt Hunting Calibers 04 Apr, 2020 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors Is the 6.5mm Creedmoor a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for coyote hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the 6.5mm Creedmoor is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest coyote. As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the coyote, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the coyote in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on. [Click Here to Shop 6.5mm Creedmoor Ammo]What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a coyote in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically. Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the 6.5mm Creedmoor within the ideal range of suitable calibers for coyote hunting?” our answer is: Yes, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is A GOOD CHOICE for coyote hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table. Assumption Value Caliber 6.5mm Creedmoor Animal Species Coyote Muzzle Energy 2300 foot-pounds Animal Weight 30 lbs Shot Distance 100 yardsWhat is the average muzzle energy for a 6.5mm Creedmoor? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a 6.5mm Creedmoor round is approximately 2300 foot-pounds. What is the average weight of an adult male coyote? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male coyote is approximately 30 lbs. [Click Here to Shop 6.5mm Creedmoor Ammo]What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in coyote hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for coyote to be approximately 100 yards. What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the 6.5mm Creedmoor. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the coyote being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.Various calibersA common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions. Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether 6.5mm Creedmoor is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest coyote - and to this question, the response again is yes, the 6.5mm Creedmoor is A GOOD CHOICE for coyote hunting. [Click Here to Shop 6.5mm Creedmoor Ammo]This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below. Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting coyote to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment

We don’t have the space to get into all the physics, and there is plenty of dispute among bowhunters on this topic, but without knowing your specifics I would recommend an arrow weighing at least 450 grains (total arrow/broadhead) for elk. An arrow’s front of center (FOC) is also important to penetration, and I strive for at least 12 to 13 percent or more.

Yes, if your draw weight and arrow speed are exceptional (well over 300 fps), you might get by with a lighter, flatter arrow, but I still wouldn’t go below 400 grains under any circumstances. Will it work, yes, but if the shot is in any way marginal, a lighter arrow will not likely bail you out. If your draw weight and arrow speed is average (under 280 fps), your total arrow weight should go up. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but consider the recurve archer who is shooting only 190 to 200 fps and using arrows of 600 grains and up. They certainly don’t go down in arrow weight. In almost any scenario, a heavier arrow will penetrate better on a live animal. And no test medium can replicate the real thing.

Broadhead design does matter, but mostly in a basic sense. If you start with a well-tuned bow, there is no question the best penetrating broadhead is a cut-on-contact, fixed two-blade design like a Muzzy Phantom, Magnus Stinger, or Iron Will broadhead. A fixed-blade broadhead and certain mechanical heads are next, and then comes the really wide-cut mechanical broadheads. If you hope to drive a two-inch-wide broadhead completely through an elk, you had better have some energy and a heavy arrow behind it. If you do, it’s devastating.

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By now, you can see that all these factors are codependent, which is why there is so much debate. If you’re an average archer shooting 65 pounds at a 28-inch draw, I would shoot an arrow/broadhead combo that weighs around 475 grains (with decent FOC), and a strong, super-sharp broadhead that gives you confidence. Then hunt your way close and drive it through both lungs. Good luck.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>