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Ask Bowhunter.

Q Thanks for the great magazine. I have booked a trip to Newfoundland for a woodland caribou/moose combo hunt. I have a Mathews SQ2 that I usually keep at 60 pounds. Should I increase my weight to 70 pounds, like I have planned? I currently use Muzzy three-blade 100-grain broadheads. However, I am concerned about shooting a moose with them. Some friends have told me that I should use a cut-on-contact broadhead such as the four-blade Phantom 125. Are cut-on-contact heads the way to go? I use Beman ICS Hunter 400 arrows that are 26 1/4 inches long (shafts only). Will this arrow be strong enough, or should I use a heavier shaft? Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks!

R.H., Kingstree, SC

A I killed my Newfoundland stag with a Phantom 125 head (also made by Muzzy) and have a personal preference for cut-on-contact heads. Having said that, you alone must decide what you're most comfortable shooting. The setup you describe is adequate, assuming it delivers enough kinetic energy to insure deep penetration. Shot placement, of course, is the key.

Woodland caribou are big-bodied animals, as are moose. Regardless, I shot completely through my Newfoundland stag and took a Shiras bull in Montana a couple of years ago. My setup is normally 70 pounds, and I like 2315 aluminum arrows; however, I also shoot ICS 400 shafts with excellent results. I avoid smaller, lightweight heads and prefer 125-grain three- or four-blade broadheads. Muzzy--and several other broadhead manufacturers--make excellent hunting heads. Tests have shown there's minimal penetration difference between cut-on-contact points and those with chisel, tro-car, or concave tips. Use the head that flies well from your setup and the one you have the most confidence in doing the job. Wait for a broadside shot and release when the animal offers a double-lung shot. Most any quality built, true flying, razor-keen head will put the biggest stag or bull down in short order.

M. R. James, Founder/Editor Emeritus

Q What is the gestation period for whitetail deer?

J.F. Warren, AK

A The average gestation period for a whitetail deer is 200 days. But, just like with people, this time period can vary from 183 to 208 days. Thus, assuming that a doe is bred on November 14, the expected birth date is June 2. This is why biologists always say that a doe will drop her fawns near the end of May to the beginning of June. This coincides with the time that native vegetation is most succulent and nutritious.

C. J. Winand, Contributor

Q I hope to be hunting moose, black bear, and elk next year here in Colorado. What is the minimum amount of kinetic energy needed for these species? Thank you.

D.S., Colorado Springs, CO

A This is a bit subjective. Sufficient kinetic energy is dependent on many factors, including broadhead type. Momentum is another factor that is debated among bowhunters. However, if you plan to hunt black bears, you could easily get by with 50 foot-pounds of kinetic energy, since bears are fairly easy to penetrate. That's not the case with moose, obviously. You can't have too much kinetic energy for these monsters. I would push for 70 foot-pounds of kinetic energy, but you could get by with 60 if your shot placement is good. Elk are also tough, but the most important thing with them is two-hole penetration. They run fast and blood trailing can be difficult without two holes contributing to the trail. Sixty foot-pounds of kinetic energy is fine, but again, more is a good thing, provided you don't "overbow" yourself with too much draw weight.

Here are a couple of examples. I shot a bull elk last year in Arizona with an arrow that weighed 487 grains traveling at 270 feet per second. That computes to a kinetic energy of 77 foot-pounds. My broadhead smashed a rib on the way in and exited the other side--dead bull.

On the other hand, Bowhunter Magazine TV Producer Larry D. Jones uses a 57-pound recurve and arrows in the 550-grain range. His kinetic energy is probably in the range of 55 foot-pounds, and he's killed all sorts of animals up to Alaska-Yukon moose.

Don't get too hung up on kinetic energy. As long as your arrow/broadhead has sufficient weight (425+ grains) and your bow has some speed to it (250 fps), you should do fine.

Curt Wells, Equipment Editor

Q I'm going bear hunting this fall for the first time, and I'd like to learn more about bear anatomy and good shot placement. Do you know of any good publications on this subject? Thanks.

J.H., Nekoosa, WI

A One of the best books I've seen on shot placement is "The Perfect Shot" by Craig Boddington. It's illustrated and covers all North American big game animals. It's a bit pricey at $37.99, and its focus is on rifle hunting, but it is a great guide by one of the country's top hunters. It's available from Cabela's (1-800-237-4444,

My own book, "The Bowhunter's Handbook" contains a chapter on proper placement. An updated second edition is slated for publication this summer and will be available from or 1-800-260-6397.

After bear hunting for over 30 years and tagging several dozen bruins, I've learned the best shot is one taken at a stationary animal standing broadside or quartering slightly away. Don't rush things and take an iffy shot. Concentrate on placing a razor-sharp broadhead through both lungs, holding on a mid-body spot several inches behind the front shoulder.

Bears are extremely tough animals and picking an aiming point is trickier than on deer. Bruins have long hair and appear as a black blob with no obvious aiming point. Mentally divide the bear's body in half, holding midway between the top of the animal's back and bottom of the chest. Keep in mind that the hair can make a bruin appear larger than he really is, and low shots sometimes zip under the vitals.

Good luck, and don't forget to send us a photo of you posing with your trophy bruin.

M. R. James, Founder/Editor Emeritus

Send your Ask Bowhunter questions to Bowhunter, 6405 Flank Drive, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17112
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Date:Jul 1, 2005
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