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Dealers, why not shooting gear for bigger big game?

Dealers, Why Not Shooting Gear For Bigger Big Game?

"What sort of bow and arrows do I need to drop a black bear?" the teen-ager asked as he leaned across the archery-shop counter. The proprietor scratched his head, glanced nervously out the window, and cleared his throat to speak.

"Any deer setup will do," he mumbled back. "The gear I just sold you is fine."

As the youngster carted his newly purchased compound bow and aluminum arrows to the car, I silently cussed the dealer's ho-hum attitude. Not only had he lead a new patron astray -- he had also lost the chance to sell a few more key archery items. Sad to say, all too many archery retailers do not really know the difference between proper gear for deer and correct tackle for bigger big game.

Aside from deer, black bear are the most commonly encountered bowhunting animals. Most states allow bowhunting for bear at the same time deer seasons are open, which means quite a few bruins are seen and shot as they walk near whitetail stands. In addition, deliberate black bear hunting with a bow is exceedingly popular with archers. Both spring and fall seasons are offered across North America, giving avid bow-benders the chance to liven up their yearly recreation. Baiting spring bear is especially popular in prime habitat like Ontario, Canada and Colorado.

Caribou, elk, and moose are also among the most popular species adventurous archers pursue. In addition, serious bowhunters sometimes try for grizzly bear, brown bear, American bison, and musk ox. Like black bear, all these animals weigh more than twice as much as deer--which means they require specialized shooting equipment. A store owner who recommends whitetail gear for a 350-pound black bear, 400-pound caribou, 650-pound elk, or 1,500-pound moose is doing his customers a serious disservice. If the quarry happens to be a long-clawed grizzly, poor gear-selection advice just might turn the customer into bear bait!

And 50-pound hunting bow with matching aluminum arrows and a shaving-sharp broadhead will shoot completely through a broadside, 150-pound whitetail buck. By comparison, larger animals have thicker hides, bigger bones, and wider bodies. To penetrate the vital chest cavity on a creature weighing two to ten times as much as your average farmland deer, you need: 1) a bow with a heavier draw weight; 2) a heavier arrow; and 3) especially low-friction broadheads.

Of these three large-animal equipment requirements, a heavier arrow is the least important. Shot from the very same bow, a 400-grain arrow possesses about four percent less kinetic (penetrating) energy than a 500-grain arrow. Four percent is not enough difference to significantly boost arrow penetration in a black bear or elk, but every little bit can count in some situations. For example, let's say the average arrow-penetration depth in a broadside bull elk's chest is 15 inches with a 500-grain arrow. By using a 400-grain projectile instead, you'll be losing about an inch of penetration, and that inch might make the difference in cutting one lung and reaching both. The upshot could be a long tracking chore instead of a great blood trail and an animal quickly on the ground.

For black bear and caribou, which weigh roughly twice as much as deer, the arrow-weight factor is not too critical. For elk and moose, it can certainly make a difference. Fortunately, Easton Aluminum offers three or four alternate arrow weights to match any hunting bow -- weights varying from 400 or 450 grains (lightweight) to 500 or 550 grains (medium weight) and 600 grains or more (heavy weight). For most deer-hunting purposes, light or medium weight is fine. For really big animals, an arrow over 600 grains ensures slightly deeper penetration and a greater chance of positive results.

More important than arrow weight is the draw weight of your bow. Most experts agree that 60 pounds should be the absolute minimum for larger big game. For elk and moose, a 70-pound bow is advisable. For every pound of draw-weight increase, you enjoy close to one foot-pound of extra penetrating energy. The average 50-pound bow generates about 50-ft./lbs. of energy, and the average 60-pound bow generates close to 60-ft./lbs. -- an increase in penetrating energy of nearly 20 percent. A 70-pound or 75-pound bow can increase penetrating ability by nearly 50 percent. Such additional "firepower" can ensure massive tissue damage and quick kills in magnum animals. It also ups the odds of a complete arrow pass-through, which is always desirable because there are two holes in the hide to ensure a good, easily followed blood trail.

Most bowhunters do not realize that broadhead style is the single most important factor in deep arrow penetration on game. For deer, with their relatively small bodies and fairly thin skin, the type of broadhead used is not especially important as long as it is sharp. However, a head with a large, high-friction nose cone will lose up to 30 percent of the penetrating depth achieved by a head with a sharp, cutting nose. Broadheads with multi-sided pyramid points penetrate better than nose-cone heads but fail to measure up to cutting-nose heads. This is fact -- not conjecture. I recently spent two weeks in an elk camp where eight bulls were bagged. Six were taken with nose-cone heads, and Six were taken with nose-cone heads, and average arrow penetration was only 12 inches. The results were tedious, difficult blood-trailing chores on animals that ran 200 to 400 yards before piling up. The two remaining bulls were shot with cutting-nose heads, and both arrows penetrated completely through the animals. One ran 20 yards and died; the other went 60 yards and keeled over. The contrast was an eye-opener to say the least.

Time-tested broadheads that penetrate especially well include the Zwickey Black Diamond, Bear Razorhead, Satellite II-XL, Satellite Titan, Bohning Blazer, and Hoyt Bow Bullet. The Zwickey requires hand-sharpening, but the others come shaving sharp from the factory. These and similar models efficiently convert an arrow's energy to deep penetration -- a must on really large trophies.

Let's look at two problem cases you might be required to solve in your store. First, you might encounter an archer who is already set up for deer and can't or won't purchase a higher-draw bow or heavier arrows. This guy can still go after bear, caribou, elk, moose, or any other beefy animal if he switches to a big, cutting-nose broadhead like the fine Satellite Titan. A second dilemna may arise with youngsters, women, and men with physical problems that limit bow-drawing ability. For example, my wife Joanne is a small gal who cannot accurately shoot a bow above 50 pounds. However, she recently shot completely through a nice black bear with a heavy arrow tipped by a razor-keen Zwickey Black Diamond broadhead.

It would be nice if all your customers could use 70-pound bows, 600-grain arrows, and cutting-nose heads on magnum game. However, switching arrowheads alone can make the critical difference between success and failure!

PHOTO : A cutting-nose broadhead like the popular Satellite Titan ensures deep arrow penetration in magnum game.

PHOTO : The author has had ample experience with large and dangerous archery animals. This 1988 grizzly bear weighed 550 pounds, yet dropped quickly after one heavy arrow from a 75-pound bow completely penetrated both lungs.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:archery
Author:Adams, Chuck
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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