Broadheads

I recently read a magazine article about which broadheads are best for shooting deer. The article concluded by saying that some guys prefer some broadheads and others prefer others. I thought that this was totally useless.

I’ve shot about 12 deer with a bow. The first 8 were shot with a Bear Razorhead.

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These were the traditional broadhead invented by Fred Bear. (The picture is of broadheads from 1959, 1960, and 1964.)

My experience with them was to miss my first two shots at deer. Although the broadhead I shot the second time is still stuck in the then 1″ diameter tree that I didn’t see and hit instead of the deer.

My third shot at a deer hit a buck in the heart, he did a u-turn and ran about 30 yards.

My fourth shot at a deer hit a buck in the back leg. He ran in a large arc and I saw a softball sized amount of blood run down his leg. he went about 80 yards.

My fifth shot at a buck also hit the buck in the back leg, he went 60 yards (I don’t recommend hitting the deer there, and I don’t know how I did.)

I’ve shot 3 other bucks in the heart or lungs, and one a bit too far back, with a Bear Razorhead all went less than 60 yards.

I also shot a fawn with a Bear Razorhead. I hit both lungs and the deer fell down, got up, and fell down again.

I have recovered every deer that I have ever hit with a Bear Razorhead. No matter my poor shot placement.

Those broadheads are questioned by some because they have a big flat surface which can “plane,” or curve through the air. This may, perhaps, explain my poor shot placement.

Bear Razorheads have become hard to find. So I have switched to the standard Muzzy 3 blade.

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I have hit several bucks with a Muzzy 3 blade. Of those that I have recovered: two went about 70 yards, one about 50 yards, and one went about 20 yards. I also hit one in the guts that went 50 yards and bedded for about an hour. He then got up and disappeared. I hit a buck, that would have scored around 140 B&C in 2011, in the front shoulder. I had blood drops for 70 yards and then they stopped.

I decided to stay with fixed blade broadheads because I do not like the idea of an expandable not expanding. A fixed blade does not need to expand.

I liked the Muzzy 3 blade because it has three blades and should, therefore, not “plane” while in-flight.

After, just now, reviewing my experiences I am reminded that I am not satisfied with these Muzzys.

Ideally, I think, a broadhead should be:

fixed (not expandable)
have 3 blades (to prevent “plane-ing”)
have long blades that start at the tip (unlike the Muzzys).

(Having them able to hold an edge should go without saying.)

When I have looked at broadheads in the past it seemed that I could find only two of those three points in any one broadhead.

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The Two Best Pieces of Hunting Equipment

There are a wide variety of choices for each of the needed pieces of hunting gear useful for hunting deer. Many of those choices are interchangeable with many acceptable options. But, two items are not options if your goal is to successfully hunt antlered deer as efficiently as is possible.

If you bow hunt with a bow that requires an attached arrow rest you need to get a Trophy Ridge: Whisker Biscuit.

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There are a variety of Whisker Biscuits which you can find at your sporting goods store of choice.

A Whisker Biscuit is necessary for bows that require rests because while you are hunting you will have an arrow nocked and on its rest while you wait for the deer. During this wait, and often when you draw your bow, the arrow will hop off of its rest.

Ideally you should have the index finger of the hand holding the bow lightly over the arrow, but this is not always possible, or remembered. For example: if it is exceptionally cold you may be wearing heavy mittens which will restrict your finger’s movement.The Whisker Biscuit, and several other rests, remove the need to hold your finger over the arrow. What separates the Whisker Biscuit from the similar rests is: the quality of the rest, and the constant full containment of the arrow. I particularly like the Whisker Biscuit because it has permanently eliminated a mistake I once made that had cost me a buck; if only more hunting gear were like this product.

Arguably, the one exception to needing a Whisker Biscuit would be if you are a tournament archer or will be shooting at extreme long range you may prefer a drop-away rest which has minimal contact with the arrow, and may be a bit more accurate.

The second essential piece of equipment is a Cabala’s Wind Shear jacket or sweater. If you hunt in the cold or wind the Wind Shear collection of clothing is immensely good. I’ve personally worn a heavy Wind Shear sweater in 10 degree weather with 20 mph winds and been completely comfortable.

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When you hunt in inclement weather staying comfortable is the key to remaining out long enough to see deer. The Cabela’s Wind Shear line of clothing is thoroughly impressive, and my “upland sweater” is my favorite article of clothing. As silly as it sounds I look forward to wearing it.

There are a variety of Wind Shear products available and I have only ever heard good things about them. This line of clothing is better than the alternatives because they really do take the bite out of the wind. I’ve worn it in 10 degree F weather in howling wind with only a t-shirt on underneath and said, “is that all you’ve got wind?”

Advice for my Forthcoming Book Please

I’m up to 20,000 words in my forthcoming deer hunting book and I have just begun the equipment descriptions and recommendations.

I have a question that I would like my readers’ advice on.

My introduction ends, currently, as follows:

Some people criticize hunters for being bloodthirsty, or whatever. I am not writing this book to explain why I hunt or the morals for doing so. Thing are born, they live, and they die. This happens regardless of whether or not we hunt. If things did not die, then there would be no room for new things. Killing a deer with a quick shot is much more humane that the many other ways that deer die. Wolves may start to eat a deer before it is totally dead, and they’ll kill it by biting it. I’d rather get shot than killed by wolves. Some animals kill by biting their victim and then waiting until its wound becomes so infected that it dies. Deer also get hit by cars, and some limp off or die a slow death by having all of their organs crushed.

Someone that criticizes hunting and eats meat is a hypocrite. Someone who criticizes hunting and wears leather is a hypocrite. Someone who criticizes hunting and uses bug spray or mouse traps is a hypocrite. Someone who criticizes hunting and eats dead plants is a hypocrite.

I have no time for those who criticize hunting. There is almost no other point in human history that they would have survived without hunting and killing or having someone else do their hunting and killing for them.

That’s enough of that. On to how to shoot as many of the biggest bucks that you can.

I think that this subject needs to be mentioned, at least. But it is a bit of a downer. And I don’t like the idea of containing sad, annoying, or otherwise unhappy crap in my book.

My question is: should I include the above passage in my introduction, or elsewhere, should I leave it out, or should I improve it or change it?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Let me know if you have any deer hunting related questions that you want to have for sure answered in my book.

Happy hunting,

Tim

Where to Spend and Where to Save on Hunting Equipment

There are a lot of hunting things you may buy in order to help you hunt deer. Where should you save money? Where should you spend?

Spend Money On:

1. Land. having a good hunting property can make every aspect of deer hunting better. Spend what you can on acquiring good land. This may be buying a property, leasing a property, or asking a land owner for permission to hunt.

2. Safety. You should do what it takes in order to be safe while hunting. It may cost a bit but you shouldn’t be cheap with safety harnesses or replacing tree stand straps.

3. Sights. Think of it this way: every dollar extra you spend on scopes or bow sights may add a minute to the shooting light at the beginning and end of each day. And the big bucks often usually move right at dawn and dusk when all the shooting light you can get is needed.

4. Projectiles. Your bullets and arrows are what kill the deer. Don’t be cheap when you buy your bullets and arrows. These projectiles are expected to travel very fast through the air and hit a specific target. Any irregularity among them can cause them to go off course, and hitting a deer is hard enough as it is.

5. Releases or release aids (archery). My first experience with a release was with a cheap release that would open if you shook it. This scared me away from all releases for quite a few years. My current release from Tru Ball costs about $40 on amazon.com and was $70 when I bought it. I wouldn’t use anything else; although I’m sure that other companies make fine releases.

6. Whisker Biscuit arrow rest. Spend on one of my 2 “essential pieces of equipment” of which I think of most highly. They are not particularly expensive but do not get a cheaper arrow rest for hunting.

7. Comfort. For example: my feet get cold easily so I cannot get cheap boots and expect to stay out in the cold. Example two: a cheap treestand may be small which will result in your discomfort and becoming anxious to end your hunts early.

Save Money On:

1. Gun. A gun needs to put the bullet, or slug, where you want it every time. But they do not need to be really expensive. You could spend $400 to $3000 on a new rifle, but your father’s old one probably works fine. You may even buy a quality used one for a couple hundred dollars. It just needs to hit where you aim and rifles are really very simple. Buy an inexpensive bolt action rifle in .270 Win, .30-06, or .308 Win and you should be set for nearly any whitetail deer hunting situation.

2. Camouflage (part 1). You could spend a couple hundred dollars on expensive name brand camouflage (I have), but if you’re looking to save money, then buy whatever inexpensive camo that breaks up your outline, and spray it with a UV killer, and a scent killer. Once you’ve used UV killer on your camouflage almost anything that is dark in color and has a varied color scheme should work fine.

The purpose of camouflage is to break up your outline and possibly reduce your smell. I have even seen those clothing covers with the loose leaf-like cloth worn over dark clothing; this is fine.

3. Camouflage (Part 2). Ideally, perhaps, you’ll have a light suit of camo, a medium suit of cammo, and a heavy suit of camo, and an orange suit of camo for when the temperatures, and seasons, change. Instead, you can save money buy buying one light to medium camo suit that is several sizes too big and adding and removing layers underneath. Get it in the standard green /brown colors and merely add a cheap orange vest and an orange hat over the top when the season’s laws change.

4. Atv and accessories. Having an atv can be great and add a lot to your hunting, but they are unnecessary and expensive. Don’t buy one to save money.

5. Trail cameras. (See: atv and accessories.)

6. Cabins and sheds. (See: atv and accessories.)

7. Treestands. Buy one good climbing treestand per hunter. It may be expensive to buy a climber, Lone Wolf’s cheapest is around $380. But that is cheaper than buying several hang-ons or ladder stands, and better than buying only having one hang-on or ladder stand.

How many guns do you need to hunt deer?

Guns are an important part of hunting deer; how many should you own?

There are a variety of hunting situations and each one has a tool that will fit the situation ideally.

Clearly the correct answer is lots, and lots, and lots. But a more specific answer may be appropriate, as a number to shoot for or just as a thought experiment.

I need a lightweight deer rifle so that I can easily carry it around in the woods; that’s 1. Clearly I need a second lightweight rifle in case rifle number 1 is ever out of order; that’s 2.

If I was going to walk over long distances I would need a heavier rifle to steady my tired arms; that’s 3.

A big rifle for shooting big Canadian deer, or elk, or moose too may be in my future; that’s 4.

How about a long distance gun for when I go out west; 5.

How about a heavy lever action, with slow and heavy bullets for hunting thick cover; 6.

A rifle with a small cartridge for hunting the Florida Key deer or coues deer; 7.

Plastic and composite stocks look out of place in pictures in Africa, in case those antelope need to be shot, so a gun with wooden stock would be needed; 8.

A plastic or composite stock won’t expand or contract as much in high elevations or in heavy snow; 9.

Single shot rifles are cool, big cartridge, medium, and small; 10, 11, 12.

A bolt action, semi-auto, and side by side, too; 13, 14, 15.

“Assault rifles” seem to be in the news recently; we can certainly knock over a deer with one of those; 16.

So that might be about it. If you are just beginning to hunt deer, you now know how many rifles you need to hunt whitetail deer: 47.

But that’s cutting it a little tight, get a few more when you can afford it.

Taking Pictures of Deer

There are two ways to take your own trophy deer pictures. One way is to have lots of trail cameras in areas where there are trophy bucks, and the other is to shoot big bucks and then take pictures of them.

There are some tips that will improve your chances of getting those big pictures. Like this one:

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or this one:

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Pictures With A Trail Camera

The first “tricks” to getting big deer pictures with a trail camera are to have a lot of cameras and put them where lots of big deer live. If there are no big deer you won’t get pictures of them.

When you put trail cameras up on your property you should take care with how you get the cameras out, and where you put them. If your cameras smell like gas, or you, or any other human smell, then the deer, especially big deer, will avoid the cameras. If you have a deer sanctuary, that means never entering it, even for pictures.

One thing I am guilty of, especially during the summer, is to not take as much care while going in to check the camera and collect the memory cards. When I go hunting I cautiously walk in as silently and as unnoticeably as possible. When I am at the property checking trail cameras, I haven’t been as good about avoiding smells and I am less interested in moving as stealthily as I should.

Take some time to think about where you put your trail cameras. If you want to cover a trail, then don’t put the camera on the trail you should have it a few feet away. Think like you would if you were standing taking the picture your self.

Also consider putting the camera higher up trees. Deer may not notice a camera 6-8 feet up a tree. Deer, and people, spend our days looking straight ahead and down, an little time looking up. How often to you look at you ceiling or car ceiling?

Modern digital trail cameras have batteries and memory cards that can take thousands of pictures with no input from you. You don’t need to check your cameras every week. When we still used film trail cameras, I checked one every week. The first week at this camera had 15 different bucks, between 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 years old. The second week had like 6 different bucks on it, and the third week had 2 or 3 small bucks only. Check your cameras only when you need to.

The biggest trick in getting trophy deer pictures is having lots and lots of pictures to sort through and find those few pictures of big bucks.

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Pictures After the Kill

A good way to get a good picture of a big buck is to shoot a big buck.

Here’s my biggest to date:

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With lots of pictures I have lots of choices to pick the ones I like best.

Good Pictures make your deer look bigger. There is not as much as you can do with smaller bucks, but if you shoot a great big buck, then you will want to be prepared for taking the best pictures possible.

The first trick to having your deer look bigger in pictures is to take lots of different pictures from different angles and locations and positions.

Turn the deer’s head in different ways. Take pictures from the deer’s right and left, front and back. Take pictures with the deer on the ground, take pictures with the deer in the back of your truck, etc. You don’t know which pictures will be the best. A slight angle can make a big difference and you won’t know which angle is best until you review the pictures.

Don’t waste your time looking at the pictures as you take them. Even thought you can use a digital camera to see pictures after you’ve taken them, you should just take lots of pictures and review them later.

A lot of hunters use head-on for their perspective, and this is not the best angle from which to view a buck; you can’t see the sides if you look straight on. Bucks often look better from behind, and I make a point of getting a picture from behind of the big deer I shoot, but that has never been the best picture.

Another thing to do is to use more than one camera. I don’t have a picture of a 51″ muskie because of a camera malfunction which was not noticed until after the fish was released. If you want to be sure of a good picture, buy a disposable film camera to supplement your digital one, in case you shoot a big buck.

If I shoot a big buck, I will remove my legally required orange and camouflage before the pictures. A solid color background for the antlers will be better than the camouflage we are wearing when we shoot.

Hunting Books

There is a lot of reading about hunting that you can do. I can’t imagine how I’m ever going to read all of the hunting books that I want to. My reading list may be too long.

Hunting North America
Outwitting the Whitetail by Perry G. Riley

If you want to start hunting whitetail deer but don’t yet know how, then you’ll want to read this book (more of an oversized pamphlet) or my own forthcoming book. Despite not being much more than a big pamphlet, this book lays out the things that you need to know about hunting whitetails briefly and accurately. The book is not new, and his information on hunting equipment is outdated, but all of the information here is as good as it gets. (The last sentence is exactly how I’d describe Sun Tzu’s The Art of War too.) Read it and skip the filler and unnecessary color found in so many other places.

Big Bucks the Benoit Way by Bryce Towsley

There are several ways to hunt whitetail deer. The most difficult way is to track them. In New England that’s how it is done. Whenever you here about the best deer hunters you’ll hear about the Benoits. They have been very successful at hunting big bucks in the most difficult way that it is done. Trailing deer (that aren’t dropping blood) may not be very useful for those of us who do not hunt the thousands of acres in New England. Those of us who hunt a few tens, or hundreds, of acres should not be walking around where we don’t want the deer to know where we are. There is useful information herein, but you can find the same information elsewhere too. In any case this is the book that you’ll want if you want to read about trailing whitetail deer.

Ultimate Deer Food Plots by Ed Spinazzola

This is the book that you’ll want to have if you want to create your own food plots. The author was a farmer by profession and hunted as a hobby. He experimented in all sorts of ways in order to create food plots for deer. This is the food plot book that you want, not Quality Food Plots by QDMA.


More Stories of the Old Duck Hunters
by Gordon Macqurrie

This is one of three books about fictional/true stories of some amusement and are about a guy hunting and fishing with his father-in-law. The stories are interesting and worth reading for entertainment. They were written long ago, and with these books you can gain an appreciation of what hunting was like fifty years ago.

The Old Man and the Boy
by Robert Ruark

Another book filled with stories about how hunting and fishing used to be done. You’ve probably heard about this book and there’s a reason for that.

A review from amazon.com:

Ruark’s book conjures up memories of my own Old Man. The same guidelines on handling guns and how to shoot are still valid today. Some of the more important parts of this book deal with just going hunting, fishing , etc. not with the results of the day, but why we go do these things. Learn why fishing isn’t about catching fish. Learn why some dogs are made to hunt and some aren’t. The last chapter “All He Left Me Was The World”, is not to be read by the tenderhearted. It strikes a chord with any of us who have lost our Old Man. I too went hunting the day of the Old Man’s funeral, I know that’s what he would have wanted, and so does Ruark.

Hunting Africa
Elephant Hunting in East Equatorial Africa by Arthur H. Neumann

As far as hunting books go, I can think of three that stand far above the rest. Elephant Hunting in East Equatorial Africa was written by one of the best elephant hunters. He hunted elephants in what is now Kenya. His book is a marvel of a story. He shot elephants, he was mauled by one, he lost a dog to a crocodile, and collected lots of butterflies. It is a great book on hunting and exploring Africa.

A Hunter’s Wanderings In Africa: Being A Narrative of Nine Years Spent Amongst the Game of the Far Interior of South Africa by Frederick Courtney Selous

Selous is widely regarded by many as the greatest elephant hunter ever. He hunted in South Africa at a time when they still used black powder muzzleloaders and they needed multiple shots to secure elephants. I was struck about how harsh living and hunting in Africa can be. One of his first stories is about him chasing after some animal, his horse being killed by animals and him without food or water for several days. Its quite a story and the first of many. He then went on to much fame, even being among one of Theodore Roosevelt’s good friends. I’d call this book “incomparable,” were it not for Neumann and Bell.

Bell of Africa by W.D.M. Bell

My dad’s favorite book, and mine, is Bell of Africa. While the previous two books were fascinating stories of hunting and adventure in Africa, you get more information and more stories of interest in this book. The author is described in the introduction as deciding to become an elephant hunter when he was young. He had never seen an elephant or shot a gun, but those were mere obstacles to be overcome. The introduction describes many of his adventures and marvels at how many he had “before becoming a man.” He ran away from home, and his German boarding school. He hunted for meat in the Yukon during the gold rush. He traveled across the world twice while working on a couple of ships and became a railroad guard in Africa. All that, and more, before he started hunting. Its as good as a book gets.

No link for this one because the only one available on amazon.com is of Bell’s three books as a used set of three for over $1400. If I did not already have them, then these three books (by Selous , Neumann, and Bell) would be worth $200, or more, apiece, but $1400 is too much.