By Jared Bloomgren
Each and every year there are new and “improved” broadheads hitting the market that are supposed to be sharper, stronger, and more accurate than previous models. Many archers go through various broadhead brands and types almost like toilet paper in the neighborhood out-house after a chili feed! I am much different and have found a head that flat out gets it done for me and has numerous years now without letting me down. Of course it is a replaceable blade head and I choose to stick with this style of head for various reasons.
Which is better, fixed/replaceable blade or mechanical heads? This is a question that can get as heated as any political campaign out there when brought up at the wrong time at a pro shop or hunting camp. The argument will go on and on for decades to come I am sure. Or until exploding tips are legal to use…..who knows! Keep in mind that the following is merely opinion and facts based on my own trials with various heads in today’s market. This is a topic that will either earn me some fans or will turn some away. At any rate let’s get to it…..
Let’s look at advantages of both: Like stated previously, I prefer a replaceable blade head for many reasons. The advantages include but are not limited to: strength, replaceable blades to maintain a sharp cutting surface, better penetration, and more confidence in the equipment that I use. The advantages of a mechanical head are improved accuracy with field tip flight characteristics, less wind drag, many now have replaceable blades, bigger cutting diameter, and the sharp blades are often not exposed while not in use thus increasing safety.
Now disadvantages: Replaceable or fixed blade heads often times will not fly as true as a field tip, the blades can cause the arrow to guide off path from a field tip. Mechanical heads have many more disadvantages. Keep in mind this is from my own trials and experiments! In my opinion a mechanical head will rob you of momentum and kinetic energy in order to get those blades to open. This is actually a fact, not just my opinion. Not a big deal to many considering they are way up in the numbers when it comes to KE and momentum. I also think that mechanical heads perform best when given the perfect scenario such as a perfect quartering shot. Why is that? Because no matter what mechanical head you look at on the market, it will cause an arrow to lose some energy when that arrow strikes a surface at an angle. The arrow does not want to continue in a straight line, it wants to kick to the side to open those blades. This causes a loss of energy. When I am shooting at an animal I want extreme confidence in my broadheads. Some states do not allow mechanical heads for elk. I want to use the same head for all my game!
Many believe that a replaceable or fixed blade head will never fly like a field tip. Well I would like to invite you over someday and I will shoot a field tip and any one of my broadheads side by side at yardages out to 120 yards or better to prove my point that it is indeed possible. With a well tuned bow and accessories and the correct spine arrow many (but not all) of this type of heads will fly like field tips. That is why I will always choose a replaceable or fixed blade any day over a mechanical.
To each their own. There are some very reliable mechanical heads on the market. At this time I am not 100% sold on them and will continue to shoot what I have most confidence in. My tried and true replaceable blade heads.
Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren is a hardcore Do-It-Yourself bowhunter who strives to better himself each year in the outdoor community. As a professional hunter, freelance writer and photographer, he likes to relive his outdoor adventures through written expression and photography making the reader feel as if they were along on the hunt. He attributes much of his success to the vital education he has learned from the various big game animals that he hunts. He is quoted as saying, “In each and every hunt, success or defeat, I learn something from every outing and that I can put in my arsenal of knowledge to use at a later date, a later date that will again put my wits against that of my prey.”
By Emily Anderson
Prior to a hunt, there is always plenty of planning to do. While some are managing land, planting food plots and setting up tree stands, my hunts typically take place on public land in the mountains. Therefore, I can’t speak towards the former type of hunt preparation. However, I can tell you about the latter and how we plan for our hunts out west.
In my opinion, the first thing to do if planning a hunt in the mountains is to make sure you are physically prepared. While I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to be able to run marathons, but anything you do to increase your lung capacity and strength will definitely help, especially if you are not used to the altitude. Plus, ladies, it is always fun to be able to out hike the guys!
Second, make sure that you have all the gear needed. Start making lists! If you are planning a backcountry hunt where you pack in all your gear on your back or on horses, it is extremely important to make sure you have all you need. And then, pack your backpack ahead of time. However, if you are bringing a camper that changes things a bit. When hunting elk, we typically bring everything including the kitchen sink if we our hunting out of a camper… including the grill, which makes it nice for grilling fresh backstraps! I still carry around a backpack each day, even though we have camper for sleeping in each night. This allows us to easily stay out all day if necessary.
Here is a breakdown of what is included in my pack on elk hunts. I don’t think there is much difference for girls and guys in what is included, but you be the judge…
Backpack contents for day trips (usually elk hunting):
1. Heat packs
3. Elk pee (scent wafers) & safety pin to hang on a tree
4. Extra layer of clothes – usually long johns and extra t-shirt for pack out trips
6. Game bag
7. Green cat eyes for walking out in the dark
9. Toilet paper
10. Hunting license
NOTE: Since I wear cargo pants, a lot of my other supplies are safely tucked in all the pockets, which also makes things easy when getting ready for an early morning hunt. (Pockets contain: chapstick, range finder, elk calls, wind check and gloves)
Of course, there are a few obvious things missing, but they are safely tucked in my husband’s pack… knives, rope and gps
So…. do you have any special ritual or planning you do in advance of a hunt?
Emily Anderson’s hunting journey began shortly after she got married. She enjoys the passions for the outdoors, hunting and fishing as a team with her husband. She established www.FromTheDraw.com as a way to share her stories as a female hunter. Emily lives in Colorado and is currently on an Elk hunt. She is now a PSE Staff Blogger and will be posting daily about her experiences and views on archery and hunting.
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By Pedro Ampuero
Almost all the hunting I make is “spot and stalk”, with roe deer even more often “Walk and Stalk” in which you walk through the forest until you spot the animal, which is typically almost at shooting distance. For being successful, is a must that you break your silhouette in order to detect the animals before they detect you.
For this purpose, one thing it has been much more effective for me, is to use macro pattern camos, which really break your silhouette at any distance. Sometimes with more classic camo patterns, which have a high detail level, they look great at close distances, but as soon as you get farther than 30 yards you cannot see the detail and it all looks like one brown piece.
My philosophy is to focus more on not looking like a human, than trying to look like a tree. Animals relation the humans to some vertical lines which an average height etc.. Trying to break those lines is the key, specially the lines made by our shoulder and head. For this I use a ghillie hat, but I just leave it over my shoulders, to unify the shape of my head and shoulders. Using a typical cowboy hat is also a great way of breaking that shape.
The last important thing is to camo your lighter parts, like hands and face. Animals spot our white face as good as we spot the white parts of deer in the woods. We all know our life would be much harder if deer wouldn’t have white patches on the tail area. For that I typically use a facemask, or pain my face when the weather is warmer. I also use thin gloves for my hands, measuring, drawing the bow, glassing, etc.. All involves hand movement, and it is always easily detected by deer.
It would be great to know your own experiences. Hope you find it of interest, and good luck all in the mountains!
By Albert Quackenbush
When I moved to California in 2006 I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had no friends here. I knew nothing at all about the hunting here and I was afraid. I’ll be the first to admit that I was fearful because there was so much unknown to me. After asking around, I found a local archery club that met a mile from my apartment and thought I was saved. I showed up with my bow set up for hunting out of a treestand. Right away I was told to either get a bow that would allow me to shoot farther or plan on going back to NY to hunt each year. At first, I was more than discouraged, but it began to toughen me up. When I asked the hunters in the group where I might go to get started not a single one would help me. I can’t blame them as they had worked hard to find their own spots and now I had to do it. The archery range where I shoot beckons people from all over and I took it upon myself to approach archers and start asking those questions. I would walk up to them, introduce myself and share what I was trying to do. It wasn’t until I met a young man and his son that I felt I had my first nugget of information. He shared with me a spot to go try and while it would be tough to hunt, it would give me an idea of what hunting was like out here.
My equipment also needed an upgrade. The bow I had wasn’t cutting for Western hunting. I started asking around; scouring the internet and finally found a bow I wanted to try out. I met the seller at his house and he produced a well-cared for PSE Vengeance compound bow. I had never seen a Vengeance, let alone shoot one. This man helped me in a way he’ll never know. First, we talked and then he insisted I shoot the bow before buying it. While that should be a normal thing to do, I know many people who do not and I was one of them at the time. So I shot it. It felt like it was made just for me. It was a little on the heavier side from what I was used to, but it was a well-built bow with power. As we talked, the man shared that he and his son hunted and that if I ever had any questions or wanted to tag along I was welcome. That gave me hope! While I never did tag along, I am thankful for his support!
During my search for updated equipment, I found another gentleman selling some arrows. Little did I know that this chance meeting would turn into a friendship that would lead to a hunting partner. The purchase of the arrows lead to deeper conversation about hunting in California and hunting partners. It turns out that his partner left for the wilds of Oregon and he was partnerless. We rectified that and within the next couple weeks we were out scouting the area. Some of the areas were not only beautiful, but were exactly what I needed to find.
Hunting out here is just as much about finding huntable land and wearing out boot rubber as it is to knowing the regulations and laws. Knowing the season dates should be a given, but there are multiple regulations between different game animals, weaponry, and borderlines of private and public land. I review the regulations and fish & game code often to be certain I am hunting the right area, during the right time, with the proper weapon.
Another factor that I hadn’t bargained for are the rattlesnakes. Unlike many people, I think rattlesnakes are very interesting creatures. Snakes are awesome in my opinion. That being said, rattlers can stay awesome from a good distance and not underfoot! They are everywhere out here and while you may never see one, you still have to protect yourself. Wearing snake boots has become the norm for me. Hopefully my encounters with them will be few and far between.
My advice to anyone wanting to hunt California, or anywhere for that matter, is to ask as many questions as you can. You might be afraid, but everyone has a slight degree of fear. The worst thing anyone can say is ‘No.’ Find the right person and you may gain access to some prime hunting land or land yourself a good friend. The hard work has paid off for me and I know it will for you, too.
Albert Quackenbush has been bowhunting for more than 28 years. He shares his adventures on his blog, SoCalBowhunter.com, and also writes for Bow Adventures e-magazine. He is a Pro Staff member for DIYbowhunter.com, Piranha Custom Bowstrings and Field Logic. He is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Deer Association, and is a Life Member of the North American Hunting Club.
Albert was born and raised in New York State where he learned to hunt everything from squirrels to whitetail deer. He currently resides in Southern California with his wife and daughter and hunts year round.
By Dustin Jones
Every year there is that time of year that every hunter looks forward too. That time of year is magical. The temperature begins to cool down, leaves change color, and the day dreaming begins. I look forward to hunting season and fall in general. It is my favorite time of year. There is just something about all the colors changing and the leaves falling that gets me going. This year though was a little different.
I was excited for this hunting season just like any other, but there was something that had me even more excited. My wife and I were expecting our second son just before the opening weekend of archery season. There is nothing I enjoy more than being a good father to my kids as well as being a good husband to my wife. That is where the challenge came into play. How was I going to manage my time with my family with a newborn a few days before the archery season?
As much as I wanted to be out on opening weekend of the archery season I spent the opening weekend with my family. As difficult as I thought it was going to be to be sitting around not hunting, I was actually a lot more relaxed and happy to spend time with my family. I spent some good quality time at home until I think I drove my wife a little crazy and she told me I should go hunting. So I took to the woods.
I have both an elk tag and two deer tags that were burning a hole in my pocket. I was able to get out to hunt some deer in my tree stand which is pretty close to home, as well as a three day elk hunting trip that we spent hiking and chasing elk. I have been scouting a couple new areas recently and have had some great trail camera pictures of some nice elk in this new area and some awesome whitetails in this other area. I have had several close encounters with elk this year.
I was caught off guard by a good little 5 point as we were walking into our hunting spot. We had just started walking down the trail and heard something moving so we had stopped to see what it was. Sure enough just below us we see a nice little 5×5 bull elk standing broadside at 50 yards. I slowly knocked an arrow, clipped on the release, and began to draw. This whole time we were standing in the wide open with no cover in front of us. I was just setting the pin right behind the front shoulder when he turned and bolted. I was a little upset but was glad to have been able to see an elk and only 150 yards from where we parked the vehicle. I’ve been starting my season a little slower than what I usually do but I have been able to get out and see deer and elk while balancing time with my family!
Dustin Jones is a passionate outdoorsman who loves to hunt, especially bowhunt. He created his blog, HighCountryBowhunter.com, to share his experiences with others. He is a Field Staff member for DIYbowhunter.com and Adventure Team member for MINOX Hunting Optics.
By Will Jenkins
This year I was super excited to start my hunting season as I was starting it a whole month earlier than I ever had. I had several invitations to hunt in Maryland so I took advantage of those invitations and started hunting on September 7th. Maryland’s season doesn’t usually open until September 15th but they opened earlier this year. With Virginia always starting in October I’ve never really had the opportunity to sit in a tree stand when it was in the 80’s. It was hot but a good time! While I didn’t fill a tag on opening day my friend Rob who I was hunting with tagged a very nice 8-point in full velvet as well as a doe. I couldn’t have been more excited for him! The other great thing about hunting Maryland this year is they have opened quite a few Sundays for hunting. Hunting on Sunday in Virginia is still strictly banned while in Maryland they have started to open certain Sundays in specific counties.
The following week I was able to kill what I thought was a small doe but ended up being a button buck still in velvet. The shot wasn’t great due to a pesky spike that kept chasing the deer off. As I was squeezing the trigger he lunged at the button buck causing him to lurch forward as I was shooting making a less than perfect shot. With and arrows covered in a little blood and a lot of gut along with no blood trail I came back the next morning. Within about 45 minutes of looking I found him piled u and the meat was still good! However, in my race against rising temperatures I didn’t get a chance to snap any trophy pictures before he was in the cooler.
The Virginia bow season opened on October 6th. I’ve gotten access to a new property by my house as well as the same properties I had last year. The deer density is nothing like it is Maryland. Hopefully this year I will actually be able to kill a deer in Virginia! Right now my hit list is pretty scarce. I’m not a huge trophy hunter but if he steps out I’ll send an arrow his way! I’ve gotten pictures of some decent little basket 8 point bucks, but I’ve also gotten pictures of a monster 6 point that is huge. Talking to people in the area no one even knew he existed and I’ve never gotten a picture of him during the day time so hopefully he’ll slip up during the rut!
Will Jenkins is creator of TheWilltoHunt.com and Harnesses For Hunters. He’s an avid outdoorsman who enjoys sharing his experiences through his blog. He also writes for Bow Adventures e-Magazine and is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association.
By Jared Bloomgren
Selecting the right equipment for each individual person can vary greatly on their aspects or beliefs and what they consider to be the best performing products in their opinion. I am not naive and I do know that there are many great companies out there that make some fine products that will do just as good as other brands. I do not deny that at all. But what do I look for in my equipment?
I look for equipment that will flat out get the job done and get it done reliably without hiccups and shortfalls. PSE has been by bow of choice for over 20 years simply because it is what works for me, PSE Archery products have never let me down, and of course I have brand loyalty to the company as well. I feel like part of the family and I like that feeling of being intertwined with a great company. So I have it narrowed down to my choice of archery companies……now what bow is for me? Each year I shoot each and every model from PSE that I can to get a feel for each bow. I live in the west and I like a bow that has speed and good shoot ability. I look for a bow that is accurate and tunes easily. I look for a bow that fits my personality, a bow that will perform better than I can! But when we are on our game; LOOK OUT! With that being said, the Omen Pro has been my favorite bow to date that PSE has come out with. The speed is nice but speed isn’t what kills right? It is the accuracy and the ability for the shooter to shoot the bow with confidence and accuracy! Well…..I shoot the Omen Pro far better than any other PSE that I have owned and it has the speed that I like to boot! A win –win situation for me! This has been proven time and time again at various leagues and shoots. It just flat out gets it done for me!
Other equipment that I use has many of the same characteristics; reliability and dependability. All of the products that I use instill confidence in my set-up. From the laces in my boots all the way to the broadheads that make my arrow a deadly combination and onto the sights that help keep me on mark. I like to use a target that is reliable and stops thousands of arrows a year. I recently acquired a Pro Staff position with Kryptek Gear and I now have hunting clothing that offers everything I look for in hunting garments. Over the years I have determined the best equipment for me and to this day I continue to hone in on the equipment that will make me a better archer and hunter. Trial and error often times comes into play until I find what works perfect for me. It isn’t until then that I help promote these products they best that I can.
Having the right equipment will make anybody more successful in the field. It can take numerous years to find what works best for each person. But in the end, that person needs to find what equipment takes their confidence to a level that will ultimately make them more successful time and time again!
By Pedro Ampuero
It is very common in Europe the use of dogs for tracking wounded game.They are specialist, and only used with wounded game. It is hard to teach a dog to keep on a cold track of a wounded deer when a fresh one crosses it over. All dogs prefer to follow fresh tracks, but if trained correctly they will keep up with the old one.
Iit is amazing to see these dogs work, since they can follow 24 hours old tracks for over a mile, which is a priceless help for any bowhunter out there. Since not anyone can have a dog and especially the time required to train them, in Spain we have an association with a phone in which you can call and ask for the help of a dog in case you need it.
I particularly have two dogs for this purpose, a Bavarian Bloodhound called FACO, and our latest addition RAM, a young german shorthaired pointer. The first one is only used for tracking wounded game, but the second one we will use it also for small game hunting like quails or partridge.
They are a great partners and it is nice to see them work an old track. I think that any hunter should have access to one of these dogs, since shots are not always as good as we would like to. It is also rewarding to see the hunters face when you find the animal after a long search.
Pedro is a mechanical engineer by trade and a bowhunter by heart. He is the co-founder of the blog AdventurousBowhunter.com and Cazandoconarco.es and has written many articles for the hunting industry and currently collaborates with the most prestigious companies on the industry.