In April 2012 I went on a hog hunt with several other much more experienced bowhunters. I was carrying a 63# longbow with thick walled aluminum arrows, aluminum adapters, and a wide broadhead made of soft steel. My total arrow weight was under 600 grains, but I liked it because it was “well balanced” and the soft head was easy to sharpen. Boy was I on the wrong track!
I have thank one of my hunting partners that week for giving me a world class education in building arrows for deep penetration on heavy game. One of the gentlemen was a blade smith who offered me a one-on-one sharpening class to teach me the ins and outs of getting a broadhead from “shaving sharp” to “hair-popping sharp.” When I think of the hundreds of hours I spent target shooting versus that one hour of sharpening, I’m sure I got more mileage out of that sharpening class! During this time he covered the difference in two bevel and single bevel heads in great detail and he suggested I read Dr. Ashby’s reports in detail after the hunt. At one point in this class he asked me to pull an arrow from his bow quiver, a specific arrow covered in blood and mud. It had passed cleanly through a hog two weeks before and buried deep in a clay bank. In front of me he cleaned the mud off that Tuffhead with some spit and shaved his forearm with it. After that he let the weight of the head cut a few rubber bands with the slightest of a push. I’d not seen a head this sharp before and it still sticks with me. I still recall noting the benefits of stainless steel construction instantly.
By my next hunt in 2013 I had a new carbon arrow exceeding 700 grains, with a brass one piece insert/adapter, and a 225 grain Tuffhead. I added a little aluminum footing to further reinforce and give a little bump to FOC. I was well versed in the contents of Dr. Ashby’s reports and the conditions of his tests. This would be the arrow that I killed my first longbow hog with in a single clean shot from my 64# longbow.
I harvested my next hog in 2014 with a very similar, but heavier setup, out of my 85# longbow using a .300 spine shaft and a stainless insert/adapter instead of a brass one. Also I used a 300 grain Tuffhead instead of the 225 bringing my total arrow weight to over 900 grains. This arrow/bow combination shoots bare shaft bullet holes through paper from 3 to 30 yards. In that second year in studying Dr. Ashby’s reports I really focused on arrow tuning and I gained a lot of benefits from that effort. The hog I shot stood motionless in the middle of 11 other hogs after my arrow cleanly passed through, and only ran when the rest of the sounder decided to flee.
On my last hunt I was hunting with a lighter 64# longbow and 770 grain arrow when I had an opportunity to shoot my biggest hog to date. I used the 225 grain version of the Tuffhead on this arrow. He was a grand boar that weighed 338 pounds with a VERY thick shield. I was shocked that this was my shortest recovery on a hog at only 40 yards. One of the guys who came out to assist with the recovery of the hog noted the heavy “smears and sprays” on the way to the animal which left us a mess up to our knees walking through the grass.
I have spent many hours over the past several years studying Dr. Ashby’s reports and watching/rewatching his presentations. I always use some test arrows to prove out his results for myself under controlled environments, and so far I find his conclusions to match my experiences 100% of the time. Even those little fletchings have merit, and I’ve modified my own style based on his findings.
The experience and knowledge I’ve gained over the past few years has been an excellent primer for some special adventures that are in planning phases currently. Points are being accumulated domestically, and several contacts are being made internationally. I am anxious to put my next generation of arrows up against even heavier game in the future!