Patrick Meitin has degrees in journalism and range and wildlife management. He’s been an outdoor writer, specializing in bowhunting, for more than 20 years. An expert with both traditional and modern archery equipment, Meitin lives in northern Idaho with his wife, Gwyn, and their two Labrador retrievers.
The Ashby Thing Part II – Regarding Compounds
The Ashby Thing Part II According to bowhunting surveys, the vast majority of us bowhunt white-tailed deer. This is no surprise, with whitetails being the most widespread and readily available big-game species in North America. Another 70 to 80 percent of that specific group bowhunt exclusively with modern compound bows. In that respect, I find it interesting to note how many swallow the Ed Ashby, “no such thing as overkill,” approach.
In direct regard to 100- to 300-pound (the latter a stretch, but just in case) white-tailed bucks, I’ve generally found by shooting 400- to 450-grain carbon arrows (“heavy” by most estimates) tipped with any reasonably sturdy, fixed-blade broadhead – especially any solid cut-on-contact design – I’ve already achieved “overkill” status. I remind you, we’re talking compound bows here. Granted, I normally shoot 70 pounds (I can comfortably shoot 10 to 15 pounds more) and have a magnum 30-inch power stroke (after intentionally shorting my draw length a couple of inches for easier bow tuning and greater bowstring clearance), but blasting through whitetails is pretty much par for me. This is normally the case even should I choose an aggressive mechanical design, such as a New Archery Products Spitfire or Rage 2 Blade, though if I hit bone my arrow might stay in the animal.
Recently, in Nebraska, I shot a quartering-to buck (a big no-no) at 25 yards with a NAP Thunderhead XP (a bowhunter on an adjoining property had wounded the deer badly but not mortally and I felt compelled to save him from suffering, and it was the only fleeting opportunity offered). A 400-grain finished arrow (250 grains shy of Ashby’s prescribed minimum) and a 100-grain replaceable-blade broadhead (instead of the recommended single-piece, cut-on-contact, single-beveled design) producing 12 percent F.O.C. (instead of the recommended 25-plus percent) blasted through a shoulder blade, destroyed his vitals and sunk into the ground beyond. The buck died in sight. The broadhead survived intact. The end.
Ashby followers would have me believe dangerous-game arrow/broadhead combinations are required anytime I shoot a big-game animal of any size. This is not overkill?
I don’t wish to disparage Ashby or the company making the gear following his guidelines (Alaska Bowhunting Supply). Everything Ashby’s studies have taught us create better awareness of the importance of the use of adequate arrow weight (reserving feathery speed shafts for 3-D target shooting); choosing dependable broadheads (the industry answering the call, as there are fewer “you-have-to-be-joking” designs offered every year); and better awareness of F.O.C. (as important to shooting forgiveness and ease in tuning as penetration, in my mind).
If you’re planning to bowhunt big, dangerous game (Cape or Asiatic buffalo, hippo, especially elephant), Alaska Bowhunting Supply has greatly simplified the task of creating a deadly arrow/broadhead combination. This is where we owe Ashby a huge dose of gratitude – even if few of us have the resources to bowhunt dangerous game in exotic lands.