Gearing Up To Bowhunt Dangerous Game

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Bowhunting Dangerous Game

Bowhunting dangerous game is the ultimate challenge. The dangers are real, and archers are often stretched to their physical limits. Here I'm not thinking of African lion or leopard, sure-enough dangerous game, but no more rugged than elk or deer. It's the sturdiest game I'll address here; Cape and Asiatic buffalo, hippo and especially elephant. 

First a reality check: With elephant and hippo, many of you aren't stout enough to draw the weight necessary to assure ample penetration. What's enough?  Most professional hunters recommend 100 foot-pounds minimum for elephant and hippo, 85 foot-pounds for buffalo. One hundred foot-pounds normally means a 95- to 100-pound bow; lots of draw weight for any archer. With buffalo the more the better, but 75 to 80 pounds will get the job done. 

Cleanly dispatching dangerous game is all about the right arrow and broadhead combination. Arrows must be extra heavy (at least 12 to 15 gpi) and broadheads must be bulletproof. Consider a 750-grain finished-weight arrow for buffalo and 1,100 grains for hippo and elephant, absolute minimums. 

This is easier than it once was, with the Alaska Bowhunting Supply Grizzlystik Safari, Easton Full Metal Jacket Dangerous Game and Carbon Force/PSE Black Mamba creating deadly magnum shafts out of the box. Alaska Bowhunting and Easton products include F.O.C.-boosting brass inserts, PSE stainless steel (and energy-enhancing weight tubes).  These arrows make assembling a finished arrow of 750-plus grains nearly automatic, especially when tipped with heavyweight cut-on-contact heads.

Dr. Ed Ashby has spent the past 25 years obsessively studying aspects affecting arrow penetration on big, big-game animals. Ashby's tests involve dead animals, first in Africa, and more recently with Australian water buffalo. The most interesting findings of his is on extreme F.O.C.  His tests reveal high F.O.C. offers an edge in penetration on the biggest game and even formidable bone. The forgivness offered by high F.O.C. also correlates to deeper penetration, the leverage offered by heavy broadheads "dragging" arrows through wound channels as they pass through muscle and bone. 

His findings conclude that assembling arrows weighing more than 750 grains and including F.O.C. percentages as high as 25 percent (and employing single-bevel broadheads -- sharpened steeply on only one side of the blade), makes even relatively reasonable bow setups capable of blasting through water buffalo ribs and shoulder blades. 

Dangerous-game broadheads have also become widely available, Alaska Bowhunting Supply (315-grain Ashby, 290-grain Nanok, 175- to 200-grain Samurai and Maasai) and Steel Force (225- and 300-grain Traditional), in particular, offering all-steel, cut-on-contact, single-bevel edges made especially for dangerous game. You can also assemble deadly dangerous-game broadheads by combining one-piece-welded, glue-on heads -- Grizzly (single beveled 100 to 190 grains) and Zwickey (130-grain No Mercy available in single bevel left or right) as examples -- with solid-steel broadhead adaptors weighing 75 to 125 grains. Doing this easily allows creating a nail-tough 200- to 350-grain broadhead.

Dangerous-game bowhunts aren't for beginners, even if you can afford the hefty hunt fees. The obvious danger to life and limb, the huge sums of money involved and the once-in-a-lifetime aspect of such forays means handling pressure that only comes through extensive bowhunting experience.