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I'm completely rehauling most of my hunting system this summer, and starting from the ground up on new arrows. Up until this year I have strictly bowhunted whitetail, but now that I finally finished all of my degrees, I will be able to make a trip or two out west every year. I was curious about your opinion on expandable broadheads for elk hunting. I know that this is a widely disputed and controversial subject, but I'd just like to hear the facts from those who hunt elk every year. My father is a long time elk hunter, and has killed many bulls. He has always used a fixed blade, cut-on-contact broadhead and believed that an expandable has the possibility of mechanical failure, etc. when shooting through an elk, whereas a fixed blade is most dependable.

He agrees with me now, however, that with all the advancements in technology and archery equipment, that modern expandables may be just as successful as a fixed blade when shooting through an elk. Just curious about what you guys think. I have always shot a fixed blade, but was thinking about switching to an expandable this year. I still believe a fixed blade is most durable/dependable, but its just hard to ignore the blood trails left by an expandable. I just want to make sure it is something that will work well when shooting through an elk, because I already know either type won't have a problem going through a whitetail. My arrow already packs a heck of a punch so I know penetration won't be much of an issue.
 

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I don't have a problem using expandables at all on elk. Have witnessed them work many times. I do love my slick tricks though. I think that if you have a good setup with a heavy arrow you will be fine.
 

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Congratulations on your degrees. I personally do not change my gear or setup from whitetail to elk. My poundage and setup has proven itself over and over. That said, my bow is set at 60lbs all year around, using a maxima 350 arrow, 31" dL and T-shuttle fixed BH at 280fps. I would not recommend using a crazy large cutting diameter head and make sure if you are looking at mechanicals they are legal. I have passed through elk with the mentioned setup and I don't change it for whitetail and have the same result. Used to shoot rage, tried slick tricks and love with shuttles. Tricks are nice but are loud, you do not here the shuttles...
 

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although many mechanical heads, "will work" there is a reason some states or areas within a state will not allow mechanical heads,,, beyond the possibility of legal issues in some locals,,, the wider cuts of most mechanical heads lend themselves to more and easier broken and bent blades,,, i would not trade a wider cut for a deeper penetrating head with blades that are less likely to bend or break,,,, especially when i am able to get groups of under 10" at 135 yards with fixed heads.............
 

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These threads always strike me as a study of conformation bias. Humans doing what humans do best by getting an idea in their head, asking other people a question and then only listening to the people who confirm what they wanted to hear.

There is an easy answer to this question, more often then not a quality fixed blade will give you better penetration and will likely be a better choice. That said it also depends what your setup is, how far your willing to shoot and what shots your willing to take.

I've shot 15 elk, I've shot two elk with mechanicals and the rest with fixed blades. In my experience if you get both lungs with any broadhead they won't go far, often less then 50 yards. If you don't get both lungs they will go a very long way and you are likely to lose them. I put a rage into one lung and he went over two miles, it took me an entire day to track him down and he bled very little.
Double lung them with a mechanical and everything will be roses but it'll be the same story with a fixed, have a tough shot and need 3' of penetration and I would rather have a good fixed head leading the way.

Make a bad shot with either head and you'll probably regret it either way.

Clear as mud?
 

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Shoot whichever one you can be the most accurate with. Shot placement is everything on a big tough elk. If you shoot them both with the same level of accuracy I would opt for the fixed blade head just because there is one less thing that can go wrong and they may give you an extra little edge if you make a marginal shot. Good luck on your trip out west!
 

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Corripe Cervisiam
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I've seen piles of elk killed over the 30 years hunting them, my take from what works...and what doesn't work so good;

They aren't just "a little bigger deer" Elk have much heavier hair/ coat that if you use a head that chops through instead of sliding in- elk hide will dull those chopping style heads fast

Using, "whatever flys the best" doesn't factor all of the criteria for a good elk arrow,btw every arrow should be tuned to fly well from your setup

You need good penetration on an elk to shut them down, and some of the bigger dia mech heads get less penetration...and some of the less tapered head designs plow more than slice

Personally, after everything i've seen with elk and big critters, i use a strong tapered fixed COC head on a fairly heavy 495gr arrow- and rarely don't get a pass thru

The lighter your arrow, the more efficient you need your BH...and vice versa...so if you use a mech head pair it with a heavy 500-550 gr arrow for proper efficiency
 

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Picture 052.jpg

Rage 2 Blade Chisel tip with KE blades are a WICKED Elk broadhead, that will ALWAYS hit where you aim...
 

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Corripe Cervisiam
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Consider.....

sure you can kill those dinks with those mech heads like Elkman....or you can kill the big ones with a fixed- grin
DIY Natl forest bull
bull resized.jpg
 

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All depends on your set up. Pounds, draw length, fast bow vs slow bow, heavy arrow vs light arrow, broadhead design . All kinds of variables.

Low pounds, short draw length, slow bow you are pretty limited on what kind of head you can shoot. Heavy draw weight speed bow with heavy arrows and a long draw length opens up lots of options for broad heads.
 

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I don't have a problem using expandables at all on elk. Have witnessed them work many times. I do love my slick tricks though. I think that if you have a good setup with a heavy arrow you will be fine.
x2.
 

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Picture 073_edited-1 Compressed.jpg
Here's another dink with an expandable, and all my Bulls are DIY public land. I've never killed an Elk on private land... ;-)
 

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Well I have a killed a few elk with a bow. I have hunted with a fixed blade heads mostly any quality 3 blade head on a well tuned compound bow that has enough poundage to be legal in your state will work as long as your shot placement is good and you don't over do your range.I think some of the new all steel wide cut single bevel 2 blade coc heads are the way to go .
 

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Corripe Cervisiam
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Oh man, I started something- grin

I shouldn't have. I've been a DIY public land elk hunter all my life- never been on private ground [Though I wish] or been guided for elk. I'm a guy thats happy to shoot any legal bull coming from Ca and hunting new ground almost every year, I like to see different areas....mostly OTC Co....... though I've been fortunate to kill some big boys over the many years.

To the BH thing, if I was going to use a mech head, it would be of the type Elkman described not an over the top version and with a 500gr + arrow. I've seen less than stellar results though- and more than a few lost elk with mech heads on arrows that didn't penetrate well, and some light arrows with fixed too-thus if a guy styles his equipment for a "worst case shot, additional penetration" and not the "perfect placement" everyone claims to be able to do on every shot...you will be better served, IMO. I think the perfect shot guys are used to unaware deer from a stand and not the frantic action on an elk hunt.

Co F&G has an excellent article on their site [someone posted it recently here] on Elk arrows.This first bull I shot through he shoulder blades with a tapered coc fixed head and it went through him so fast we found the arrow 50 yds away. This bull came in running so fast and downhill of me I had to make a quick shot or he was by me- I hugged the shoulder a bit too tight shoulder shot 1red.jpg

Last years bull I used some very popular chisel points the owner had given me- lodged in the off shoulder with no exit, I'm not using them again though they are a decent cheap head bull front red1.jpg

edit; somehow there are two pics of the same bull shot through the shoulder 3 pics- and it only shows 2 attachments?????
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I should have explained myself a little better. Right now I'm shooting a 340 spine FMJ with a G5 Montec, total weight right around 475 grains, out of a Hoyt Maxxis set at 72 lbs. I've never ever had a problem with penetration on a whitetail, even at longer ranges. I will likely be switching to the Deep Six FMJs this year, and that narrows my choice of broadheads considerably. I was still going to go with a fixed blade, unless the evidence for an expandable was overwhelming. As I figured, it has been about 50/50 between BH types. At my poundage and arrow design, and under the same conditions, I would think that both a fixed blade or an expandable (as long as they are well placed) would get the job done on an elk.
 

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007_19.jpg
Here's another dink from a couple years ago shot with an older Rocky Mountain Revolution expandable. I believe he made it about 30 yards... ;-)
 

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Here's another dink from a couple years ago shot with an older Rocky Mountain Revolution expandable. I believe he made it about 30 yards... ;-)
So elkman, to play the devils advocate. What advantage(s) do you have shooting a mechanical?

I'm guessing you'll say better shot placement (accuracy) but unless you don't know how to tune a bow that's not relevant. My bow is tuned and stacks broadheads out to 70 meters.

You could say better bloodtrails but I would argue with a good double lung shot they don't usually get out of sight and even if they do a good fixed blade puts down lots of blood so unless your color blind or have no tracking skills that's moot.

So you know your sacrificing penetration and limiting the shot angles you can take by using a mechanical. You should also recognize your bucking Murphy by using a mechanical because eventually if not often stuff doesn't go as planned.

So why?

And I'm not anti mechanical heads, I use them occasionally on deer and bear. I just don't believe on using them on game as big or bigger then elk because experience had taught me they leave me more vulnerable to disappointment even though I shoot 100 ke with 590 grain arrows.
 

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