Fixed vs Mechanical Broadhead Study - additional data

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by fshafly2, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. fshafly2

    fshafly2 Weekend Warrior

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    In 2014, the Journal Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) published my paper, "A Comparative Study on the Effectiveness of Fixed Blade and Mechanical Broadheads" (http://seafwa.org/html/journals/pdf/26Pedersen_et_al_163-166.pdf). This paper is the only scientific study that compares deer recovery rates for bowhunters who used either compound or crossbows with either fixed or mechanical broadheads. It was a retrospective study; what could we learn from the over 10,000 daily hunter reports?
    A results-oriented study allows one to mitigate uncontrolled variables such as hunter experience, shot distance, shot angle, bow weight, arrow weight, etc, etc. Plus you can shoot all the plywood, ballistic gel, etc. that you want to get an idea how a broadhead may perform, but the bottom line is whether you were able to recover a hit deer.
    I concluded in the paper that bowhunters who used mechanical broadheads had a statistically significant higher deer recovery rate than bowhunters who used fixed bladed broadheads, regardless of the choice of bow type. I defended this conclusion in presentations to SEAFWA Conference in Oklahoma City, and to the Southeast Deer Study Group in Athens, Ga.
    Since the paper was published, we have continued to gather bowhunter recovery data on the Indian Head Navy Base. I am not going to publish yet another paper as the effort is $$. (I bear all expenses so there is no "funding bias" issue - I am retired and have no sponsors or outside support). But I thought I would share this new data on the Internet.

    This table summarizes the past and the recent data (2013- 2015).

    ................................Percentage of Hit Deer Recovered per Choice of Broadhead
    Period..................... Fixed Broadhead ..................................Mechanical Broadhead
    1989-2006..................82.1% (746/908)....................................... N/A (Mechs were not allowed)
    2007-12.....................81.0% (128/158)......................................... 90.9% (209/230)
    2013-15.................... 81.1% (30/37)............................................. 90.8% (89/98)

    1989-2015................. 82.0% (904/1103)........................................ 90.9% (298/328)

    The only surprise is that the 2013-15 data shows that bowhunters who use fixed blade broadheads have a rather consistent recovery rate (~81%) over the 27 years data were collected. (Note that the harvest rate for deer dropped after 2012 because of a severe outbreak of blue tongue (EHD) on Base). Some have opined in Internet discussion groups that the recovery rates for bowhunters using fixed blade broadheads should improve over time with technological improvements in bows, sights, arrows, etc. Well, the data just doesn’t show any change. Some others have opined in the past that this paper was a biased study to prove mechs were better than fixed bladed broadheads. Then ask why mechs were not allowed in the first era (1989-2006) (it was because we didn’t trust mechs). We allowed mech use in 2007 so that we could get data to prove that mechs they were a bad idea for bowhunting deer. Our initial assumptions were wrong, as mechs have consistently proved to have better deer recovery stats than fixed blades, under the Indian Head Navy Base hunting program. I had used fixed bladed broadheads since 1964 when I started bowhunting – but I switched to mechs in 2013 after realizing the implications of this research – I have no regrets.

    -fsh
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  2. elkguide

    elkguide Grizzled Veteran

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    Interesting assessment.

    Thanks for posting here.
     
  3. Hillbilly Jedi

    Hillbilly Jedi Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Interesting data. I'm 2 for 2 recovering deer. One each with fixed and mechanical. The fixed blade kill ran approximately 40-50 years while the mech blade kill ran approximately 250-300. Shot angles were much different on each deer but the equipment was exactly the same except for the BH. The only two things I'd like to see in the study would be shot placement and effort level by the hunter to recover the deer but I know that would nearly be impossible and really skew the data.

    Overall as many, many people have said, I think shot placement makes the most difference. I do like the research and data provide though. Well done!
     
  4. Sota

    Sota Legendary Woodsman

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    thanks for the info fshafly, hard to argue with data. There will be those who will have stories and blame the broad head saying it opened in flight or it didn't open on impact. I have shot mechanicals with one blade open, both blades open all kinds of combinations and did not change the flight. I can't see how a mechanical can not open either.
     
  5. Rampaige

    Rampaige Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I saw this study published a few weeks back and it convinced me to switch back to mechanicals. I used them in 2011 and shot one deer with them and the blood trail was absolutely incredible. I switched to a fixed blade the following season for "reliability" but I'm practically on my hands and knees searching for blood after almost every shot; perfectly placed shots, too.
     
  6. Bowsage

    Bowsage Weekend Warrior

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    A well placed shot with either should end with the same result. Now that's reality.
     
  7. Afflicted

    Afflicted Grizzled Veteran

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    Thanks for the post Fsh.

    For me the fact that even a 1" fixed Broadheads are so difficult to get to fly well makes the mechanicals a much better choice today with 2" of cutting surface.




    Kilboars Hunt Club
     
  8. Afflicted

    Afflicted Grizzled Veteran

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    Just got an email that these broadheads are on sale.

    [​IMG]


    Kilboars Hunt Club
     
  9. jody5252

    jody5252 Weekend Warrior

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    Interesting. However, shot placement is the most important part. So, if I use a mech., and have a marginal shot, that I will still recover the Deer? Guaranteed? NOT. Mechs. are all the rage now, and I have seen what they can do. I also have heard the horror stories of them not opening/opening to soon... So how have they performed for you? Any failures? Deer down? I just cannot get my self to solely rely on them. Still, the fact remains. Shot placement is the key. No matter what type of BH that you choose...
     
  10. Sota

    Sota Legendary Woodsman

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    The stories of mechanicals opening or failing to open are excuses people have made for not making a good shot, or hitting an object before the head hits a deer.
     
  11. Parkerg31

    Parkerg31 Weekend Warrior

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    are these any good?
     
  12. BradC36

    BradC36 Weekend Warrior

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    I've lost two deer with fixed blades, one due to a bad shoulder shot, one due to jumping the deer before it expired and not able to gain permission to search neighboring property. I'm sure I would've recovered the latter. I've never lost a deer with an expandable, however, I've only shot at two deer with them and hit them perfectly. I think any of these studies are so subjective and the amount of variables that affect the data are too great to determine that one is better than the other IMHO.

    I heart shot the biggest buck of my life with a Walmart arrow and muzzy 3 blade, and the blood was sprayed 4ft up a tree and was 20 yards from where I shot it. I also shot a doe last year with a rage expandable, hit spine, and when I walked up to it was dead in a pool of blood from clipping the lung also. Just some food for thought. Both are great if you know how to use your stick and string.
     
  13. BB4tw

    BB4tw Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Quote of the day!

    I enjoy reading these kind of studies from both sides of the debate even though the data collected is way too subjective to ever be definitive one way or the other.

    Once in a while, you can pick up on a pro or con for whatever you are using that you haven't thought about before.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  14. JasonOhio2018

    JasonOhio2018 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    To each their own. Use whatever you have confidence in. It's all about shot placement.
     
  15. fshafly2

    fshafly2 Weekend Warrior

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    Brad - there are no other (published) broadhead studies that have looked at specifically how deer recovery was affected by broadhead choice. (There are many broadhead investigations (eg Youtube) that have looked at ruggedness and/or penetration, using everything from steel drums, plaster board, ballistic gel, animal carcasses, etc, - but you don't hunt steel drums). The differences in performance seen on the Navy Base are statistically significant. But as you point out, there are a lot of variables and unknowns; so while we may know that a difference exists, further investigation is required to determine why there is a difference. Consequently, extrapolating this data outside of the Indian Head Navy Base is risky. But the data at least indicates to me that those bowhunters worried about mechs not opening or penetrating well enough to ensure deer recovery should worry about something else.

    -fsh
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  16. Sota

    Sota Legendary Woodsman

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    I don't think the data is subjective at all it simply states results of hit and recovered deer.
     
  17. MistaWondaBread

    MistaWondaBread Weekend Warrior

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    I'm sure some of them are. I also think they are just stories left over from when they were a new product. My father had one go right through a deer we recovered, hit both lungs, and the dirt, and didn't open. Of course this was almost 20 years ago, technology has come a long way. I used fixed, but it's just because I bought them a few years ago, and just keep sharpening them. I haven't bought new ones because I don't need new ones. My brother and dad use mechs, and they kill just as many deer as I do.
     
  18. jody5252

    jody5252 Weekend Warrior

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    Greetings. Sorry to see that you did not recover your deer. However, there is know way to say for sure, that it was because of the type of BH that you used. Unless it was a very dull blade. More game has fallen from fixed heads, and they will continue to do so. Yes. Mechs. can, and do put some nasty holes in game. There will always be pros and cons with both types of heads. As always, and the most critical, is shot placement.
     
  19. BradC36

    BradC36 Weekend Warrior

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    Maybe I am being ignorant, but I think that this study suggests that "Recovery Rate" is directly related to "Broadhead Choice", where in fact, I believe the only variable that is directly associated with "Recovery Rate" is "Shot Placement". The study sounds great if you don't think about it, but if the deer hit with fixed blades were not hit in the exact same place as the deer with mechanical broadheads, I don't believe this study proves anything. I think the correlation is just too low to say, no matter what kind of study anyone performs, that either fixed or mechanical is better.

    I am not saying that I have an opinion one way or another. I shoot/have shot both with great success, but I know that I have never had a mech broadhead "fail" (probably because I take care of my gear and make sure it is ready before I shoot it) and I have never lost a deer with a fixed blade head that I think I would've recovered had I shot a mech.

    If you compare a mechanical broadhead (that opens) and a fixed broadhead, where the ferrule hits in the exact same place, from the same angle, at the same KE, etc...there really isn't all that much of a difference. I'm just thinking if my 2" cutting diameter 2-blade mech broadhead, and my 1-1/4" 3 blade fixed broadhead both strike the lungs or heart in the exact same area, the deer is just as dead either way.
     
  20. fshafly2

    fshafly2 Weekend Warrior

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    Well, I can't measure shot placement under hunting conditions, but I can measure recovery rate.

    Here is a thought experiment. You take a bowhunter who is not incompetent and has taken the NBEF course so he had heard about spinning broadheads, proper shot placement, etc. He (or she) hits 1431 deer and recovers ~84% of them over the course of time. You ask yourself, why didn't he recover 100% of the hit deer? - was it because he took shots at bad angles, gambled on taking long shots, hit branches, got target panic when deer were close by, had bad form while bending down from a tree stand, etc., etc?? There is no way to determine how these issues factored into the less than 100% recovery rate; after all, bowhunting is a rather private affair. However, you find out after the fact that ~82% of the deer hit with fixed blades were recovered, and that 91% of the deer hit with mechs were recovered. What can you infer from the data?
    The Study showed that broadhead choice influenced deer recovery rates on Indian Head - this is an established scientific fact for the hunters and hunting environment on Indian Head (whether it applies elsewhere is unknown). Could it be that shot placement was better on average with mechs than with fixed blades? Could it be that "gut shot" deer on average were more likely to have been recovered with mechs than those shot with fixed blades? Did deer hit with fixed blades travel farther on average, and accordingly, were hunters more likely to give up their search? These and other questions may never be answered.

    -fsh
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2016

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