Thursday, December 06, 2007


In days past, black powder and especially bow hunters were the most careful of all. Most were "naturalist" hunters, and had the ability to stalk close as well as the discipline not to take a shot that was less than perfect.

Now, with a lot more time open for bowhunters and the availability of modern- type black powder guns that LOOK like they could be accurate over long distances, I wonder if this is as true.

Consider these three projectiles:

Above, obviously, is a broadhead. Below left is a fragment of what appears to be a .50 caliber ball. Both were found encysted, for lack of a better word, in a beautiful bull elk confiscated from a road hunter (we were lucky enough to get the meat!) The third is the muzzle loader bullet, ironically fired at a more sensible range, that killed him. I hate to think of the pain that the arrowhead in particular must have caused.

I am not saying not to hunt with bows, though I do not think I am good enough. I am not saying not to hunt with modern muzzleloaders-- though most are in .50 caliber, one I consider marginal at best for elk. What I am saying is that bow and black powder hunters should learn the limits of their chosen tools.


Chas S. Clifton said...

David Petersen has an essay in Man Made of Elk, reprinted from Traditional Bowhunter, I think, that argues strongly in favor of two-edge blades (no inserts!) and heavy arrows.

But I suspect that whitetail deer hunters drive the archery market.

mdmnm said...

I don't have enough blackpowder experience to know, but when I started to look at what is available and being used, I was struck by the prevalence of saboted pistol bullets. There has to be a significant difference between a 44 or 45 caliber 250 grain jacketed hollowpoint at a (relatively modest) velocity and a 385 grain, 50 caliber lead bullet or even a 270 grain 50 cal. lead ball. Even though the smaller bullet is going faster, you aren't going to get the same penetration.

That is one heck of a piece of arrow! Where was it located?

Steve Bodio said...

Mike: I'll ask my butcher frind Rudy (he is also the pigeon breeder in Aloft) when i see him.

Kevin C. Paulson said...

That is quite a collection in one elk. The reality is that both weapons have the potential to take down an elk but most hunters do not have the patience to wait for the perfect shot. I have seen elk go down in seconds from both weapons and have seen elk lost because of poor shot choice. I hope more hunters practice patience and practice with there weapons of choice.