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Best Blood Trails
I was listening to the most current Meateater podcast with Dr. Ashby. It is a very entertaining and informative. Ashby talks about his 12 factors for penetration. While discussing one of them, I can't remember if it was broadhead design or sharpness, he comments about pass thrus being preferred for blood loss. I think this is a logical statement but since I have really started paying attention to details like this I have noticed that my best blood trails have come on hits where the arrow actually hangs up inside the animal. I am not sure what this can be attributed to but I have noticed this. Shot placement is a likely factor but I do believe something happens to increase blood loss in certain arrow hang up scenarios. Anyone else notice this?
Yes, sometimes, especially with marginal shots where the protruding arrow shaft keeps the wound open and can act as a "wick". Arguably two holes are better than one, but not if one or both holes are plugged with gut (gut shot or quartering away-one lung), or a high double lung. High double lung can produce very little, if any, blood trail with a passthrough.
But every shot on an animal is different, especially once it passes through the hide on the entry side. YMMV.
The only absolute I've found regarding blood trails is that wounds lower on the body (below midpoint) leave more blood on the ground especially with elk since the hair is so thick. This could also be due to lower shots have a greater chance to hit heart.
Does seem like wounds with arrows doing the agitation deal are good bleeders. As annoying as it is I've had to reverse my position 180 degrees on Rage broadheads after using them. If you really want a big blood trail. Or other large two blade heads like that. At some point a hole that is just a certain size just dumps blood.
^....I always viewed the bennies of shots at the mid level and below was (1) you're still getting vitals and the blood has a good drain hole. IMO....high shots will kill but in the context of leaving a good blood trail on the ground, the fluid level has to rise to the level of the hole to drain out. So I'd expect the blood trail to be weak.
Low exits are good, as long as they don't exit through guts. My very worst (read non-existent) blood trails were on shots close to the base of my tree on whitetails and the exit hole was plugged with tissue.
I think there's more to the 1 or 2 hole argument than just hole size and blood loss. One of the reasons I prefer a pass thru is it often doesn't alarm the animal as badly as an arrow that remains lodged in the animal. Assuming a good hit, with a pass thru they often run a short distance, stop, look around trying to figure out what happened, then they get wobbly and go down, often in sight. I personally have never seen an animal do that with an arrow hanging out of them. They usually run as hard and as long as they can before crashing to the ground in mid-stride. In thick country that can lead to long difficult track jobs, even if there is marginally more blood loss.
Someone once suggested that the difference in post-shot reactions could be because the animal perceives the arrow hanging out of them as a continued on-going attack. The arrow acts like a whip to a horse. That explanation made a lot of sense to me.
BTW, the best blood trail I've ever had was a bull elk that I unintentionally Texas heart shot. It looked like the blood had been sprayed from a garden hose. Ray Charles could have followed it. The fix-bladed arrow lodged in the bull's brisket after traveling the entire length of his body. I don't recommend that shot, but there's no doubting how lethal it can be.
The arrow remaining in induces shock as the animal knows he in hot water. A pass through leaves them baffled as to their fate
In my opinion the only absolutes in bowhunting are that there are no absolutes. I have heard shot animals that barely bleed. It doesn't seem possible, but my logic is that the heart has effectively stopped pumping and blood can only drip or run out. Nothing puts blood on the ground like striking major arteries, like the arteries exiting the heart. That is where the massive blood trails come from in my opinion.
No argument from me on the reaction when an arrow passes through an animal. If you shoot enough animals with a mechanical you will see the exact opposite. They run like they are on fire more often than not. It is a definite con but not a deal breaker for me.
I just assumed that the arrow was physically causing extra blood loss somehow, but you bring up a great point. I wonder if the increased level of stress leads to a higher heart rate and more blood being pumped in some instances?
"I wonder if the increased level of stress leads to a higher heart rate and more blood being pumped?"
I have no doubt about it.
I also think it has to do with the level of physical exertion the animal has had just prior to being shot. I once center punched a bull that had been running hard prior to the shot, His tongue was hanging out, and you could see he was breathing hard. When my arrow passed thru him, he only took a few steps and stopped. Every heavy breath he took, you could see the blood spraying from both holes. On the flip side, I've had well-placed pass thrus in which the relaxed animal stopped and there was hardly a dribble of blood coming out. My buck 2 years ago was like that. I 12-ringed him at 15 yards. He bounded 10 yards, stopped, looked around for about 10 seconds, and toppled over. There wasn't a drop of blood between where I shot him and where he died. And there was only 2 small pools of blood where he died. It all stayed inside his chest cavity.
"I just assumed that the arrow was physically causing extra blood loss somehow, but you bring up a great point. I wonder if the increased level of stress leads to a higher heart rate and more blood being pumped?"
I had that happen to a buck I shot in the back lower edge of the lungs. He trotted away but only the point of the arrow protruded on the off side. The head snagged brush and as he pulled away it pulled out and he bolted. The racing away lasted only forty yards and he folded up on that spot.
I believe the continued cutting in the lungs is most evident at the nose as they blow volumes of blood out there.
Granted the vast majority of my experience is whitetails, but I agree somewhat with above, with a little difference: If you hit leg bone or scapula on an animal, whether it passes through or not, they seem to run like the dickens (with some exceptions). And I agree that they sometimes run very hard when hit with a big expandable, even when no bone is hit and just soft tissue.
My personal theory is that a bone hit causes more pain and puts more shock into the system. Same with a big expandable.
I prefer a pass through because I like having an arrow to look at. And I like recovering arrows that can be re-used. But some of my best bloodtrails were arrows that were in the animal, but they barely passed through and still made two holes. Like when you hit the opposite leg through the armpit or something so there are multiple holes, but the head and arrow are still in the animal
If I'm shooting a fixed blade, I'll take 12" of penetration and the head sitting in the center of the lungs over 20" and the head stuck in the offside scapula any day.
"No argument from me on the reaction when an arrow passes through an animal. If you shoot enough animals with a mechanical you will see the exact opposite. They run like they are on fire more often than not. It is a definite con but not a deal breaker for me."
There was no bigger Rage basher than me. Started using Hypodermics in 2018. Ten whitetails on the ground in three years, and the average distance traveled is under 40 yards. Typically drop in sight.
I also prefer to stay in the lower half of the chest cavity. I've had a couple of high hits where the blood trail really diminishes when the animal is going uphill. As soon as the ground levels out or going downhill, the blood trail starts right back up again. In those times going uphill, we were able to follow stumble tracks and get back on it.
A lower half one with a Rage.....
I have killed over 70 deer with Jakhammer 1 3/4" heads. Almost always get a pass through and fantastic blood trails. Often see them fall. On two occasions I have shot deer and they jumped and stood there and finally stumbled and fell. I shot one twice because I thought I had missed. I like to hit just above the heart since there is all kinds of arteries there. Mess up once in a while and hit the heart which I hate because I like the heart. Have also found that a heart shot deer will run like crazy but not far. Lung shot deer don't take off as fast as a heart shot deer.
like somebody walking along with a can of red spray paint
like somebody walking along with a can of red spray paint
end of the rainbow.....
end of the rainbow.....
Yes, I normally command my arrows to halt at 8 to 10"......... but mouflons don't do much on their part to stop em. =D
With any shot you get what you get. What are you aiming at? Did you hit where you wanted might be the biggest question? The classic answer is aiming "double lung". For many years now I like visualizing inside, right above the heart at that bundle of arteries (thank you BB) rather than a "spot" on the surface. Opens up many more angles shooting off the ground. And note it's also hard to get in there without hitting some lungs'n stuff.
A good hit and they go down pretty fast, no matter arrow still in, out.... one hole or two. Marginal hits.... personally think a bigger negative factor if the arrow is still hanging out, they don't normally just go lay down cuz they aren't feeling good. The arrow waving around in that awesome peripheral vision freaks them out, like that saber tooth tiger is still hanging on and they have to get away from it. That can mean backing out for a 40 yd recovery in a bed or a grid search over 400 yards..... or more. But again.... hard to plan for, another "ya get what ya get" things.
Penetration? I'd like.... enough. Like two holes if possible, but hard to get that "low exit" from the ground. Holes up high are notoriously bad blood. With "soft" animals like deer I've changed up my thinking on broadheads over the years, have been having good luck with wide cutting mechs and with my rig pass thoughs are the norm with 2" and even 2.5" cuts unless heavy bone is hit. "Harder" targets like elk I still try to maximize penetration and durability with fixed blade. Make note of any unique challenges the game may present and form a plan to help overcome those challenges.
Oregon Columbian Whitetail….