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Is your bow faster than a deer? Speed Bows vs. Bow Noise

by Dustin DeCroo 6. November 2011 09:11
Dustin DeCroo


Throughout my years as a bowhunter, I have found fewer things that agitate me more than absurd claims by bowhunters.  The one claim that is most irritating to me, “My bow is so fast, deer can’t jump the string.”  That would be excellent if it were true, unfortunately, it’s physically and mathematically impossible.  Let us take a look at the numbers and action photos that shoot the, “speed theory” out of the air.


The bows on the market today are undoubtedly the fastest bows that have been produced and while they can send arrows down range at speeds over 350fps, they still aren’t faster than a deer’s reaction time to the sound of the bow.  Humans have a simple reaction time that has been measured at about .15 seconds, this is the time it takes from hearing a sound to having a reaction movement to the sound.  While it is extremely difficult to measure exactly a deer’s simple reaction time, it is fairly simple to calculate that it’s faster than that of a human.  For the sake of the discussion, we will use the fastest bow and the slowest deer for our calculations.  Keep in mind, my Mathews z7xtreme is slinging an Easton Axis 340 arrow tipped with an NAP Spitfire Max at 299fps.

Here is our hypothetical scenario:  A shooter buck strolls by and stops at 30 yards (90 feet) in your shooting lane.  You hold your pin on the lungs and touch the release, the buck drops at the sound of the bow and your arrow sails over his back.  This past September I had a similar scenario except the deer was a doe and my arrow spined her as opposed to missing altogether.  The distance was exactly 30 yards, my mistake here was not holding my pin on her heart.

With the speed of sound at 1,126fps (768mph) and an arrow moving 350fps (239mph), this means the sound of the bow arrives at the deer almost three times faster than the arrow.  What does this mean to us as bowhunters? This means (with our given scenario) that our arrow reaches the deer in .257 seconds (90fps/350fps), and that the sound of the of bow reaches the deer in .08 seconds (90fps/1126fps).  Subtracting these values gives us the the amount of time the deer has to react from hearing the sound to the arrival of the arrow, at 30 yards, the time for reaction is .177 seconds.  As we discussed previously, the slowest deer on the planet (or a human) needs less than .15 seconds to react to the shot.

These are a series of photos taken from a previous Bowhunt or Die episode of a deer I shot in Wyoming.  I marked my aiming point with the yellow dot, throughout the photo progression the dot stays constant and you can see the movement of the deer throughout the shot.

In this photo, you can see my lumenock in on it's way and the deer hasn't reacted to the sound of my bow.

The arrow is roughly 2/3 the way to the deer and she has already dropped several inches.

In this final photo, my lumenock has disappeared behind the yellow dot which represents my initial aiming point.

Conclusion? Myth Busted!  Even with one of the fastest bows on the market and the slowest deer on the planet, your bow does NOT shoot an arrow faster than a deer can react to the sound, period.

Fortunately for us as deer hunters, this doesn’t mean every deer will jump the string, and if they do, it won’t be enough to completely dodge the arrow.  This knowledge is obviously... just knowledge unless we apply it to our hunting situations.  For me, it means, shoot for the heart.  I hold my pin on the heart and if the deer reacts to the sound, my arrow should find the lungs.  If the deer does not react and my shot is on target, my arrow will find the heart.

2011 Wyoming Antelope Roundup Part 2 - Two For the Doe

by Daniel James Hendricks 18. September 2011 23:44
Daniel James Hendricks

  The only thing better than hunting antelope is eating it.  So this past year, when I learned from my guide, Mike Judd that I could acquire a doe tag for a mere $34 dollars, I had Kristi Judd purchase a doe tag for me.  After all, my biggest complaint about an antelope is that they are not very large, but even a doe is worth an extra $34 based on the undeniable quality of antelope meat. Once my hunt began, I filled my buck tag on the second day of my hunt clearing the way to harvest the first doe antelope of my hunting career.  In the stand shortly after daylight, I began the task of locating the animals that were scattered in that pastures around me.  I choose the particular blind I was hunting in because the hunter that had taken his antelope there earlier in the week, had informed me that he had cell reception.  As far as we were out of Douglas, cell reception was difficult, especially on my cheap phone.  Reception was a positive, but the view was a negative.  I had a lot of blind spots where I was unable to see what would be coming to water until it got right on top of me. 

 So I just closed down most of the windows in the blind leaving small cracks from which to check for critters.  The waterhole at the front of the blind was the important spot and I had a wide window there to take care of business should an opportunity present itself.  After glassing the surrounding pastures for a while to locate the visible goats, I dug out my cell phone called my mom and dad in Florida.  Dad was running an errand so mom and I began to solve the world’s toughest problems like the true experts that we have become from years or diligent practice.  As I talked, I glanced to the east and saw antelope silhouetted against the morning sun, running towards the windmill.  I rapidly explained to my mother what was happening and excused myself.  Her last words were, “Go get `em, son!” 

 I tucked the phone away, grabbed the bow and waited for the arrival of my guests.  The small group consisted of a doe and two fawns and a yearling buck.  I had not wanted to take a wet doe, but since the fawns were both good sized and they had a chaperon, I was in a hurry to hit the road, so taking this doe would allow me time to skin and quarter, check out of the hotel and be in Longmont, Colorado by 5 pm.  Decision made, I clicked the bow off safe and waited for a broadside shot.

  I was able to range the doe at 18 yards, before the animal turned broadside giving me a perfect shot as it scanned the horizon to the west for danger.  Placing the zero on its heart, I slowly squeezed the trigger until the snap of the bow’s limbs startled me.  The antelope exploded into a blur of action, but for the doe, it was too late…She was a goner!  The doomed doe ran directly away from me I watched her life-fluids gushing out of both sides of her body.  As I watched the antelope collapse, I never did see which way the other three disappear.  They were just gone when I looked around.  The doe had gone down in a matter of seconds, not even covering forty yards before succumbing to its wound. 

 I dug the phone out and hit redial and my mother answered on the very first ring. 
 “Well?” she inquired.
 When she learned that I had bagged my doe and she just giggled like a teenage and congratulated me.  We talked for a few more minutes and then I told her I had to get to work.  Hanging up, I called Mike right away and told him I was done.  He said he would be there shortly so I ventured out to collect the photographs I needed to wrap up my mission.

 When Mike arrived he took some shots of me with the goat and then I field dressed it.  The heart had a hole in it, bringing me a great deal of satisfaction.  If one is going to hunt an animal, he should try to make a shot that will dispense it as quickly and humanely as possible.  Nothing is more effective at doing than a broadhead-tipped arrow through the heart.  It had been a compassionate and merciful end for creature and for that I was so very thankful.

 We hauled the animal back to the Kimbal HQ where I skinned and quartered it, placed it on ice and then packed my hunting gear.  After bidding farewell to Mike, I drove to Douglas, checked out of the hotel and headed for Colorado.

 This was my first doe antelope and I was convinced, especially after noting how easily the hide pulled away from the carcass, that there could possibly be no finer eating that what Karen and I were going to experience from the flesh of this doe.  The antelope is the first thing to disappear from our freezer and for the next year, we would have a little extra of it to be blessed at our table.  I can’t thank George LeBar enough for his kind hospitality and sharing the family ranch; the same heartfelt gratitude is also offered to Mike and Kristi Judd.


2011 Wyoming Antelope Roundup Part 1 - One for the Billy

by Daniel James Hendricks 18. September 2011 23:19
Daniel James Hendricks

 My #1 reason for hunting Pronghorn Antelope is the fact that the season opens a full month before that of the Minnesota whitetail.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to get out there and do some hunting while one waits for the local deer to become legitimate targets.  Reason #2 is that their flesh is more popular at our dining table than venison is, especially with my Redhead.  That alone is reason enough to pack up my gear and head for the picturesque landscapes of SE Wyoming in pursuit of wily pronghorn.

 Reason #3 for hunting goats is that the only thing this hunter enjoys more than eating antelope is photographing them, and the area around Douglas provides plenty of opportunity to do just that.  This past season, the LeBar Ranch played host to our annual HBM Hunt Club expedition and we were treated to the excellent guidance of Mike Judd, the ranch’s Gamekeeper.  Mike is a local Wyoming boy that knows his way around hunting the range and is extremely knowledgeable as well as being very intelligent and personable.

 The first 2½ days were spent helping Mike serve the 14 other HBM members that were attending the Antelope Roundup.  By Wednesday, most of them had filled out so Mike gave me the nod to begin my hunt that afternoon.  We were setup at one of the ranch’s unique windmill blinds by 2:30 p.m. in a slab-wood structure that protects the machinery of the windmill; but also provides the perfect cover to conceal a ground blind. 

 The single downside of the setting  is that the only vista is directly ahead, overlooking the waterhole and beyond.  Mike, however, cleverly selected a blind with a zippered opening in the roof, which allowed me to stand and poke my head through the top of the blind providing a clear 360° view of the surrounding countryside.  Experience quickly taught me that the antelope found nothing threatening about my big head poking out of the structure that they accept as a permanent part of the windmill. That first afternoon, the only animal that came into the waterhole was a shooter buck that caught me with camera in hand shooting Meadow Larks that bathed in the pond.  It was the first afternoon so I didn’t even pick up my bow, but instead shot as many photos of the old goat as I could.  

 The next morning I was in the blind before sunrise, ready to lower the boom on the first Billy that wandered it for a drink.  As I glassed the area at first light, I saw antelope all around me; all far away, but there, nonetheless.  The waterhole is located in a shallow bowl that was perhaps a mile long and half a mile wide. The lowest part of the bowl was covered by high grass that had turned as brown as the surrounding pasture from a lack of rainfall.  Were it not for the windmill with its rotary energy filling the waterhole, there probably would not have been and animal for a mile.  But the area around the pond was green and prosperous thanks to the towering pump that noisily sucked the water from the deep recesses of the earth.

 All day long I glassed a shooter buck on the south side of the bowl; it was so far away, I could barely see it with the naked eye.  It would eat and then bed down; then it would rise, eat some more and bed down again.  This went on until 4:30 pm when it finally headed across the bottom in the direction of the windmill.  At times it completely disappeared into the tall grass, but then would magically reappear as it continued in my direction, albeit at a very slow pace.

 Adrenaline began to pollute my system as I monitored the buck’s advancing progress from the skylight of the blind.  When it was just about step out of the tall grass, I sat down, grabbed my crossbow with quaking hands and waited for it to appear in my shooting window.  The antelope took its sweet time about it; apparently it was in no big hurry to die.  When it came around the blind it walked quickly to the water’s edge and began taking long, noisy slurps of the refreshing liquid while providing me with a standing broadside shot. 

 I brought top reticule of the scope to the goat’s rib cage, steadied the bow by resting my elbows on my knees, then slowly squeezed the trigger until the bow noisily spit its projectile at the watering buck.  The alert animal almost spun out of the way of the arrow, but the bow was too fast and the distance too short for it to make good its escape.  The turning motion of the antelope caused the arrow to enter further back than intended, but because of the angle of the twisting body it exited further ahead having the same effect of a quartering away shot; it sealed the fate of the hapless pronghorn.  It trotted about fifty yards, stopped and then collapsed within a few short minutes.

 I waited until the head lay motionless then went to retrieve my vehicle.  Once back at the blind, I took some photos, dressed the goat and then drug it to the water hole to wash it out.  Once it was squeaky clean, I posed the critter, shot some photos of me with the goat using the camera’s 10 second timer.  When I had the photos I needed, I took down the blind, packed my gear into the jeep, policed that area and then went to get Mike to help me transport the animal back to the ranch so that I could get it on ice ASAP.  It had been a very good day.
 A very special thank you is extended to George LeBar and Mike Judd for their kindness and support in making this hunt and photo safari most memorable and productive by sharing the Lebar Ranch. 

Another Lighted Nock Advantage

by Daniel James Hendricks 15. August 2011 07:21
Daniel James Hendricks

As the brisk wind added to the cold misery of the dying day, I made the decision to fill my tag if I was given the opportunity thereby bringing to an end the MN bow season for this year.  There was only a few days of the season left, we already had two feet of snow and the real fun had faded a week ago.  The next deer that came along was toast regardless of size or sex; I just hoped that it was tonight, because I was cold and tired.

As the daylight dimmed, I caught the dark form of a whitetail moving along the crest of the ridge my stand overlooked.  The terrain on the far side of the ridge dropped steeply down to the shore of a small lake.  I had very little time as I brought my crossbow to my shoulder, flipped the safety off and found the animal in the scope.  I had one narrow shooting lane and when the whitetail stepped into the lane, I pulled the trigger.

The waning light of the day was set on fire by the flight of my arrow, which was nocked with a bright red Lumenok.  It was like I had shot a flare gun at the animal.  The arrow disappeared from sight and the animal sped off melting into the dense gray of the dusk shrouded, falling snow landscape.  Quickly climbing out of the stand, I moved down the shooting lane hoping all the way that my perception of the arrow passing through the center of my target was not an illusion.  When I reached the crest of the ridge, I was treated to a massive blood trail on both sides of the freshly made trail that had been plowed through the freshly fallen snow.  

The arrow, which I had already kissed good bye in my mind, had passed through the animal and flew over the ridge, down towards the lake.  I checked in that direction and was startled to see a warm red glow on the surface of the snow just ten yards away.  I walked to the glow, reached into the powdery white-stuff and pulled out my arrow still brightly shining.  Without the Lumenok, I would not have been able to find that arrow until spring (if I remembered to come back and search for it)  That was the fourth whitetail I had taken that fall and all had been taken with a Lumenok.  The buck I had taken at Palmquist’s Farm is the only one that I hadn’t benefited greatly from the Lumenok as that one had been shot at high noon (an excellent time of the day to kill a rutting whitetail).  In the final analysis, I had ended the season being an avid fan of the lighted nock concept.  My enthusiasm for the product has gotten me involved in numerous conversations about lighted nocks and the biggest complaint I hear about them is that they are so darned expensive.  Well, let’s analyze that statement.  Using Lumenok as an example (since that is the extent of my lighted nock experience) let’s see exactly how expensive of a deal it is.  Individual Lumenoks sell for $11 each and are available in a choice of flat or moon nocks.  Wow that is a lot!  Or you can buy three arrows already equipped with Lumenoks for $55/3-pak.  That’s a shade over $18 for each arrow.  Wow, again that’s a lot!

For additional data I went to the Information Highway to learn that I can buy crossbow arrows for any price from $5 to $15 each.  Now of course that is without the Lumenok.  Then I shopped broadheads and again discovered that one can spend from $5 to as high as $20+/broadhead if you go for whatever the rage is.  Doing an average on the math would give us an average of $10 for an arrow and $12.50 for a broadhead for a grand total of $22.50/projectile.  Now let’s say that you just added the Lumenok end to your arrow and that $11 investment helps you find just one of your $22.50 arrows.  Well, according to my math (which is the old math as I haven’t a clue what new math even means, let alone how it works) if the Lumenok helps you find even one arrow that would have been lost it just paid for itself twice.  Not a bad investment. 

This past fall is the first fall in my hunting career that I didn’t lose an arrow.  I did have one arrow broken when the broadhead was stopped by the scapula on the far side of my target and the deer fell on it when it died.  Otherwise, I recovered and am able to reuse all four broadheads, all four Lumenoks and three of the arrows. The Lumenoks were definitely a fine investment the first year of use; and, I will be using the same Lumenoks this next season.  Lumenoks were the original lighted nock and their concept must really be a sound and intelligent idea based on all of the other companies that are following suit with their own versions of the concept.  The most sincere compliment any company can receive is to be copied and Lumenok is being copied, big time.

After just one season of using lighted nocks in my crossbow hunting, I am soundly sold on the concept.  Not only for the savings in dollars by recovering arrows that may have been lost, but also because of the enhanced ability to follow arrow flight and being able to accurately determine where the arrow hits the intended target.  I strongly recommend that you try a three pack (arrows or just the nocks) of Lumenoks this next season as see if, in the long run, the Lumenoks don’t save you money.  Remember if you find just one arrow that would have been lost, you have paid for two Lumenoks.  How many arrows did you lose last year?  If the answer is more than zero, perhaps you should try hunting with a flare.  





Lighted Nock Challenge

by John Mueller 23. June 2010 15:31
John Mueller

Earlier this year I signed up to do a comparison between 3 different lighted nocks. I chose The Firenock, Easton’s Tracer Nock, and Burt Coyote’s Lumenock to do my test. There were certain tests required for this evaluation. I was to shoot each nock 100 times, unless the nock failed before the 100 shots. After 50 shots I submerged all 3 arrows in tap water for 12 hours. After shot #75 I submerged the nock end of the arrow in salt water for 12 hours then let the arrows sit in a bowcase overnight. For the 100th shot it was optional to shoot the arrow with the lighted nock into a cinder block. Since I am using Easton FMJ arrows, which aren't cheap, I chose not to perform the final test. Here are my results and findings.


I purchased my Lumenock and Tracer Nock at Bass Pro Shop in St. Charles, MO. The Lumenock cost me $10.99 and the Tracer cost $6.77. I ordered the Firenock Model A1 direct from the manufacturer for $20.95. The Lumenock and Tracer are available in either Florecent Orange or Green. The Firenock comes in 9 different nock colors and 6 different LED colors or any combination of the above for 54 different combinations.

I used Easton Full Metal Jacket Arrows to perform my testing. This is the arrow I use while hunting. My arrow with a standard nock installed weighed in at 463 grains. After adding the Tracer Nock total arrow weight was 478 grains. The Lumenock mounted arrow weighed 477 grains. And the arrow with the Firenock weighed 477 grains. So the lighted nocks added roughly 15 grains to my arrow.  Adding weight to a hunting arrow isn’t a bad thing in my opinion, but adding it to the back of the arrow is. I would much rather add weight to the front to add stability in flight. Be careful when adding weight to the rear of lightweight arrows.

During the assembly of the arrows I needed to sand a small amount of plastic from the diameter of each nock to allow ease of insertion of each of the nocks. Without sanding I felt it took too much pressure to get the nock seated all of the way to the arrow, especially with the Lumenock. The Lumenock is designed to turn on by sliding in the arrow until it makes contact with the back of the arrow. You turn it off by pulling it out slightly away from the arrow. The Firenock turns on by the shock of the shot triggering a sensor built into the nock. You turn it off by tapping the nock end against a hard surface. The Tracer Nock is activated by passing near a magnet. The magnetic field activates the circuitry in the nock, turning it on. To turn it off simply pass it by the magnet again.

To me the simplest system is the one used by the Firenock. The shock of the shot turns it on and you bounce the nock on a hard surface to turn it off. I never had a failure to light on the shot. It usually only took one tap to get it turned off, but on a few occasions I had to tap it twice.  The Firenock also seemed to have the brightest light when viewed side by side with the other two. The Firenock was the only one of the three to supply a separate nock along with a weight to use when practicing and sighting in. This would definitely save some wear and tear on the nock as well as save valuable battery life.

The Lumenock proved to be the most unreliable nock to light. Some of the time it didn’t light at all and sometimes it would light, but turn off when it hit my target. The nock sliding inside the arrow just leaves too many variables.

While the Tracer’s magnetic system was pretty reliable, it did fail to light a couple of times. I do like the fact that after 10 seconds the Tracer Nock begins to flash, instead of a steady on light. I think it makes it more visible and easier to find your arrow.The magnet is held on to the bow by adhesive, but can be removed by a Velcro connection. There is the possibility that while walking through the woods you could knock the magnet off your bow, leaving the Tracer nock useless. To me simpler is better.

To perform my testing, I used my Bowtech Captain Bow, set at 65# with a 30” draw, equipped with a Ripcord Rest. I was shooting into a fairly new Block Fusion for my backstop.

During the first 50 shots of my test the Firenock performed flawlessly. It lit on every shot and stayed lit after coming to rest in the Block. It only took one tap of the nock on my picnic table to turn it off. The Tracer Nock lit on 49 out of the first 50 shots and stayed lit after entering the block. Passing the lit nock past the magnet a second time immediately turned off the Tracer ready to be shot again. On the one shot that failed to light, I passed the arrow by the magnet by hand and it did light. Not sure what happened there. The Lumenock failed to light twice at the shot and one time did light but it was a very weak glow instead of being completely light up. In addition, on one occasion the arrow was lit, but when it hit the block the Lumenock turned off.

Then it was time for the water submersion test. I used an old wallpaper soaking trough to completely submerge all 3 arrows in water. When I first started soaking the arrows I didn’t notice anything abnormal. When I came back an hour or so later, the Lumenock was glowing under the water. I guess the water was acting like a conductor and completing the citcuit causing the nock to glow slightly. Neither the Tracer or the Firenock showed any signs of light.

I let the arrows soak overnight and pulled them out the next morning. The Lumenock was still glowing slightly. After drying all of the arrows off with a towel the Lumenock went completely out.

I then started my next round of 25 shots into the block target. After the first shot with the Firenock I was unable to turn it off by bouncing it on my picnic table like I had before. I bounced it a number of times, but it would not turn off. So I pulled the nock out of the arrow. Some water came out with the nock. I blew on the nock and circuit board and shook the water out of the arrow. Then I disconnected the battery from the nock, the light went out and didn’t come back on when I reconnected the battery. It worked fine after that coming on every shot and turning off with a tap on my picnic table.

The Tracer Nock worked fine after I took it out of the water.  It came on every shot and shut off when brought back by the magnet. The water submersion test had no effect on the Tracer at all.

Once dried off the Lumenock turned off and stayed off until shot again. It lit all 25 times when shot, but did turn off 1 more time as it entered the block. I guess the shock of hitting the target is causing the nock to move enough in the arrow every now and then to shut it off.

After shot #75 the test called for all 3 nocks to be soaked in salt water while installed in the arrows for a minimum of 12 hours, then left overnight in a bow case. Once again after soaking for a short time the Lumenock began to glow slightly. I let the arrows soak overnight and in the morning not only was the Lumenock glowing, so was the Firenock.  I put all 3 arrows in an old bowcase and left them there until I got home from work about 12 hours later.

When I took the arrows out of the case, the Firenock was still burning. I tried bouncing in on the table to turn it off, but it would not shut off. I took the nock out of the arrow and dried it off and pulled the battery out. Then I reconnected the battery and the nock turned on again. I could not get it to turn off with the battery connected. The salt water must have gotten in there and ruined the circuit board.  I tried shooting it to see if that would maybe shut it off, but it stayed lit until I pulled the battery.

Taking the Lumenock out of the case I noticed it was no longer glowing. I pushed the nock against the back of the arrow to see if it would light, but nothing happened. Then I pulled the nock out of the arrow and dried it off and disconnected the battery. I reconnected the battery and tried setting off the nock again, but it would not light. I shot it a couple of times and nothing. I’m not sure if the battery went dead from burning all that time or something short circuited in the salt water bath.

I then took the Tracer Nock out of the saltwater and passed it by the magnet, it lit. I then shot the Tracer 25 more times and it lit every time but once. The Tracer was the only nock to complete my testing. I’m not a big fan of the magnetic system, but the Tracer held up really well to the test.

I chose not to do the final crash test of shooting an arrow into a cinder block with nock attached. I really didn’t want to destroy one of my good arrows.

I have to say I liked the operating system of the Firenock the best. The shock of the shot lights the nock and then you simply bounce the nock on a hard surface to shut it off. The Tracer worked most of the time, but I don’t like the idea of having the magnet attached to my bow with the possibility of knocking it off walking through the woods. The Lumenocks’s system of the sliding nock was the most unreliable method with more failures than the rest.









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