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Q&A With the Pro's: Mechanical and Fixed Blade Broadheads

by Justin Zarr 13. December 2011 09:27
Justin Zarr

One of the hottest topics in the archery world is mechanical broadheads, I don't see this subject cooling down in the near future. I discussed mechanical broadheads (and fixed blade broadheads) with Chris Kozlik of New Archery Products, here is what he had to say...

New for 2012, the Deep 6 broadhead family has been engineered for small diameter arrows such as the Easton Injexion.


Q: The most common knock on mechanical broadheads seems to be that their blades open in flight, causing the arrow to fly off target which results in either a miss or a lost animal. What do you think about that?

A: Modern bows are certainly pushing the envelope on speed. Crossbows even more so. Having the blades on a mechanical head stay closed during flight is critical to hitting your mark. We’ve done extensive testing to make sure our heads work perfectly and stay closed during flight with the fastest equipment on the market. It’s easy to test. Hang a piece of paper in front of your target and shoot thru it. You should have a small hole, that shows the blades stayed closed. If not, it’s time to go find a better mechanical head.

Blades that open in flight are one of bowhunters major concerns in regards to mechanical broadheads.


Q: When it comes to shooting whitetail-sized game is there anything to be concerned about when shooting a mechanical broadhead?

A: Even though mechanicals have been on the market for over 20 years, there are still myths that revolve around the use of mechanical heads. Three statements seem to come up in conversation more than any others. Specifically, “You can’t take an angled shot with a mechanical” or “It takes too much energy to open the blades / a mechanical won’t penetrate well” or “My broadhead didn’t open!” I’d like to address these one at a time.

First off, any correct angled shot that you would take with a fixed blade, you can take with a mechanical. There are no additional restrictions. 45 degree quartering shots are no problem. Angles steeper than that and you risk the shot, mechanical or fixed blade, period. Three years ago, I received an email from a happy Spitfire customer who took such an angled shot that he cut 8 ribs clean thru and still had a full pass thru. I still have the pictures. Understanding that this shot should never have been attempted with a bow and arrow, it nonetheless proved to me the effectiveness of a full mechanical head even on a steep angled shot.

About blade opening and penetration, I’ll take that question in two parts.

Our mechanical heads use very little energy to open. The resistance that you feel by slowly opening a blade by hand simply isn’t there when the head slams into a target. I routinely demonstrate this by shooting a Spitfire thru a piece of cardboard using nothing more than a draw length check bow with a draw weight of 3 pounds. Blades will open every time. Now imagine a hunting arrow going 250 feet per second (which is 170 miles per hour!) with 60 pounds of kinetic energy. Even a modest 45 pounds of kinetic energy will cleanly kill any big buck out there with any well designed mechanical.

The biggest obstacle to getting a full pass is not the broadhead on the end of your arrow, but how well that arrow was flying as it hits the target. Any side to side whipping or porpoising of the arrow , either from a poorly tuned rest or string slap on your hunting clothes, will cause drastic reductions the penetration power of the arrow, regardless of the broadhead you choose. A bad flying arrow at close distance is even worse than one shot at longer distance because the vanes have no chance whatsoever to recover or get that arrow flying properly. In just the last few days I’ve had 2 bow setups, one being my own personal bow, which shot excellent field points at long distance (my first 50 yard robin hood) and still had a barrel rolling arrow coming out of the bow. Had I just installed a broadhead and gone hunting, the results would have been, regrettable. It’s easy to blame the broadhead when something goes wrong and in a lot of cases, the broadhead had nothing to do with the poor results. Take the time to tune your setup to perfection before stepping into the woods.

“My broadhead didn’t open,” is one of the biggest fear some people have of shooting a mechanical head. In the closed position, all of our heads are still angled partially open. In the 15 years that we have produced the Spitfire, we have never had a head that didn’t open. Like pushing on a door handle, the door has no choice but to pivot around its hinge and open. Now, what has tricked a few people along the way is that the blades may slam shut if the head goes thru a deer and into the dirt. Also in practice, if the head pops out the back of a target and the arrow stays in the target, the blades will again rocket forward and slam shut. In all cases, the head will show a little dent where the back of the blade whacks into the edge of the ferrule. It’s a witness mark that happens even on lower poundage bows. You can test this by taping a piece of paper on the back of a target block and shooting thru. Three large slots will be left in the paper. Even withdrawing an arrow from a deer or foam target will fold the blades closed again. On a yearly basis, I will receive one or two suspect heads where a customer believes it didn’t open. I’ll take a head that’s full of fur, dried blood, and dirt and shoot it as-is. The head will open perfectly! A few years ago, I shot a doe in Seneca, Wisconsin, quartering away at 20 yards with the first Spitfire Maxx prototype. The doe went downhill and out of sight. When I retrieved my arrow, the blades were shut. My gut response was predictable, I thought it didn’t open. Then I took a deep breath, looked for the dents where the blades hit the ferrule and found the head had worked perfectly. My doe was laying 50 yards away.


Q: Do mechanical broadheads really fly better than fixed-blade broadheads?

A: Yes. We have found that at or above 270 feet per second is where larger fixed blade heads can exhibit some wind drift. With precision tuning of the arrow rest and looking closely at the spine of the arrow, large fixed blades like the Thunderhead, can be made to fly extremely well. The faster the arrow goes, the more time you may need to spend on the tuning. Mechanicals almost always fly like field points. There’s very little wind resistance on mechanical heads, so no way to steer the arrow off of target. In 2001 I shot a caribou at 43 yards with a Spitfire with 30 mpg gusty winds and raining. Looking back at the video, you can see the arrow tracking perfectly to the animal and see just a white tuft of hair blow out the back of the animal. It was one of my best kills I’ve ever had, especially in bad conditions.

At high speeds fixed-blade broadheads can drift and plane but with a little bit of tuning, they too can fly like fieldpoints.

Q: Under what circumstances should someone not shoot a mechanical broadhead?

A: 40 foot pounds of kinetic energy would be the minimum I’d recommend when shooting a mechanical head. This would also be the minimum for fixed blades as well. Arrow flight and tuning is even more critical with bows that generate less kinetic energy. With today’s equipment, most hunters are far above this minimum.


Q: The hot trend in broadheads right now is massive cutting diameter. What do you think about that? And how does it affect arrow penetration?

A: Yes, cutting diameters on mechanicals are on the way up. With a setup that has 65 to 70 pounds of kinetic energy, the diameter can be increased with no lack of penetration on game animals. Our FOC crossbow head has a three inch cutting diameter. With crossbows generating 100 pounds of energy or more, this is no issue at all. That being said, it’s easy to forget that what was once an average cutting diameter of 1-1/4” a few years ago, some people now consider small. For decades Thunderheads have killed more deer, elk, moose and other big game animals with a cutting diameter of 1-3/16”. Moose and elk hunters have loved the killing power of the 1-1/8” Nitron for years. Blade sharpness, broadhead strength and quality, along with shot placement and arrow flight seem to be much more important than initial cutting diameter. We’ve seen many Spitfire kills where the entrance hole is bigger that the cutting diameter of the head!

Giant cutting diameters are the hot trend, like this Spitfire Maxx.

Q: We all know that the sharpness of the blades on your broadhead is important for a quick kill, better blood trail and short recovery. How can the average bow hunter decide which broadheads have the sharpest blades?

A:Determining broadhead sharpness can be a little tricky sometimes. A lot of people will run their fingers over the blade and if you can feel it catch your skin, they believe it’s sharp. What you’re actually feeling is a roll over burr that some blades produce when being sharpened. Once the burr breaks off, there is a microscopic rounded edge that does not cut cleanly. It’s when you feel nothing at all, then look down and see your blood all over the place, then you truly have a sharp edge. If you don’t want to find out the hard way, slice thru a piece of notebook paper or shave the hair off the back of your hand to be sure. We make sure nothing touches the edge of our blades between when they were manufactured and when you screw them on you arrow to guarantee the sharpest blades possible.

There is no substitute for ultra-sharp blades, the blades on the NAP Hellrazor are just that.

Q: Why should bow hunters replace the blades on their broadheads with new ones from the manufacturer rather than trying to sharpen them on their own?

A: It’s always better to have brand new blades on your heads. Most blades like ours have multiple grind angles that can never truly be resharpened effectively by hand. A solid head like a Hellrazor can be made almost as sharp from the factory by using a high quality flat stone. Patience and skill are needed to get the edge perfect. I cannot overstate the importance of sharp blades for killing game animals as quick as possible. The cost of new, sharp replacement blades may be the difference between finding an animal or not when a marginal hit occurs.


Q: Is there any advantage to shooting a 125 grain broadhead rather than a 100 grain broadhead?

A: We’ve found that heavier heads up front do two important things. For one, they just seem to fly better. Moving the front of center balance point forward helps the arrows (or bolt) fly better. Tenpoint Crossbows regularly put brass inserts in their bolts for that very reason. In addition, the penetration power in increased. Studies have been done showing that an arrow of a given weight will out penetrate by just moving the weight forward. I put this to the test last year with a fellow employee at New Archery who has never had a full pass thru. He shoots a lighter weight bow and a short arrow. I constructed some Easton Full Metal Jacket arrows with a 60 grain brass insert. 24-1/2” arrow, 100 grain broadhead for a total weight of 428. Front of center comes in at 15.3 percent. Full pass thru’s are now happening. Don’t worry about any extra drop. Even 25 grains extra up front in stays inside a hunter’s normal grouping pattern inside of 30 yards. Arrow speed loss is negligible and in most cases, the kinetic energy has increased! Whatever grain weight broadhead you choose, make sure your arrow is spined out correctly.


Q:The past two years we’ve heard a lot about the NAP Bloodrunner broadhead. Can you tell us why this head has been so popular with bow hunters?

A: Mechanical head sales have soared over the last few years. There are dozens of different designs to choose from. Unfortunately some just don’t perform as well as others under hunting conditions. The Bloodrunner broadhead appeals to hunters who may have tried mechanicals before with bad results or people who would like to try a mechanical, but just seem leery about the whole idea. The Hybrid design of the head is such that in closed position, it has a 1 inch cutting diameter, and by pressing the point back, expands to 1-1/2”. “Even closed, it’s bound to work” is what I hear from potential customers. The fact is there’s no way for it not to open to 1-1/2” cut when passing thru a target. Confidence is key when selecting a broadhead and it’s easy to see how this head performs.

The NAP 2-Blade Bloodrunner offers a huge cutting diameter and a fail-proof expanding design.



Q: What broadhead will you be shooting this fall?

A: That’s always the toughest question for me to answer because all of the heads we make work so well. A lot of us over here shoot Spitfire’s and Bloodrunner’s. I’ll be shooting the Spitfire Maxx with a 1-3/4” cut. I just need to stay awake in the tree long enough to let one fly…..

The Spitfire Maxx is one of the favorite mechanical broadheads on the market.

Bowhunt or Die! Episode 5 Recap

by Cody Altizer 8. November 2010 08:43
Cody Altizer

 The fifth episode of Bowhunt or Die was our best episode so far this season, hands down.  Halloween Weekend was good to the team as 4 bucks hit the ground totaling over 540 inches of bone.  Episode 5 is full of big buck action from Central Illinois and Wisconsin so read on and let’s recap Halloween Weekend on Bowhunt or Die!

Click this link to watch the footage from Episode 5 of Bowhunt or Die!

 Josh Fletcher got things started off for us with an exciting hunt in Wisconsin.  Josh was in the tree October 28th for the first day of what was a planned two week vacation to bowhunt the rut.  Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending how you look at it) Josh filled his buck tag on his first trip out.  Josh had a nice buck chasing a doe right underneath his stand and, just as he was recapping what he saw with an interview, he hears the crunching of leaves, spots a shooter buck, quickly turns the camera around and prepares for the shot.  With the buck in frame, Josh releases an arrow tipped with the NAP Bloodrunner towards the giant Wisconsin buck.  All in a matter of seconds, Josh had successfully filmed himself shooting the biggest buck of his life!  To top it off, the big bodied whitetail died within just 40 yards of his truck making for an easy drag.  Well done, Josh!

Josh Fletcher posing happily with the biggest buck of his life, a monster Wisconsin 12 pointer.

 We then climb up the tree with Richie Music on a suburban hunt in Northern Illinois.  Despite the annoyances of hunting suburbia, Richie was determined and optimistic about seeing deer and shooting a good buck.  Richie didn’t have to wait long, because around 4 o’clock a monster Illinois 11 pointer walked right into Richie’s shooting lane.  Richie quietly drew his bow, released and let his NAP Bloodunner do its job.  A perfect double lung shot resulted in a dead deer, a happy bowhunter and the biggest buck of Richie’s life on the ground.  Richie’s reaction after he shot the buck is what deer hunting is all about.  Just watching Richie’s excitement and enthusiasm is enough to make me get back in the woods right now!  Kudos to Richie for self-filming the biggest buck harvest of his life with bow and arrow, good job Richie!

The monster 11 pointer just before Richie's arrow strikes true.  The bright red streak you see above and to the right of the buck's rack is Richie's arrow.


Richie with the biggest buck of his life.  A mainframe 10 with a split left G2, long main beams and a super wide spread make Richie's buck a buck of a lifetime.

 Bowhunt or Die then makes the trip south to Central Illinois and Pike County as I continue my quest for not only my first Illinois buck, but my first buck with a bow period.  After filming Justin Zarr for three days, I set out on my own and my first afternoon out I had some action.  About 5:45 I catch movement out of my left eye and see a shooter buck making his towards me.  I immediately take a deep breath, grab my bow, situate the camera and stand up to get ready for the shot.  The buck cooperates beautifully and walks right in an opening just 20 yards from my stand and when he stops, I shoot.  My arrow hit its mark as I watched my Thunderhead Edge pass quickly through the buck’s heart.  I was pumped!  I was able to film myself shooting my first Illinois buck as well as my first buck with a bow.  There is no better feeling!

My first buck with a bow, my first Illinois buck and my biggest buck to date.  I was able to self-film myself harvesting this buck and am extremely proud of him!

 The big buck action continues as we follow Justin Zarr on the same piece of property as he looks for a big buck.  If you have watched the previous episodes of Bowhunt or Die, you’ve watched Justin pass on several nice bucks looking for a mature, Illinois whitetail.  Justin hunted hard for two straight days and despite numerous encounters with younger bucks and a couple close calls with two shooters, Justin headed into Halloween morning without a deer.  Justin is living proof, however, that persistence pays because Halloween morning Justin’s patience was rewarded.  An old, battle tested buck made the mistake of stopping in Justin’s shooting lane and Justin made a perfect shot on him.  Justin’s NAP Nitron made a quick, clean kill on a bruiser Illinois buck.  Justin’s buck actually had three tines broken off which adds character to his rack and proves this old buck was a warrior!  Congrats Justin!

Justin's reaction right after he shot his buck.  This is what bowhunting is all about!

Justin proudly poses with his Halloween buck.  The buck had three broken tines, but he was still a great trophy nonetheless.

 Episode 5 was packed full of exciting buck action, and the hunts shared were similar and unique in several ways.  Josh, Richie, and I all shot the biggest bucks of our lives.  We were all able to successfully self-film the buck harvests featured in Episode 5 and we all relied on NAP broadheads to harvest our bucks.  Combine this with the fact that Josh shot his buck on October 28th, Richie on the 29th, mine on the 30th and Justin’s on the 31st and it all adds up to make for a pretty cool show!  While it may seem as if Episode 5 will be impossible to top, I would put nothing past the Pro Staff with the rut now in full swing.  Tune in this Friday for a new episode of Bowhunt or Die to find out!

Bowhunt or Die! Episode 2 Recap

by Cody Altizer 25. October 2010 07:57
Cody Altizer

 The second installment of “Bowhunt or Die!” provided just as much excitement and big buck action as the first.  The warm temperatures did their best to stall the efforts of our Pro Staffers, but they battled through the heat and came away with some great footage and exciting hunts.  Episode 2 featured doe harvests from Illinois and Wyoming and some great encounters with bucks in Illinois and Wisconsin despite the sweltering heat.  Click here to watch the exciting footage of Bowhunt or Die! Episode 2!
 Bowhunt or Die! Host Todd Graf was back at it in Illinois and Wisconsin and continued his string of buck encounters.  In Wisconsin, Todd shared a couple hunts with his friend Dr. Ali Shaibani and, while he didn’t see a buck he wanted to shoot, still had some cool encounters with younger bucks.  In Illinois Todd saw his third shooter of the year, but like the others, this buck was just too far away to attempt an ethical shot.  Todd resisted the temptation of calling to this deer, because it was just too early in the season to get aggressive with a mature buck.  Knowing when to be passive and when to be aggressive is key when hunting older deer.  Fortunately, Todd was able to capture some awesome footage of this buck and gained valuable information that will help Todd score on him later in the season.  Through just two episodes, Todd has quickly gained priceless information that will help him score on these bucks later in the season.  It’s only a matter of time now for Todd!

A giant of a whitetail!  Todd was able to capture some excellent footage of this buck as he was just out of bow range.

Todd had a close encounter with this younger buck on a hunt in Wisconsin.  While this may be considered a shooter for the majority of us bowhunters, Todd has super nice bucks on his hit list this year that he is holding out for. 

 Bowhunt or Die! makes the trip west to Wyoming to follow Pro Staffer Dustin DeCroo and his dad, Jerry, on a couple mule deer doe hunts.  For many of us, it was our dad who introduced us to the outdoors in general and ultimately hunting, and any time spent in the woods with your dad is enjoyable.  Harvesting a deer together on film is just icing on the cake, and Dustin and Jerry were able to do just that as Jerry harvested a Mule deer doe with Dustin behind the camera.  Talk about a father/son moment!  A couple weeks later, after some time in Canada bear hunting, it was Dustin’s turn as he took another mule deer doe out of the same tree stand with the NAP Bloodrunner.  Keep up the good work, Dustin!

Little did this mule deer doe know, that Dustin DeCroo was up high in a tree waiting to send the NAP Bloodrunner towards her vitals!

 In Episode 1 you saw Richie Music make a great shot and harvest a whitetail doe on film.  For Episode 2, Richie turned his focus to the bucks.  A close encounter with a 2 year old 8 point buck certainly got Richie’s blood pumping, but it just wasn’t the caliber buck he was looking for.  Richie is a diehard when it comes to hunting giant whitetails, and I can certainly understand why he passed on an immature deer.  I have a feeling Richie will connect on a much larger buck later on in the season so stay tuned!

While this is certainly a handsome 2 year old 8 pointer, it is just not the caliber buck Richie is looking to harvest this year.  He showed great restraint in passing on this buck, and hopefully he'll be rewarded with a bigger buck later this season.

 John Mueller wrapped up Episode 2 by harvesting a whitetail doe fawn.  John was presented with a tough quartering away shot, but he placed his Rage 2 Blade broadhead beautifully behind the shoulder and the doe expired within 60 yards.  John always posts informative and knowledgeable blogs on habitat and whitetail management, so it was enjoyable to watch John successfully contribute to the efforts of Quality Deer Management, a practice in which he invests a lot of time and effort.

John Mueller made an awesome quartering away shot on this doe fawn with the Rage Broadhead in Episode 2 of Bowhunt or Die!

 Warm mid-October temperatures didn’t keep the team from laying down some great footage and harvesting a couple does along the way for Episode 2.  Each passing week finds us inching closer and closer to the rut, so stay tuned to “Bowhunt or Die!”  as our staff members gear up for the most exciting time of the year for bowhunters: the rut!

Bowhunt or Die! Episode 1 Recap

by Cody Altizer 25. October 2010 04:54
Cody Altizer

 The premiere episode of our new web show “Bowhunt or Die!” could not have gone any better.  Our Pro Staffers were anxious to get in the woods with bow in one hand and camera in the other, eager to test out the best gear while sharing our hunting experiences with you.  Our first episode followed the Illinois opener as we had 5 Pro Staffers hitting the woods looking to arrow an Illinois giant.

In case you missed Episode 1, click here to watch all the action! President Todd Graf introducing Bowhunt or Die!

 After a slow start to the season in Wisconsin, Illinois native Mike Willand was excited to hunt his resident state of Illinois and chase those familiar whitetails.  Mike had hunted hard in Wisconsin the previous two weeks and, without seeing a deer, was keyed up for the Illinois opener.   Sunday October 3rd found Mike sitting in a tree on his new lease in Northwestern Illinois watching a nice buck and a few does feed just out of bow range for the majority of the evening.  The potential shooter never got closer than 36 yards and opening weekend in Illinois left Mike with no deer down, but a good encounter with a nice buck nonetheless.

Mike Willand played cat and mouse with this low 130s buck the afternoon of October 3, but was never presented with a shot. 

 Justin Zarr experienced the exact opposite on his first outing of the 2010 deer season, as he hunted hard opening weekend and never saw a deer.  The particular area Justin was hunting doesn’t have a high concentration of deer; however, Justin worked hard and put in the time and effort.  It can be discouraging to wait all year for opening weekend and then not see a deer, but Justin knew that the season was young and that better hunting days would certainly come along soon.
  The Illinois opener was literally a dream come for me, as I was fortunate enough to hunt Illinois for the first time ever.  Growing up as a kid I dreamed of bowhunting Illinois whitetails, and on the afternoon of October 1st, I was doing just that.  After slow afternoon hunts on Friday and Saturday, I went to my best stand site Sunday afternoon hoping for better luck.  Around 6 o’clock, I was surprised by a mature doe just 30 yards away and closing.  With little time to get nervous, I turned on my camera, grabbed my bow and prepared myself for my first chance at an Illinois whitetail.  I came to full draw on the doe when she was at 8 yards, released an arrow tipped with the NAP Thunderhead Edge and watched her tear out of sight all in less than 10 seconds.  After a short tracking job, I recovered my first Illinois whitetail, a big mature doe captured all on film!

I was fortunate enough to harvest a mature doe on film during the Illinois opener.  It was a dream come true! President Todd Graf experienced what he described as the best Illinois opener of his life.  While he didn’t harvest a deer, Todd had great deer activity all weekend and had close encounters with two shooter bucks. Despite not being able to close the deal on either of those bucks, Todd learned a great deal of information about their patterns and habits which will help him put the pieces of the puzzle together and help harvest a mature buck later on.  As most bowhunters know, hunting mature bucks is a chess match with each move requiring careful calculation.  I trust in Todd’s ability to hunt big bucks with a bow, so I know he can get the job done.

This shooter buck slipped past Todd Graf just out of bow range opening weekend.  Nevertheless, seeing a buck on his feet during daylight hours this early in the season is definitely a good sign.

 Richie Music concluded our series premiere by making a great shot on a mature doe as well.  Richie and his camera man had just gotten in the stand and had deer all around them, literally within minutes!  Richie remained calm and collected and waited for the best shot opportunity to present itself and when it did, he made it count.  His Diamond bow tipped with the NAP Bloodrunner made a quick, clean kill and the doe ran less than 100 yards before expiring.   Richie’s opening weekend went beautifully; harvesting a beautiful doe and capturing awesome footage of the entire hunt is what bowhunters dream about.  Congrats again Richie!

Richie Music pumped after making a lethal shot on a doe just minutes after getting settled in his treestand.

 The 2010 deer season started off with a bang (or should I say THWACK?) for the team.  Two whitetails fell victim to the hard work and dedication of our Pro Staffers and with the best hunting yet to come, we’ll be sure to lay down some more great footage for you to see on Bowhunt or Die!


Early Bowhunting Season Recap | Wyoming Antelope & Wisconsin Doe

by Todd Graf 29. September 2010 10:46
Todd Graf

October 1st signifies the opening day of archery season here in Illinois and although my bowhunting season has barely begun, it's already been an extremely successful one.  I'm sure many of you have already read Justin's blog about our trip to Wyoming and no doubt seen the video as well.  But for those of you who haven't, let me tell you it was a great time!

Just over a month ago Justin and I, along with our cameraman/editor Brian, flew out to Table Mountain Outfitters for an early season antelope hunt.  After a few delays at the airport we finally settled into camp around 1 am on Friday morning August 27th.

After some much needed rest, unpacking our gear and sighting in our bows we headed into town to pick up our archery tags and some supplies for the day.  Once that was done it was time to head to our blinds and see if we couldn't lay down a couple goats.

Justin reading over the regulations before heading into our blinds.

Our home for the next 9 hours while trying to kill my first antelope with a bow.

Justin had the lucky horseshoe this day as he was able to take a nice antelope just 3 hours after getting into his blind.  In the meantime Brian and I were sitting in our blind wondering if anything was ever going to show up.  After a long day of napping, playing games on our phones, reading books, and staring off into the Wyoming landscape we finally had a nice buck approach our blind.

As Brian, the rookie cameraman on his first hunt, was struggling to hold himself together I got ready for the shot.  After ranging the buck at about 35 yards I drew back and let my 2 blade Bloodrunner fly.  The shot was a bit low and forward, but the Bloodrunner sure did the trick as the buck didn't run more than 100 yards before going down. 

Following a quick celebration and interview I snuck out of the blind to make sure the goat was down for good.  You can never be too sure!  By the time I got to the buck he was already expired and I claimed my first ever archery antelope.  What a great feeling!

My first archery antelope.  What a great way to start the season!

That 2 blade Bloodrunner sure did the trick on this goat.  It flew great and left a HUGE hole!

A nice Wyoming sunset.

The full gang on the final day of our antelope hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters.  From left to right: Brian McAlister, Justin Zarr, Dustin Decroo, Angie Denny, Todd Graf, Vicki Cianciarulo

If you haven't seen the video already, click here to watch it.  There's some really great footage!

After we returned home from Wyoming I was able to head down with my dad for a quick dove hunt with my friends at Graham's Outdoor Adventures in Central Illinois.  As always we had a great time with those guys, shot a bunch of doves, and enjoyed a nice summer day.  Thanks to the Grahams for having us down, it was a blast!

My dad, me, and Derek Graham after a fun day of dove hunting.

This past Sunday up in Wisconsin I was fortunate enough to take a really nice doe on film with my new cameraman Cody Altizer behind the lens.  Cody and I spent a few days at my property the past two weekends trying to get on one of the nice bucks we've had on trail cameras this summer, but they were nowhere to be found.  So when this nice big doe presented me with a shot I took the oportunity to start filling the freezer up with some fresh meat.  Next time we just need a nice buck to come by!

Cody getting ready to head out for our evening's hunt.

Me with my first doe of the season.


Back at home, or at least at my hunting property which seems like my 2nd home, my fall food plots are coming in GREAT!  All of my stands are hung and I am just about as ready for Opening Day as I can be.  Good luck to everyone who is going out hunting for the first time this weekend.  Stay safe and shoot straight!

The view from one of the stands I just hung last week.  I can't wait to get in there and do some hunting!


My native grasses are doing much better than I expected, which is going to provide some much needed security cover for not just deer but all sorts of wildlife.

Turnips are looking good!

BBD! Mule Deer Archery Harvest in Wyoming

by Dustin DeCroo 14. September 2010 03:33
Dustin DeCroo

On March 15th of 2010, I had no idea that I would be moving to Wyoming permanently before the commencement of the Fall archery season and I entered the draw for a non-resident deer tag.  In late June I logged on and found the term “successful” listed under the draw results.  At that time I was only hoping that same term would describe my season.


The foothills of Wyoming will test your conditioning.

On opening day I passed on a decent 4x4 buck that would probably have received a broadhead on any day except the opener.  I had a few friends from Oklahoma visit to hunt antelope over Labor Day weekend and while it was deer season, their success and an enjoyable hunt was my main objective.  Somehow my September weekends  had become filled with other activities than I had planned and I knew that the weekend of September 11th was going to be my best bet for “success” before rifle season opened.

A buck for next year!

A few weeks prior to season I scouted two state section of land that my friend Scooter had pointed out on the local BLM map and found a giant mule deer.  Further inspection of the map showed that the county road didn’t touch the section that I had seen the big deer and therefore was landlocked by private land.  My plans changed.

The photo through the binocs is blurry, but the deer on the left is the stuf I was after.

Scooter and I woke up early (him to go to work and me to hunt) had coffee and breakfast in the morning darkness.  Scooter’s oldest son (all of five years old) woke up to the smell of coffee and asked what we were doing, upon me telling him I was going hunting he asked “What kind of broadheads are you using?”  Apparently my answer was sufficient and he climbed back into his camouflage sheets.

As daylight broke the Easter horizon I found myself staring through my binoculars into the steep, rocky and sage filled canyons on Northeastern Wyoming.  Almost immediately a buck stood on the skyline of ridge between two steep ravines and dropped then down the opposite side, I deemed him a shooter at first glance.  He wasn’t anywhere near as big as the buck I had seen weeks before but with my hunting days winding down, the chase was on.  Down one ravine and up the (extremely steep) other side I carried my Badlands 2200 pack filled with a days supplies, my bow and myself.  As I approached the top I took a quick pause to catch my breath and began glassing the terrain.  Naturally I could see the furthest “stuff” first and as I moved higher I could see closer to the bottom.  I couldn’t see what was inside of 75 yards, I knew he had to be close.  I knocked an arrow from my quiver (this one tipped with a 100gr GrizzTrick) and crawled to the edge of the rock ledge.  I spotted tines and could tell the deer was looking in my direction and I didn’t dare expose myself.  My Leupold RX-1000 locked onto a Juniper tree to the left of the deer and told me he was 50 yards.  I came to full draw and when the antlers turned sideways I knee crawled another foot and settled my pin.  I pulled the trigger on my Short-N-Sweet and my arrow sailed down the hill… Unfortunately while my arrow was sailing the buck took a step down the hill and I watched my NAP Quikfletch disappear just behind the last rib and it came out just behind the diaphragm.  The immediate sickness hit me and I knew it was going to be a long day as the buck went down the ravine, up the other side and into another steep draw.

Since I was at the top of a hill I was able to send a text to Scooter and Scott Abbott.  Scooter’s reply to the situation was, “give him time, we’ll go back tonight.”  Scott’s was much the same as he told me, “7 hours.”  Even when you know that backing out is the smart thing, it’s still difficult especially in open terrain.  I proceeded to follow the blood trail for practice as I knew where the deer had gone and that it would take me at least 45 minutes to get to where he went.  As I got close to the last ridge he topped I layed down in a patch of Junipers and had a Caprisun and a granola bar.  I decided that I wouldn’t go after the deer but I’d try to spot him as I was sure he would bed down.  Topping the ridge I found the buck bedded 150 yards facing away but rather than push him over more ridges, or worse yet… onto private land, I backed out and made the long journey back to the truck.

I got back to the truck only to be surprised to see a Wyoming Game and Fish truck parked next to mine.  Long story short a landowner had called me in for trespassing.  In this part of the state, very rarely are property boundaries marked with fences or anything else and it’s extremely important that you can read topographical maps and know how to use a GPS in accordance with those maps.  This piece of state property has literally 50 yards of unmarked contact with the county road which is the only legal place to enter.  The game warden immediately affirmed that I was in the correct location and said he would talk to the landowner.   An hour later I had a new friend, we shook hands and I gave him a DVD.

Back at the house, I passed the time by napping and watching a little college football but I couldn’t wait long enough to catch any of the beat down my Sooners placed on Florida State.  Scooters dad, Ol’ Wil, was kind enough to help me with the pack out if we could find the deer.  The walk back in was quick since I wasn’t trying to be too sneaky through the majority of it.  I crested the hill expecting to see my buck laid over in the sage brush but to my dismay… he was gone.  My heart sank thinking that the last seven hours was plenty of time for the wound to clot making blood trailing in the sage brush nearly impossible.  I never did find a drop of blood, just a little blood where he brushed up against the sage.  The 75 yards I covered in the next 30 minutes took me to the base of a rock cliff and I could finally see antler tips and a nose of my deer bedded in a hole at the base of the cliff.  I sneaked up and around to the top of the cliff to where I could get a clean shot and ran a NAP Bloodrunner through both front shoulders.  It was the only route I had to the lungs, so I took it.  The deer bolted down the draw and piled up 20 yards from the cliff. Eight and half long hours later I got to wrap my hands around his antlers, “success” at last.  The deer was old and definitely on the downhill, his body was enormous.

My 2010 Spot and Stalk Mule Deer.

He’s not a giant, but with a $312 non-resident tag and my days winding down, I was happy to punch my tag.  Getting the buck out was a feat in itself and it would have been horrible without the hand of Ol’ Wil.  Apparently the SD card I brought and my camera didn’t make friends until after the drag.

The uphill climb begins at the truck

My 2010 archery season is off to an incredible start, I hope it continues!  If you’ve never done a Do-It-Yourself, spot and stalk hunt for mule deer on public land… give it a shot.  You’ll find out what you’re made of in a hurry!



2010 Archery Success in Wyoming

by Dustin DeCroo 23. August 2010 11:56
Dustin DeCroo

The first morning of my 2010 archery season was anything but what I had intended.  The archery antelope season had been open for almost a week before I was able to escape to the public land and sage flats of Northeastern Wyoming.  I woke early to complete a few minor tasks prior to the hunt, the first of which was to screw-in three brand new N.A.P BloodRunner Broadheads.  After looking through the one tote and the one bag that I had taken on the weekend trip, it was apparent that my broadheads were at home.  Rather than get too fired up about it, I went back to sleep for two hours knowing the local sporting goods store opened at 8am.  Arriving at the store, I found the broadhead selection very limited and opted for a four-pack of N.A.P Spitfire mechanicals.

This guy needs another year, but he has potential!

My shooter buck standards were fairly low, knowing that my September schedule is already packed with other hunts.  The first day provided several shooter bucks but between the cows, bordering property owners and an errant arrow… I went home with an empty truck bed.  Thankfully, the next morning would prove to have a different outcome.

A bachelor group of Wyoming Pronghorns in difficult stalking terrain

I drove nine miles South of town to a section of state land where I had seen a nice buck the previous day.  I drove to the back of the property only to find that buck on private land in an adjacent pasture.  On the way out I spotted a decent looking buck bedded with two does, they were bedded just off of a sage flat where it falls down to a dry creek bed.  Unfortunately, the only way I had to stalk the buck was from upwind.  I decided to test my luck and began the sneak.  When I got to about 50 yards from the edge of the sage flat, I knelt down, knocked an arrow and tried to fine tune my plan.  I knew that I was within 60 yards of the goats and that my scent had to be dangerously close to giving me away so I pressed on...  Seconds later I saw horns and ears jump up and run parallel to me and hoping they would stop to see what smelled, I immediately came to full draw on my knees.  The buck did just that and with no time for my Leupold RX-1000 to tell me how far he was, I made a quick judgment.  I placed my bottom pin slightly below the top of his back, my arrow made a quick flight before I heard the “thump” and watched my fletchings disappear.  The buck spun around in a circle several times before coming to rest only five yards from where he was shot.  I raised both hands and my Allegiance to the sky and said, “Thank you.”  The Spitfire did an excellent job on the quartering away animal.

Wyoming Pronghorn

My 2010 Wyoming Pronghorn scores out at 72 2/8” which will well reach the minimum SCI and Pope & Young minimums after drying time.  This goat won’t be entered, but the memory of an exciting, public land, spot and stalk hunt will tell the story much better than the paper pages of any record book.

What a Weekend! Trip to Northern Illinois a Dream Come True

by Cody Altizer 29. June 2010 10:43
Cody Altizer

What a weekend!  When I left Virginia early Thursday morning, I don’t think it’s possible I could have imagined a more perfect trip to Northern Illinois.  I was looking forward to the trip west; driving through the mountains of West Virginia, across the Ohio River, through Indiana farmland and into the beauty and nostalgia that is Northern Illinois.  However, the events that followed made this one of the best weekends of my life.

    Friday morning started off with a trip to the office to meet Todd and Justin and before I knew it, I was working on my first blog as a Pro Staffer!  It was cool to just be working alongside Todd and Justin after following them through their gear review blogs and videos the last two years.  After publishing my first blog, a review and video of the Gorilla Exo-Tech Safety Harness, Todd and I grabbed lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise where we further discussed my responsibilities as a Pro Staf Gear Reviewer.  Here I am, one day just a farm hand from Western Virginia, the next, a member of the best bowhunting team in the country!

Here I am shooting my bow off Todd's back porch.  While he got the better of me overall, I did manage to outshoot him on a couple of targets!

After getting back to the office we realized we embarrassingly had forgotten to grab Justin something to eat, who had worked through lunch.  Sorry Justin!  That afternoon we stayed busy around the office working on final preparations for the Get Together the following day.  Once our work at the office was complete, and I managed to break the parking garage door, Todd and I headed to his house to shoot a few arrows to make sure we were dialed in.  Although I got the better of Todd on a couple shots, he outshot me overall.  Jason from New Archery Products (NAP) then showed up and the three of us spent the better part of an hour just sitting on the back porch, enjoying a summer afternoon and of course, talking about bowhunting products.  In the process, Jason managed to sell me on the NAP 2-Blade Bloodrunner, which I’ll hopefully introduce to some Virginia whitetails this fall.  The day concluded with a trip to Paradise Campgrounds where I was finally able to personally meet some of the guys whose gear reviews I've been reading.  Even though I didn’t get to stay long, it was nice to put some faces with names with some of the guys!

Having little time to make sure Friday wasn’t a dream, Saturday morning found me at Coon Creek Hunt Club ready for a day of shooting bows.  Admittedly, I was pretty nervous about the shoot because I had never shot in front of anyone but my brother and I think it showed!  I got off to a rocky start, however, once I settled down a bit I shot consistently well.  I did have the chance to witness some great shooting by the other members in my group.   Fellow Pro Staffer Dustin DeCroo made an unbelievable 108 yard shot on the 3-D elk; right in the kill zone!  Pro Staffer Jessica Edd dispels the notion that men are superior archers than women making great shot after great shot all day.  All the while Richie Music smoothly punched the 3-D targets with as only a left-handed shooter could!

Perhaps what I enjoyed most on Saturday, however, was finally meeting my good buddy Mike Willand.  Mike has been a big supporter of my writing and I have to thank him the most for this awesome opportunity.  I’ve been emailing and conversing over the phone with Mike for the better part of two years, and I look up to him as a hunter, person and writer, so it was awesome to finally be able to meet him!

Unfortunately, I had to return home for work Monday morning, but I left Northern Illinois having experienced an incredible time.  I had little idea what I was getting into when I left for this trip, but by the weekend’s end, I had met some great people, competed against some awesome bowhunters, and had my dreams come true.  Look through my blogs from the Get Together for more pictures!  I’m really looking forward to sharing my bowhunting experiences and product reviews with you and I hope that I can provide information that will make you a better informed and more successful bowhunter!

God Bless and Happy Hunting!

NAP Releases New Broadheads - Braxe, BloodRunner, and Spitfire Maxx

by Staff 18. November 2008 02:18 Staff

New Archery Products, the leader in archery accesory innovation for more than 20 years, has released details on three new broadheads for 2009.

The BloodRunner is an rearward-opening expandable broadhead that delivers a 1 1/2 inch cutting diameter on impact for massive bloodtrails and quick recoveries.  The BloodRunner has a 1" cutting diameter when closed for field point accuracy.  0.036" thick blades provide extreme sharpness and dependability.  The BloodRunner will be sold in packs of 3 and available in 100 grains.


One word describes the new Braxe broadhead - Extreme!  The Braxe is the ultimate in strength and performance featuring three double-edge razor-sharp offest blades and a bone-crushing Trivex point.  The combination of the offset blades with the double cutting edges is called "core drilling" technology and delivers a massive wound channel that won't close and prevent a good blood trail.  This means not only better penetration but larger blood trails and shorter recoveries.

The Spitfire Maxx is a larger version of the legendary Spitfire broadhead with an increased 1 3/4" cutting diameter.  Field point accuracy, cut-on-contact tip, offset blades, and no o-rings are the trademark features that serious bowhunters have come to rely on from the Spitfire series of broadheads for over a decade.



All three new broadheads from NAP will be available for purchase right here on in January 2009.  Check back often for additional product updates and availability from your #1 source for archery and bowhunting gear -!

Categories: Current News

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