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Calvin Bueltel 2019 Wyoming archery 5x5 bull elk

Mechanical Broadheads for Elk Hunting

Stuck on whether to use mechanical or fixed broadheads for your upcoming elk trip? While broadheads for whitetails seem to be getting bigger and bigger (see Grim Reaper’s Whitetail Extreme with a whopping 2″ x 1.5″ cutting area), a lot of folks shy away from mechanicals for elk for various reasons. Some may even go so far as to question its ability to kill an elk. I’ve personally seen it work quite well.

While a couple elk down with mechanical broadheads pales in comparison to most accomplished elk hunters, these heads worked so well that I would not hesitate to shoot another elk with them. That said, I will more than likely be shooting both fixed and mechanicals for elk next year. Keep reading and I’ll explain why.

Brett's First Elk

My first experience was tracking my brother’s 2016 Cow Elk which he shot using Grim Reaper’s 125gr Fatal Steel in Colorado. We didn’t find a lot of blood, but that was primarily because he hit her high and back. However, his cow made it less than 100 yds before bedding down and expiring. That made me a true believer. Not to mention his broadhead still looked like it could be shot again and kill another elk just as easily, after a quick blade change of course. These broadheads are tough!

2019 Wyoming Elk

Fast forward two years later. My dad, brother and I drew a hard-to-get archery tag in Wyoming. I was still shooting the Fatal Steels, but had not had the opportunity to test these on an elk. The first opportunity I had I made it count from 45 yards through a small shot window (after some first-shot jitters). I hit him so hard he tried bedding down forty yards from where I initially hit him.

He didn’t bed down long before standing back up. At roughly 90 yards, I would never take that shot with fixed broadheads. However, I had practiced these long-distance shots for weeks with field points in preparation of this hunt. These mechanicals fly exactly like field points. Unfortunately I ranged the wrong tree and shot right over his back.

Although we ended up bumping him after taking up the blood trail, this was one of the easiest tracking jobs I’ve ever had. At times, Brett and I played games with who could see blood the furthest up the trail. Had we not bumped him, he would have expired about 150 yds from the initial shot.  You can read more about that hunt on Brett’s latest article (HERE).

Mechanical or Fixed Broadheads for Elk Hunting?

While I am touting the effectiveness of mechanicals, there still leaves some to be desired. I would have felt more comfortable with a little more penetration. However, I’m not 100% sure a fixed head would have addressed this, as I’m pretty certain I connected with the backside shoulder. So if you were to ask me if I’m going to be using a mechanical or fixed blade broadhead for elk? I’m going with both next year.

It’s hard to beat the tried-and-true effectiveness of Grim Reaper’s fixed blade broadheads. The way we hunt, and the thickness of the vegetation, we typically don’t have a shot over ~40 yards. That said, for follow-up shots there is nothing quite like the field tip-flying mechanicals for those longer distances. Most likely I’ll have a fixed blade or two for my first shot, and a few mechanicals in the Tightspot Quiver for some longer range shots. Oh, and some small game heads for those tasty blue grouse of course!

What broadheads will you be shooting this year?  Leave a comment below to let us know.

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3 Responses

  1. Broadheads that have blades that have to jack knife or fold over like the Fatal Steel are going to have far less penetration than a mechanical that uses a slip cam type configuration such as a Rage. Jack knife style heads use up a lot of energy on impact. Not to mention the potential for deflection issues on quartering shots.

    1. Chris,
      Thanks for the comment. We have never experienced any deflection issues on quartering shots with any of the grim reaper broadhead designs. The tip penetrates well before the blades contact. Testing we have done and (and what we’ve seen on other videos online backs this up) has shown that the over the top expandable actually penetrates more than the slip cam type.

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