A Comparative Study on the Effectiveness of Fixed Blade and Mechanical Broadheads

Bowhunting is often considered as an option for the harvest management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in suburbs, parks, and similar restrictive environments. Higher deer recovery rates by bowhunters would promote better utilization of the resource and could lessen some of the objections to bowhunting. Bowhunters have a variety of equipment choices, yet little is known of the impact of these choices on bowhunter efficacy. The objective of this study was to evaluate the deer recovery metrics of bowhunters who used compound bows or crossbows with either fixed blade broadheads (having no moving parts) or mechanical broadheads (having moving parts). Our retrospective study relied on the daily reports of bowhunters who participated in a managed hunting program at the Naval Support Facility Indian Head, at Indian Head, Maryland. All bowhunters were required to pass the International Bowhunter Education Program and an annual pre-season shooting proficiency test. Bowhunters recovered 1083 of the 1296 deer (83.6%, SE = 1.0) they hit over the 1989 - 2012 hunting seasons. The choice of compound bow or crossbow did not affect deer recovery rates (P = 0.108). However, the choice of fixed blade broadheads or mechanical broadheads did affect deer recovery rates (P = 0.001). We found that the use of mechanical broadheads improved the deer recovery rates for both compound bow users (P = 0.046) and crossbow users (P = 0.021) over their counterparts who used fixed blade broadheads. We recommend deer managers concerned about wounding rates in otherwise restrictive environments consider the implications of this research.

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