It was 2015 when i finally left the state of Texas to experience western hunting for the first time. More specifically, I went on my first elk hunt and came home with a trophy bull. Before I left for that hunt, I specifically asked my archery shop what I needed to change about my arrow setup, and I only did that because my cousin had researched this topic on multiple hunting forums, and every one of them insisted on taking a heavy arrow. I had been shooting a lighter arrow up until that point (Ted Nugent pink/zebra arrows to be exact). After getting a full passthrough, not once but TWICE on my bull (with only a 25.5” draw length and 50 lb draw weight), I started to understand the importance of switching up that setup. Back home I rarely had passthroughs on deer with the lighter setup, which still worked well, but I was extremely impressed with the performance of my 400+ grain arrow on my elk. He didn’t even know what hit him on the first shot.
I have hunted elk every year since then, and my arrows are always over 400 grains total weight. The biggest difference is that I’m currently shooting a 26” draw length at 56lbs. The part that gets tricky is that this year, right before I leave for my month long elk hunt, I have a Wyoming antelope hunt to prepare for. Those two hunts are completely different! See below for a more detailed comparison.
Terrain/Distance: I will be in some rugged country for my elk hunt, whereas the antelope hunt will be a lot of rolling hills. Average shots on antelope are 40-60 yards (due to their insane eyesight) according to most people that I’ve talked to, whereas with elk I’ve had them at less than 30 on numerous occasions by calling them in. Of course, if you sit water for either, that helps close the gap tremendously. I don’t plan to do that with antelope or elk this year, but I will if that’s what it takes to get it done!
Size of animal: it seems silly to even elaborate on this, but we’re talking a comparison of a 100lb animal to a 700lb animal. These are super rough numbers but you get the idea! Difference in body size means difference in vital area to shoot.
Method: I always prefer calling an elk in because there’s something really intimate about the communication between you and an animal, whereas with antelope it’ll be spot and stalk hunting with a decoy.
Will to Live: an elk’s will to live is at the top compared to most animals. And while this will be my first time hunting antelope, I have been told numerous times that it’s the opposite with antelope - they may run fast (and therefore cover some ground after being shot), but they will go down much easier.
Bone Structure & Hide: With elk, you have to think about how your setup will perform if it hits shoulder or ribs. I’ve seen light arrows literally bounce off pigs, so I’m sure they’d perform in a similar fashion on a larger big boned animal. An antelope, on the other hand, has a thin hide and obviously much more fragile bone structure.
With all of that being said, I just felt like I needed to adjust a few things between my hunts. I’ve been shooting HHA Sights for years and I’m currently shooting an Optimizer King Pin, which means I can easily switch out the yardage wheel (that’s based on speed) for each arrow setup. Below are the details for each hunt!
Elk hUNT // September 7-30
Arrow: Easton 5mm Full Metal Jacket (FMJ), 400 spine, 10.2GPI
Wraps: Followherarrow, white + stripes option (currently only available online for micro diameter)
Vanes: Pine Ridge Archery, Nitro Vanes 2.0, pink
Broadhead: Afflictor Fixed EXT, 100 grain
Overall weight: 430 grains