One cold, blustery winters
afternoon, my mind was wandering as I sat at my desk, watching the snow fall and wishing
it were still hunting, and not shoveling, season.
I was daydreaming about a very large
10-point whitetail buck with thick, heavy antlers and long eye guards that walked near my
stand in Kansas mid-November last. He came from behind, wind at his back (What was up with
that?), hesitating behind a thick clump of cedars not 25 steps away for five agonizing
minutes before turning and walking slowly away at the one degree out of 360 he could have
gone without offering a shot. But in my daydream he took that one step forward, stopping
broadside, his head behind the trunk of an ancient oak. I drew my bow unseen, then made
the perfect release. I was so into my dream I actually felt the broadhead strike him, then
pass completely through his chest.
It was then I jerked my hand up,
shook my finger and watched blood ooze from a nasty slice near the tip. It wasnt the
broadhead hitting that buck, instead a nasty paper cut from an envelope full of junk mail
that I felt. The papers edge had made a neat, clean slice into the tip of my index
finger, and I like to never got the bleeding stopped.
Blood Clotting: How It Works
Clean, neat cuts are like that. They
bleed and bleed and bleed and are as difficult to stop as forcing a politician to keep a
campaign promise. Conversely, an irregular wound that has been ripped or torn open clots
relatively quickly, plugging itself with jellied blood.
Why is this important to bow
hunters? Our broadhead-tipped arrow shafts do their business best by either causing
massive blood loss or by cutting deeply into the chest cavity and causing the failure of key organs like the liver, lungs, kidneys
and heart. A smooth, razor-sharp broadhead that slices cleanly through game actually
destroys relatively few body cells, creating a minimum of blood clotting and facilitating
rapid blood loss. Conversely, a dull, ragged-edged broadhead damages a relatively high
number of body cells, which in turn creates a more rapid clotting process.
Basic biology explains this. Found
in many cells, but especially in blood platelets, is an enzyme known as thromboplastin,
which is released when cells are damaged. In laymans terms, thromboplastin mixes
with blood plasma, which in turn creates a chemical reaction with fibrinogen, a globulin
that is formed in the liver and found especially in blood plasma, and that is converted
into fibrin by the action of the thromboplastin. The fibrin collects near the ends of
severed arteries, veins and capillaries, clogging the open wounds and restricting the flow
of blood. This coagulation is what stops bleeding and is what we more commonly know as
clotting. (It also causes what hunters call blood-shot meat.)
The more body cells that are damaged
by a broadhead, the more thromboplastin and fibrin are released, and therefore more rapid
blood clotting will occur. Also, wounds that rip and tear a maximum amount of body cells
cause what are called vascular spasms. A blood vessel that is violently torn in two will
expand and contract near the severed ends, encouraging clotting. However, while a neatly
cut vessel will also expand and contract near the severed ends, it will do so much less
violently, creating a slower clotting process despite the heavy bleeding. Vascular spasms
are set up by the bodys central nervous system and are a reaction to tissue damage.
In short, a smooth-edged, razor-sharp
broadhead is more conducive to rapid blood loss, which will result in a quick, humane
death and an easier-to-follow blood trail than a broadhead with dull, ragged edges. To
head afield with anything less than broadheads so sharp they scare you is not only
foolish, but also unethical.