Whitetail weights: How heavy should your hunting arrows be?

Tony PetersonIf you’re in the market for new hunting arrows this year, it’s likely that the first consideration will be cost. Arrow prices vary greatly, and the price tag is often indicative of the quality of materials and tightness of tolerances in the production of the shafts. Aside from that, spine and weight should be taken into consideration. Proper spine is extremely important, and often dictates the weight of your chosen arrows to some extent.

This might be why many of us don’t devote too much thought to the overall weight of our hunting arrows. Hunters heading out for truly large game need to consider arrow weight, but whitetail hunters sometimes overlook this aspect, which doesn’t make much sense to me. If you know you should shoot an fairly heavy arrow for elk or moose because of the prospect of hitting large bones and the need to penetrate as far as possible, why not make the same consideration for whitetails?

A mature buck is no joke, and their shoulders alone can cause an immense amount of heartbreak in the bowhunter who happens to shoot into one. Personally, I’m of the opinion that since my shots are going to be within 40 yards (often 20) and that it’s best to plan for what can go wrong as opposed to what can go right, it’s best to opt for heavier-than-average whitetail arrows.

This is a contentious subject that can fire up seasoned bowhunters, but to me it’s not worth the risk to shoot lightweight arrows simply for a flat trajectory. I want to know that I’ve given myself the best chance when I do hit a shoulder or misjudge the shot angle, so that I still have the possibility of cleanly hitting vitals. That means that I often end up with hunting arrows weighing in the neighborhood of 450 grains. There is no doubt that much lighter arrows will also kill whitetails (and larger game), however bowhunting is a pursuit fraught with variables and things will inevitably go wrong.

Knowing this, it’s a good idea to consider just how much your ammo weighs. All things being equal, a simple bump up in arrow weight will foster better penetration. I’ll take that every time when drawing down on a cruising buck.

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