Frequently we are asked to make specific recommendations regarding wooden hunting arrows. We believe that the Foster family specialty at WoodenArrows.com is crafting the most durable wooden arrows for hunting. We have been doing it for half a century. Unlike non-competition target shooting and roving, there should not be any compromising on an arrow intended for game.
There is something special about hunting with traditional wooden arrows. It is the way archery began. Today wooden arrows are an excellent and effective means.
The first thing one must do is select the wood type. Most any wood will work, but for consistency of grain, straightness and durability, it is difficult to beat select premium Port Orford cedar. This cedar tends to remain quite straight even in wet and damp weather. It is not perfect, but is the best choice. We know that other woods are available and we have used them all. Their main selling points are availability and price not performance or durability. Premium Port Orford cedar is not plentiful but for the serious archer enough is around and at an affordable cost. Proper shafting of any wood must be grain weighed and spined so that the arrows in a given batch are closely matched.
Once the correct wooden shaft is selected it is important to apply a proper finish. For the best in durability and moisture resistance, we still prefer the “time tested” lacquer dipping procedure. We do not like quick drying formulas nor the new gasket method. Gasket lacquer is becoming popular to save time and expense for the arrow maker. In short, more lacquer is saved because less is left on the arrow. We prefer more not less on our arrows. We suggest three honest coats of lacquer with the shafts dripping and air-drying between dips. It is quite easy to spot the finish on a lacquer-dipped arrow when compared to the rubber gasket method. This is strictly our opinion but we often hunt in rain, sleet, and sub freezing temperatures. We cannot compromise on arrow finishes. We also do not like plastic coated arrows as the plastic tends to peel off easily and does not soak into the wood. Plastic looks as good as lacquer but is not nearly as durable. Crown dips (colored lacquer on the fletching end) are optional. We find crown dips to be a great aid in arrow visibility especially if whites or yellows are used. This helps you visually follow the arrow and gauge penetration. We commonly apply a 10″ crown dip on hunting arrows.
As far as fletching is concerned there are options. We do suggest however using real feathers not plastic vanes (Please see our article on Fletching Styles). Because broadheads do not fly as true as target points, it is important to use plenty of feather. Most any feather shape will work but we suggest a length of at least 5″. If you are using wide (Delta type) broadheads the 5½”, high profile feathers would be recommended. Additionally, if your shooting form is not perfect then high profile feathers will help stabilize your arrows quicker. Four rather than three feathers may also help. A little arrow speed may be lost but not enough to matter at normal hunting ranges. Bright colored feathers also aid in visibility and arrow recovery.
Many nock types are available. The snap-on nocks tend to stay on the string better, but with proper string servings, all will work. Again, white gives the best visibility.
Hunting broadheads come in all sizes and shapes. Most commonly, we are asked for ones in the 125-grain range. All are quite capable when matched with your bow and intended game. Proper arrow placement is far more important than broadhead type. We recommend using hot melt glue that will not become brittle in cold weather. This type may be more expensive, but will prevent a head from falling off while in a hunting situation. Beware of cheap hot melt glues.
Wooden hunting arrows are our specialty. We have built arrows for use in the mountains of Alaska to the desert regions of the Southwest. It gives us a feeling of gratification knowing that the hunt of a lifetime is somewhat dependent on our arrow making abilities. If you have the opportunity, please compare one of our specially crafted wooden hunting arrows to any available. You will see the traditional difference.