In March, the Arctic can be unforgiving to a bowhunter. With temperatures hovering around -20 degrees, a musk ox bowhunt at the edge of civilization is a brutal, but beautiful experience – as long as you prepare for the elements and ensure your gear is up for the challenge.
“There's no Cabela’s you can run to in the Arctic,” said TV personality and international hunting consultant, Aaron Neilson. “The biggest factor is the preparation of your gear.”
Choosing the Right Broadhead
Neilson spoke with Wasp Archery before his hunt for guidance in choosing the right broadhead for this hunt on Holman Island, NWT, Canada.
Musk oxen are one of the few animals that can survive such extreme cold and snow cover. They are built for the cold. They have an inner layer of insulating wool that is covered and protected on the outside by their long hair. They look like a giant hairball. This was no job for a mechanical broadhead, and while our chisel-tipped fixed-blade broadheads could probably get the job done, we knew the Wasp SharpShooter would be the best broadhead for this hunt.
“The musk ox looks big, but they are completely covered in hair,” Neilson said. “So after consulting the engineers at Wasp, we thought a straight cut-on-contact broadhead would be best.”
A cut-on-contact broadhead’s knife-like tip begins cutting as it impacts is target. With some much hair to go through before the broadhead even penetrated the hide, the SharpShooter would lose less kinetic energy and limit frictional resistance when going through the coat of a musk ox. It was the perfect broadhead to add to Neilson’s setup.
Practicing For an Arctic Bowhunt
To simulate the bowhunting challenges he would face in the Arctic, Neilson suited up in his cold weather gear at home in Denver and shot his bow. He made sure he was able to make an accurate shot and maintain his shooting form with the bulky clothing that would be required.
Preparation Meets Opportunity
After all the preparation and planning, the only thing left to do was go hunting. An arctic musk-ox hunt appealed to Neilson for a few reasons.
“I've been there before on a polar bear hunt,” said Neilson. “I have hunted around the world bunches of times, and [hunting in the artic] is probably one of the greatest adventures, if not the greatest adventure in the world of hunting.”
He also enjoys hunting with the people there. That’s part of the bowhunting experience. It’s not all about the kill, but immersing yourself in the unique hunting culture of the natives.
Neilson is a few animals shy of completing the SuperSlam of North America for big game, which is the successful harvest of all 29 of the traditionally recognized species of big game animals native to North America. It’s the greatest accomplishment a big game hunter can achieve, and musk ox was still left uncheck on Neilson’s list.
Neilson harvested two musk oxen on this trip – one with a rifle to get closer to completing the slam, and one with a bow, to get a head start on his goal of finishing the slam again, this time with archery tackle.
After shooting a musk ox with his gun, it was time to bowhunt the beasts. With very little cover in their terrain, if the musk ox had a flight-not-fight nature, getting into bowrange may be impossible. But they stand their ground when predators approach them.
“Their defense mechanism is to gather in a group and face off to any potential threat – not to run,” said Neilson. “I think they do so to save energy in such harsh conditions.”
It’s a faceoff between predator and prey. Which is how the SharpShooter broadhead got its name. Like the notorious SharpShooter showdowns of the Old West, the fixed-blade broadhead has a reputation that precedes it. It’s tough, it means business and failure is not an option. Even in the most heated of moments, with the odds stacked against him, the sharpshooter of old found his mark; after all, his life depended on it. The Wasp SharpShooter performs with the same intensity and purpose. It’s a no-nonsense head meant to end the showdown quickly.
And that’s exactly what happened when Neilson’s stalked within 25 yards of the group and his arrow hit the mark of a mature bull musk ox.
Wasp was proud to be part of this hunt and we are proud to be a part of your stories as you trust our broadheads’ performance to deliver a quick, clean kill. If you need help selecting a broadhead for any hunt you may be going on, use our broadhead selector, email us or send us a note on Facebook.