Interview with an Antler Geek, Part II

In Part I, Tony Hansen talked with Wasp Archery about his show Antler Geeks and how it is “bringing reality back to outdoor media.” Now, we are talking with Tony about the reality of Wasp broadheads and what led a hardcore fixed-blade broadhead fanatic switch to the mechanical Wasp Z-Force.

Q: You shot your first deer with a Wasp broadhead and still shoot them today. What have you noticed about Wasp Products over the years?

Hansen: Well the first thing I notice is the fact that they still look pretty similar to the ones I used 20 years ago – which tells me they don’t make changes just to come up with some new marketing trick. And it also tells me that they’ve got a design that works.

The second thing I notice is the price. I think the testing we’ve done has shown that the heads are as good as any that are available – yet they cost less. And they’re still made in the USA. That’s quite an accomplishment I think.

Q: The Antler Geek team is made up of hunters from different states and backgrounds and it seems everyone has an opinion on what broadhead is the best. Does the team shoot the same heads, or a variety based on preference?

Hansen: We definitely each have our own opinions on what head is the best. Last year, we primarily all shot fixed blade heads with the Boss being most popular. But with the release of the Z-Force, we’ve got several guys that are going to be using those this year – myself included. I’ve never had a mechanical that I really trusted to hunt with and I’ve pretty much shot and tested all of them. So I think that says something about the Z-Force. But on the opposite end of things, we have one guy who will be shooting the 125-grain Hammer – and he’s shooting Hoyt’s Vector Turbo. So he’s got a big cutting, fixed-blade broadhead with a fairly long ferrule that he’s going to shoot out of a speed bow. He’s an engineer by trade and a gadget geek. And he loves setting his bow up specifically for high-energy arrows and heads. He has great confidence in the design of the Hammer. It may seem a bit old school, but there is something to be said about a long head with swept-back blades. So we’ve pretty much got the full line headed out this year.

Q: You have tested a few of the broadheads Antler Geeks style and really put them through the ringer. What can you say about the tests?

Hansen: I think the tests we do are the most honest and brutal you’ll find. We shoot the heads into things that the “normal” hunter will never, ever encounter: Chunks of concrete, lumber, steel-belted tires, plate steel. We do this for two reasons: 1. Because it’s fun to shoot things. 2. You very quickly see how durable a head is when you do things like that.

We go into those tests knowing that we are going to destroy the heads. That’s the whole point. We want to know how much abuse they will take before they fail and, when they do fail, we want to know where the weak points are.

If you’re able to shoot a broadhead through plywood and steel-belted tires and shoulder bones and it comes out the other side in one piece, you’ve got a broadhead that’s going to hold together through a deer.

Q: Have you had a chance to play with the new Z-Force at all? What are your thoughts on it?

Hansen: I have shot them and, while we still have additional testing to do, I think they are the heads I’ll be hunting with this fall. And that’s going to be a surprise to a lot of people.

I readily admit that I am not a fan of mechanical broadheads and have been fairly vocal against them. I totally understand the concept behind them and the advantages for having a head that flies like a field point. They do shoot beautifully, but I’ve always had success getting a good fixed-blade to fly right, too. The only advantage they offered was a bigger cutting diameter. But my issue has always been with the quality of the heads. Some companies cut corners and use cheap o-rings, others have ferrules with flimsy connection points or rob energy with the way they deploy. But the big one with me – they use blades that are thin.

Even if you got the head to hold together and open properly, odds were still pretty good that you’re going to break off blades – especially with those cam-action heads that have huge cutting widths. I’m not talking about broadside double-lung shots through a rib. You could tie a butter knife on an arrow and get a pass-through on a shot like that. I’m talking about situations where you hit the shoulder or another stout bone. Every bowhunter out there will have that happen to them. And I can’t take the thought of a head breaking apart. It’s those kinds of shots where you need the broadhead to perform. And that’s exactly when most mechanicals would fail.

The other thing is the trend of giant, 2-blade mechanicals. Sure, they make a big slice. But what if it’s a marginal hit and the slice is horizontal? That deer is going to lay down. It’s going to compress that slice together and it’s going to be much harder to find blood and it will heal much faster.

I always worried about the blades opening as well. But with the Z-Force, it’s all but impossible for them not to open because of the ball bearing system. And even if they didn’t, you still have the entire cutting surface of the blades exposed and delivering about a 1-inch diameter hole. I see no drawbacks to the head.

The Z-Force is a 3-blade design. It uses blades that are much thicker [.036”] than others. We did not break any blades in our testing. None. When we put the heads through the severe tests, the blades took the abuse. In fact, those blades stood up as well as Wasp’s fixed blade heads did. I never would have believed that if I hadn’t seen it.

You can follow Antler Geeks, find their products and become part of the Antler Geek community here. Be sure to check out their videos and DVDs from last season and watch for new clips to be posted as the season starts.