The Perfect Elk Hunting Arrow: All You Need to Know

Matt Johnson
Matt JohnsonPublished: October 18, 2023
The Perfect Elk Hunting Arrow: All You Need to Know

Elk hunting with arrows is an exciting and challenging adventure for hunting enthusiasts. But getting the perfect elk hunting arrow can make or break your hunt. Choosing an arrow that can deliver a lethal and quick shot that can bring the elk down quickly and humanely is essential.

Aside from your form and technique, there are a few things to consider when selecting the perfect elk-hunting arrow. In this guide, we will discuss all the essential factors that you need to know to choose the best arrow for your next elk hunt. On top of that, we'll even provide a few of our favorite recommendations for elk-hunting arrows to get you started.

Characteristics of an ideal elk hunting arrow.

Not all arrows are created equal. They come in varying weights, lengths, materials, and designs. When it comes to hunting elk, you need an arrow that can deliver a clean and lethal shot without fail. Here are the top characteristics we look for when selecting an elk hunting arrow—

  • Weight. Elk are large animals, so the arrow should have substantial weight to penetrate through the hide, muscle, and bone. A good weight range for elk hunting arrows is between 400 and 500 grains.
  • Diameter. The diameter of the arrow is essential when it comes to penetration. Thick arrows are suitable for elk hunting, and a size of 5mm and above is ideal.
  • Material. The material of the arrow can affect its penetration ability and accuracy. Carbon arrows are the most popular for elk hunting due to their durability and straightness. There are even aluminum/carbon arrows that deliver the best of both worlds, but they're pricey. Stay away from wood shafts altogether.
  • Fletching. Elk hunting arrows should have three or four vanes that create enough stability and accuracy during flight.
  • Broadhead. Without a doubt, the broadhead is the most critical factor when it comes to elk hunting arrows. The tip of the arrow makes contact with the animal, so it must be sharp and well-designed for maximum penetration. We like the fixed two-blade types, but even a mechanical style can do the job.

If you're packing arrows that match up to those criteria, then you're well on your way to having the perfect elk hunting arrow. But there are still a few more things to consider.

Broadhead Arrows Used for Hunting Elk

Shot Placement

Shot placement is critical when hunting elk with arrows. You can shoot a lethal shot at the lungs, heart, or spine. If you're familiar with deer's shot placement, you should be good to go with elk, as it's not much different. You're essentially going for the critical organs.

However, the big difference is how important your shot is on an elk. If you miss vital organs on a 150lb whitetail buck, it might bleed out. You might have to track the trail for a bit, but generally, you'll find it. A 600 lb Elk on the other hand, is a massive animal that can run for miles if spooked or injured. So, you must make an accurate and lethal shot to bring it down quickly.

Ideal Elk Shot Placement

When targeting an elk, we recommend aiming at the lungs behind the front shoulder, as it offers a wide margin of error. The heart is a small target, and the shot has to be precise. The spine shot can be deadly but requires significant accuracy and positioning. Not only that, it requires a massive amount of force to penetrate the thick skin, fat, and, ultimately, bone.

Best Arrows for Elk Hunting

We wouldn't leave you hanging without dropping our favorite arrows to use for elk hunting. Here are three of our top recommendations. You can get any of these at major sporting retailers such as Academy or Dicks Sporting Goods. They're pretty easy to find.

  • Easton 5mm Axis: This arrow is simply one of the best overall hunting arrows. It weighs around 8.9-10.7 GPI (Grains Per Inch) depending on the size, and it's available in 400, 340, 300, and 260 spine sizes. The smaller diameter aids in wind resistance and deeper penetration, making it a great choice for elk hunting.
  • Black Eagle X Impact: The X Impact is my go-to carbon shaft for elk hunting. I've been using this arrow for years. This arrow weighs around 6.5-8.5 GPI and comes in 500, 400, 350, 300, and 250 spine sizes. Known for its exceptional penetration capabilities, it's an excellent choice for larger game like elk.
  • Carbon Express Piledriver: Many experts recommend this shaft for hunting elk and other large games. This arrow is the heaviest in the Carbon Express line, providing maximum kinetic energy and superior knock-down power. It weighs around 9.7-11.3 GPI and is available in 350 and 250 spine sizes.

With any of these arrows, you can't go wrong. If you're shooting elk with any of these, all you have to worry about is making a good, clean shot.  

Tips for Elk Hunting with Arrows

You've got the arrows; now it's time for some tips. I've hunted elk for years with both rifle and arrow, and these are some of the best advice I can give to both beginners and pros alike.

  • Practice shooting and aim for accuracy at all times. It's crucial to become comfortable with your bow and arrows before you head out hunting. Spend time practicing your shot in various conditions. Work on your form, aiming, and releasing techniques. Remember, in elk hunting, accuracy is more critical than the power of your shot. An accurate shot can bring down an elk far more effectively than a powerful one that misses vital organs.
  • Choose an arrow that suits your hunting style and preferences. Many types of arrows are available, each with its own set of characteristics. Some arrows are heavier and provide more kinetic energy, which is beneficial for penetrating tough elk hide. Others are lighter for a faster shot. Also, consider the spine (or stiffness) of the arrow, which should match the draw weight of your bow. The right arrow for you depends on your hunting style, the type of bow you use, and personal preference.
  • Use sharp broadheads that can penetrate through the hide and bone. Elk are large animals with thick hides and strong bones. To ensure ethical and effective shots, use sharp and durable broadheads. Broadheads come in different designs, but the most important feature is their sharpness. A sharp broadhead can penetrate deep into an elk, reaching vital organs to ensure a quick and humane kill.
  • Take shots within your comfortable range, which varies from hunter to hunter. Knowing your effective shooting range is essential in hunting. This is the distance at which you can consistently place your arrow in a small target area. For some, this might be 30 yards, while others might feel comfortable up to 60 yards. Personally, I like taking shots at around 50 yards, but that's years of practice and experience.
  • Know the elk's behavior and learn how to use it to your advantage. Understanding elk behavior can significantly increase your chances of a successful hunt. Learn about their feeding patterns, their mating calls, and how they react to threats. Use this knowledge to predict their movements and position yourself for the best shot. For example, bull elks are more aggressive and responsive to calls during the rut, which you can use to lure them into your range.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. So be patient and practice, and when the time comes, make your shot count.

The Art of Elk Hunting with Arrows

Elk hunting with arrows is an exciting and challenging adventure that requires the perfect elk-hunting arrow. 

The ideal elk hunting arrow should be heavy, have a thick diameter, be made of durable and straight material such as carbon or, at the very least, aluminum, and have three or four vanes for stability. 

Shot placement is crucial, and aiming at the lungs offers a wide margin of error. 

When you have the right equipment mixed with the right technique, there's nothing more satisfying than a clean and successful elk hunt. 

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Master Outdoorsman

Matt is a seasoned outdoorsman with expertise in fishing, hunting, and wildlife. With a Master's degree in Wildlife Science, he combines his passion for nature with conservation efforts, sharing his knowledge through his writing for Fish and Game Report.

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