Thunderhead Broadheads

By Jeff Johnston, of the Thunderhead Tribe

Back when I was a welp a compound bow appeared under the old Tannenbaum. It was a 40-pound Browning, which meant it was legal for deer in my state. Unfortunately for me, I weighed 40 pounds and couldn’t pull it back. But I learned to push my face against my right bicep to get to near-full draw, and after a while I could usually hit the chest area of a hay bale from across the barn. The next year, when I could draw it like a normal person and the old man figured the squirrels were due a little mercy, a pack of Thunderhead broadheads and some Easton XX75s appeared under the same blessed tree. In father/son language, it meant I was cleared for deer. Fuck yeah! 

Now let me tell you something about broadheads 35 years ago. There were basically three products for guys like you and me who were born to the era of thread-on, 100-grain heads. (The old school, badass bowhunters used Oneida or Bear bows with glue-on Zwickeys, but I was born a generation too late for that manly shit.) So there were Thunderheads, Muzzys and the cheap-ass Allen broadheads from Wal-Mart. For whatever reason my dad picked Thunderhead, and so I became forever suspicious of any dumb son of a bitch who used Muzzys. Still am. 

The Thunderheads came in a six-pack—none of this cheap three-pack BS—and the replaceable blades were razor sharp. You could practice with a couple heads then switch out the blades the night before the hunt. I wounded the first deer I shot at—a hand grenade might not have killed the poor bastard where I hit him—but then I killed a bunch in a row with the Thunderheads, including my second, third, fourth, fifth and I think on up to my 20th deer or so before I ever even thought about trying anything else. Why would I? 

If tattoos were legal for 15-year-olds, I feel sure I’d have gotten a black silhouette of the three-bladed, streamlined chisel tip blazoned across my scrawny shoulder. I guess I’m glad I didn’t … but then again I bet I’d still be showing it off quite frequently if I did.    

Over time I became an editor of an outdoor magazine and so it became my job to use all types of brands of broadheads, including the wildest prototype, guaranteed-to-fly-like-a-bat-and-come-apart mechanicals you’ve never heard of. Yet after all these years, you know which ones I find myself going back to? Muzzy? Think again, —Thunderhead. Because that which isn’t broken needs no fixing.

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