Crossbow Elk of a Lifetime

Crossbow Elk Hunt of a Lifetime

"I, like your team believe in the moto… “Called to Hunt”.

I, Like your team was desperately looking for a crossbow broadhead that would without exception…
✅achieve maximum deep straight line penetration,
✅reliably pass through heavy bone, muscle, organs, and thick hide undamaged
✅maintain a razor sharp edge,
✅fly with precision rifle accuracy at 100 yards
✅retaining stable flight characteristics at long distances despite launch velos never before seen in archery equipment.

I wanted to take this moment to share with you a once in a lifetime hunting opportunity I had with a wild free ranging bull elk in northern AZ last September. Most importantly I wanted to congratulate you ALL on designing, manufacturing, and bringing to market what I believe is the world’s best ultra-high-speed crossbow broadhead, the X Series Crossbow Broadhead! It’s important that you know this last statement is not hyperbole, nor was it without real competitive evaluation which ended with a grueling unbiased competitive shoot out at 50/80/100yards!

I tested/ recorded/ re- tested/ recorded, and tested again your broadhead against virtually every other broadhead on the market designed for high speed crossbows (15) until in my mind I gathered sufficient and unbiased data to draw an accurate conclusion as to which one would “make the cut” for what would go on to be one of my all-time greatest hunting accomplishments in my 44 year obsession.

I’ve done this type of research/experimentation in all aspects of my life…work or fun, but especially with my primitive weapons, archery/muzzleloading gear as there are so many more variables that can keep you from being successful, or worse leaving a wounded animal to die painfully, which to me is totally unacceptable.

In that regard I take things to the extreme… possibly even making Bill Vanderheyden blush😂 So in June 2022 began tested every broadhead that was marketed as a viable hyper speed crossbow broadhead. I tested flight at long range 100yrd, and paper tuning, penetration (in my sand pit), sharpness (edge on up BESS) and finally for the winner a few shots in a full pork shoulder.

My Xbow is one of the world’s fastest, the RAVIN 500 with the Burris Oracle X scope. After my strings cables settled in it shoots a perfectly tuned 400gr bolt at 515 fps, and a 500gr bolt at 477fps. In other-words if I can do it with a “fuel-blown dragster” there’s not a Xbow on the market that shouldn’t follow the same results (if properly tuned). In the end I’m proud to state my best groups with your broadhead at 90 was 1.75inches 3 shots in a leadsled. My best groups at 100 was 2.5”. Since my max shooting range on a non-wounded stationary elk was 100 the decision was an easy one Iron Will. In the end after 455 shots down range and Testing all the competition your X Series 100gr vented Crossbow Broadheads with RAVIN .001 XK5 ARROWS (500grs total) overachieved…actual it blew away the competition in EVERY test criteria, but one ☝️ (more on that later).

I’ve been blessed to have hunted and called in bull elk for family, friends, and later clients going back to 1981 AZ/NM. I started using Wayne Carltons diaphragm calls and a Jennings (elephant bow) in 1984 when elk hunters still used silly plastic whistles. Since then I’ve put a knife in well over 300 elk and tracked many more, to say I’ve seen it all in the elk hunting is an understatement….I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to killing big SW record class bulls, most with primitive weapons.

Here’s an interesting historical note that I know your team will appreciate. In 1974 (13yo) with my Bear 70lb recurve I shot my first deer from a tree stand in an old apple orchard in Eastern PA. The was distance 20 yards and my arrow I hand made with cedar shafts, Turkey feather vanes tipped with BEAR super razer-head with bleeders 150 grs. Bottom line I had a very similar first experience to Iron Will's CEO Bill Vanderheyden’s, and my arrow failed to penetrate the outer scapula of a big bodied 6-point 170lb buck. The arrow fell out after 200 yrds. I showed the broadhead to my machinist grandfather who immediately figured out the problem…sharpness! He put them on a wet stone/strop and honed them (w/bleeders) till they easily shaved arm hair. That same arrow/bh shot straight through 3 whitetails over the next 2 years, and the last one broke the offside shoulder blade and stuck out the other side! Broadhead Sharpness, toughness, and tuned flight was a powerful lesson learned.

Moved to Arizona in 1980 and since then I’ve had the pleasure of hunting big bull elk in 5 western states and have called in conservatively 700 bulls in 4 decades of serious elk hunting; I tell you that to say this…nothing topped my last AZ archery elk hunt! The quality, quantity of bulls and rutting/calling behavior was off the charts!

I hired a renowned local guide team knowing I’d be 81 if I had to wait another 18 years as nonresident now. Bob Dykeman of Shadow Valley Outfitters and his team had me in the middle of elk herds every day of my 7 days! Bob said with the recent 3 months of record rainfall he’s never had a better elk hunting in his life! All from a hunt unit that rarely produces bulls over 375

With just 24 hours left to the end of my archery elk season and another possible 18 yr. wait a few things went through my mind. First, I prayed for patience, strength, and wisdom to complete my dream of harvesting one of two 400” bulls we had been chasing for the last 7 days. I told myself I’m only going to get one ☝️ shot opportunity, so make a great shot, and I’m only going to shoot one of the 2 big 400" herd bulls… GO BIG or go home…no subordinates…which meant turning down 360bulls. I reminded myself of my complete faith in my equipment setup, especially your broadheads! Contributing to that confidence, I had just popped 9 out of 10 12” balloons at 120 yrds and passed through a 12lb pork shoulder 3 out 4x with broadhead blades still sharp. Now I had to put everything I had on the line, emotionally and physically into one showdown with “7UP” or “Dream Weaver” the two magnum B&C bulls that had so frustratingly given us slip, at least a dozen times over the last 6 days.

As usually 7UP left the field with 4 frustrated 360/370 subordinate bulls and 25 cows in tow on the wrong side of our morning ambush, ugh! We had to make a 2-mile fast walk over slick rough, rocky terrain to get above the herd. My prayers answered and my slipped lumbar vertebrae held up, and 21 minutes later we found ourselves on top of a thick canyon with only one clear opening for a shot, and one place to set up. Good thing was they had previously come up this draw, the bad thing was the only shooting opening looked like a bloody postage stamp🥵. It was 4 x 4 yrds, and if he didn’t stop dead in the middle there was no shot. The middle was 94 yards away, right at my max distance. I quickly set up the Primos mono trigger stick, pulled the two arrows out of my quiver to get a more solid cheek weld, and began visualizing that perfect shot placement. With sharp focus on the lighted pin, I imagined the bolt letting the air out of him and then exiting. The one thing was for certain; I was going to get my showdown with 7UP. I screamed in my subconscious, “get it together pal, put everything into one perfect shot”. Bob, and Joe had done their part: it was now my turn.

I gave them some lonely “excited” cow talk with my Phelps diaphragm call and the entire herd began drifting up through our thick oak canyon draw. I tested and retested my oracle scope and 94 yrds was the distance

The intensity of the bulls screaming for that 5-minute pre shot was some of the most amazing and intense in my life! When you listen to the video Big Bob took with his cell it sounds like Jurassic Park! It’s why we become elkaholics!

10 long minutes later a spike bull walked through the ambush zone and stopped, I settled the pin on him easily and surprisingly I was solid in the vitals. Just when I was getting comfortable with my sight picture a massive ground shaking bugle from my monster 7x8, which instantly drew four loud challenging bugles from right below him…I was shocked back to reality! Seconds later 7UP walked into the “postage stamp” and Bob gave a loud hyper-hot cow call, and he took 2 more steps and stopped, dead center, in the ambush zone, looking right at us. Even at 95 yards, I could clearly see the 23” fourths and 18” fifths and that picket fence of extra points. I don’t remember the trigger pull. Bob watched the full arch arc of the 500gr bolt hanging high above the bull’s form and then, as easily as a hot knife through butter, the 100g Iron Will X series sliced through both lungs, breaking a rib on the entrance and exit, then ricocheted of the canyon wall, never to be seen again! Then I heard those magic words “Perfect Shot!”

My mortally wounded warrior staggered 10 yards and leaned weak legged up against a pinion tree. Bob unnecessarily whispered “Reload.” Which are truly todays super crossbow’s primitive weapon deficit-reloading is so slow! Just as I got back on him in the scope the bull staggered behind the same pinyon tree, and we heard him fall hard in the rim rocks. Just when I thought it was over, “Wide Racks”, a 55” wide, 6x6, 365 bull charged up the hill and attacked his nemesis, violently! It seemed that after 2 weeks of getting his butt whooped, it was his time for payback, and it sounded like gunshots. I just hoped he wouldn’t break 7UPs rack in half! He soon tired of thumping him on the ground, and promptly rounded up the stunned cows and departed for a morning of new delights.

With a massive storm threatening, we gave him just 10-15 minutes before moving across the slick deep canyon to track him. It appeared that with all the adrenalin in his body, he’d managed to move another 45 yards and laid head down in 3ft tall grass. Joe showed up above the bull 100 yards on a big ridge and yelled, “he’s hard down, and he’s a giant!” Words that usually bring elation, but I had a bad gut feeling. We eased in closer, and at 19 yards, 7UP jumped to his feet and was heading for the light and greener pastures. I instantly found his lungs and, in my rush, bent the safety deployed trigger! I recovered, dropped the tiny safety and followed him in my scope. As the crosshairs passed his shoulder, I pressed the trigger. the results were the reason I had the Iron Will team engrave the moniker “Spear of Triam” on my broadheads! The second bolt broke his left floating rib and at a steep going away angle, passed all the way through, exiting out the jugular. He plowed into the ground like a plane wreck, never to move again! The first shot was 100% lethal, both lungs, but this cowboy has seen too many lead and arrow slinging $#!& shows, with elk, not to take his departure personally! Bob said, “Dude when he first took off, he looked strong. I liked your first shot but loved your second one!”
After all the research on equipment, and practicing, I was truly blessed with my personal best elk and one of the most exciting hunts of my life, and team Iron Will was a big part of my success! 7UP gross scored 391 7/8”
I’m heading to Africa this month and I’m going to use this set up on Cape buffalo. Thinking of the wide series 125 Xbow bh, will send pics, cheers!

PS One, "Dream Weaver" made it through all the AZ hunting seasons, he was 20" bigger then 7UP! Two, the one test criteria that IW did not outright dominate was the long distance 3 shot groups (in a rest). The RAGE Hyperdermic NC 100gr had slightly better groups at 100 yards and at 120yards the groups were 30% tighter."

— Julius Fortuna

 Crossbow elk hunt Julius Fortuna