Volume 34, Issue 3 (May 1989)
Comparison of Gunshot Wounds and Field-Tipped Arrow Wounds Using Morphologic Criteria and Chemical Spot Tests
Arrow wounds represent an unusual class of wounds rarely seen by most death investigators. Although the edged, broadhead-tipped arrow produces a wound usually characteristic of archery/crossbow weapons, the plain, field-tipped arrow wound can be confused with gunshot injuries in those cases in which powder residue or firearm projectiles or fragments or both are not recovered.
We present a case of a deer carcass with a wound of uncertain firearm or archery origin which initiated a comparison of firearm wounds and archery wounds on fresh road-killed deer. We found the following features to be valuable in the differentiation of gunshot wounds and field-tipped archery wounds: First, the majority of the gunshot wounds (but none of the arrow wounds) had identifiable, macroscopic, wipe-off material and chemically identifiable wipe-off residue by spot test. Second, the archery wound defects had very inconspicuous abrasion rings as compared to the often prominent abrasion rings of gunshot wounds. Third, the actual central defect in the archery wounds was more likely to be oblong or slit-like compared to the gunshot wound defects, which were more likely to be round.