All hunters want to make the quickest, cleanest harvest possible, and that’s why we spend so much time practicing and studying deer anatomy. While learning more about deer is great, there are more things to consider than the location of a buck’s vitals. In short, optimum shot placement changes with the weapon being used.
Broadhead-tipped arrows, for example, kill by producing hemorrhaging, or blood loss. Bullets, on the other hand, kill through tissue/organ damage and shock.
Archers should always strive to hit the heart/lung area just behind the front shoulder. There is little bone there to deflect an arrow, and the shooter will get better penetration and a cleaner cutting wound that is less likely to clog.
Gun hunters can make a great shot by hitting right in the shoulder. The bullet striking bone produces more tissue damage and can drop a deer instantly. Conversely, gun shots to the lung area, while fatal, can result on long and difficult tracking jobs.
Many hunters strive for neck shots. Neck shots are effective for gun hunters because of the shock to the spinal cord, but they’re a poor choice for archers. The vital elements in the neck are too small to be considered acceptable targets for archery equipment.
Gun hunters and bowhunters must consider angle on all shots. Everyone pictures a standing broadside deer, but how often do they cooperate so completely? Think about where your bullet or arrow will be when it passes through and exits the deer, and not just about the entrance. For example, a good shot on a steeply quartering-away buck requires an aim point/entrance hole to the rear of the last rib!
If it feels strange aiming anywhere but right behind the shoulder, practice shooting at steep angles to get used to it. And when you head afield this fall, don’t forget to aim for the spot appropriate for the weapon you’re using at the time.
Read Recent Tip of the Week:
• A Little Off the Top: Sometimes we focus so much on what we can see from a stand that we forget to consider what a deer sees from his angle.