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Ideal shot placement for deer

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Kachok, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Ankeny

    Ankeny Well-Known Member

    Long distance hunting shows have popularized the high shoulder shot. Problem is, if you shoot below the spine and above the heavy bones, the critter might go down, but it's back up and off to the races. I have seen it time and time again on pronghorn, deer, and elk. I no longer take that shot. Of course if you hit the large bones going in (and hopefully on the off side too), the animal drops in their tracks.

    As far as head and neck, we all know down they go if you hit the spot. Of course, the wounding/failure rate is high with head neck shots, resulting in blown off jaws, holes in the snout, etc. There is a reason the "traditional" kill zone is through the boiler room. I guess I am fortunate where I hunt. If an animal runs a few dozen yards before expiring, it's usually no big deal.

    If I absolutely have to anchor a animal on the spot I'll go for a central nervous system shot, but that situation hasn't been required for many years.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  2. tahoe2

    tahoe2 Well-Known Member

    full penetration in & out of the chest cavity from any angle should do it, my first Antelope I hit too far back (my opinion) 8 inches back of the shoulder through the liver. @ 170+ yards Buck fever and 20 mph winds were contributing factors, he took about 30 yards and 15 minutes to die, not happy about that. Would have preferred a bang! flop! But that's hunting.
  3. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    Growin' up bowhuntin' with a recurve, I learned to aim behind the shoulders for a clear shot to the heart/lungs. Height on the body was determined by angle of the shot. Ground vs tree stand. Blood trailing was expected, and this led to a good blood trail and an good chance of an bleeding exit wound also. Growin' up gunhuntin' with a .32 Special and hunting pblic land with a high density of hunters, I learned to shoot high in the shoulders and break the deer down so it would not run. Running a 100 yards may mean a lost deer. A small amount of meat loss was irrelevant compared to losing the whole deer to another hunter. My 5th decade of hunting deer and my tools have changed, but not my choice of shot placement. Not to say I have hit every deer there.........
  4. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Well-Known Member

    I took a doe this week with a high shoulder shot using a 140 grain Partition that also fragmented into the spine from a modern 6.5x54 MS. The muzzle velocity on these was 2500 fps. Bang flop. I took that shot because I was about 100 yards away, could take my time and there was a fence to private property about 25 yards from the deer. I did not want it running anywhere.

    Had I been further away with more room for the deer to run I would have gone for the boiler room shot.

    I had also hand loaded these rounds and had just shot about 50 of them the week before at 100 yards so I knew exactly where the bullet would hit. I was able to sit and use shooting sticks and just wait and watch until I had a perfect broadside.

    It is true that every situation is a little different.
  5. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Well-Known Member

    I always aim for the Heart/lungs with either a rifle or shotgun...that is just what I was taught, and what I usually read from professionals.

    The deer I shot last year, at 250 yards was a heart/lung shot. Both lungs were destroyed and the heart was clipped. He ran about 70 yards across a field before he dropped. I saw him the entire time, therefore had no tracking to do.
  6. primape

    primape Member

    Most of the time just behind the shoulder like the diagram posted. In my 308 using 150g Nosler BT they mostly drop right there and never go more that 10/20 yds if they do run. In Florida it is so thick that alot of times you don't see anything but the head and neck, so that has to be the shot.

    This one was steady moving away at about 75 yds and about to go out of sight. All I saw was head and horns. The NBT did its job.

    And you northern and midwest boys, don't laugh too hard at the size of our puny deer here in west central Florida.

    Attached Files:

  7. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    Umm, so much for mounting that one. :D
  8. gspn

    gspn Well-Known Member

    Like others have said...soooo many variables. If it's broadside I use a double lung shot...but there are exceptions to this. For instance...if the deer is on the property line and I can score a solid neck shot then I'll use it since it will keep the deer from running over the line.

    If it's quartering toward, like last week, I'll shoot at the seam between the front of the shoulder and the chest...my .45-70 pushed all the way through that spot and out the far side, taking lungs along the way, and the deer dropped in it's tracks.

    I stalked a buck one time...I was directly behind him by about 55 yards. There was no way to get him to turn without blowing my cover...so I took a knee, used a sapling as a rest, and shot him directly in the back of the neck...and he dropped like a bag of hammers.

    If it's a longer shot I'll wait til they are broadside and take a double lung...I don't take neck shots on those longer shots.

    Sometimes I just don't have a shot...and they walk.

    I've found that 140 and 150 grain ballistic tips from my 7 mag explode inside of deer. Since I mainly take double lung shots I've found that this isn't really a downside...they absolutely turn the vitals to liquid. Those deer sometimes run...but they always drop fairly close. The downside to no pass-through is less blood trail. If I'm hunting next to thick cover it might affect my decisions.

    Lots of variables affect my decision...but I always take an ethical shot. One that I know I can make and that will kill quickly. I don't take shots I'm not comfortable with...I owe it to the animal to do it right.
  9. bad_aim_billy

    bad_aim_billy Well-Known Member

    I like the neck shot if possible.
  10. wild willy

    wild willy Well-Known Member

    Head and neck shots are like 800 yd shots very few people are good enough to do them.Head and neck shooters always say either you kill them or you miss.But I've seen too many deer with jaws blowed off or shot thru the windpipe to believe it.
  11. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    A head shot to 100 yards with a 1/2 MOA .257 Roberts is one thing, but iron sighted levers or my SKS are another. Sorta equipment dependent, too, ain't it? I hunt with pistols, black powder sidelocks, this and that variety. I don't just go to the field with my most accurate bolt gun every time. While I know I can hit the brain on an animal at 50 yards with the .257, I probably won't attempt it with my Hawken. Too, I've had an animal move as the sear was breaking throwing off the shot. More room for error on the shoulder. One deer years ago, just as the sear was being loaded, 3 lb trigger at that, the deer turned and started to walk off. The shot broke and hit him in the rump, the bullet went through the length of his body and out his neck. He dropped immediately. Only damaged meat was a bit of the right hind quarter. I might have crippled that deer if I'd been trying a head shot. Hopefully, I'd clean missed. I just got lucky on that one, actually. But, if I couldn't stop the shot with THAT much movement, just a move of the head would have been impossible to stop for.
  12. DM~

    DM~ Well-Known Member

    Yeaaa, i've heard that HUGE pile of bull, about "hit or miss" a time or two too!! But, like you said, it's BS!


  13. heeler

    heeler Well-Known Member

    Just got back from several days of hunting in Frio county Texas and came across this thread.
    Having killed more than 75 Texas Whitetail deer over the last 46 years I have seen all manner of behavior from gun shot deer.
    In all these deer I have killed few just fell right there.
    This did happen Monday morning though with a heart lung shot from a 150 grain Federal Blue Box 150 grain soft point fired from my .308.
    Instant death.
    But that does not happen that way often at all.
    Most heart lung shots have sent most deer running from a few yards to many.
    It still is my preferred shot due to the fact that a living creature simply cannot function without air or blood.
    The only time I have ever taken a direct shoulder shot was on a sendero with thick white brush in the last four minutes of legal shooting light at around 120 yards due to the fact that this south Texas white brush is damn near impossible to go through so I truely needed that deer to drop right there,ruined shoulders and all.
    Neck shots are iffy and I dont like making them unless the deer is broad side and even then I aim for the middle of the neck where it meets the body,which has produced several late evening kills with dead right there results.
    On the other hand I have seen neck shots drop a deer and it gets back to it's feet after a minute or so because the vertebre was not broken but another area of the neck took the hit.
    And has been stated earlier,if you hunt enough you will see shot deer run for yards and yards with shot out hearts,lungs,and jugulars.
    It happens.
  14. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Well-Known Member

    I put the bullet through the heart and lungs. Choosing a profectile that performs well at this is essential. You need something that will both expand and penetrate well. A huge honkin' big exit hole is good. I use both 2 3/4" 12 guage rifled slugs from Winchester and handloaded 150gr Hornady SST in my .308. The ones that don't lay down and die right there are easy to follow for the short distance they go. I've never had one go more than 50 yards. Part of that is because I'd rather pass on a shot than take one I'm not confident in making correctly.
  15. morcey2

    morcey2 Well-Known Member

    My dad's only deer was a head shot. He didn't hunt, but my all of his new in-laws did. He rented a Spanish mauser from a local sporting goods store (it was 1969, you could still do that.) and bought a box of bullets. He shot 3 shots to figure out where the rifle was hitting with the military sights. BTW, those were the first 3 shots he ever took with any gun.

    Nobody bothered to tell him anything about proper shot placement. He had a doe tag and a buck tag and he planned on filling them both. The came upon a group of does and one of my uncles told him to shoot one that was on the edge of the group. My dad's thought process went like this:

    He proceeded to shoot the poor doe 'right between the eyes' and the head almost completely disappeared. Needless to say, it was a bang-flop. Or a bang-flop-puke. :) He never shot another deer after that.

    He went to return the gun after the hunt and they told him that for another $5 he could keep it. He did and we always joked about it being our "8mm howitzer". About 10 years ago, he gave it to me because no one else wanted an old, beat up gun. I had it drilled and tapped, mounted a scope, and did a little more work on it. It still couldn't shoot groups at 100 yards (my dad's deer was at about 20 yards) until I re-crowned the muzzle. It now shoots 1" groups at 100 yards. Next to my Grandpa's 1903, it's my favorite gun.

  16. d2wing

    d2wing Well-Known Member

    Another heart lung shooter. Most neck shots drop them but need a finishing shot for me. I don't like head shots. Can ruin racks and always iffy as I don't get close standing shots. If needed I am fine with shoulder and chest shots. Tracking isn't a problem for me. But rarely is it and issue. Usually they drop pretty quick and leave a good blood trail. I know the pain of losing a deer to another hunter. Once I shot a deer on one side of a thick swampy area. It took me awhile to track it. About an hour later I found a fresh gut pile about 150 yards away where a trail came in from the other way and it was more passable. It had been dragged a maybe 30 yards. It happens.
  17. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    I like to shoot them where DM likes to shoot them. To far forward you say? Two things about that, this did not hit any bone besides ribs. And below is a picture of the heart. I'd call that a center punch wouldn't you?
    The green circle is the "point" of the shoulder, the white dot was my point of impact, the deer was almost perfectly broadside. The purple line is the rear of the bone structure shoot behind that and you don't hit bone besides rib. The blue line is the rear of the shoulder muscle. Using this shot placement you'll successfully kill any quadruped animal anywhere on the planet. In North America you can afford to slip further back and still get lungs. In Africa you'll be gut shooting almost every animal shooting behind the shoulder. Same for many feral hogs BTW.
  18. Captcurt

    Captcurt Well-Known Member

    My last buck took a 165 Accubond from a 300 WSM through the heart and still went 50 yards. When I field dressed him the bottom of his heart was rolling around in the bottom of his chest cavity. A doe once took the same hit with a 45 cal. Barnes MZ from a muzzle loader and went close to 100 yards. Her heart looked like it had been hit with a meat cleaver. They never cease to amaze me. The last hundred or so deer that I have taken were heart, lung or shoulser shots depending on the situation. I try to break a shoulder when possible.
  19. 336A

    336A Well-Known Member

    The only time I get consistent DRT results is when I use a 12GA slug. I've yet to have one that didn't act as if the light switch turned off on them. The one I got this year I had to take a full frontal shot at 50yd as it was looking right at me and ready to run. It was not the shot I wanted o take but it was either shoot or go home empty handed. So I placed the beads dead center of the chest and sent a Brenneke K.O. slug on it's way. On impact he did a back flip and I was filling out my tag.

    The last deer I hit before that with a slug was with a Win Platinum tip sabot at about 70yd back in 2002. It was a broad side shot behind the shoulder, I was shooting from a knee. That one was also DRT, in fact I thought I missed as I didn't see him any more after I recovered from the recoil.
  20. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    Never used a slug gun before, never though of them as any more powerful then a 30-06 but I do know that very large caliber projectile would have to make one heck of a wound canal, especially that KO slug.

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