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Tell me about shoulder shots on ungulates

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow, May 27, 2009.

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  1. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    I know where I like to aim for heart/lung, or neck shots, but I've been reading up a bit on shoulder shots, and I have some questions, for those who may know:

    1. Most importantly, can someone post up an image with a dot showing exactly where you aim for the shoulder shot, please?

    2. Do you ALWAYS, SOMETIMES, or NEVER also hit a lung with this shot? Ever hit two, or just one, or neither?

    3. (related to #2) Does this shot ALWAYS, SOMETIMES, or ALMOST NEVER require a quick coup de grace follow up shot?

    4. Does this shot always require a full broadside, or can you get away with a quartering toward or away? If so, how much on quartering away, and how much on quartering toward - 15 degrees, 30 deg, 45 deg, 60 deg, what, on each? And still have it be an effective shot? Requires a smaller angle of quartering toward or away than a heart/lung shot, before feeling confident to take it, or about the same?

    5. (related to #4) Do you always hit both shoulder blades, or just one, or what?

    6. How far do they run, on average, with this shot? If it depends, then what does it depend on?

    7. Would you ever take this shot with a bow, with say, Muzzys, or gun only?

    8. Do you have an opinion as to whether, *generally speaking*, it is more desirable or less desirable than a neck shot, when given a choice?

    Thanks.
     
  2. .45Guy

    .45Guy Member

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    It depends on how patient YOU are. I actually tend to put it right behind the shoulder through the lungs to save as much meat as possible. Even with an old .30-30, which DOESN'T open up much at all going through nothing but the chest cavity. As long as you don't jump up and spook them, they'll usually bed down and expire pretty close. I'll usually have a couple cups of coffee and a smoke or two whilst waiting.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    http://www.rubsnscrapes.com/Articles/deer_shot_placement_anatomy.php

    The open space between the shoulder blades & joints and the lower elbow joints is where the boiler room is.

    A shoulder shot will take out both lungs, liver, and the heart or aorta.
    The disadvantage is a broadside shoulder shot can ruin a lot of good meat in both forelegs.

    I think it is more desirable then a neck shot because the neck is a very small target for most folks.
    The actual spinal cord also isn't where you might think it should be.

    If you miss the spine, even slightly, you have a badly wounded, but very live deer that will run away.

    I don't consider a shoulder shot real good for a bow.
    There are some major bones in the way of an arrow getting into the chest cavity where it can cut and cause massive bleeding if you are too high, too low, or too far forward.

    With rifles, the whole thing depends on the angle of the shot.
    A quartering shot may go in behind the shoulder on the near side and break the shoulder on the off side.
    It would hit the lungs but might miss the heart.

    rc
     
  4. moosehunt

    moosehunt Member

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    Mr. Model, I do think you know better than that! It would require a howitzer to take out both lungs, heart, and liver with one shot! The liver on a deer is nearly 18" from the heart! I believe the place this gent is referring to as the "shoulder" is in the area where the scapula and humerus connect, often refered to as the "point of the shoulder". It is very effective as a stopping point with rifle or muzzle loader (no idea with a pointed stick). The down side is that it tends to destroy a lot of meat. A hit here generally has pretty adverse effect on the lungs. A shot of this type is quite the preferred shot in African hunting, where concern over meat is greatly reduced when compared to US / North American hunting. There, they are much more interested in putting the animal down (also the preferred point on a bear). If the shot comes up a bit low, the heart is in jeapordy, and if high, the spine soon comes into play.

    The neck is a good shot, IF you make it correctly--one must hit the vertebrea or things don't generally work out well. That makes it a relatively small target. That said, I've used it a lot, as it does save meat, but only under good circumstances.
     
  5. Asherdan

    Asherdan Member

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    By question #

    1/ From RC's link, I aim two thirds of the body height down in line with the shoulder blade. I'm trying to punch lungs and heart or the major arteries coming out the topside of the heart and maybe break some bone down.

    2/ Always have hit lung(s). This years deer I got the onside lung and just got the front of the offside lung on a shot where he was maybe 30d off zero going away from me.

    3/ Never had one yet. Some run a little, especially when I'm brush busting, but a good shot in that area does the job.

    4/ I take about any shot short of the Texas Heart type. If the angle is too steep going away I'll start the shot further back for an exit through the off shoulder. Coming in (rare for me) I'll chest drill 'em.

    5/ Just one sometimes. see 4.

    6/ Depends on how wound up they are and if I break bone. DRT if not alerted, down and out pretty quick with busted front gear, several stotts before going down on a good but not bone breaking hit. This years muley took two hops, but the second one took him a 100' straight down a brush choked ravine.

    7/ Gun only for me. Hard cast or an XTP preferred in that order. I would worry about a broadhead hanging up on bone before getting to the chest cavity.

    8/ I think the shoulder shot has a lot more margin for error than the neck shot. Most of my shots are offhand or kneeling at a moving deer. If I was in a stand or working from a rest (field type or otherwise) and had an un-alert one moving in, I might feel otherwise.
     
  6. Grizfire

    Grizfire Member

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    Whoever is purposefully aiming at the shoulder (from a broad side view) must have been half asleep in their hunters ed course. This is not a good place to aim, it destroys meat, and your shot may go forward of the lungs and heart.

    Personally, I have never heard anyone proclaiming to go for the shoulder. It has always been, BEHIND the shoulder.

    My perfect shot placement would be just above the elbow on a broad side view, although I rarely aim for this exact point (too low, and may miss underneath), opting to make sure I get a lung.
     
  7. Grizfire

    Grizfire Member

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    I'm thinking opposite of this sentence, I would only aim at the shoulder if quartering toward.
     
  8. FITASC666

    FITASC666 Member

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    I've harvested several caribou with the intent of getting as much meat as possible. I've tried the high shoulder shot with a great outcome. They may walk or not, not far when they do, maybe about 30yds. I aim for the higher half of the abdomen in line with the front foreleg line (as if it were still). This ensures a good lung shot and good meat.

    I saw this recently, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boxndplzQmU

    Hope this helps :D
     
  9. moosehunt

    moosehunt Member

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    And Grizfire must have been asleep in anatomy class! If you are in front of the lungs on an attempted shoulder shot, you plumb missed the critter, not just the lungs! Indeed, shooting behind the shoulder is a bit high for the lungs; one must shoot behind and down from the shoulder to get a good dose of lungs. Get very far behind the shoulder and one starts to get into the paunch--not good! A bit high and back and the liver shows up. If the objective is to end the show quickly, then a shoulder shot is ideal. That is why it is strongly pushed in African hunting. You cause major anatomy disrupture (bone), likely cause the lungs to leak severely, but do sacrifice meat. A shot that only ventilates the lungs can very likely lead to a critter that posesses the abililty to travel a good ways from you before giving up the ghost. Foul up the major support framework (or the pump) and that won't happen.
     
  10. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I've found deer can't run on broken shoulders.
     
  11. dakotasin

    dakotasin Member

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    1 - nope, don't have an image. sorry.

    2 - i have always hit at least one, usually both lungs.

    3 - a follow up shot is almost never required.

    4 - w/ a rifle there is plenty of room for angles. on a severe angle, aim for the offside shoulder.

    5 - depends on the angle, but generally just one shoulder gets hit.

    6 - travel is usually about 40 yards or so, maybe a little more maybe a little less.

    7 - gun only.

    8 - between neck and shoulder, the shoulder is more desireable.

    having said all that, i am not a fan of busting the onside shoulder. i prefer to go just behind the shoulder, and if the offside shoulder gets in the way, fine, but on deer or antelope i don't like busting shoulders. that does not apply to elk.
     
  12. ~z

    ~z Member

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    I use the high shoulder shots with an extreamly high rate of success. Generally it puts them down on the spot or within a few feet of the spot. Looking at RC's diagram I typically aim at about the middle of that boat oar where that little blue line runs through. There is some meat damage, but that is sausage meat anyway and it goes in the grind. It makes it difficult to run without the front legs working and typically takes the CNS down too.
    Other opinions may differ, but that is one of my methods.
    ~z
     
  13. hardluk1

    hardluk1 member

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    The bullet i use some what deppends on where i will hunt. If on large clear cut i will use a balistic tip or sst for better long range ballistics and it will stop a deer in most cases where they stand.I also try to not shoot for the sholder but just behind it and more center of the body top to bottom. If hunting in the woods where shoots will be shorter i use a barnes X bullet and do then try for a sholder but know if i miss that it will still go out the other side with a great blood trail and still not travel far. If you make a bad shoot with a BT, say to the rear or center of mass you may not have alot of good eatable deer. You can and more than likey will find brass in lungs,heart, liver,guts and surrounding meat like the loins and backstrap. I have a buddy that turned one doe shot at 185 yards with a 7stw into luquid and jello and i have done that myself. Not good. Now larger game like elk i will stay with a barnes X.
     
  14. Grizfire

    Grizfire Member

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    You crack me up moosehunt. In fact I was awake during both anatomy and hunters ed (I admit my anatomy class focused on humans and not ungulates). I stand by my previous post...aiming for the shoulder MAY give a shot forward of the lung (and likely above the lung as well) and I think it is a poor choice on a broadside animal...

    From hunters-ed.com (http://www.hunter-ed.com/images/graphics/vital_organs_deer.jpg)

    [​IMG]

    Here is a view of where the shoulder is...

    [​IMG]

    And here is a view of both the lungs and shoulder...

    [​IMG]

    No way man, I don't believe you.
     
  15. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    OK, there seems to be some confusion here. I think we need to back up and define a shoulder shot, as a starting point for getting on the same page.

    If you take a look at the diagram linked to, and assume that it's accurate, that's a starting point. Let me know if you don't think it's accurate. In my experience, it is pretty accurate.

    Think of the scapula as an "upside-down laboratory beaker"- with the neck part pointing down, and the triangle part higher up toward the spine of the deer, but pointing down and a bit forward.

    Clearly, if you hit anywhere in the scapula, you will completely miss the heart, no question - it's much lower and a little farther back. You will also miss the liver by a country mile. The scapula is on the very edge of the lungs, so you may get a lung, depending upon up/down angle, and what part of the scapula you hit.

    So, first off,

    (a) By shoulder shot, I mean hitting the scapula. Does everyone else mean hitting the scapula, or does anyone mean hitting something other than the scapula?
    (b) if you mean hitting something other than the scapula, then what do you mean by shoulder shot?
    (c) If your "shoulder shot" does hit the scapula, then what part, the upper triangle part of the beaker (and which part of that - the center?), or the neck of the beaker pointing down?

    I thought the whole point of the shoulder shot was to make it worthwhile to miss the heart (a negative), in order to take out the shoulder blade(s), making it impossible for the animal to run (a positive), and if you happen to also hit a lung, then so much the better.

    With a bow, I always aim for the top of the heart, which will hit 2 lungs if a broadside shot, and hopefully the heart too, if it's a good shot.

    With a rifle, I aim for the neck under 75 yards, or the top of the heart if a longer shot. I'm wondering if I should aim for the shoulder instead on the neck on the shorter shots, to anchor them on the spot like a neck shot, yet provide a *slightly* larger target than the neck?

    I'm thinking that the goal would be to aim "though the animal" for the far-side shoulder if it's an uphill shot, so that you clip the near-side lung, or aim for the near-side shoulder if it's a downhill shot, so that you clip the far-side lung - is that a correct analysis?

    And where, EXACTLY, is the shot placement on this high shoulder shot? Could you please elaborate on this:

    Grizfire, are you saying that you aim exactly for the center of the large lower (triangle) part of the scapula? Do you also hit the spine sometimes?
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2009
  16. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Hit a high shoulder shot and you anchor the deer, period, at least in my experience. I've walked up to a couple and put one in the head to finish 'em. They were kickin' around with their hind legs, but couldn't get up. One had the whole right side shoulder blown off by a 7 mag and 150 game king at about 50 yards. But, like Z says, it's just chili meat, not like you're losing back strap or something. And, often, they drop like a ton of bricks. The spine is behind the scapula, too, ya know. You don't have to hit it to effect it with a major rifle caliber. I hit 3" below the spine a couple of years ago on a spike with my Contender and he went down so fast, I thought I'd missed and he'd run off, but I couldn't figure out to where. LOL He piled up right where he was hit, DRT.

    I will take this shot if I'm using my .308, .257, 7 mag or even my .30-30 contender. I will prefer the low lung/heart shot with a magnum pistol caliber. I'll take the shot that's presented, but on broad side shots, I've had good luck with the shoulder. I think if I ever get another 50 yard shot on a whitetail with the 7 mag, I'll shoot behind the shoulder this time, though, LOL! I mean, that deer's lungs evaporated, shoulder was blown off hanging by tendons, even the on side shoulder was bloodshot beyond belief! I've shot 5 deer with that rifle, though, and my nicest buck. The doe was the closest and the most impressive meat destruction. The bullet exited, but man, it must've blown up in that deer, major energy dump. LOL
     
  17. Grizfire

    Grizfire Member

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    I consider the shoulder to be comprised of the clavicle, scapula, and humerus as well as all the associated muscle, tendon, and ligaments.

    You are correct that a shoulder shot will mostly be on the scapula, and it will render the animal unable to walk (maybe, I have heard of animals going off on their hind legs before).

    Its just that I don't think its a very lethal shot. Yes you may hit the lungs, but in my opinion it is better to holder near center lung and low where the heart is, this way any imprecision will still hit the lungs. Contrarily, holding on the shoulder, if there is even a hair of imprecision above or forward, you have not hit any vitals...which is not good.
     
  18. Grizfire

    Grizfire Member

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    No way, I aim above the elbow, behind the shoulder...thats not my quote btw.
     
  19. Grizfire

    Grizfire Member

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    So it doesn't actually kill them, you need a second shot?
     
  20. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I've had a few kick around in a circle for a bit before croaking. I've put a couple down with a head shot from my carry gun rather than let it suffer a minute longer. I have no doubt it would have died shortly, but I put it down. It don't always KILL 'em DRT, but I've never had one go anywhere after having any of it's front appendages taken out, either scapula or lower. The only time I've ever put one down that was dead before it hit the ground was a CNS hit EXCEPT for that .30-30 shot I mentioned earlier. That bullet went right below the spine, behind the scapula, high lung shot. All I could figure was the pressure wave effects on the spine. But, buddy, that deer was lights out on impact.

    One shot, out in West Texas (trans pecos) was on a doe. It was angling 45 degrees, a quartering shot facing me with its left shoulder forward at 150 yards. I was shooting my surgically accurate .257 Roberts and put one right on the forward edge of her shoulder. Also, I was shooting off the rim of a dry wash and DOWN at the deer in the wash. The bullet entered the shoulder, hit and penetrated the scapula and bounced off the bone and up into a vertebra in between the shoulders which shattered and I heard a LOUD "SNAP", and then bounced off that vertebra and down through lungs to an off side rib which it shattered and then wound up flattened out like a pancake under the skin. That deer is another one that fell faster than I could see her fall, dead in her tracks. I had no clue HOW until I quartered her up, LOL. That was a 100 grain game king.
     
  21. SPW1

    SPW1 Member

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    If I need to make a quick shot I will aim for the off side shoulder joint assuming a broadside or quartered away shot. Where the scapula meets the humerus. A shot in that general area will take my bullet through the lungs and across the top of the heart where all the big blood vessels attach. I never aim for the shoulder blade, that is to high for an ideal shot in my opinion. I have seen deer shot there by others and I am not to fond of the results although with a high powered rifle it will usually put them down anyway. I find a large number of people who say they aim "behind the shoulder" particularly newer hunters, are aiming too far back and can get into the liver or guts pretty easily. Of course if I have a rest, am using a rifle, and have plenty of time I will generally take a shot about one third up the neck where the spine, jugular, and windpipe are closest to one another. Less mess.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2009
  22. moosehunt

    moosehunt Member

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    Indeed, there is some descrepancy in regard to what is being referred to as the shoulder by different parties. When I refer to the shoulder, I mean the joint where the scapula joins the humerus. I thought that's what we all were referring to, but I see obviously not so. Consequently, my comments are based on that premise. The "high shoulder" shot, which falls in Grizfires circle is getting up into the vertebrea, definately a stopper, though maybeso not a rapid killer (nor is my shoulder shot). If you hit what I call the shoulder (that scapula/humerous joint), the game is over. The animal will not leave the immediate area. That is precisely why it is the prescribed shot in places like Africa (and on mean guys of any make or residense). It is not good for meat reclaimation or even quick death, but it does prevent travel. I rarely use it intentionally, as I have too much of a meat gathering background, but it is fairly large in respective area (target), and it does end the program.
     
  23. wankerjake

    wankerjake Member

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    I always thought shoulder shots referred more to the front leg than the scapula. What you can't really see in the third picture is the form of the front leg. Imagine the leg being there, and the humorous. Depending on the angle, a shot thru the front leg will potentially break the humorous and take out heart/vasculature and lungs. Anyway I usually try and get just lungs as I am usually hurting for meat here in AZ. My idea of a shoulder shot was errant I guess, I just thought y'all were shooting the front leg and not the actual scapula. With a good bullet though I'm sure it works pretty well. Sure does waste a lot of meat though.
     
  24. ~z

    ~z Member

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    Dr. Tad, the quote you ref was mine so I guess I should answer.
    Yes, I aim for the intersection of scapula and spine. It does destroy some meat but leaves that tasty pump in place. We make several hundred #s of sausage each year and those bloodshot shoulders go right in the grind so there is no meat loss in my book. I should mention I only use this shot at extended ranges, for the short stuff I prefer the 1/3 way down the neck shot. You guys worried about ruining meat are messing up the best part with your heart shots!!
    ~z
     
  25. moosehunt

    moosehunt Member

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    Yep, the pump (and tongue) are the best parts! I try and avoid holes through the pump, indeed have few dead critters with that delicacy damaged.
     
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