Best Shot Placement Deer

What is the best shot placement on deer? Professional UK Deer Stalker Peter Jones takes a closer look at the perfect shot placement for those that hunt and stalk deer. 

Above: Illustration showing the best point of aim for perfect bullet placement.

Where to place your shot when hunting deer is a personal choice however, for the majority of deer stalkers and hunters, the broad side heart/lung shot or cavity shot, is the most desirable point of aim for those that hunt with a rifle.   

Best Shot Placement On Deer

(Above: At County Deer Stalking we encourage the broadside Heart/Lung, Cavity shot and teach this point of aim to our PDS1 candidates)

This can be found by drawing the verticle cross hair of your rifle scope up the back of the front leg and the horizontal cross hair half way up the body between the chest and the shoulder.

Clearly this shot placement is not adopted by everyone, and I have a number of experienced clients who opt' for a neck shot as their first choice. However, for beginners and those new to deer stalking I encourage the former. 

Perfect shot placement on Deer

(Left: A point of aim half way up the body provides the greatest margin for error and greatest chance of a clean kill)

The broadside heart/lung shot, or 'cavity' shot as some call it, gives the stalker the best possible chance of a clean kill. The aim being for the bullet to create a wound channel through the heart and lung area that will lead to a massive bleed, resulting in rapid unconsciousness and death.

There remains however, some minor discrepancy in the perfect placement of the shot. Some advocate a shot that is placed about a third of the way up the body between the chest and shoulder which finds the heart, but for many others, the perfect shot is found about half way up the body, something that allows for minor errors in accuracy. Professional guidance on the matter can vary, but the deer initiative and we here at County Deer Stalking teach candidates who carry out their Proficient Deer Stalker Certificate Stage 1 (PDS1) to place shots half way up the animal. 


(Above: This shot placement, though appearing a little far back, was in fact a perfectly placed heart shot on a Fallow Deer) 

Personally I think we and the Deer Initiative have it right. I have found that on occasion, especially when shooting at extended ranges, a shot intended for a third of the way up the animal falls too low. In which case, by the time one takes into account the breast bone and possibly a thick winter coat, the beast is left with a nasty wound to the lower ribs, sternum and chest that is not immediately fatal.

Another consequence of a shot placed too low, is that it has the potential to break the front leg, whilst doing little damage to the internal organs. A result that will once again fail to achieve the desired rapid death.  

The preferred option therefore, is for a shot to be placed half way up the animal. In our opinion this gives the largest target and the best opportunity for a hunter to achieve a clean kill.

Bullet Placement Deer

This way even if the shot is a little too low the hunter still stands a very good chance of their shot still entering the chest cavity, whilst on the other hand, if it is too high, indeed even if it just 'nic's' the top of the shoulder, the shock imparted by the bullet will cause a temporary paralysis in the animal that will cause it to drop to the shot.Yes, it may require a second shot, however, provided the hunter has reloaded and maintains a clear sight pitcure, he will usually have time and opportunity to place a second shot. 

By adopting this simple best practice, hunters give themselves the greatest opportunity of humanely dispatching and recovering deer.   

It should be noted however, that the deers position when taking a shot may require a slight re-adjustment being made in point of aim. In the image above, the Fallow deer is not directly broadside but is in fact 'quartering-on', something that requires that the shot be placed a little further forward in order to ensure that the trajectory of the bullet does not exit through the gut. Should the deer be 'quartering-away' the reverse would be true, here the shot would need to be placed a little further back in order for the bullets trajectory to pass through the vital organs.   

Let's be clear, as much as we would like to think ourselves first class marksman, we need to make allowances for a high number of variables such as errors in range estimation, windage and countless others, all of which can have an affect on our bullet placement. After all, when you are lying in a bed of thistles, have mosquito's buzzing around your head and an elbow in a puddle of water, you don't always pull off the same shot that you can achieve on the range. Add into the equation, a healthy dose of adrenalin and we would all be wise to aim at the biggest vital target available to us.

For more on Shot Placement and the consequences of badly placed Gut-shots, click on the following link: the-gut-shot-shot-placement-on-deer

To read our recent article about a Spine Shot, simply follow this link: shot-shot-placement-on-deer 

Or to watch the film, please follow this link:

If you'd like to learn about why we do not head shoot deer in the wild, you may be interested to watch the following film:

Alternatively, if you'd like to learn more about deer stalking then why not register to take a deer stalking course. At County Deer Stalking we offer the PDS1 (Proficient Deer Stalker Level 1). Click here to find out more: proficient-stalker 

Or Call 0203 981 0159 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



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