Shot Placement on Deer

Shot placement is a personal thing, however on the whole, for the majority of deer stalkers, the broad side heart/lung shot is the most desirable point of aim.  

shotplacement250Clearly this 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 I encourage the former. 

(Left: A well placed heart/lung shot) 

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 to achieve 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 discrepancy in the exact placement of this type of shot. Deer Stalkers Certificate Level I (DSC1) candidates are taught to place their shot a third of the way up the animal whilst the Deer Initiative encourages a shot half way up the body.


(Above: This shot though appearing a little far back was in fact a perfectly placed heart shot) 

Personally I think the Deer Initiative has it right. I have found that on occasion a shot intended for a third of the way up the animal falls too low. 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 which is not immediately fatal.

Another consequence of a shot placed to low is that it will break the front leg, a result that will once again fail to achieve the desired rapid death.

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

(Left: A point of aim half way up the body provides the greatest margin for error)

My logic is this. If when aiming half way up the deer, your shot placement is a touch too low, then you stand a very good chance of your shot still entering the chest cavity. 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 animals that will cause it to drop to the shot.Yes it may require a second shot, however you will have time to do so. By adopting this approach you will give yourself the greatest opportunity of recovering your deer.   

Let's be clear as much as we would like to think ourselves first class marksman, when you are lying in a bed of thistles, have mosquito's buzzing around your head, and an elbow in a puddle you don't always pull off the same shots that you can achieve on the range, added to this a dose of adrenalin and we would be wise to aim at the biggest vital target available to us.

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


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