Where to shoot a deer

Any good hunter will tell you how important it is to respect your prey and a key part of that respect is to try and kill it as quickly and humanely as possible. Basically, to kill an animal with a single shot is the goal of every responsible hunter. Whether you’re shooting a rifle or a bow, many of us were taught to aim for the heart and lungs when hunting deer, but should we be aiming somewhere else? Let’s look at five primary targets that hunters use to take down a deer.

1. The Brain

When well executed, a shot to the brain will drop a deer instantly. Losing consciousness and experiencing no pain, a bullet through the brain disrupts all life functions. A favored gun shot among professionals, a brain shot has little to no wastage of meat. However, a deer’s brain is a very small target and should not be attempted by bow hunters. Unless you are a very skilled shooter, you should not attempt this shot.

2. The Neck

If you can hit the deer’s spinal cord with your first shot, it will lose consciousness right away and die very quickly. Similar to a brain shot, you’ll cause relatively little damage to the meat but the shot placement is tricky. Ideal for rifle hunters, not so much for bow hunters, this kind of shot runs a high risk of not hitting the sweet spot directly causing the deer to have a slow and painful death or a second shot needed, making for a messy kill.

3. The Heart

Hit a deer in the heart and your bullet is most likely going to go through both lungs too. Not as instantly lethal as the above shots, it is still massively damaging and rapidly lethal. If the deer does run at first, the thick blood trail it leaves will make it easy to track. Compared to the brain or spine, the heart is a relatively large target. Therefore, if your aim is slightly off, it is a little more forgiving. Regardless if you are hunting with a bow or rifle, the heart should be the number one spot you aim for.

4. The Lungs

The lungs are a prime area to aim, especially when shooting with a bow. While bullets can enter and exit, a bow sticks in place saving you the headache of tracking. Almost as effective as heart shots, the lungs are the largest targeted area that you can aim to hit when hunting deer.

5. The Shoulder

When done right, the shoulder shot can be spectacularly effective for high-powered rifle shooters. The shock of the strike will paralyze the nervous system and break the spine ensuring instant immobilization and a quick death. Unfortunately, this kind of shot tends to damage a lot of prime meat around the shoulders and upper back strap.

Although there will never be a completely true consensus about which area is the best to target when hunting a deer, now you know of a few different options to aim at depending on whether you’re using a firearm or a bow. Work out which one suits your own gear and techniques. Then, put the bullet or arrow in the right place, and you’ll get the result you want. As your local hunting goods store, stop by if you are in need of any hunting gear or looking on further advice when it comes to hunting.