Vital areas of a deer

Listed below are numerous resources to illustrate the vital areas of a deer. A particularly good resource is a miniature 3D deer that has the vital organs identified on the reverse side, available from the National Bowhunter Education Foundation’s online store.

Although the participants in your class are likely very motivated to obtain their own food, most will never have killed any animal before. At the same time, they will be very concerned that any animal they shoot dies quickly and humanely. All hunters share these same concerns.

Because food is an important motivator, we recommend that instructors emphasize shots that minimize the potential for a large amount of meat damage (e.g., avoiding frontal shots or when deer is quartering towards the hunter).  However, all potential vital shot angles should be presented; just be sure to mention the pros and cons of each.

Shots that do not hit bone often result in the deer being able to run off--even if it is mortally wounded. Sometimes they appear to not have been hit at all. A brief discussion on the reaction of a deer after being hit is recommended. Participants should be prepared for the fact that the deer will likely run for a short distance after being hit, rather than immediately dying. Participants should take note of the deer’s reaction after being hit, because that may influence how quickly they proceed to look for the blood trail.

Some experienced hunters purposefully aim for the shoulder to prevent an animal from running off. This shot placement is certainly effective, but can cause loss of considerable meat. The trade-off of losing some meat versus not having to track the animal may be a good topic for a group discussion.