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 National Bowhunter Education Foundation’s online store.

The participants in your class, while likely motivated to obtain their own food, most will never have killed any animal. 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 (such as frontal, or quartering towards the hunter).  However, all potential vital shot angles should be reviewed.

Potential shot angles should be discussed with both the mentor/guide and the participants to make sure of the comfort and skill level of the participant.

Shots that do not hit bone often result in a deer running off. Sometimes they appear to not have been hit at all. A brief discussion on the reaction of a deer after being hit is recommended. See Field retrieval, handling and care of harvested game for additional details to guide this discussion. Participants should be prepared for the fact that the deer will likely run off after being hit, rather than immediately dying. Participants should take note of the deer’s reaction, because that may influence how quickly the blood trail is taken up.

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