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. 


The Killing Zone

The time to think about where to aim when shooting a deer isn't right before you drop the hammer. The time is now, well before the season starts. When you take the shot, you want it to be second nature. You want to know where to aim almost instantly for a quick and humane kill. You also need the skills to hit where you aim. The following lessons not only teach you the one perfect place to shoot a deer but also how to practice this shot all summer long-even from your couch.

Where to shoot a deer for one shot kills

To kill an animal with a single shot is the goal of every responsible hunter. Most of us were taught to put a bullet in the “boiler room,” the heart and lungs. But should we be aiming elsewhere? We asked a number of deer cullers, those sharpshooters whose job requires them to kill deer quickly, for their perspectives on bullet placement. Their advice, detailed below, is: “It depends.” On distance, bullet type, shooting ability, and even meat retention.

When you sharpshoot deer for a living, as Grant Woods did for 21 years, “you can’t afford misses or wounded deer running around,” he says.

You Shot a Deer. Here's How to Find It.

The buck you want is broadside, 20 yards away. You’re at full draw, trying to anchor and aim. I can count on Captain Hook’s left hand the number of things that excite me more than this moment. But nothing will turn that excitement into anxiety faster than releasing the arrow and not knowing exactly where it went. And that very thing happens to every bowhunter in the woods at some point in time.

Shot Placement for Downing a White Tail Deer

"I, as a hunter, have a responsibility to the sport of hunting to make quick harvests and recover all game animals." Quick harvests and easy game recovery can be obtained with accurate shot placement. The three main ingredients of a quick harvest are knowledge of how a hunting weapon harvests game, shooting only within one's own ability, and knowing the game animal's internal anatomy. The future of hunting and a hunter's own self-respect depends on his or her ability to efficiently harvest game.