Properly placed shots deliver quick recoveries and tasty meat. The key is knowing a deer’s anatomy and where to aim your arrow for quick, lethal hits.
The heart and lungs provide a large target. When bowhunters hit them with a razor-sharp broadhead, they ensure a fast and humane harvest. Ideally, your arrow passes through both lungs. To accomplish that, you must learn the best shooting angles and practice them on lifelike 3-D targets.
In a perfect world, deer stand broadside or slightly quartering away at close range. Those are the shots you desire. They’re ideal because they present a large target. The vitals are completely exposed, and an arrow striking a few inches behind the shoulder inflicts a double-lung hit.
Before you draw and release, make sure the deer’s shoulder that faces you is in the forward position. If it’s back, the shoulder bones can block part of the vital area. Wait patiently for the leg to move forward and then seize the opportunity.
The quartering-away shot presents an even more forgiving vital area, and because the deer is facing slightly away, it’s less likely to notice you draw your bow. Instead of placing your arrow right behind the shoulder, visualize its path through the deer. You want the arrow to exit behind the deer’s far-side shoulder. That angle gives you an aiming point farther back in the ribs. Always visualize the arrow’s exit point. Ideally, it passes through.
Although the quartering-away angle provides a deadly shooting opportunity, this angle can get too extreme if the deer turns too far. Don’t try this shot if you must aim your arrow behind the deer’s last rib on the side facing you. Your arrow must then enter the chest cavity through the liver or stomach. That’s not ideal because your arrow might hit only one lung when reaching the chest cavity, and not pass through. Deer can live longer and run farther on one lung, so don’t risk the shot.
Studying the animal’s position and practicing various shooting angles on 3-D targets boosts your bowhunting success. If you don’t have access to a 3-D target a tube deer makes an excellent substitute.
Game laws regulate certain aspects of hunting, but many decisions are simply part of the hunter’s moral code. No law, for example, prohibits poorly placed shots, but carelessness shots will plague your conscience. Listen to that inner voice reminding you to be patient and wait for the right shot. We owe our quarry a quick, humane harvest.
Responsible bowhunting practices are part of the hunter’s ethical code. Practice with your bow, ensure your equipment is accurate, and study shot placement. With those items nailed down, you’ll head to the woods with confidence.
Test your shot placement knowledge with this quiz.