Targeting One Shot Kills on Deer
Dr. John Woods 02.18.17
The theory of one shot kills may be a huge misnomer, but it certainly remains in the practical realm of reality. Many deer are taken with just one shot, but were they cleanly harvested?
As a hunter, it is certainly our responsibility to place our bullets on target in a precise manner to cleanly take any game animal we hunt. We should not relish a wounded animal under any circumstances.
Before going deer hunting this season, all hunters should review the anatomical drawings of deer or other big game to understand where to shoot it to kill it. I am amazed at how many hunters in my hunter education classes or elsewhere have little idea where a bullet should be placed in order to dispatch a deer as quickly as possible.
The textbook targeting spot on white-tailed deer sized game is just behind the front shoulder in a broadside position, so that the bullet has the best chance of taking out the heart and lungs. This shot placement ideally should be roughly 2/3 of the way down from the back. If you study the drawings mentioned, you get a better idea of the position of these vital organs on a deer.
I know several deer hunters that swear by a neck shot, but it is never a sure thing. The neck portion of a deer is of course a much smaller target and a lot thinner. This translates to me for more opportunity for a bullet to sail through without expanding in this small area of tissue, and therefore not give a clean kill. To me, a neck shot on a whitetail is “iffy.”
The worst possible shot is far back from the heart and lungs, which usually results in what is called in deer camp language as a “gut shot.” Few hits in the stomach will produce a quick kill. Sometimes gut shot deer are never recovered because the animal runs off into the thickets leaving little or no blood trail to follow. They die a horrible death by our descriptions.
I have seen successful “Texas Heart Shots,” a term meaning the placement of a bullet up the proverbial rear end or anus. This can impact the spinal cord and a rather instantaneous kill, though not highly recommended as an ideal shot.
Again, as hunters, we must make a clean shot. Know what area on a deer to target and practice enough with your gun to hit it at reasonable ranges.