Where to Shoot Deer for Quick Kills
Deer season has officially begun. You’re likely prepping for your next big hunt, dreaming about scoring a new trophy buck or adding to your meat freezer. The bodily location where you shoot a deer can make the difference between recovering the entire deer or losing it. Plus, by getting it right in a strategic location, it’s more ethical and reduces the animal’s suffering.
This guide demonstrates some great examples of where to shoot deer to make sure you’re doing more than wasting ammo this season.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
Table of Contents
Where’s the Best Place to Aim for Fast, Ethical Kills?
The goal of any hunter should be to strike the animal in the ideal place so that the bullet enters the body, destroys vital systems internally, and exits the body. Not only does this minimize the suffering the animal endures, but it simplifies recovery and reduces ammo waste.
The best place to aim for the fast, ethical killing of a deer is the heart and the lungs. This type of shot is known as the ‘boiler room shot’, where you aim directly above and just back from the front legs on the broadside of the deer.
When you hit the boiler room shot, you kill the deer in its tracks, meaning no long blood trails to track, no worries about losing animals to coyotes or bears and no unnecessary meat lost.
If you end up missing the sweet spot, but still struck the animal, the bullet may hit some bone or struck another organ. This is where it’s important to understand deer vitals and anatomy, as you’ll have to track the blood and may need to shoot it again.
Deer Vitals and Anatomy
A deer’s anatomy is pretty straightforward, with the lungs being the largest vital organ, located slightly behind and rearward of the shoulder. The heart and liver sit just below and behind the lungs, respectively. These three organs combined are known as ‘the vitals’, as they provide the best chance at a clean kill and easy recovery.
The Optimal Kill Zone for Deer
To achieve the best chance at hitting the vitals, the best angle to do so is from the broadside, where the animal is perpendicular to you. This gives you a straight shot to both of the lungs, as well as the heart.
To find this area, look at a deer broadside, and separate its chest into three equal, horizontal sections. Now, visualize a vertical line from the deer’s front leg. The point where the bottom horizontal line intersects with the vertical line is known as the optimal kill zone for deer.
Take a look at the image below for a visual aid.
Other Options for Shot Placement
Of course, there are plenty of other places where deer can be shot. Some are considered fine from an ethical standpoint, while some are not.
Shoulder shots are considered generally safe as long as you’re shooting with a gun or bullet that can consistently penetrate bone. In general, particularly from the broadside, a shoulder shot should strike the lungs and provide a quick, easy trail. However, there are some that say shooting here can damage several pounds of meat – even if the shoulder isn’t the choicest part of the deer, wasting meat isn’t ideal.
There is a lot of debate about whether or not headshots are ethical when it comes to hunting deer. In general, it’s not recommended to go for the head, for several reasons. First, a deer’s brain is much smaller than that of a human – about the size of a balled-up fist. Striking the brain with accuracy, even from a short distance, is tough even for the best hunters. If you hit the animal incorrectly, you can disable but not kill it, prolonging its suffering and losing the kill.Buy a BANISH 30
The right shot placed in the neck, ideally higher-up, squarely under the jaw, can be an effective and quick way to kill a deer, but like the head, the target is very small. Depending on which species of deer you’re hunting, it may be just a few inches around at most. If you’re aiming for the neck, make sure the animal is standing still, and that you have complete trust in your rifle accuracy. This may require some extra practice and preparation at the range.
Rifle vs. Bow: Does Shot Placement Differ?
If you’re new to hunting deer, we advise you start with a gun and move your way up to bow hunting. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, shooting a gun and striking an animal is much easier than with a bow and arrow, and early success is important to maintain interest. More forgiving in that you can be louder and less camouflaged, guns are quicker to fire while requiring less nuanced skill to successfully strike a target.
How to Improve Your Odds of Making a Good Shot
To ensure you pull in at least one kill this season, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can improve your odds at making a good shot.
Learn to Protect Your Scent
Deer have an incredibly strong sense of smell, stronger even than dogs, and certainly much stronger than humans. As such, they tend to avoid areas where they can smell danger, AKA, hunters. In order to reduce your scent footprint, check out scent-reducing clothing, sprays and soaps, as well as homemade remedies.
Optimal Tree Stand Placement
You shouldn’t choose just any old tree to set up your stand. You will want to find a spot that is within shooting range of any deer passing on the upwind side so they are less likely to pick up your scent, and you have a good vantage point. Right-handed shooters will want to set up so they’re shooting paths are off the left shoulder, to limit the need for pivoting and extra movement.
Place your stand with your back against a river, steep bluff, ravine or other type of obstacle to help structure animal movement and decrease fleeing paths. Make sure to find a tree that provides a proper level of natural camouflage so the deer can’t make out your silhouette. You can even nail or tie up some extra limbs for more coverage.
Understand Deer Behavior and Patterns
Deer are constantly on the lookout for food and water. If you understand what sources of food the local deer consume, as well as where water sources are located, you can start honing in on ideal areas to hunt. In addition, find areas where deer set up dens to help uncover local populations and how they migrate from one area to the next. These places are where deer are at their most vulnerable to kill.
Learn The Art of Scouting
Part of understanding deer behavior comes from proper scouting. While it takes time and effort, it’s an essential part of a successful hunt. Try to pinpoint key spots, like buck and doe bedding, ambush areas, barrier crossings and local wind characteristics. Generally, you should spend about twice the amount of time scouting as you should hunting. All that preparation should pay off.
Hunt Safely, Hunt Ethically
Whenever you’re dealing with firearms, ensure you’re taking every step possible to protect yourself and others – that includes your hearing. With a rifle suppressor, you produce a quieter shot, while reducing recoil for more accuracy. More accurate shots mean a higher kill rate for you this deer hunting season.
If you’re searching for the best firearm suppressors on the market, take a look at the wide array of products offered by Silencer Central. We have simplified the process involved in obtaining Class III firearm suppressors, allowing you to spend less time waiting around and more time shooting. Learn more about our silencer products.Buy A BANISH Suppressor