How to shoot Deer

Posted on 20 November 2010 by Marc Marsman in Deer, Hunting Techniques | Reageer als eerste »

Despite their relatively small stature, deer are tough game animals. Anything less than a fatal shot can mean a lost animal, and even when hit properly, dear are notoriously difficult to locate if they run off before dying. Avoid brain and spine shots, seeking instead the centre lung shot. From broadside, follow the back line of the front leg up to the centre of the chest. Drop down just a smidgen and you’ve got the perfect shot. If your deer is at an angle, visualize where the lungs lay and shoot for the centre of this mass. From above, as when treestand hunting, a spot just behind the shoulders, in the centre of the body, will ensure you hit either the spine, lungs or heart-any of which will result in a one-shot kill.

WOUNDED and lost big game animals are part of the somber side of hunting. None of us is comfortable with the subject, but if you have any measurable hunting experience, you’ve undoubtedly seen examples.

As hunters, our most important priority is to do everything possible to ensure a clean, quick, humane kill-it’s our moral obligation every time we head afield. Here are some important considerations in making that happen.

BULLET PLACEMENT
Much has been written and discussed about selecting the best rifle, cartridge, bullet and optics for hunting specific species under various conditions. Most of this advice is sage indeed, helping hunters learn about and understand the limitations of their equipment. But when it comes to a quick kill, the single most important factor is bullet placement. A .243 in the heart or lungs of even the largest big-game animal, for example, is more certain to result in its demise than a .500 Nitro Express in its leg. Just think of hunting legend Karamojo Bell. It was his fanaticism over bullet placement coupled with an understanding of his quarry’s anatomy-that allowed him to tale down so many elephants with his meager .275 Rigby, a cartridge equivalent to today’s 7×5 7.

MARKSMANSHIP
The first step in ensuring accurate bullet placement comes with the decision to squeeze the trigger. Before you hit the switch, you must have an extremely high expectation of putting the bullet right where you want it, and that means understanding your own limitations as a marksman. I’ve never been much impressed by tales of 450-yard kill shots on deer or other game. While such shots are possible, not many hunters can make them with any consistency. With few exceptions, I shudder when I hear hunters talking about their long shots-much like a gambling addict bragging about his one win, for each tale of success there are likely tenfold as many unspoken failures

No, I’m far more impressed by the hunter who tells me he snuck in to within 75 yards of a herd of elk, or never shoots at running game or at any animal beyond 150 yards. This is the hunter I admire, for he clearly understands that undisturbed game and cool-handed marksmanship should be the rule, not the exception. This is the hunter who believes that 20 bullets can equal 20 deer, and he’ll wait to shoot only when he’s extremely confident of accurately placing a bullet.

HEART SHOTS

The heart shot gets a lot of attention, though I suspect most hunters don’t actually realize just how low in the chest the heart lies in big game. While no doubt fatally damaged if hit, the heart offers a small target, and is often covered by the upper leg. There’s little room for error: too far forward and you’ve got a non-fatal brisket shot; too low and you’ve hit muscle or broken a leg, with no expectation of quickly recovering the animal. And if your bullet strikes too far back, you’ve got a gutshot animal. The only practical room for error is if you shoot high and take out the lungs. While many believe the heart shot is almost instantly fatal, most experienced hunters will tell you that a heart-shot animal typically travels farther before collapsing than one that has been lung-shot.

LUNG SHOTS
I believe the lung shot is the appropriate shot for 90 per cent of the big-game hunting situations. First and foremost, a bullet through the lungs results in an almost certain one-shot kill. In most cases, the animal won’t drop on the spot, but seldom will it travel more than 100 yards or so before falling over; the damage a modern bullet does to the lungs is that devastating.

The lungs also offer a relatively large target, bigger than any other assuredly fatal zone on a game animal. This allows for a fair margin of error. Shoot low, and you’ll take out the heart; a bit high and you’ll sever the spinal column. Too far forward and you have a debilitating shoulder shot. Only when you shoot too far back do you have a problem-animals shot in the paunch typically suffer lingering deaths, and if you do happen to recover one, you’ve got a heckuva mess on your hands when it comes to field-dressing it. If you shoot just a little too far back, however, you may get lucky and strike the liver. Animals hit in this vital organ tend not to go too far before lying down.

The lungs on a game animal generally cover about two-thirds of its chest area when viewed broadside, more or less in the centre and a little toward the bottom. A professional hunter in Africa once told me he thought North American hunters tended to shoot dead centre in the chest of an animal; he believed the more effective shot was to the top of the lower third of the chest. He may well have been right, but 1 still maintain that allowing as much room for error as possible is the wisest thing most of us can do. As such, when my quarry is broadside, I generally aim for the centre of the chest, just behind the shoulder. Often, an animal will not react immediately to a lung shot, causing some hunters to think they’ve missed when they’ve actually made an excellent shot. I remember one moose I shot three times in the span of about 10 seconds. It didn’t take two steps during that time, and I couldn’t understand how I could be missing such a big target. The animal dropped soon after the third shot, however, and when I skinned it out, a salad plate would have covered all three holes in its chest and lungs.