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Location: Utah
Joined: 03/03/2005
Posts: 383
Deer's Reaction to Being Shot & Where to Shoot

Whenever a bullet strikes your intended target (like deer or elk), if carefully observed, you can often tell you if you hit your mark or not. Note: These reactions are general in nature and all animals do not act the same (i.e. depending if they're calm, on alert, just breathed in, or the cycle of the heart pumping blood).


Organ Structure

Heart or Lung Shot
Upon being hit in the heart or lung area, most deer will usually jump or bound forward - kicking out forcefully with their hind legs. This shot produces a bright red frothy blood trail with pink or white flecks of lung tissue in it. Blood from the mouth is an obvious indication of a shot to the lungs.

Liver Shot
Reactions include running a short distance with its head high or well forward before dying within 100 yards. Blood trails tends to be very dark red / thick and glutinous. No animal can survive a (too far behind & high) shot to the liver, whether or not the hunter finds it.

Stomach or Gut Shot
Gut-shot deer usually hunch-up and stagger away into nearby cover with their head held low. This poor shot (that is too far behind the vital zone) usually produces a lot of green-like splashes of rumen from the stomach - content that sometimes has pines, acorns, or hair, but with very little blood.

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Location: Utah
Joined: 03/03/2005
Posts: 383
Where to Shoot Big Game

Where to Place the Crosshairs:

Rifle

1. Lung Shot: Follow the rear portion of the front leg about 30% up the animal's body to hit the middle of the lungs. This large area will likely yield a moderate to high lung shot, which enables the lower lungs to fillup with blood and the drowning of the animal in short order (not immediately).


Outward Appearance

2. Heart & Lung Shot: Some precision shooters prefer to hold as close to the shoulder as possible (1:00 position) for both a heart and double lung shot - aiming 1" above and 1" behind the front leg - taking out the top of the heart and the lower lungs. Note: Big Game animals have hearts that sit low in the body cavity and are 1/2 way shielded by the shoulder joint.


Circulatory System - Heart & Lungs

3. Base of Neck / Spine Area: Follow the forward portion of the front leg about 2/3'rds up the animal's body to where the neck meets the spine. There are a lot of major support bones in this area that when broken, will anchor the animal very quickly. While this is a decent sized kill zone for the more experienced hunter, it's not as large as the lung area.


Bone Structure

Bow & Arrow
For a lung shot, follow the rear portion of the front leg about 40% up the animal's body. Aiming near the broad center of the body allows for a greater margin of error, which might be needed depending on your skill. This large area will likely yield a high lung shot, which enables the lower lungs to fillup with blood and the drowning of the animal in short order (not immediately).

See also: Elk Anatomy Overview.

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