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The vital areas of the Whitetail deer include the brain, spinal column, jugular vein (which runs through the neck), lungs, heart and the liver. A deer hit in any one of these areas will not travel far. However, the heart lung area offers the largest target and should be your preferred shot. The ideal shot would be one where the deer is standing in the open and in a broadside position under 30 yards away. In the woods a deer rarely presents this type of shot, they are partially screened by brush and vegetation, moving or at a less than ideal range for a clean kill. Regardless of the circumstances the best bet is to aim for the heart-lung area. See the chart below for some possible shots that may be presented:
Walking Away (steep angle):About 45 percent of the heart-lung area is exposed. The tendency is to shoot too far forward: aim along an imaginary line exiting between the deer's front legs
Quartering Toward (steep angle):About 55 percent of the heart-lung area is exposed, but is protected by the shoulder bone. The deer would probably see you move to prepare for the shot.
Away (steep angle):About 55 percent of the heart-lung area is exposed. Aim along an imaginary line exiting low on the far shoulder. In this position the deer is not likely to see your movement.
Broadside (ground shot):With 100 percent of the heart-lung area exposed, you have a target roughly the size of an 8 inch paper plate with room for error. By far the best shot to hope for.
Toward (ground shot):About 65 percent of the heart-lung area is exposed. Aim for the near shoulder. Don't try this shot with a bow; you'll hit the shoulder bone.
Quartering Away (ground shot):About 60 percent of the heart-lung area is exposed. Aim along an imaginary line through the deer's far shoulder.
On (ground shot):Only 35 percent of the heart-lung area is exposed, this shot is too risky for archers. Gun hunters should also avoid this shot. You risk the bullet deflecting off the shoulder bone and only wounding the deer. Wait for a better shot!
Know your target! Shoot only after you have verified that it is a deer!
Don't Shoot at Sound or Movement. Verify Your Target!
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