Shot Placement by Randy Rowley


I have been hunting deer and other medium sized game, on and off, since I was sixteen years old. During the last 25 years I have taken nine bucks, five does, two Javelina, two hogs, and 1 1/3 Mouflon Sheep (19 1/3 animals, all but two taken after becoming a B&P/FCS member). Another doe, heart/lung shot ran straight into the Lampasas River. Nine of the killed animals were taken by heart/lung shots, seven were taken by neck shots, two were gut shot, and two were back shot.

I have read extensively about shot placement and the consensus of the myriad of authors is that an animal that is shot in the neck will either collapse with a broken neck or quickly bleed to death from a severed jugular, or the bullet will miss (an all or nothing shot). An animal that is shot in the lungs, heart or liver may run 100 yards or more before dying, but if the hunter misses to one side the animal will probably die from a stomach wound and if he misses to the other side it will probably die from a neck wound. If he is too high he will break the animals back.

My neck preference changed on the second to last day of hunting in 1989. I was hunting Larry Dowden’s stand at the B & P #2 lease near Blanco. At dusk a small doe came to his feeder 70 yards away. Feeling that nothing bigger would come out so close to the end of legal hunting hours, I lined by crosshairs on her neck and gently squeezed the trigger. Although it looked to me that she had dropped on the spot, a prolonged search by the B & P club members present found nothing. This caused me to grudgingly admit that I had probably missed my first deer.

A month before I missed neck shooting the first turkey that I had ever seen. Since that time, I missed another doe attempting a neck shot. These failures caused me to do two things: trade in for a better scope and switch shot placement.

Since switching to the heart/lung shot I haven’t missed an animal. My advice: buy a good rifle and scope and shoot it at least annually at a range, learn how to hit your target from standing, kneeling and sitting, and shoot for the heart/lung for deer. It’s the best shot to ensure a kill.

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