The Kill Shot
The first priority before deciding on the kill shot is to know when to fire and when not to fire.
The Golden Rule of hunting is that hunters should identify their target to ensure it is what they are hunting for and what is beyond the target to ensure the safety of other hunters as well as other game and property. A bullet, as well as an arrow, can have a devastating effect well after passing through or missing your intended target. Always consider this before taking any shot.
It can be very tough to make a good shot decision when your adrenaline levels are going through the roof and the window of shooting opportunity may be very brief.
Knowing where the vital organs of the animal are, and the capability of your firearm, point of aim, distance and accuracy should all be part of your hunting knowledge when you pull the trigger.
There is some debate about where the right shot placement is because that depends on the position and distance of the animal, the weapon you are using [bow or rifle], size of your rifle, your experience, confidence and accuracy etc.
The most popular view is the heart shot, however a lot of hunters favour an area just above the heart. This is the epicenter of the circulatory system, surrounded by the lungs and containing several major blood vessels. A bullet or broadhead cutting through this hand-size area causes blood pressure to drop so rapidly that a deer either drops or collapses in midstride after a few seconds.
A lot of hunters assume any shot in the ribs will hit the heart, however a bullet placed more than a hand’s width behind the shoulder only punctures lungs. The farther from the heart, the less “air pressure” there is in the lungs, because the air passages and the blood vessels are quite tiny. A deer can survive a lung shot placed too far back, especially just under the spine so you need to aim precisely.
With broadside shots, most hunters don’t aim “behind the shoulder” but on a line drawn directly up from the back of the front leg, between one-third and one-half of the way up the body.
The bullet should enter the ribs inside the angle formed by the shoulder blade and the upper leg bone. It should also hit the center of the biggest part of both lungs and cut the large blood vessels at the top of the heart. How quickly the deer goes down depends on the amount of tissue cut or torn, but deer rarely run more than 100 yards after such a shot, even from a broadhead. With a quick-expanding deer bullet, they almost always collapse within 25 to 50 yards.
Other areas like the spine, brain and neck can produce instant kills however require extremely good accuracy and knowledge of where these areas are. A couple of inches is all it takes for a complete miss or an injury that won’t kill the animal, so these areas are best avoided.
So the answer about the best kill shot depends on your weapon, position and distance of the animal, your accuracy and confidence with shot placement, and a basic understanding of the animals anatomy.
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