When Bowhunting, What Part Of The Deer Should You Shoot?

If you are a beginner bowhunter, this is a critical question to ask before you head out into the woods! I remember the first time I started practicing with my bow. It took some practice to figure out what part of the deer I should aim at and hope to hit.

I was immature and didn’t realize that hunters have an ethical code that they follow when bowhunting. If you want to snag your prize buck and let it die quickly, you need to know where to shoot deer with a bow for a clean, ethical kill

Where To Shoot A Deer With A Bow Position Is Everything

Before you take your shot, you need to look carefully at how the deer is positioned. There are a few famous positions that are recommended for bowhunters, and others that are never recommended.

In each of these positions, you want to focus on hitting the vital organs. These are primarily the heart and the lungs of the deer which are located in the chest cavity just behind the front legs.

When you hit the vital organs with your arrow, the deer will bleed out or suffocate faster and won’t be able to run as far after you hit it.

This type of shot is considered to be ethical as the suffering of the deer is limited. It also makes it easier to track the wounded game because they won’t be able to make it very far.

Let’s go through each of these deer positions and where you should aim for each one.

where to shoot a deer with a crossbow

Broadside Shot

The broadside shot is an ideal shot for most bowhunters. It is the most common shot that you will see in any bowhunting video because it’s the easiest shot to ensure you hit the vitals shown in green in the diagram

I, and the folks at Wasp Archery , highly recommend shooting when the deer is positioned entirely parallel to your view. If it isn’t, you may have to be patient and wait for a better opportunity.

Quartering-Away Shot

where to shoot a deer with a bow diagram

The other recommended position is the quartering-away shot. I think this is an easier shot myself, as I use a special trick to find my vital organs target.

You should take this shot when the deer is facing away from you at an angle which still allows a direct shot at the chest cavity. Don’t take this shot if the deer isn’t angled enough to allow you a clean shot.

Here’s my trick. If you line your shot up directly above the far side front leg of the deer, you’ll be able to strike through the ribs here and into the lungs.

When NOT to Shoot

I don’t advise any other shot. According to hunters on Hunting Net Forum, they agree with me on this.

You should avoid a quartering toward, head on, and rear-end shot at all costs. You won’t likely hit your vital organ target. Worse that that, you could ruin the best cuts of the meat if you plan to eat it, and it could result in a long, painful death for the deer.

If you find yourself with a deer that is positioned like this, you need to be patient, relax, and wait for it to change it’s position for a quartering away or broadside shot. Don’t be too excited or lose your cool - you may end up with a nasty and unethical kill.

Making Sure you Don’t Miss

Now that you know where to aim your shot, there are a few things you need to be cautious about before you release your arrow .(You should check best broadhead on the market)

First, if there’s any wind on the day you go hunting, you’ll need to remember that it will affect your shot. Stiff crosswinds can blow your arrow off your mark, and either miss the deer entire or hit it in a bad spot.

If the wind is gusting, you may need to wait before taking a chance on a weak shot. Remember, patience is a virtue - good things come to those who wait!

Lastly, you need to know about “jumping the string” or “ducking the arrow”  as it’s called. This term describes how a deer will suddenly tense its muscles during fight or flight mode when it hears the bowstring snap.

As soon as you release the arrow, the deer will briefly move downwards before jumping up in a startled manner. You may need to aim a little below the vital organ areas to ensure you hit the deer as its tenses its muscles and temporarily crouches close to the ground.

Putting it All Together

When you put it all together with a lot of practice, you should have a beautiful, clean shot! Check out these two excellent demonstrations in the videos below. These shots are exactly how you want to do it. 

These two videos sum up what part of the deer you need to shoot - one lands the arrow in a double lung shot, whereas the second archer hits a perfect heart shot.

In both of the videos, you can see the deer react to the twang of the bowstring, but the archer perfectly expected this and got a clean shot after all.

Viewer discretion is advised - must be ten years or older in most states.

Let me know what you guys think! Please leave a comment if you have a suggestion or question regarding how to make the best shot.

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