Bowhunting Shot Placement and Deer Shot Placement

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deer hunting

Crossing A River, Flowing or Frozen When Deer Hunting

Some deer hunting situations may find you in a position to make a decision whether of not to take a shot at your game while it is crossing a river. This is a shot to pass under all circumstances. First, a whitetail deer or mule deer crossing a river presents a moving target which as we mentioned earlier is not ideal for a good shot. Besides a moving target, the water itself poses a deflective barrier for you projectile. Second, a deer crossing a river poses both recovery and safety issues. Should your game be crossing a flowing river and expire while still in the river, it will be washed downstream with the river’s current. Recovering this animal will be difficult should you be lucky enough that it floats for a long period of time. Recovering a floating animal can be difficult and unsafe as many situations will leave you at a risk for falling into the river yourself and risk drowning and hypothermia. You can put your deer hunting buddies at risk as well, as they will try to help you. Should the animal sink, you will have lost it.

An animal crossing a frozen river can pose safety and recovery issues as well. Many also consider this deer shot unethical. Should an animal expire on the ice, your are immediately placed at risk as far as safety is concerned. It can be extremely difficult to determine the thickness of the ice to support your and the animal’s weight during recovery. Ice thickness can vary from feet to millimeters in as few as a couple of inches. Should you fall through the ice; the waters current underneath can pull you under and send you downstream, under the ice! You can guess the outcome of that unfortunate instance. Should you fall through and be lucky enough to get out, you are immediately at risk of severe hypothermia. Of course, there is the risk of slipping and breaking a bone or getting injured as well.

If you encounter the trophy buck of your dreams crossing a river, whether it be frozen or flowing, wait for the animal to reach solid ground on the other side and present an ethical, broadside or similar shot. But before you take that shot opportunity, be sure that it is ok that you hunt the other side of the river as rivers often represent the boundary between properties.

If you don’t have permission to hunt the other side, or you are unsure whether it is ok or not, pass on the shot and let the animal go on its way. The decision to shoot first and ask questions later can lead you to be subject to the consequences of the law.

If you are certain that you do have permission or that you are allowed to hunt the other side, you must also consider accessibility to the other side such as a nearby bridge or accessible boat. Make sure that you can recover your deer in a timely matter so the meat is not at risk of spoiling.

These are just a few examples of what you may encounter afield. It is reasonable to state that there are many other situations that you may face while in the field aside from the ones discussed here. Just remember to respect the animal, your safety, and others around you and the right decision will be easier to make when the moment of truth arises.

Conclusion on Whitetail Deer and Mule Deer Shot Placement

Every ethical bow and firearm deer hunter owes it to the animal he hunts to exercise good judgment and be knowledgeable of deer shot placement. There is simply no second guessing or chance shooting when it comes to placing an ethical shot. We owe it to the animal to dispatch it as quickly and humanely as we can and then utilize the animal once it is down. Take the time to mentally imagine different shot situations and shot angles so that when it comes time in that brief time frame to make the shot on that whitetail deer or mule deer of a lifetime or doe for the freezer you will know exactly when and where to place your shot. Remember, it is all about deer shot placement...because there’s no finer feeling than quickly recovering the animal you worked so hard to hunt.

What To Do When Shooting Or Harvesting A Whitetail Deer

One of the biggest reasons why many animals are not recovered after being shot is that all too often bowhunters take up the trail too soon, simply bumping the animal away never to be found again. What you do following the shot can make or break a successful recovery.

When mortality wounded 90% of whitetail deer and mule deer will bed within 250 yards of the shot. If an animal dies beyond this most likely some outside factor pushed the animal. Think about all of the animals you've taken, found or lost. You've probably found at least one if not mutliple beds within this distance.

A lot of deer hunters can testify that they have not lost an animal when they waited to make their recoveries at the right moment to trail the animal, rather than the initial deer shot placement.

Here is an example of an animal that a deer hunter made a poor shot on because he neglected to stop the animal and shot him on the move. At 25 yards the deer hunter placed his arrow too far back on the buck. As soon as he saw the arrow hit further back than he wanted, he knew immediately not to take up the track until at least 6 hours later. This deer hunter shot this animal at 7:30 am and got out of his tree stand at 11:00 and left the woods. At 3:30 he returned to the woods and found his buck not 50 yards inside a woods at the last point he saw him. Had he not waited, there is a very good chance that he wouldn't have found him due to the standing cornfields surrounding the woods he was bedded in.

In this particular case he also glassed the animal immediately following the shot to verify the hit. One important note to always make is that binoculars are invaluable for bowhunters not only to glass an animal post shot, but to watch for his movement once he moves off. Quite often deer hunters get caught up in the heat of the moment and become unsure of their arrow's point of impact. A good set of binoculars and some quick thinking can help you verify your deer shot placement and help you formulate the proper game plan for recovering your animal.

The following is a list of several tips that one deer hunter feels are invaluable for bowhunters to use when deciding what to do both before and after the shot. In the past, many deer hunters have helped to tweak and add their own priceless tidbits of information as well... Hopefully one of the tips here or posted herein will you in a speedy recovery this deer hunting season.

  • Use bright fletch. You need to be able to see your arrow in flight, in the animal, and on the ground afterward. Dark arrows don't do you any good if you can' t see them. If bright fletchings aren't enough, try using lighted arrow nocks for better visibility in low light conditions.
  • Binoculars - use them post shot! They may be the most important tool you have after the shot.
  • Watch the animal after the shot. Quite often an animal's body movement will help indicate to you what type of shot you got. An animal that jumps straight in the air and bounds off out of sight is most likely mortally wounded and will not travel far. However, if the animal hunches up and walks off or moves off slowly there is a good chance the hit was too far back and you need to wait at least 6 hours before taking up the trail. "I hit him, now what?"
deer recovery

Surefire Steps Towards Safe Deer Recovery:

1. Unless you witness a double lung pass through, some deer hunters firmly believe to let an animal go for a couple hours rather than the common misconseption of half hour wait. Too many times a half hour isn't enough. The only deer shots that put an animal down quickly are double lung hits and heart shots. If you don't see your animal fall within site, your best bet is to wait it out.

2. If you are not 100% sure of your hit, simply put.... wait!!! The animal isn't going to go anywhere, he's dead, why hurry? Sit back, collect your thoughts, replay the deer shot, the hit, and where the animal went. Also, this gives you a chance to listen and relax. If your arrow was a pass thru, get down and get the arrow and study it and wait. Mark the direction but don' t pursue, if you wait, he'll be there or he'll live another day.

3. If you think it' s a single lung hit because of angle, wait at least 4 hours. This includes deer shots that are just under the spine and because of the angle you might have caught the second lung but missed the first. Wait and let him expire. Many people belive in "the void" which they claim is an area between a deer's lungs and spine where no vital organs reside. This is a myth - if you place an arrow under the spine, you will catch at least one lung.

4. If you think you caught the liver wait and the animal will bleed out. Wait at least 4 hours to take up the trail - the animal will not go anywhere if given the chance to expire. Jump him and he may go forever.

5. If you catch the guts only, you're in for at least a 6 hour minimum wait with 8 hours being more preferrable and overnight being the best case scenario. In case of rain or snow you should get down, find your arrow, find the blood trail, and wait for the next morning. If you know your property, you' ll find him close.

6. Coyotes can and will give the location of your animal, if your worried about them, get down, listen for the them and move on them if you know they are on your animal. If they are there, your animal won' t be so move on the coyotes and they may lead you to the animal.

7. Whether your deer shot hits lungs, liver,or guts the key to a successful deer recovery is to wait. The animal is going to die just wait him out and your blood trail should be adequate a couple hours later.

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