View Full Version : Aimpoint for vitals on whitetails - different for bow vs. gun?

November 18, 2004, 02:54 PM
OK, with my bow I aim just behind the shoulder, so that my arrow can hit vitals without being stopped by the shoulder blade. But for hunting with a rifle on smallish whitetails, should I aim in that same spot, in order to decrease chance of hitting bone, or since it's a rifle, simply aim directly at the shoulder on a broadside shot, given that the round will punch through just fine? IOW, which is going to hit the lungs/heart better or more likely? I'll be using Federal Ammo, 130 gr, .270 win. Quartering away shot is a cinch. Quartering toward, I'll aim at the shoulder. But broadside, should I aim at the shoulder or just behind? Thanks. Rifle season starts day after tomorrow here. :)

Roman Knoll
November 18, 2004, 06:30 PM
I avoid neck shots because margins are too small. Same goes for low heart shots. A broadside shot that penetrates both shoulders is the surest thing to put a game down quickly. The lungs (and probably arteries) will be destroyed and game seldom runs far with both broken shoulders.

Shots from oblique angles pose difficulty depending on how sharp is the angle. From rear I align crosshair on off front leg. Good penetrating bullet is needed because in some angles it has to go through the stomach. It is easier from the right side because you may hit liver, which is always fatal. From the front it means shooting at the point of the shoulder, where the bone is most massive. Again the bullet must be up to this. When the angle is really sharp – the animal is actually facing you – then all you can do is to “cut the throat” by shooting at the base of the neck. Maybe tricky some time.


November 18, 2004, 07:16 PM
I like to avoid the shoulders if at all possible, as I normally grind up the shoulder meat to hamburger and dislike the wastage that a shoulder hits make.

For face on angle shots I will aim for the hollow of the neck, what would be the collar bone triangle if deers had collar bones, trying to figure the angle so it misses the shoulder and exits so as to not get into the guts. High up, just beneath the spine there are a lot of very delicate blood vessels, then in the middle are the lung roots and at the bottom, the heart.

(My deer this year was a really big doe, biggest fattest one I've ever seen, hit in this hollow with a 240 grain .44 sabotted in a .50 cal rifle, which basically drilled the center of her left lung and exited just behind the ribs. She ran, or rather flopped, about 30 feet and you wouldn't believe the blood trail. It looked like somebody had splashed red paint with a big brush. Basically a lung hit with a big bullet cleans out the carcass so the meat stays clean.)

Rear quarter shots I try to avoid, as there isn't a specific aim point except as Roman says, the off front leg. In that case I'd aim in front of that marker so as to try to drill the center of the lungs. Only rear quarter shot I ever made was a few years ago. I flinched and it went a few inches low and severed the heart from its blood vessels.

Side shots I try to hit just behind the shoulder except when I'm using a .243. Then I try for the base of the neck, just in front of the shoulder, centered from top to bottom. The .243 doesn't tear up as much meat, but even so if you hit the shoulder there will be a few inches that will be too bruised to save. Roman is right about having an adequate bullet. I'm of the big-bullet-going-slow philosophy despite my love for the .243.

Roman Knoll
November 18, 2004, 09:30 PM
I agree with MeekAndMild that shoulder shot waste lot of meat. I would aim behind the shoulder whenever I can make deliberate shot at animal that stands still.

Quite often though, I have to shoot at game on the move through rather dense forest. In such circumstances, I have to decide whether to snap shot it in some opening or pass. When there is not much time for deliberate aiming, shoulder shot is the way to go, because it provides good reference and maximal possible error margin. In this scenario, it is difficult to register the hit. The game usually disappears before you recover from recoil. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Incidentally, some poachers I know, shoot behind the shoulder when animal is in the open. They call it shot at “delayed chamber” and calculate coldly that the game hit there will manage to run back to the forest where it will be easier to take care of.