View Full Version : Deer's Reaction to Being Shot and Where to Shoot

147 Grain
July 28, 2005, 08:16 PM
Whenever a bullet strikes your intended target - like deer - if carefully observed, (9 times out of 10) its reaction will tell you if you hit your mark or not.

Heart or Lung Shot
Upon being hit in the heart or lung area, most deer will usually jump or bound forward - kicking out with their hind legs. This shot produces a bright red frothy blood trail with pink or white flecks of lung tissue in it.

Liver Shot
No deer can survive a shot to the liver. Reactions include running a short distance with its head high or well forward before dying within 100 yards. Blood trails tends to be very dark red / thick and glutinous.

Stomach or Gut Shot
Gut-shot deer usually hunch-up and stagger away into nearby cover with their head held low. This poor shot usually produces a lot of green-like splashes of rumen from the stomach - content that sometimes has a lot of pines, acorns, or hair, but with very little blood.

147 Grain
July 28, 2005, 08:17 PM
Found the following links that hopefully will be helpful to everyone:

Deer / Elk Anatomy Overview: http://www.bowhunting.net/NAspecies/elk2.html

In looking at a deer or elk's circulatory system and bone structure, there appears to be two good spots to shoot for:


1. Heart and Lung area slightly behind the front leg / near the top of the shoulder.


2. Spine / Base of Neck Area. Following the forward portion of the front leg 1/2 to 2/3'rds up to where the neck meets the spine. There are a lot of major support bones in this area that when broken, should anchor the animal very quickly.

July 28, 2005, 08:37 PM
The boiler room and ventilation systems.........

I find it has worked very well. The structure or skeletal system are my secondary consideration.

July 28, 2005, 09:10 PM
Some personal observations:

The deer I've shot in the lungs left a relatively bright blood trail, but not for a few yards. It isn't always frothy. We usually find brown deer hair and sometimes pieces of bone and small chunks of lung tissue. A good lung shot will result in a dead deer within 30 yards. Very little blood will be found on a mid-to-high lung shot.

A heart shot deer will run for 80 yards and send lots of darker blood out. It will be like someone was pouring out of a paint can. It's almost impossible to lose a heart shot deer due to the amount of blood.

A muscle shot is hard because the deer can go a long ways and often little blood will be found. There may be pieces of flesh, bone, cartilage, and hair at the immediate area of impact. There will be some blood on tree trunks, brush, and saplings at the height of the wound and the deer may fall down or lay down and there will be round blood stains where it lays. After it lays down, then gets up and moves, it may stop bleeding and be difficult to track. This type of wound may not be fatal.

A shoulder-lung shot will result in immediate drop and quick death. The deer is usually dead before the hunter reaches it.

A neck shot deer with a good hit will usually drop immediately and die very quickly.

A deer shot in the hind quarters may go a long ways on three legs. It will usually die, within a day or so due to blood loss, but may not be found by the hunter.

Bottom line is that deer will often jump when hit and not show blood at the point of impact. You should make circles of increasing diameters until you find blood, or find that you missed before leaving the scene. Too many deer are left dead within 20 yards of the impact scene because hunters didn't look for them enough. Many hunters don't dare to step off a road or trail to find a deer.

We've found numous dead deer in the woods. Sometimes the hunter couldn't find a blood trail, but in more cases, it was apparent they didn't even take ten steps off the road or trail to check.


July 28, 2005, 10:01 PM
My personal observation:

Gut shots are bad. let the deer sit for a while, if possible. They will lie down, and usually die right there, if you aren't chasing them, making them move. We have lost a few deer that were gut shot because we pushed them, if you let them sit to the next morning, or at least a few hours, recoverability goes up.

July 28, 2005, 11:13 PM
Hi all,
Made that mistake on a 6 point last winter. My aim was way off for lack of practice. I then made the a bigger mistake based on a report of the buck's condition given to me by another hunter --i tracked him. With all the stuff blood and pieces of him I kept finding i honestly believed that animal was giong to just drop over...2 miles later trail went cold!
Been spending more time at the range this year. Won't be doing that again. However I have heard that if you aim between bottom of the front shoulder and top of the deer (basically aiming at lungs) you get a good kill whether you hit a little high or low, unless you pull to right or left. Can anyone confirm that?

July 28, 2005, 11:14 PM
I had a deer hit through the lung and stomach(quartering towards) that aspirated the bright frothy blood for a while then the trail stopped.
When I found her there was a large "cowpie" on her shoulder, she had been aspirating her stomach contents through the wound.
I always try for a heart/lung shot.
Every deer I've shot(except for a head shot and a spine shot with pistol) has taken off, all were less than 100 yards from where I shot them.
Most under 30.

July 28, 2005, 11:48 PM
I've just posted a brief discussion on shot placement on deer based on deer anatomy and the requirements for a rapid kill here (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=176992) in the Hunt forum. Same thing being discussed there at the moment :rolleyes: .