View Full Version : Neck or heart/lung shot?

December 28, 2000, 05:40 PM
An old topic, but let's rehash it. When you have a choice on whitetail, which shot do you prefer, neck or heart/lung?

Myself, I've been successful with both (unsuccessful a few times too). In my younger days, I leaned toward the neck shot, but now seem to use the heart/lung more often. My experience has been that the neck shot tends to drop the deer quicker, which is good if it is going to be hard to track. However, it's a shame to ruin that neck roast - I'd rather waste the shoulders.

What do you think?

December 28, 2000, 10:03 PM
Hmmm. Yes, it is a shame to waste a neck roast, but you don't need to waste the shoulders!!! In a broadside shot the lungs stick out a good 1/2-1/3 past the front shoulder into the ribs, giving you a very clean shot that wastes no meat. I read all the time in North American Hunter "My cross hairs settled on the shoulder, and I touched it off....."!?!?!?! What?!?!?! Yes the animal will drop like a rock, and probably not get up, but come on, you waste like 20lbs of meat!! Not only are those roasts shock-treated by the bullet ripping through at a billion FPS, but now you have blood ruined meat, and bone fragments through-out!!. No, you can't always make a *perfect* shot, and sometimes you *skim* the shouler a little, but aiming for it is absurd!! Maybe, Maybe, teach a kid to shoot there. They may not be a great shot, and that is a large target that will drop the deer quick, but an experienced shooter should aim to ruin less.

Nevada Fitch
December 28, 2000, 10:45 PM
I think it depends on the siduation. Sometimes I want to drop a deer right on the spot. The Neck or shoulder does this most of the time. I have shot many deer in the lungs.However They are fully capable of running a ways with this shot. sometimes this in not a problem, However sometimes it is. Usually though I just aim at the shoulder or lung area either one, just depends on how the deer is standing or if the animal is moving I am happy to hit it anywhere in the shoulder lung area. If I do that I got a dead deer.Sometimes you loose some meat sometimes you don't.Works for me.

Hot Core
December 29, 2000, 11:03 AM
Hey dongun, I also prefer the shoulder shots. In fact, I really like to get one shoulder as the bullet goes in and the other one on the way out. I certainly encourage it to all beginning hunters. We even go so far as to show them "acceptable" shots on full size decoys prior to them going afield.

Next best shot is "low" directly behind the near shoulder so the bullet angles through the off-side shoulder.

This is due to the terrain where I primarily hunt. The Southeastern USA Swamps, brier/vine choked Pine/Hardwood forests, and crop fields of corn, cotton and beans can completely envelop a Deer. If a Deer runs into a 4 1/2' tall bean or cotton field where you can not see your waist as you walk along a row, the only two ways to find a Deer there are to trip over them (voice of experience) or have a dog trail it out. With the double shoulder shots, they plow rather than run.

As a side note, please try not to "dance-on" the snakes while you are stomping around in this stuff. Tends to create uncontrollable fits of laughter from the adjacent stompers until they realize the pre-stomped snake may be headed their way. HA

Now, there are some situations where a neck (or spine) shot can be the only thing available. But, a lot of folks just don't realize that the spine is not in the center of the neck when viewed from the side. And they seem to forget just how much a Deer moves it's head resulting in poor shot placement. That lack of fundamental knowledge can result in many wasted manhours trying to locate a wounded Deer when the spine is missed.

I also agree with you that there is certainly a lot more meat to be wasted on the neck of a Buck than there is on and around the shoulder area. Or at least that is the way it is on the Whitetail Deer I've killed. On our Doe, there seems to be about the same amount of meat on the neck as on and around the shoulders.

So I don't seem completely at odds with BadMedicine, I also dislike having to toss out a lot of bloodshot meat. For what it is worth, I've found in 45 years of hunting that the proportion of bloodshot meat "increases" with "increased velocities and fragile bullet design".

In cleaning a whole lot of Deer over those years, it has been easy to notice that the light weight, high velocity, fragile bullets will "typically" create more bloodshot meat than the higher weight, lower velocity, non-fragile bullets. For example, a 140gr Nosler Ballistic Tip from a 7mmMag will "typically" create more bloodshot meat, than will a 160gr Speer Hot-Cor from the same rifle when the Deer is shot in the same spot.

Whatever method or firearm you choose, I wish you all the best with your hunting.

Good hunting and clean 1-shot kills, Hot Core

December 29, 2000, 12:32 PM

Since I have only been deer hunting 6 years I cannot be the voice of experience.

BUT is is a slow day at work so heres my $.02 worth...

My father-in-law generally puts the cross hairs in the center of the chest. His .35 rem has stopped a considerabe number of deer, and I have seen at least two dead deer that he hit while the deer were running.

Consider terrain, his shots are all Wisconsin forest, 125 yards is a very long shot. (mostly you cannot see farther than that) This also explains why .35 rem has been a very good choice for him. (it is his first, and so far, only centerfire rifle.)

This year I hit a deer at about 175 yards, I aimed for the center of the chest with my .30-06, and took the bottom of the heart out. (it looked like a 4 or 5 leaf clover)
That deer ran about 35 yards in the picked corn field before he stopped, dropped and rolled. (but didn't get up)

The next day a fawn stepped into the field I was in about 55 yards away from me(quartering to me). Put his head down, and I aimed for the offside front leg, in the center of mass. I hit the nearside shoulder socket, I KNOW this because when I cleaned the meat I had a ball on the leg bone, but fragments where the socket had been. I spent the better part of an hour picking bone fragments (carefully) out of the surrounding meat. The analysis I did as I was deboning (the fawn shoulder)looked like the bullet left a .308 hole thru the meat to the shoulder, then apparently a bomb went off, from the near shoulder to the +1" exit hole in the far ribs there was a lot of damage. (assumed thru lungs, but I verified at the site that the heart had a 2" split in the bottom) He fell RIGHT THERE and didn't get up. (THIS WAS 1 SHOULDER SHOT OUT, not both!)

I also shot a doe with my shotgun and slug. First shot was 115 yards at a standing broadside deer,(paced off after) MISSED. (Hmmm, wonder why?) The deer started running and I, not knowing if I had wounded it, made a second shot at about 80 yards which connected in the middle of her neck (and went right thru the windpipe etc.). She was running in a picked soybean field, I knew not to lead too much, but I had the front bead between her ears and neck as a lead to the chest... and the shot went thru the middle of her neck. Dramatic results. (can you follow a 3" blood trail in an open field if it is 36" wide?)

Given that I wanted a chest shot, I thanked the Lord for my nice fat doe. I don't think I would aim for the neck (especially with a shotgun with slugs) because it moves WAY too much.

For beginners,
I think standing broadside center of chest at a standing deer is what you wait for.

I think next, that standing chest shots, if not going to get "Perfect" broadside, should be aim for far side leg. (best chance to hit vitals.)

I also think telling a beginner to keep shooting until the deer stops moving is NOT recommended. (although some people with lots of experience actually do just that for some reason.)

Shoulder shots do stop a deer right there, but unless that is necessary, I wouldn't recommend that as preferred POA to a beginner. In the boiler room is what I would suggest.

as always YMMV, and IMHO.


Art Eatman
December 29, 2000, 05:20 PM
Where possible, neck shot. Otherwise, "chest", but trying not to ruin meat. Obviously this all depends on the deer's angle at you.

From the front, hitting the white spot is very satisfying to the soul. Breaks the spine, wastes little meat, less mess in the gutting out. Hard to do offhand, though. Not many people can hold that well, or have the eye-finger coordination. Center of chest is a one-time event, but bloody gutting out.

Side view, heart shot is excellent, and Ol' Bucky won't run very far, generally...

Practice, practice, practice.

:), Art