View Full Version : Shoulder Shots?????????????

August 15, 2001, 04:29 PM
I have been hunting for many years and have killed more than my share of deer with modern rifle cartridges. I have grown weary of the long range sniping of deer. I have ALWAYS shot at the heart lung area. I have sold my long range firearms and have purchased a 45 Long Colt Marlin 1894 rifle. I intend to hunt from tree stands in heavy timber areas and I have purchased 45 Colt Magnum+P ammo from Corbon which equals or exceeds 44 magnum ballistics. I am considering shooting at the actual shoulder in hope of breaking the shoulder and anchoring the deer on the spot. Is this a reasonable expectation or is a shoulder shot anchoring them a "old wives tale". I truly have never shot a shoulder before and am seeking experienced opinions!! Thanks:confused:

August 15, 2001, 05:47 PM
It is not true. I shatered both shoulders of a doe two years ago with a 7-08 NBT. It sort of ran away. More like hobbled very quickly. When I got to it, both shoulders were basicaly disintegrated, but it had run about 300 yds. It may work sometimes, but not always.

August 15, 2001, 07:08 PM
Last year, I saw a nice buck shot with a .35 Remington, at about 50 yards. The bullet went in around the shoulder, and out through the ribs.

The deer jumped up and ran when we walked up, over 20 minutes later. (Yes, we did get it, but I ended up putting a .40 under his jaw.)
Several days later, I took a little buck at about 40 yards with my .45-70. The HP went through both shoulders, and the deer dropped in his tracks.

Many good hunters aim for the shoulder. I believe this should only be done with rounds that have some penetrating power.

August 15, 2001, 09:26 PM
A high shoulder shot will usually get the spine, naturally this is an anchoring shot. Any shot that does not hit the spine MAY not anchor that deer. HOWEVER a heart/lung shot will usually keep them within 50-70 yards. Placement is much more important than caliber. I have anchored some with a 44 magnum shooting 200 Grain JHP's, and have had some move up to 100 yards after being hit in the almost exact spot with a 7MM Rem Mag and awarm loaded 150 grain NP. Place that 45 Colt in the right spot and save me some backstrap!

August 16, 2001, 03:24 PM
Ive have seen deer run for over 600 yards after being hit in the front shoulders. There is NO replacement for a well placed heart/ lung or head shot. I found a doe that was shoulder shot as well as having both rear legs pierced and her guts hanging out and she was still walking when I shot her in the head out of pity. I later learned at a local diner that she was first shot nearly a mile from where I finished her. Please remember shot placement.

August 16, 2001, 09:18 PM
I certainly agree about good shot placement, but how does an animal run without legs? If one destroys the sockets on both sides, there is no way for the animal to move. This is why even some African big game pro's aim for the shoulders (depending on angle, of course; this is a broadside-only shot for me).

August 17, 2001, 06:56 AM
Don’t know how they do it but I’ve seen deer run with both front legs broken. It was a small buck and my brother shot it broadside with the bullet shattering the bones in both legs and just clipping the bottom of the chest. When we caught up to it, he got up, ran a short way and lay down again, where we finished him. It had to be tough to run, he was even leaving small chunks of bone on the trail.
I think a shoulder shot would be a little easier to run with since there is no real socket, just a muscle connection.

August 17, 2001, 07:12 AM
Try a head shot-haven't had one take more than a step in 10 years. Last shoulder shot was with a 308/150 grain NBT. Couldn't believe it-hit bone at apparently the right angle, and bounced out with a superficial wound.

August 17, 2001, 06:06 PM
Deer don't have "sockets" on their front shoulders. In fact when cutting up the carcass for meat. just a slip of the knife removes them. There is no bone to bone connection of the front shoulder.

August 17, 2001, 09:07 PM
I think head shots are not within good sporting parameters......otherwise they would teach it in the Hunter Education courses. It is a shot for gamblers or those who become overly confident in their ability with a rifle.
As to breaking shoulders, I also do not think it is a wise shot selection..........as too many animals escape to die slowly.
Shoot for the boiler-room and don't chance it.

Just my $0.03

August 17, 2001, 11:54 PM
I stand corrected on the socket: both times. :rolleyes:

Since my results are good, and some I respect use it, I will continue to do so. Do what works for you.

Art Eatman
August 18, 2001, 12:07 AM
I can't recall ever going for a shoulder/high-leg shot. Most of my deer kills have been with .270, .243 and '06. The majority of all hits were either heart/lung area, or neck shots. One or two head shots, since that was all that was visible. One running buck, I didn't lead quite enough and broke his back just behind the shoulders, instead of breaking his neck.

A fair number of the heart/lung shots had the deer go down, and then get up and run maybe 40-50 yards and go down for good.

All the others hit the ground, DRT.

:), Art

August 18, 2001, 10:34 AM
to say head shots are not within sporting parameters because hunter courses don't teach it is just a tad bit goofy......think about it for a moment. They don't teach it because the average hunter ,(not all), cannot hit a four inch circle with a rifle or shotgun while in the field under hunting conditions, ie. excitement, lack of proper rest etc...my grandaddy taught me to shoot and hunt and we both felt that a deer without a brain will go NO place. I don't always aim for the head, but will if the conditions allow it. When I can't put one in the head I'll go for the heart/lung area and I'll NEVER shoot at a running deer under any condition and will not hunt with anyone that does !! Ten years ago I was hunting with a friend that fired a 12 ga at a running buck. He did kill the deer but his slug went thru the animal and lodged in a barn 65 yards away. When asked , he said he did not look beyond the deer at the time he fired, only at the time he first saw the buck. My point is ...if you are following a deer that is running you will not be looking beyond that deer to see what is in line with your shot.....very dangerous !!!!

August 18, 2001, 11:03 AM
Many many times a running shot is all that is avaliable. The trick here is to post your standers in certain locations and KNOW before the chance for the shot occurs what is safe and what is not safe. There may be locations that are not safe to fire in weather a deer is running or not. Over 50% of our season here is dog season and believe me those deer are moving.............usually not flat out like most folks think but they are moving.

August 18, 2001, 12:21 PM
hunting deer with dogs ????

Art Eatman
August 18, 2001, 12:45 PM
biganimal, hunting deer with dogs is an old southern tradition, for a couple of hundred years. Archibald Rutledge and Robert Ruark have written of it, among others. It's a forest/swamp deal, not appropriate for open country.

As far as running shots, "terrain is all". Lots of places it's not suitable; in some it's not even possible. But where I hunt, if you can't hit a running deer you might as well stay home. To find Bambi, ya gotta walk a fair number of miles. If and when you find him, he's likely to be in high gear and full throttle, somewhere between 50 and 500 yards.

That's why I keep hollering about forgetting about benchrests after you're done testing ammo and sighting in. Thereafter, the only purpose of a benchrest is to turn money into noise.

Practice offhand shooting and shooting from awkward rests, as one finds out in the boonies. It's not that hard to make a running deer target, about 1/4 scale and at 50 yards or so to ease the walking back and forth to reset.


"Just 'cause I ain't heard of it, don't mean it ain't ordinary."

August 18, 2001, 01:53 PM
Some of us don't hunt in places with habitations within 65 yards- or even much farther, for that matter.

I will admit I've never fired on a running deer, partially because (in the past) I didn't feel my skill level was up to it...though I've been known to roll a running rabbit. :rolleyes:

biganimal, I'm very interested in your story, as that is indeed exceptional performance from a slug. What brand slug was it, and where did it hit the deer?

Art Eatman
August 18, 2001, 02:22 PM
The nearest habitation in my playground country is some five miles away from my main stomping grounds. 50,000 acres gives a fella a little bit of elbow room.

Conversely, the old family ranch over east is only 170 acres with neighbors around. Lotsa deer, but very careful shooting is absolutely mandatory!

:), Art

August 18, 2001, 02:42 PM
it was a federal sabot slug , the deer was about 20 yards from the shooter. the slug entered the right side ribcage just behind the front leg ,it exploded the heart and exited the chest area. it hit the barn roughly 19 inches above the ground....

hunting with dogs sounds very interesting and I'd like to try it. Here in upstate NY seldom is the shot longer than 50 yards. I sure don't believe I'd miss a running deer but I won't shoot here because the area I hunt is populated. I have shot the majority of my whitetails within 500 yards of my home. Also you cannot be sure of whom is behind the deer because too many people here hunt where they arn't supposed to. ie. on posted land without permission...I have stalked deer in the adirondak mountains where you can sometimes get a shot up to 300 yards. I have had to walk a good stretch bag one and then had to drag it out over the mountain......

August 18, 2001, 07:05 PM
biganimal, until you hear a pack of beagles or walkers (or blue-ticks, or black and tans, lol) howling and running something at you (or anywhere else for that matter) through the swamps or the Tunica hills, and hear the echos of those dogs, ona cold frosty foggy morning, you have missed a beautiful song.
Now to the nitty gritty...................the kill is FAR from ASSURED! In fact there are probably just as many if not more deer that hit the ground during still hunt only as during dog season. The kind of dogs depends on the terrain also. In the hills beagles seem to be better because you can catch them after they jump. In the swamps the other hounds seem better because they are bigger and can take shallow water and mud better than a beagle. Usually the ole buck slips off or rockets away and no one even sees him, after the dog jumps him. The dogs may then end up running a doe. Its some kind of feeling to hear dogs coming at you running a deer, the blood is pumping and it turns out to be a doe. Oh well next time.
Usually the dogs will jump a deer and it will light out at Mach one for a couple of hundred yards and slow, then stop, and listen and just move off slowly. I watched an old doe one day about 200 yards in front of the dogs slip down a creek bottom, stop look back and listen, then CIRCLE TWICE in a 20 yard radius, STOP and JUMP about 20 feet off to the side and then amble off. The dogs arrived a couple of minutes later, barking and hollering, noses to the ground, made the circle and headed back the way they came, cold trailing. Who says deer are not smart? She had probably used that trick dozens of times to outwit the dogs. I do not know how many states still allow dogging for deer, but Louisiana is one, and so is Mississippi. There is some terrain in both of these states that almost make it necessary to use dogs, if one hopes for any chance of success.

August 18, 2001, 08:16 PM
Using dogs to hunt deer in Kansas is illegal. You can't even use a dog to help locate wounded game. I think it is a silly regulation and should be changed. At least to allow using them to locate already wounded game.

I appreciate all the comments regarding shoulder shots. There appears to be considerable disagreement about shot placement. I know that a shot through the lungs is fatal but I have difficulty following blood spore as I am at least partially color blind. I can see red like on a car or traffic light but I can't pick out blood drops like others that I have hunted with. Once they show them to me, I can see them but I can not scan the ground and pick them up. That is why I am particularly interested in "anchoring shots".:p

August 19, 2001, 10:08 AM
stubby, I guess what everyone is trying to say is that unless a shot hits the spine or the brain there is no guarantee of the deer being anchored in its tracks. A low shoulder shot UNLESS it angles in and gets the heart/lungs is only a crippling shot. A high shoulder shot that gets the spine will anchor the deer but that shot has to hit the spine. A good shot with a bullet of goodly size (such as the 45 Colt that you mentioned) hitting the top of the heart/lower lungs (lots of large arterys) will kill in short order. I can understand about the color blindness but a shot in this area starts profuse bleeding and leaves a good blood trail weather the bullet exits or not. If it exits it will bleed from the exit hole and the mouth, if it does not exit there will be lots of blood pouring out of the mouth. So much that it looks like red jello on the ground. Most of the time the tracking is like following Interstate-10. Unless the area is very grown up you will probably not have to track as the deer will be within usually 70 yards of where you hit it. In open area you will proably not lose sight of it. Where we hunt it is very gorwn up except for pipeline right of ways or feed plots. A good heart/lung shot will usually not let them get out of the feed plot before they drop. Even in the swamp or weeds or briars most times even if they do run they still do not get out of sight. If it were me I would take the center chest shot (top of heart/lower lungs) and worry more about how sharp my knife is then how far that deer will go. A 250 grain 45 Colt at rifle velocities at a reasonable range WILL do the job with that center chest shot, plus leave good enough blood trail to follow even if you have trouble seeing the colors. Good hunting my friend. :)

Keith Rogan
August 19, 2001, 11:55 AM
>>>>Deer don't have "sockets" on their front shoulders. <<<<

!!!! Damned if that ain't the truth, and damned if that fact hasn't escaped me over the last twenty years of deer hunting!

I have occasionally used a shoulder shot and done so successfully, but in thinking about the anatomy I have to conclude I've just been lucky.
That's a pretty broad piece of bone and theres no way you're going to actually "break" it. I guess when a shoulder shot works, it does so by simply destroying a lot of tissue in the area.

Something to think about next time I'm tempted to take a shoulder shot.

August 19, 2001, 03:22 PM

What are you currently using? Will my Whelen work when I move up there (see PM)?

I was a hand grenade that never stopped exploding

Mark C. Kimmell
August 19, 2001, 04:31 PM
It boils down to bullet construction. If you use a JHP or JSP I would aim behind the shoulder. Know if I am using a hard cast bullet I would go for the shoulder and into the heart-lung area. The JHP and JSP are going to expand where is a hard cast and it's wide metplat nose greats a large wound channel without the bullet fragmenting and has an exist wound to let the animal bleed. I rather have two holes than one. That is my opinion as a handgun hunter's view point. Check out Beartooth Bullets and Cast Performance Bullets web site. Also sixgunners.com and John Taffin's web site. They have a few good articles on the 45LC in handgun and levergun. Hope this helps Mark:)

August 20, 2001, 04:50 PM
southla 1
I do know the song of a beagle or redbone/bloodhound mix and I do agree that it is the best damn sound in the world second only to the throaty rumble of my 69 GTX 's 426 Hemi.

here in Ny we use the dogs to run bunnies and coons, heck I never thought of running deer with em, cuz it's illigal here, but it do sound fun. some day I hope to try it I'm gonna talk to the wife and try to use a weeks vacation sometime to do it. Thanks for the idea,
man! ya gotta love this forum

August 20, 2001, 07:51 PM

If you want a short range hunt you should try handgun hunting.


Keith Rogan
August 21, 2001, 10:27 AM

Yes, I think your .35 Whelen will be an excellent all-around Alaska cartridge. I use a .350 Rem. Mag which is ballistically identical - a .35 Whelen stuffed into a short action.

Where in Alaska are you moving to?

August 21, 2001, 08:09 PM
Thinking Juneau, but open to input.

Keith Rogan
August 21, 2001, 10:11 PM
Juneau is nice, but crowded. You're on a limited road system with 30,000 other people. You need a boat to get out away from people, but of course that's the case in a lot of Alaska. I don't know what your trade is but Juneau is a good job market, as is Anchorage.
Juneau is on the ferry system so it's cost effective to put your rig aboard and go down the Inside Passage to some of the best hunting in Alaska. The northern islands have brown bears and the southern ones have black bears. They all have deer and goats.

August 21, 2001, 10:28 PM
I'm going to start a new thread. I'll appreciate any input you care to give.