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Old January 10, 2013, 09:52 AM   #1
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what about neck shots?

I have always avoided neck shots on deer. Don't know why but I have been under the impression they might not drop the animal quickly or humaenly like a heart/lung shot.
My guns are a .45 cal. muzzle loader with patched round ball, similar in .54 and a 30-06.
I have never trailed a deer, they all fell where they stood or within 20 feet.
I still have hopes of bigger game like elk, moose, griz. How about that neck shot on them?
Voics of experience will be appreciated.
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Old January 10, 2013, 09:57 AM   #2
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When I only hunted rifle country in the Catskill Mountains in NY, I frequently took neck shots. I only did it on deer that were perfectly still. Whether facing me, or broadside, the neck shot was 100% lethal, and the deer dropped in its tracks.

That said, you HAVE to know what your gun is capable of doing. And, far more importantly, you have to know what YOU are capable of doing. The neck is a large target, but you still have to hit it and have the patience not to take a moving shot.

Just my opinion, but I'm a big proponent of neck shots.

As an aside, head shots? Never. Therein lies a huge chance for wounding, maiming game.
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Old January 10, 2013, 10:03 AM   #3
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There are plenty of places on that neck that aren't fatal. I've found one of them on a cow elk. That being said, it's better than a head shot in my opinion. If possible, double lung an animal, and they won't go far.
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Old January 10, 2013, 10:06 AM   #4
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I'll take headshots and neck shots all day long provided the circumstances are right. Never had one walk away from a neck shot and all headshots have been on the money but I shoot my rifle and load a bunch through the year/season and know exactly where it is going.

What surprises me is why people don't take the high shoulder shot more often. If you know the anatomy of the game, it is a much larger target than the heart and 95% of the time puts the game on the ground immediately. You hit the Scapula and blow it up, you take out the spine and motor movements, lung function and heartbeat plus you litter the lungs with a ton of bone shrapnel.
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Old January 10, 2013, 10:16 AM   #5
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I have never seen a heart lung shot drop an animal, at least not in relation to a neck shot.
I have shot many both ways and unless (and not often) I have the luxury of watching a deer for 5+ seconds after a heart lung shot expire rather than the normal small shooting window I usually have where I must unleash follow-up shots, I am always amazed in how far a deer can go before expiring.
The cow Elk I took this past season was a neck shot with a .54 patched RB and when the smoke cleared she was on the ground. My hunting partner was watching her and couldn't see me, so the cow hitting the ground before he heard the shot was by his words, very impressive.
I had a low hit once but had I not followed up the deer would not have gone far as I took out one or more large neck veins, but when in dought and have the resource, follow up.
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Old January 10, 2013, 10:27 AM   #6
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What surprises me is why people don't take the high shoulder shot more often.
Agreed. Excellent shot.
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Old January 10, 2013, 10:39 AM   #7
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Another one for the high shoulder shot. They land on their backs with their feet in the air. It doesn't matter how fast they run in that position. They just don't get any traction.
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Old January 10, 2013, 10:57 AM   #8
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I mostly have taken neck shots because when I was a kid my father and uncle both commented, "If you shoot him in the white spot, he doesn't go anywhere." I've seen my father hit the white spot, offhand, at around 250 yards. I watched my uncle break a buck's neck at right at 75 yards as the buck jumped over a fence.

However, out beyond 100 yards, I go for the heart/lung shot--which with my '06 has been pretty much a "go nowhere" deal.

I guess I've tagged somewhere around 50 bucks through the years of hunting in Texas, mostly back during the two-buck limit days. And some years of mule deer with a one-buck limit. I've never had to trail a deer.
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Old January 10, 2013, 11:04 AM   #9
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I never cared for them and counciled my clients to avoid them. If the spine is hit, the results are instant. The spine is only inches wide though. A close to the spine hit will drop the animal but after the shock, will often rise and escape. A fellow guide shot a huge mule deer buck in the neck last year. It went down but was gone by the time he got to the site. After hours of tracking it went unrecovered. I have seen maybe 6 to 8 neck shots fail to kill and have the animal escape including a deer I shot in my youth. I know it was shot in the neck as I saw it later in the day with a huge bloody stain on its neck, I didnt have a gun with me when I saw it latter in the day. The heart and lungs are bigger targets, more leathal, and more forgiving if the shot is a little off, so why shoot anywhere else?
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Old January 10, 2013, 11:06 AM   #10
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Can do but prefer the Heart/Lung shot

By taking a head/neck shot, you reduce your potential kill-radius as oppose to the more common, heart/lung shot. The head/neck shot, is always an option that I would take. My last M/L "kill" was a head on heart-shot. The buck took one step and dropped. ...

Might add that this is also what I teach during our Hunter Safety classes. ..

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Old January 10, 2013, 01:41 PM   #11
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I will try and get a broadside, either heart/lung or high shoulder shot if at all possible. If that shot does not present itself and I don't feel it will, then a neck shot is not out of the question. But as has been stated, although a good neck shot usually leaves the animal DRT, the 'bulls eye' or (as Pahoo put it) the 'kill zone' is much smaller with the neck shot compared to the heart/lung shot.

I know my rifle and my capabilities/limits with it. Too, I stay within those parameter's and would much rather let an animal walk then risk causing it to suffer. Many of us here know that horrible feeling.

The reason explained above is the reason I will not do head shots.
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Old January 10, 2013, 03:01 PM   #12
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Under 100 yds, a neck shot is my preference, beyond that it depends on the situation. No running shots, no shots at alarmed game, and it's safe to say it will drop right there. High shoulder is also a great shot.
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Old January 10, 2013, 04:42 PM   #13
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I've seen deer with their jaw shot off on three occassions due to some idiot taking a head shot and I've seen several with their nose shot or holes in their ears. It's a very poor choice of a shot. Neck shots? Get a diagram of a deers neck and see how much room the spine takes up and how big the major arteries are. There is a lot of room for hitting the neck and hitting no vital spots. One other thing...I've shot competition for many years and in my opinion very few shooters are the shots they think they are. There are a lot more losers than winners and I've seen some pretty bad shots that think they can really shoot. The heart/lung are is pretty big and any reasonable caliber going through this area with a good bullet will kill the animal. You don't need to be a champion shooter to hit the area either. Good ethics dictate taking the fatal shot with the best odds of humanely killing the animal.
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Old January 10, 2013, 05:25 PM   #14
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To each their own. Like NoSecondBest, over the years, I have seen far too many instances where someone tried a shot at a walnut sized target and ended up maiming a deer with the idea of "saving" a little meat. Last month, two weeks after Wisconsin's late antlerless hunt, I was out with the dog chasing grouse. Came across a deer that couldn't get up. Her bottom jaw was gone. She survived the poorly placed shot only to spend two weeks suffering and slowly starving to death. Only the good Lord knows how much longer she would've suffered had I not come along. I'm sure the hunter that maimed her was confident in his shooting abilities also. Probably one of those internet wonders that has never lost or wounded a deer in 40 years of hunting. I wonder if the few ounces of meat he was attempting to save was worth it to the deer. As for neck shots, they too are a small target, especially on a small deer. A buck in rut may have a neck that is huge, but the amount of kill zone has not increased. Here because of CWD, the DNR advises against any shot to the brain, CNS or spine because of the great increase of possible exposure to the Prion to humans.
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Old January 10, 2013, 05:25 PM   #15
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If the opportunity presents itself (positioning, range, wind, etc), I'll take a head or neck shot, any day. I very much prefer dropping the animal right in its tracks, with no suffering.

But, if I'm not 100% confident the shot will work, I move to the heart/lungs.
Under some circumstances, I might even compromise further.

On this year's Elk hunt, for example, I was one of only two people on the mountain, that saw anything other than a spike or cows (and that second person was with me). The big bull that I didn't get a shot at and the little 6x6 bull I dropped, were the only sightings of "real" bulls, over a 9-day period.

The hunting conditions made it obvious, from day one, that we had to take what we could get, or we may go home to a year of empty freezers.
I didn't have any of the preferred 'traditional' shots available for my bull. So, I shot through a tree, and put a 275 gr bullet through his liver and diaphragm.
When he reacted to the shot, and moved, I had an opportunity to drop him with a neck shot (through another tree ).

The liver shot was absolutely fatal (and the torn diaphragm, preventing him from breathing properly); but the neck shot dropped him in his tracks, cut off all blood flow to his brain, and stopped CNS activity. Lights out.

Neither shot makes me happy, but he was still dead quicker than many heart/lung shots I've witnessed; and our camp had the only bull to come off that mountain over a 9-day period.

I do my best to minimize any suffering for the animal, and to drop it right in its tracks. But, I can feed my family for almost a year, with one Elk; and an Antelope may last several months. (I haven't hunted deer for a while.)

Head and neck shots are great, if they'll work. But, if there's any doubt, I turn to whatever else will be effective.
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Old January 10, 2013, 06:12 PM   #16
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I don't see an issue with neck shots other then your wasting a hell of a good roast.
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Old January 10, 2013, 06:30 PM   #17
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I try for the (center) of that White Throat Patch seen under its jaw first. (a neck shot) If not do-able. High in the ribs just behind its front leg as to destroy its lungs. (side to side) If I can't do either. That animal gets a pass and my old 270 goes on standing in its corner.
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Old January 10, 2013, 06:34 PM   #18
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I love they way they go down with a good neck shot.
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Old January 10, 2013, 07:00 PM   #19
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I've never purposefully taken a neck or head shot at a *healthy deer, but did have an arrow go through a doe's neck once when she jumped the string. I got lucky that the broadhead found the mark and kept the tracking job within a couple hundred yards, as opposed to missing anything important and just wounding her.

I don't take full frontal shots, just a personal preference, and never had a situation where I couldn't wait for at least a quartering shot instead. YMMV.

*I have taken head shots at deer already wounded by others, at close range.
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Old January 10, 2013, 07:36 PM   #20
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I think a heart lung shot is the surest shot and I prefer it over all others. With that, I'd take a neck shot if that was all I had.

I would not suggest a neck shot for a novice however. The margin of a clean kill and a wounding shot is just too small. Above all else, we owe it to our game to give it a clean humane kill.
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Old January 10, 2013, 08:34 PM   #21
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Neck shots are all I do out to 300 hundred or so yards. Alot of hunters around here do.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to break the spine. I've shot MANY deer that way and and a couple elk and have never lost one. Just aim for the middle and it will drop instantly. Especially with 30-06 (my favorite). My daughter shot a 290lb mule deer buck in the nack at over 300yds with a 243 and SST's and it was an inst-drop.

The hunters with bad results may have made a bad bullet choice. There is also a misbelief that you need a 300mag for deer and 338 or bigger for elk. Those guys just need to learn to put the bullet where it sposed to be or stay home. Thats just my opinion.
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Old January 11, 2013, 07:08 PM   #22
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The biggest factor of determining whether or not to try a head/neck shot is how accurately that person can shoot a their weapon. Also, shot distance, how the animal is standing, and whether or not the animal is moving determines if a head/neck shot is advisable. The heart/lung area allows a certain margin of error so that's why its so popular.
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Old January 11, 2013, 07:25 PM   #23
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For all the nay-sayers of head and neck shots that found wounded and dead deer. I have news for you. Most of those hunters were aiming for the heart/lung area!
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Old January 11, 2013, 08:32 PM   #24
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Gunplummer, that's too cynical even for me!
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Old January 11, 2013, 08:36 PM   #25
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For all the nay-sayers of head and neck shots that found wounded and dead deer. I have news for you. Most of those hunters were aiming for the heart/lung area!
I think you'll look long and hard for evidence to back that statement up.

The head is a mighty long way from a heart and lung shot.
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