If you’re an avid hunter with a history of successful harvests, I’m going to assume you already know this and you will agree with me. The is an important topic that is not up for discussion. Or is it? Shot placement, there shouldn’t be much to argue about, bummer, right? For those that may not be avid hunters and are looking for advice, you’ve come to the right place.
The best shot is the one that delivers the quickest dirt nap, expiration, or the best way to put it, the quickest kill. Without the brain, heart, and lungs, a definite and usually quick dirt nap is to be expected. Because the body cannot function long without those three vital organs. The brain needs to tell the body how to function, the heart needs to pump blood, and the lungs need to bring oxygen.
Yes! You’re right, there are other organs that will cause death, but don’t? You should never intentionally shoot any game in those other organs because it will most likely lead to a very slow, painful death. Then there’s the recovery or harvest, it probably won’t happen. A wounded animal can travel hundreds of yards with those types of wounds. If you disagree with me then you’re not a hunter.
First acknowledge there are a few variables that would change where the perfect placement of your shot would be.
- What are you hunting with? A rifle, shotgun, bow, or sling shot?
- What is the speed of your projectile?
- What are you hunting? Deer, hogs, or turkeys? You get the point.
- What position is the game in? Broadside, quartering away, or facing you?
Those are just a few things to know before placing your shot because you care right?
Archery, Rifle, Shotgun or Sling Shot
Next up consider your equipment, the speed of the projectile, and the distance. If I’m shooting a bow, in any situation, a head shot is off the table! What moves the quickest on an animal? Good answer, the head. An arrow travels much slower than a bullet, a recurve sends an arrow flying at speeds of up to 225 FPS, compound bows up to 300 FPS, and the fastest, a crossbow, which can send the arrows flying at speeds above 500 FPS. That’s still not fast enough for me! I would not confidently take a head shot at any type of game with a projectile flying at those speeds because the quick movement of the head. I would save those shots for rifles, shotguns, and pellet rifles.
That leaves two organs to choose from, the heart or lungs. Both vital organs are in the largest part of the animal’s body, giving the shooter a larger target with a much smaller chance for the game to jump the shot. The heart is the preferable target out of the two, as it should accomplish the quickest kill, recovery, and harvest.
A Big No, Never!
Game animals present themselves in many different positions and there are two presentations of which I would never take the shot! Remember we are speaking of archery. If an animal is facing you, or away from you, the reality is you may send it on a long, painful journey to eventually its demise, but you won’t get to partake of the rump roast, a buzzard or coyote will. Patience and compassion, if you’re not equipped with those two qualities, get out of the stand, and let me in!
Now that you understand the three most vital organs, does that mean if you aim behind the front shoulder of a wild hog like you would a deer, you’re going to nail them in the heart? Not the case, research is part of hunting, don’t be a schmuck, consider the animal you hope to harvest. In a wild hog the heart is located directly inside the front shoulder, a deer’s heart is located behind it. If you place your shot on a hog like you would a deer, the most inevitable outcome is that guy’s going away with a couple extra holes in his chest, nowhere to be found and none of us want that. You’d be daft to disagree.
What next? Your heart’s thump is all you hear, your pulse and breathing are working against your efforts of making the perfect ethical kill shot because your eyes have just spotted the most beautiful white tail buck. You decisively choose your release point and the arrow flies. It’s a hit! But where was your point of impact? Is there evidence of your performance? If you achieved a complete pass through, the arrow should be somewhere close and the color of the fluids on that arrow will tell you where you hit the game.
- Bright Red = Heart
- Pink Foam = Lung
- Dark Red = Liver
- Green = Gut
Another scenario; if an arrow is nowhere to be found, that may be because the animal wanted to keep it for a souvenir, don’t lose hope. Your shot placement may have been spot on, keep looking. It may be a few yards before you find any evidence or a trail to follow. Whether a heart or lung shot the animal should begin to cough up enough of a clue to follow and again, you can follow the color recommendations above as to where the impact was. If you find bright red blood or pink foamy blood, go ahead get excited because that is evidence of a great shot!
It is a hunter’s due diligence to exhaust all search efforts to recover and harvest the game, as is in the realm of hunting sometimes it’s a hunt and sometimes it’s a harvest. With everything in you, do your best to make it a harvest!