Contrary to the opinions of many animal rights groups that are against hunting in any shape or form most hunters are not inhumane.
They believe in the value of hunting and they aim to be responsible and make use of as much of the animal they kill as possible.
A good deer hunter is also concerned about the suffering of the animal they’re hunting and they do their best to make the kill quick and relatively painless.
The aim should always be to take the animal out with one shot. In order to do this successful you need to understand where the best target areas on the body of a deer are.
This differs lightly depending on whether you’re hunting with a rifle or a bow and we’ll outline those differences below.
Choose Your Hunting Tool
What’s the best way to hunt for deer? Is it with a bow or a gun? There’s no one right way to answer these questions as it really comes down to your own personal preference.
Personally, I prefer bow hunting because I feel it presents a greater challenge, but you may feel differently and you’re not wrong. Hunting with a rifle can be just as challenging in its own right.
With a bow you have to get a lot closer to your prey to be effective. Typically, you would have to be as close as 30 yards away from the deer to take an effective kill shot.
This can be extremely challenging – especially if you’re not the stealthiest of individuals. It can also be difficult to approach a deer that closely if you suffer from any kind of physical limitations and these are both things you need to keep in mind if you’re seriously considering bow hunting.
Rifle hunters can be much further away from their prey as long as they’re using a high enough calibre rifle to take down a relatively large animal such as a deer.
A .308 or higher calibre rifle is probably best if you’re hunting deer. With a rifle you can also be less selective with the areas of the deer’s body you should be aiming for as these more powerful weapons can immobilize and kill a deer in many different ways.
Targeting the Head and Brain
The type of hunting tool you use when targeting deer should help you determine which areas of the body are best to target.
Aiming for the head and brain can be effective if you’re using a rifle, but this type of shot is a lot riskier if you’re hunting with a bow.
The brain cavity is protected by extra dense bone material which is difficult to penetrate with an arrow. An accurate shot to the brain will kill a deer instantly as it would with any animal, but the target is a relatively small area which makes it even more difficult to execute this shot successfully with a bow.
It’s probably best not to make this shot at all when bow hunting.
If you’re an experienced hunter the head shot can be highly effective if you’re using a high enough calibre rifle. A deer shot directly in the brain will normally be killed instantly.
The hunter won’t have to worry about tracking through the woods after the deer to finish the shot and the animal dies instantly which is more humane.
It’s still a relatively small area to target though, even with a bow and unless you’re an experienced hunter this is not really the shot you want to be targeting.
A Shot to the Neck
Another area that’s probably best to avoid is the neck unless you’re an experienced hunter.
It’s true that a clean shot with a powerful enough rifle shot at the right angle will instantly sever the deer’s spine killing it almost instantly, but it has to be the perfect shot or the deer is likely to be still able to run away.
If you’re lucky you’ll be able to track it down, but more than likely it will get away from you and die a slow and painful death. If you’re a responsible hunter that wants to ensure that your prey dies as quickly as possible without any suffering this is not the way to go about it.
If you’re a bow hunter it’s best to stay away from this kill shot all together – even if you have a lot of experience. An arrow will have a difficult time penetrating through the thick neck muscles of the deer and will probably only wound it.
You may create a mess and the deer may continue on in agony, but your chances of killing it quickly are slim.
Shot Through the Heart
Many hunters feel the shot to the heart is the best option to ensure a quick and humane kill.
The heart in a deer is located in the large area of the chest which can easily targeted and an effective shot in this area will take a deer out instantly.
Others feel you should target the area just above the heart as this is where the center of the deer’s circulatory system is located and a shot here will immobilize a deer right away.
If you do aim for this area and happen to miss by a few inches it will still normally take the deer down because you have a greater target area.
Whatever your preference there’s no disputing that this area of the deer is easier to target in most instances and if you’re on target it will most definitely kill the deer.
This is an effective target area for both bow hunters and rifle hunters. It’s probably the best area to target for novice hunters that are out on their first hunt.
Aim for the Lungs
Another area that can be an effective target are for both bow and rifle hunters is the lungs.
A well placed shot in this area will bring a deer down in a matter of seconds as they won’t be able to breath. If you are able to shoot through both lungs the death will be quick and relatively painless.
However, it’s not necessarily a great shot for beginners as if you only manage to puncture one lung the deer will be able to run away and will probably die in a great deal of discomfort a short while later an you may never find the animal.
This can be a high percentage shot as long as you have the experience to take it.
Avoid the Shoulder Shot
There are some hunters that feel the shoulder shot is the best way to go, but we would caution against this option. For this to be effective you have to using a high powered rifle and you need to get your shot just right.
If you do hit the target the deer will be killed instantly as it will take out the nervous system and sever the connection to the brain.
The problem is the shot has to be just right or you’ll only end up wounding the animal.
The chances of being successful with this shot with a bow are very slim.
Consider Your Own Strengths
As we’ve outlined above we believe the heart or lung shots are your best option to ensure a clean and quick kill, but it really depends on your own experience levels. It also depends on whether you’re using a rifle or a bow.
If you have any doubt stick with the larger target areas and you’ll have a much better success rate.