Know Your Shot Placement to Find Your Deer

WATCH: The Three Biggest Bloodtrailing Mistakes Deer Hunters Make
When I began deer hunting almost 40 years ago one of the most intriguing aspects was the tracking and blood-trailing that my father and his friends could do to find a deer based on the shot placement and what they saw on the ground.

It’s foolish to me for adults to not instruct young hunters about what could happen when you shoot a deer. They don’t just fall over and get a little X over each eye like in the cartoons. Nor do they flail and thrash and kick and “cry” like the animal “rights” whacks would have you believe. Often they run off, perhaps 30 or 70 or more yards, and then die.

What do the clues tell you about your shot placement and what you should do next?

And a side note, they don’t “expire” or “pass away” when they’re “harvested.” Deer die. Their bodily functions quit working after being hit with a bullet or broadhead and they die. We kill them. Hunters kill things and animals die.

One of the first deer I remember shooting as a kid was a doe, walking in an overgrown cutover with a couple of other does. I made a bad shot, hit her too far back behind the ribs and clipped the paunch. I remember all this because when my father hit the trail where I shot her, he found blood and hair and splatters on the brown sedge.

From those clues he could tell what was going on. It was fascinating. We found the deer and, as you’d expect, it wasn’t pleasant cleaning once we started removing the pluck. Along with a great lesson about tracking I also was reminded quite vividly about the best shot placement to kill a deer.

Having a deer fall and die within sight is great, of course, but that’s not always how things happen. In our excitement of the shot, trying to overcome the rush of adrenaline to identify the bloodtrail starting point is important. Being able to read the clues is important — the signs of hair and blood, when to back out and wait or whether to forge ahead with your search. All can be critical to finding your deer or pushing it further away.

If you find your deer quickly or after a long search, congrats! If you don’t find it, that stinks but all is not lost. Use the experience to learn from it and next time things may turn out better.


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DDH’s Shot Placement poster is a fantastic resource for home and camp. It provides information about shots on different organs along with hair analysis. These are great to study and discuss with your young hunters, too, to help them learn what’s going on.

Get your posters here!