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Shot Placement-The Key to Finding Your Deer

by John Mueller 30. November 2011 15:40
John Mueller

Every year the forums at have way too many threads like “I hit a deer and can’t find it, now what?” In my opinion, it’s too late now, in a lot of cases the work should have been done before the season actually started. I will say that bad shots can happen to anyone at any time, but a good share of the bad hits happen to those who haven’t prepared properly before ever taking the shot.

Rule #1: Know where to hit the animal you are hunting.

This would be considered a good hit. Do you know exactly where the heart is located in a deer?

I’ll wager a fair amount of money that a lot of bow hunters have never seen the inside of a deer or even studied the anatomy of the species they are hunting. This simple task could prevent many bad hits in itself. You have to know where to hit the animal to effectively kill it. If you don’t know EXACTLY where the vitals are located, how do you expect to make a quick clean kill? I guarantee a good number of bow hunters could not point to the exact location of the heart in a real deer’s body. And I promise you that most bow hunters would be off if they tried to draw the front leg and shoulder bones on a live deer. They are way forward compared to where most people think they are.

This should be required study material in any hunter education class.

Then put it to use on the real thing.

The area we all strive to place the arrow in is the heart/lung area. Put a razor sharp broadhead through there and you will watch a good number of your deer tip over. They can’t run very far with their lungs full of blood. And in my opinion it doesn’t matter what broadhead you send through the boiler room as long as it is sharp. Don’t get caught up in all of the hype of this head vs that head. Any legal, razor sharp broadhead will do the job as long as it is put in the right spot. The Indians used to kill them with sharp rocks.

The Indians used to kill deer with these.

I prefer these.

Rule #2: Only take high percentage shots.

How many times have you read or heard, “He was about to leave so I HAD TO TAKE THE SHOT”?      NO YOU DIDN”T!! If you wait the deer might offer you a better angle or a broadside shot before leaving. Plus, if the deer is nervous and about to leave, chances he are his vitals won’t be where they were by the time your arrow gets there anyhow resulting in a bad hit. I’ve hunted long enough and observed enough deer to know that shooting at a nervous deer is asking for trouble. Your bow is not fast enough to beat the reaction time of a nervous deer. They can drop and whirl before your arrow ever gets there. Even calm deer will usually have some kind of reaction at the shot. I have really noticed this a lot more since I have been filming my hunts. It’s kind of fun to play the arrow flight back and forth to see just how much the deer moves from the shot to impact.

Broadside and quartering away are the only ethical shots in most cases. These two offer the best chance at an unobstructed path to the heart/lung area. The ribs on the side of the deer offer little resistance to a well placed arrow. The frontal or quartering to shot can be deadly, but the vitals are much better protected from these angles by the shoulder bones and the front of the rib cage.

Rule #3: Hit where you aim.

You have to be able to put the arrow where it needs to be. This can only be done by practicing and then practicing some more. The time to sight in and tune your bow is not the night before opening morning. Bow hunting should be a year round undertaking. We all need to practice throughout the year to keep our muscles in shape and our equipment in tune. And when you practice, practice in hunting situations. Shoot from tree stands, or sitting in ground blinds, or kneeling if you will be stalking.

Make sure you know your own effective range. If you plan on shooting game out to 30 yards, make sure every arrow hits in the kill zone at that range. Then practice longer shots. This will make the shorter ones easier.

I’m not saying following all of these rules will eliminate all bad hits. There are way too many variables in the woods for that to be true. But if we plan ahead and know our game, equipment and our limitations, maybe we can eliminate a lot of those “What do I do now” threads.

May all your blood trails be short ones.


Pennsylvania Bowhunting Buck Down!

by Scott Abbott 7. November 2008 02:14
Scott Abbott

November 6th, found me sitting in a familiar lock on locally after arriving back home the night before from camp. The action down south at camp was pretty slow. I was seeing a lot of other hunters and some bucks but nothing impressive so I decided to come home for a couple days to check the action up here. This morning I saw a couple young bucks cruising and then a text with a buddy yielded a change of scenery for the afternoon. We decided to go check out a spot in PA we have hunted in the past.

I noticed this scrape line that the bucks were keeping open and decided to set up not to far from it. 

This was the third scrape in the series, the one closest to me.

 Around 4pm I saw a good PA buck coming my direction. He stopped and hit the 3 scrapes on his way as he closed the distance. As he was thrashing the licking branch on the last scrape (the one closest to me) I tipped the can call over twice. He stopped and scanned the timber looking for his doe, with no visual confirmation he went back to tending his scrape for a moment. He then walked parallel to me for 10 yards again scanning the timber from the new vantage point. He turned around went back to the scrape and thrashed the licking branch again then turned and came right in on me. A 15 yard shot yielded a 50 yard blood trail with him going down in sight.

                                                                       Here is a section on the blood trail left by the Rage 2 blade broadheads.

Not bad for a PA buck. His neck is pretty big, maybe the biggest neck on a buck I have ever shot. Score will come later, he is at the butchers shop now. He won't score all that much though, I figure he will go mid to upper 120's. Plenty for an out of state buck with such a great body. He does have 2 broken tine tips on his right side, probably about 3 inches of damage. Now it's time to get back out there after my Ohio buck!





Wounded Buck - Not How I Wanted to Start My Season!

by Todd Graf 9. October 2008 13:13
Todd Graf

I was on a roll until the dreadful bad shot took place. Yes, I will say it again - I made a bad shot. Of course not on purpose, it just one of those unfortunate things that happens in the bowhunting woods.

The season has been going quite well up until this point.  I have been seeing a lot of deer, shooting just about every day and most all of my gear has been working great. I was riding high and feeling good about my chances at harvesting a nice buck this fall.  That is until the other night! 

My evening hunt started off by checking with to confirm the wind was out of the East, and it was. I was pumped and I knew exactly where I was going to go.  Back in 2004 I harvested a nice 145 inch buck out of this very stand. In the past I have had some incredible luck hunting this spot early in the season because I can get right up on a big buck bedding area without them even knowing I'm there. This spot has it all – thick cover, beans, corn, hardwoods (acorns) & a pond all within a 100 yards of the buck’s bedroom.  Early in the season these big bucks don't like to venture far from their bedding areas during daylight, so if you want to get a shot at one you need to get in close.

My 2004 early season Illinois buck.

After arriving at my spot I was able to slip into my stand perfectly and without being detected.  My camera was ready to go and just like clockwork the does started to funnel out of the bedding area well before dark.  I watched them feed out in front of me for awhile, hoping a buck was nearby. 

With about 15 minutes of shooting light left I was out of good camera light so I started to pack everything up and call it a night.  As soon as I got the camera arm off the tree and was putting the camera away I look up to see a big buck headed my direction. I would guess him to be around 150 inches, if not a little bigger.  The buck had no idea I was there as he came down the trail towards my shooting lane.  I drew, aimed and shot. That’s when it felt like the world fell apart on me. I made a bad shot.  The buck ran out about 40 yards and stopped next to a small bush.  I watched him until it was too dark to see and he never moved from that spot.

After waiting an hour I snuck out and went to my truck to call Justin and Horseshoe Mazur to get them ready for the search and rescue mission that was going to take place in the morning.  We met the next morning and found the spot where I shot him.  Sure enough the arrow laid on the ground with about 7 inches broken off.  We found 1 patch of blood where the buck had stood motionless for so long, and then as a lot of  monster bucks seem to do – he vanished. We searched high and low through the woods, CRP fields, fencerows, and any other place we could think to look and came up with nothing.  In fact, we never found a single drop of blood after our initial findings. I believe the shot was high and in the shoulder blade which prevented me from getting good penetration or having a good trail to follow.

The unfortunate reality is that this can happen to any of us.  It only takes being off by and inch or two to make the difference between a quick, clean recovery and a lost animal. We all hope it doesn’t happen to us, but when it does it’s a super bad feeling. I can only hope the monster lives on for me or someone else to get another shot at him. I guess only time will tell.

As far as good news – I am going to go to Wisconsin this weekend and I’m going to give it hell!

Also, after Justin showed me a few pointers on building my own arrows I got my son helping me.  Its amazing how fast these little guys grow up and I make sure I spend as much time with my son as possible!

If you build your own arrows, or are interesting building your own arrows, check out our arrow building supplies here on  We carry just about everything you need for building your own arrows including several types of Arrow Wraps, Bohning Fletch-Tite glue, Bitzenburger Fletching Jigs, and much more.  It's really not that hard, and can be a good way to pass some time in the evenings and customize your arrows to your specifications.

I wish all you bowhunters good luck in the coming weeks as this is what we all live for.  The rut is coming up quicker than we think and  I hope to bear good news on my next post!

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