We have seen desperate calls for the increasingly popular Blood Trailing Dog to retrieve our deer on the rise recently. No doubt well-trained blood dogs are a huge asset and have saved us from dire circumstances; circumstances sometimes out of our control. But the rising need for dogs begs we ask the question: Have we have lost the ability to trail a deer on our own? Or is it possible the blood trails are not what they should be due to poor shot placement? Honestly, both are likely culprits. With technology creeping into our lives more and more we seem to be losing our survival instinct, the ability to fend for ourselves. Mechanical broadheads is a prime example. We have been told over and over that a bigger cut is better.
“No way I’ll lose a deer if I shoot a certain head. I’m supposed to be able to watch ’em drop.” Right?
Wrong! Shot placement is everything. Don’t get me wrong. I too shoot mechanical from time to time, and I’m in no way attacking them. There are some really unique “creations” on the market. But, our ability to pass those razor sharp blades at the tip of that carbon missile through the game we pursues vital organs is not just a necessity. It is our ethical responsibility. I’ve heard one too many TV hunters claim they can make a bad shot and still retrieve their deer using the broadhead of the company that gives them free stuff. This behavior not only encourages a lack of practice and necessity to perform, it makes us impatient. Any experienced bow hunter knows “impatience” is the enemy of success in the deer woods. From your shot timing to your stand choice, patience plays a key role to your level of success. Being a bow hunter is the pinnacle of hunting challenges. It does’t make you better than other hunters, but it sure makes it you work harder! Attention to every detail, persistence and patience in every aspect of the pursuit of your quarry is imperative to success with a stick and string as your weapon. That is why our patience when a deer shows itself must improve.
There are many hunters putting down their guns completely or picking up a bow or crossbow to extend their hunting season. There are other hunters that simply have not had the experience of the contrasting short happy-ending blood trails and long, spotted, endless ones that lead to a knot in their stomach that is seemingly life-long. Proper shot placement can fix some of these issues. A bow is obviously not a gun. Your point of aim with an arrow instead of a bullet should not be treated as such.
When you’re gun hunting and a deer steps out the hunt is practically over. When you’re bow hunting and a deer steps out, the hunt has just begun.
You must wait for the perfect angle where you have a clear shot straight through the heart and or both lungs. Patience. A perfectly broadside shot is paramount. Give your game ample opportunity to present that to you. A clean pass through should always be your goal.
Your next most favorable shot is when the deer is quartering away. This will place the deer’s rear end closest to you and the head facing away. (See angles C & D) At this angle the entry path is even easier for your arrow as you can slip the arrow behind the rib cage. Notice how far back the entry points seem in the chart. You must also take into effect the exit which may or may not lead into and hopefully through the front shoulder blade. You must visualize the entire path of the arrow through the deer to insure that you most importantly hit the vitals, but a close second is miss the far shoulder blade which can stop the arrow from penetrating the opposite side. An exit hole shouldn’t be something you hope for. It should be something you wait until you can confidently produce.
The only other angle experienced bow hunters should attempt is quartering to. (Seen in the chart above on angles A & B) This shot is not for everyone and the only other angle we recommend. This angle presents itself when a deer is walking towards you, but at a slight angle. This shot requires the most skill and and has the most hurdles to overcome of the 3 shots we have mentioned. To get a pass-through here the arrow must miss the shoulder blade and penetrate a massive amount of muscle or “brisket”. The shot may also result in hitting the guts on the way out of the torso giving the arrow the false reading of a gut shot. Having guts on your arrow and on the trail can definitely hamper your tracking ability.
Remember, your aiming point will move from left to right depending on the position of the deer. Also know that we never recommend shooting a deer that is directly below you, walking straight at you, or bedded as the vitals are much more protected in these scenarios and probability of wounding and or losing your animal is greater.
Being successful with a bow is no easy task. It takes time and patience, practice and persistence. The best thing you can do is practice different angled shots at home. Wait on a broadside shot if possible and only take shots you are confident in and have practiced.
– Justin Lanclos, LABH Founder