Anatomy of a Whitetail Deer

Where to Shoot a Deer When Crossbow Hunting

When gun hunting, knowing the anatomy of a whitetail deer is not as important as it is when crossbow hunting, as most bullets can break heavy bone and bring down a deer.

Broadheads can cut through thinner bones such as ribs, but will not penetrate thick bones, making the need of the deer kill zone to be much more accurately assessed.
Whitetail deer's anatomy and where to shoot

In looking at the anatomy of a whitetail deer, you can see that the shoulder blades cover and protect most of the deer's heart.

A double lung shot is the one of the best and quickest ways to kill a Whitetail.

The most efficient way to get a double lung shot is when it is standing broadside.

You can see in this Whitetail anatomy drawing, where the lungs are located. You need to make sure that you stay a couple of inches behind the shoulder blades, which should ensure a clean pass all the way through the body.

A quartering away shot is when a Whitetail is turned so that it angles away from you.

This turn can be anywhere from a slight angle to a couple of degrees angled further away from you, but you will still be able to clearly see the heart and lung anatomy section, not the rear of the deer.

A quartering away shot is a good choice for a kill, whereas you can angle in behind that front leg where the heart is.

The direction of the arrow will go through one lung, possibly both, (although both lungs are not guaranteed) and the arrow will continue it's flight into the chest cavity where the major heart blood vessels are.

big 14 point buck huge
Slight Quarter Away More Angled Quarter Away

If taking this angle, make sure you wait until the front leg is in a forward position, not in a backwards position, or your shot will not be correctly placed.

The night time picture is the proper leg positioning for shooting. In the daytime picture, the front leg is extended backwards and you will need to wait for the buck to move it forward.

8 point buck quartering towards shot

A quartering towards shot is a bad choice, as the angle of the arrow might catch one lung, but the path of the arrow will continue through, missing the vital organs that is needed to complete the kill.

Also, the slightest deviation from this angle, can cause a hit to the shoulder blade instead of a lung.

Memorize their anatomy and do your best to avoid a gut shot. This is not a humane way to harvest an animal. The chances of recovering it, are pretty slim, as they will run quite a ways before laying down to die.

If you think your shot was too far back, leave the area for at least 12 hours, as this will up your chances of finding it.

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