Where to Shoot Deer: Your Guide For A Clean, Humane, And Instant Kill

In hunting, the perfect or the right spot where to shoot a deer may change depending on factors like meat​​​​​​ retention, bullet type, weapon choice, shooting ability, distance, the target's position, and whether or not your target is moving.

Generally, the best spot is where you can aim or shoot to kill your game instantly, which is a humane and quick way to do it. There are several ideal spots, each with advantages and disadvantages. So, where do you shoot based on your situation? Keep reading to find out!

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Where to Shoot Deer

First of all, you should remember that the ideal kill zone is a flat rather than a two-dimensional target. The position of a deer concerning you changes the spot you should aim for. Also, this spot is not a mere area of the animal's skin but is a location inside its body. 

The key to finding the right spot is to target the animal's vital organs to deliver a fatal blow and for killing or making it fall instantly.

Here are the most popular choices of where to shoot deer according to seasoned hunters and experts:

High Shoulder

This spot can be the best killing spot especially if the deer is broadside to the shooter. If you place your shot properly on the shoulder blade or right behind it, the impact can paralyze the deer's nervous system by breaking the spine.

Ideal weapon: Rifle

● The ultimate shock-and-awe shot that paralyzes the animal, rendering it immobile and unable to feel.
● Makes it easier for you to anchor the deer.
● Disables the front legs first, preventing the deer from running away.
● Poses great damage by breaking the spine and the ribs, which can kill the animal instantly or make it fall on the spot, which makes it easier to deliver a finishing shot.

● Hard to aim for the high shoulders properly and there is a high chance of missing.
● The heavy, volatile, and upsetting bullets best suited for this shot cause a lot of meat damage and loss.
● Not applicable for bow hunting. 

Hunting Deer With Your Dog

Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAuxQHfcYbg


Another popular spot to aim for is the heart-lung area. However, it is better to aim for the heart since hitting in will most likely also hit the lungs. On the other hand, hitting only the lungs can still allow your prey to run quite a distance before dying.

Ideal weapon: Rifle for heart and lungs or bow for the lungs

● Targets vital organs with major blood vessels, which makes an excellent and easy-to-follow blood trail.
● An accurate shot can mean instant death.
● The lung area is large and easy to target when bowhunting without requiring pinpoint accuracy.
● Hitting the center of the lungs with an arrow kills the deer instantly without causing as much meat damage and blood loss as a heart shot.
● Targeting the lungs makes it harder for the deer to breathe and prevent it from running too far away.

● Hitting only one lung can allow the deer to recover and run away.
● If you hit the lungs and not the heart, the prey may not fall down right away, and you still have to follow a blood trail.
● The heart area is a small and difficult target to aim at.
● High chance of the deer escaping while bleeding, which is inhumane.
● Light bullets may be deflected by the rib cage and hurt the deer without causing fatal damage, but heavier bullets can destroy or damage a large chunk of meat.
● Aiming too low can hit the deer's legs and cause muscle damage.


While most people would assume that a shot to the brain is the deadliest and quickest, it is often not. The brain is another vital organ and hitting it correctly can disrupt all necessary body functions. However, it is also a pretty small and tricky target.
Ideal Weapon: Rifle

● A direct, precise, and accurate hit will kill a deer instantly.
● Minimal meat loss.
● Can be the most humane way to kill a deer because it causes the animal to lose consciousness and feel numb immediately.

● It can be very hard to aim and shoot at the right spot unless the deer is immobile. Otherwise, you may want to get the best rifle bipod to maintain a steady aim.
● The brain is a very small target and is very easy to miss. It is also protected by the skull, which is a thick bone that requires a powerful shot to penetrate.
● It's hard to achieve accurate shots using heavy bullets.
● An arrow or a weak bullet shot will likely bounce off the skull and do very little damage.
● There's a high risk of missing the brain and hitting the deer's jaw instead, which allows it to escape but will prevent it from eating and so cause it to die from starvation, probably the worst longest and most inhumane way to kill a deer.
● Not for amateurs of bow hunters. 


While some hunters may argue that shooting a deer's neck is unethical, others believe it to be the best kill zone spot. However, experience has taught me that both are partly correct since a neck shot can cause either a disaster or a victory.

Ideal weapon: Rifle

● An accurate neck shot will cause very little meat damage but a huge impact on the spinal cord, rendering it immobile and making the shot almost painless.
● Can lead to shock and instant death.
● A neck shot cuts off the brain's blood supply, disrupting body functions and preventing the deer from escaping.

● The right spot on the neck is relatively small and requires a lot of practice to shoot perfectly.
● Requires advanced skills and proficiency with a rifle.
● Missing or hitting too low can wound a deer massively with only a slight chance to recover.
● A shot to this spot only paralyzes the deer so you will need to slit the throat or deliver a second shot to kill it.
● Acceptable but not recommended for recreational deer hunting and hunting with a bow.
● Missing by a small fraction can allow the deer to escape and suffer a slow, painful, and agonizing death. 

Safety Tips To Ensure While Deer Hunting

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There are several different opinions about the right spot where to shoot a deer. Each spot has its own benefits and drawbacks. Depending on your skill set, specific circumstance, target, and weapon of choice, you may choose a one kill zone to achieve a clean, instant, and humane killing shot.

Rodney Heaton

I'm Rodney Heaton and I love hunting in the wild. In the past, I was in the military for over 5 years. After that I became a licensed hunter and a mountain guide.