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#1 Jeremiah

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 06:16 PM

So, I've been doing some thinking lately. (Always dangerous.)

I recently experienced some meat loss on a nice-size buck which I shot with an arrow, no less. (If you check the archery forum you will see why.) Anyway, with general firearms white-tail season opening here next week, I've been doing a lot of shooting with various firearms of mine. (Still haven't decided for sure what I want to take. But, I'm leaning either toward the Rem. 700 in 30-06 because it's been years since I used it or the Dan Wesson .357 just because I still have yet to take a deer with it.) Well, I know bunches of "old timers" who take deer with neck shots... and then several others who routinely "shoot them in the ear" when hunting with a firearm.

Well, I'll reserve my opinion on the matter until the conversation gets rolling. (Because I want y'all to lay it out there without holding back just because so-n-so might not agree with you!) But, I will say that it seems pretty obvious that there wouldn't be any meat loss with these type shots.
So, what's your view?
Does your point of aim change with weapon? How so?
What about a point of aim change within individual firearms caliber? (.243 compared to 7mm Mag, for example.)
Are these type (neck/ear/head) shots lethal?
As lethal as broadside "vitals" (heart/lung) shots?
What kind of margin of error do you think they offer?
Do personal ethics play a roll in your opinion of these type shots either way?

Let's kick it up, folks. Inquiring minds want to know!

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#2 J Gabel

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 06:33 PM

Vitals are the only shot I take by choice, just for the simple fact of saving meat.
Neck shots are ok if thats all ya got.
Shoulder shots are ok if ya need to anchor the animal in it's tracks. Because of property lines or bad terrain.
One thing I've learned over the years from processing my own animals is that a shot through the meat isn't all that bad.
You have to "layer" the meat while you butcher and you won't have as much loss of meat as you might think.
By "layering" I mean peeling the meat back aroung the wound and trimming the blood shot out.
If you butcher yourself you can save a lot of meat that gets tossed at the butcher shop, plus save yourself some money.

Just my :2cents: :peace:



#3 TerryfromAR

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 06:46 PM

Personally, If I have a GOOD neck shot, and the distance isn't too great, I will take a neck shot. With a firearm I normally use a shotgun, so shooting a deer in the neck with 3" 000 buck at 30 yds will waste less meat than a behind the shoulder shot not to mention dropping the deer quickly seeing as you have the Coroted (spelling?) artery and the Jugular vein running through the neck as well as the spinal cord. Severe trauma to the neck will bring a deer down quickly and with little suffering. I have personally seen a deer shot in the neck at 40 yds with a .270 that dropped where it stood and expired within seconds. I personally see no issue with it. The more usable meat we can get out of the animals we harvest, the more I feel we can honor the animal with less waste. Just my 2 cents though.
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#4 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 07:28 PM

With my 7mm and my 270 I get a lot of blood blast around the wound. I still go with a vitals shot as it is the biggest target. If it is a really big buck it is still in the vitals as head or neck shots really do a job on a possible mount. I will take the shot that presents itself if I feel there is no choice. Having shot as many deer as I have over the years and right now with a freezer full of doe meat it will have to be a really nice buck for me to shoot at all. Head shots to me are a chancy shot. Most times that head is moving around even if the deer is standing still. It also depends on the distance of the shot and the weapon at hand. Unless you hit one in the brain a head shot can be a wounding shot leaving the deer to die a slow lingering death. Also there would not be much of a blood trail with a head shot. Neck shots are ok if you have studied just where the backbone is located and the location of the major arterys. It may not be where you think it is. The vitals to me is the surest shot to bring an animal down and or leave a good blood trail. That is my story and I am sticking to it.
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#5 Spirithawk

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 08:05 PM

To me it's very simple. A heart or lung shot kills cleanly, quickly and destroys the least amount of meat no matter what caliber you choose.

#6 runNgun

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Posted 23 November 2010 - 11:16 PM

I like to aim for the vitals beacuse it is a much larger target. I won't take neck shots because of a bad experience I had a few years back hunting with my dad. We were sitting there when a small 8 point magically appeared in front of us like deer sometimes do. He took a neck shot and it fell straight down.

We thought it was dead so we walked up to it, only to find it completely paralyzed but still breathing. I can still see the deer's eye looking up at me as we stood over it. My dad pulled out his knife and slit the throat, which as a tough farm kid growing up slaughtering pigs and such probably wasn't such a big deal to him but it really scared me, being only 7 or 8 years old. Because of this experience, I feel I owe it to the deer to take as clean of a shot as I can, and I think the vitals are much more ethical.

I don't blame my dad at all for taking that shot; I'm sure he had done it many times before and knew what he was doing. If I wouldn't have had this experience growing up, who knows. Maybe I wouldn't mind going for a head or neck shot.

I know, at least around here, the standard for many years was to shoot the deer in the neck or head, and run up to slit the throat right away. That's one thing I don't think I would regularly be able to do.

Right behind the shoulder is the way to do it, IMO.

Edited by runNgun, 23 November 2010 - 11:21 PM.

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#7 mudduck

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 07:10 AM

where I grew up hunting, 30/40 yds was a long shot, ive shot a bunch at less than 20. Woods were very thick. I had no problem shooting squirrels and rabbits in the head at those distances with an open sight .22, wasnt any different with a open sight deer rifle or shotgun. As for the head always moving, I kinda disagree with that, they stand pretty steady around here when they are looking. 1st buck I ever shot was through the neck at 20yds, dropped like he had been hit by Thors hammer. With all that being said, I now shoot everthing behind the shoulder, {except squirrels and rabbits}. There is no waste on that shot, and the deer doesnt look like it had been attacked by a brain eating zombie, as they do with head shots. With the accuracy people claim they get with their rifles these days, one should be able to shoot a deer anyplace they want in order to kill quick and minimize waste

#8 Larry $

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 09:12 AM

If I may offer a slightly different take on this topic re: meat loss and shot placement. Out here I've heard a good number of guides and "old timer's" who tell folks to shoot and keep shooting until the animal drops or there is no more shot opportunity. Without going into details, Melody and I were recently given two large Mule Deer bucks for the meat when a couple of slob bone collectors cut off the capes and heads and left the rest with their friends. Well, the slobs were of the shoot and keep on shooting category so after much work, there really wasn't much meat left that was good. Much of it was cooked up and ground for dog food. We were able to salvage a good portion of the hind quarters, so it was not a complete loss.

Anyway, the point being (in my limited experience) one clean shot in the vitals kills quickly and preserves almost all the meat. You only lose a little bit of ribs.

As a side note, I believe that instilling the "shoot and keep on shooting" philosophy in people (especially kids) is a bad idea. I have seen where folks will rush the first shot so as to start racking in shells and yanking the trigger as quickly as they can. The results are generally not good.
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#9 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 09:27 AM

Excellent point Larry. Around here when we hear a 2 or three shot string we assume that deer is still going. I have always adhered to the maxum of make the first shot a good one and you don't need to shoot again. Lever action shooters many times are so focused on the second or third or more shot that they don't make the first shot count as they should.

Eric, your dad sure did not consider your feelings when he slit the throat. Would have been much more ethical to put another round behind the ear. Around here it used to be standard practice to slit the throat to bleed out the animal but that only works if the heart is still beating which most times it isn't.
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#10 mudduck

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 02:06 PM

So, I've been doing some thinking lately. (Always dangerous.)


Well, I'll reserve my opinion on the matter until the conversation gets rolling. (Because I want y'all to lay it out there without holding back just because so-n-so might not agree with you!) But, I will say that it seems pretty obvious that there wouldn't be any meat loss with these type shots.
So, what's your view?
Does your point of aim change with weapon? How so?
What about a point of aim change within individual firearms caliber? (.243 compared to 7mm Mag, for example.)
Are these type (neck/ear/head) shots lethal?
As lethal as broadside "vitals" (heart/lung) shots?
What kind of margin of error do you think they offer?
Do personal ethics play a roll in your opinion of these type shots either way?

Let's kick it up, folks. Inquiring minds want to know!



Well, you asked 8 questions, I will give you 6 answers based solely on my experiences, and where and how I hunt. Your questions include the deliberation of shooting a .357 pistol or a 30.06 rifle, which leads me to think { because of the pistol} close range shooting is a probability/ very likely. I will assume you are a good shot with both.Now to your questions. 1. My point of aim would remain the same, for head,neck, or vital area { as I shoot no scope}, my line of sight and bullet path are nearly identical at very close ranges. 2 Choice of calibur does not change where I want the bullet to impact. 3 Neck, Ear, Head shots are instantly fatal.{ if done correctly. The margin of error is significantly smaller than a broadside "vital" shot}. 4 Heart/lungs/brain/ spinal cord. Dead is dead. 5. margin of error? Broadside deer,pinpointing the exact center of the vital region, +- 4.5 inches approx. { 9 in dia. circle}, for head/neck, maybe less than half of that, remember that deer quartering towards you or away from you offer a reduced "bone free" vital shot. Bone fragmentation can ruin a lot of meat. 6 Personal ethics play a part in any shot one takes,it's an individual thing that you are comfortable with . As for wasting meat, obviously, one would want to avoid shooting through shoulders, hind quarters, or high spine shots, other than those areas, damage to meat is minimal. Now to re-state, I'm assuming you are a PROfficient shooter {turkeycaller] and your shooting is done at close range, something you feel very confident at with both firearms.I like having the odds of success in my favor, take the broaside shot

#11 Jeremiah

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 05:18 PM

Very interesting thus far. I'm not sure why, but I expected to see more support for the head/neck shot than what it seems has been shown thus far.

I will say that I've always been taught to shoot for "vitals" (generally the lungs). As an NBEF instructor, this is obviously still what I am bombarded with. In an ideal situation, there's not much reason to take any other shot than lung/heart. But, the thing is, not every situation is "ideal". Additionally, every deer I've seen "shot in the ear", for example, with a firearm has gone down on contact, as Jeff mentions. What I've been thinking through in my mind is this... "Would I take this shot if it presents itself and I am pretty sure that it is the only opportunity I will have at this animal?" Typically, any time I have a question like that come to mind I write it off as me just trying to justify something I likely shouldn't do. (Sort of like the old, "Would you shoot at a doe at 100 yards with a bow? No? Okay, but would you have shot if it was the biggest buck you've ever seen?", thing. You know, clear situations where one may let their emotions dictate their actions.) But, the more I've thought about it, again, these shots actually seem to be quite lethal provided the shooter is skilled and anatomically aware. So, I think it deserves discussion. Hence I'm here. :D

I think it's good to kick this around some more. I would enjoy more feedback, for sure.

As to butchering your own deer... it's the only way to go, IMO! Unfortunately, I currently live in town with no facilities (a garage, shed, or even much of a yard) to do such work. I do have a friend whom has offered me the use of his facilities and even a helping hand. But, as I have unfortunately discovered in simply field dressing a couple deer this fall and needing help, I likely couldn't do that work anymore. (Rather rude awakening.) So, I'll be employing deer processors, prayerfully, for many years to come and simply be at their mercy.

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#12 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 05:52 PM

I still do all my own butchering work on my deer whether they are head, neck or vitals shot. I prefer to shoot my first shot through not in the ear. This gives me a nice hole to affix my tag. Just kidding. I have seen some pretty nice deer butchering operations and some that I would not take even a skunk to. I do take my cut meat to a custom meat shop to be ground, wrapped and frozen. The owner absolutely assured me that I get my meat back and no one elses as they only work on one deer at a time. He comments each time I bring meat in that my meat is the best looking meat he gets. I nearly cube my burger meat so I can mix it with some of the lesser cuts and get a better blend. I feel an obligation to the animal to do my best by the meat. With all the hullabaloo about CWD I do not like a deer being cut on a band saw either.
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#13 Eric

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 09:00 PM

I have shot a deer (or few deer) in my time through the neck, but most of the time was not intentional.
I will in the future if the shot arises to make these shots again as the equipment I have used for most of my years hunting don't change.
BUT in most cases right behind the shoulder is where I'm aiming for.
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#14 mudduck

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 09:03 PM

Funny, it seems we only have ethics problems with head/neck shooting deer, elk , and bear , but not squirrels or rabbits or gophers or coyotes or fox or skunks or prairie dogs etc. Why is that?

#15 Eric

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 09:15 PM

Good question Jeff! when I was still in high school and Dad and I used to hunt small game we used to challenge each other to make only head shots but that is the only way we used to do it. I don't hunt squirrels any more but would not change the head shot way but that's just me.
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