5 Best Places To Shoot A Deer For Single Shot Kill

To shoot or not to shoot? That is the question that confronts us, hunters, when we have a deer in our sights. Because let us be honest, we all desire to take down a big game with a single shot.

So, where is the best place to shoot a deer without it scampering off with a serious injury?

In short, for firearm users, the head and high shoulder are the right areas to target.

So, where do I shoot a deer with a compound bow or crossbow? If you use a compound bow or a deer hunting crossbow, simply aim at the lung or chest cavity area. Remember, when shooting with your crossbow shot, placement is more important compared to killing with firearms.

But there are several other answers to this question, and they all depend on several factors.

crossbow with deer hunting

We have discussed more in-depth below and drawn illustrations about how to target and secure kill shots perfectly and easily in a humane way.

For starters, you must first consider at least a good-performing firearm or bow that can penetrate the target area and kill your big game effortlessly.

To consider Firearms, we will recommend you choose a powerful .308 caliber rifle, which most deer hunters recommend.

Another important factor to consider is the distance from your target to your shooting range. If the deer is near, try to aim at the neck or brain; these two spots are ideal if you are in a comfy position and your prey is near and resting.

And if you prefer a 308 caliber rifle or other firearms, mount a high-quality 308 rifle scope to enhance your aim and help reduce the statistics of wounded animals during hunting.

According to Oklahoma Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 50% of deer never recovered after being shot, and from them, some deer survived up to 5-7 days before succumbing to their wounds.

All these factors will influence your decision on where to shoot deer. When you are a professional hunter like me, you cannot afford a miss or a wounded deer. So, how do you guarantee a deer kill shot? Let’s learn more in-depth from the below.

Top 5 Best Places To Shoot A Deer

best places to shoot a deer

The High Shoulder: Best Shot Placement For Deer

Probably the best kill shot for deer is the high-shoulder shot. If executed properly, a high-shoulder shot can kill a deer instantly. To achieve the best results, a deer hunting rifle such as a hunting gun is recommended to a bow. Don’t ever try to shoot the deer with an air rifle, even if it is a .25 caliber or .22 air rifle or more powerful.

best place to shoot a deer

A well-placed shot to a deer’s shoulder blade will go through the chest cavity and to the other shoulder blade. The shock caused by such a shot will paralyze the animal’s nervous system. Furthermore, such a shot will break the spine. Also, a shot to an animal’s shoulder blades will disable the animal’s front legs, rendering it immobile.

The Upside

The upside to a shoulder shot is that the shoulder area is a high kill zone on a deer. The shoulder shot will render a deer immobile. Also, such a shot will ensure that the deer does not run away. Additionally, the shoulder shot will kill a deer almost instantly.

The Downside

The downside to a shoulder shot is that you cannot use a bow. Also, only heavy bullets will get the job done. The problem with using heavy bullets is that they cause massive meat loss. Considering that the meat around the shoulder meat is considered prime, the damage caused to the meat can be disheartening. Also, a shoulder shot is not achieved.

Shoulder Is another best place to shoot a deer

Bottom line

With the right firearm and ammunition, the shoulder is one of the best shot placements for deer. But when a bow is your primary tool, I recommend sticking to the lungs. So, the best place to shoot deer with a bow is in the lung area. Even with a bow with sufficient draw weight, getting the job done is never guaranteed. In Addition, you can try a crossbow scope for better aiming and for killing it humanely, and yet it is not guaranteed.

Brain: Another Best Place To Shoot A Deer

The brain is a vital organ, and a well-placed shot to a deer’s brain will disrupt all its essential functions. Also, a precise shot to the brain is one of the most humane ways to kill a deer.

This is because the deer will experience no pain and will lose consciousness immediately. Additionally, a brain shot guarantees minimal meat loss.

Where To Shoot A Deer With a Rifle From The Front: Brain?

For the Rifle or firearms user, the best point of a target is the head because only by this the maximum damage to the brain can be done.

Well, draw two lines, one from the left eye to the right ear and another from the right eye to the left ear. And then identify the intersection. That’s the point you have to shoot from the front. This technique is only advisable when the deer is relaxing or immobile.

Brain Shot is another place to shoot a deer

Problems With The Headshot

But before you pull your favorite remington trigger, there are a few things you should know about the brainshot. For starters, a deer’s brain is a relatively small target. Thus, you might have difficulties getting accurate brain shots if you are using heavy bullets. Personally, I recommend using small frangible bullets.

Another problem with the brain is that it is well-protected by a thick bone. Therefore, never try this shot with a bow. The fact that a deer’s head is small does not make things any easier. Thus, a weak shot will only glance off the skull and do the deer no harm. Worst yet, the shot might miss and hit the deer’s jaw. This will not kill it but will leave the deer unable to feed, and it will eventually die of starvation, which is not the most humane way to kill a deer.

Caution: While Targeting At Brain

While the brain is one of the best places to shoot a deer, do not try this shot if you are an amateur or a bow hunter. Also, you can only take this shot if you are facing the deer.

If you are positioned behind your target, accomplishing a brain shot is impossible. Also, if you want to target deer head, do it when the deer is resting or sleeping.

The last time I killed a deer with a headshot was a year ago. It was at night, and I was about 60 yards from the deer on a raised platform with a .223 Remington. I fired a 55-grain frangible projectile, and the deer fell motionless.

If you are a professional deer hunter, you need to know which deer feeder will be ideal for your needs. If You scatter the feed in a wide area, it will create the chance of wastage and eating the bait by intruders such as raccoons and others, So I will advise you to choose a feeder rather than scattering your bait. 

The Neck: Best Spot To Shoot A Deer

What Part Of The Game Animals Is The Most Efficient Place To Shoot?

This is a question you are likely to encounter in many online hunters forums. And one of the most debatable answers given to this question is the neck area.

While some hunters feel that aiming a neck area on a deer is unethical, others feel that it is the best spot to shoot a deer. Based on my experiences, a neck shot can be effective or can be disastrous.

Shoot the deer at Neck for humane kill

Deer Neck Shot Benefits

A well-aimed shot to a deer’s neck area will cut off blood supply to the brain. Additionally, the shot will cut through the deer’s spinal cord, rendering it immobile. Therefore, such a shot will cause the deer to go into shock and die immediately.

Similar to the headshot, the neckshot guarantees minimal to no meat loss. Also, a precise shot to the neck is painless as it causes a massive shock to the spinal cord.


Unfortunately, there is a good reason why some hunters are against neck area shots. The neck area’s vital parts are small. Thus, you must be a very good shot to hit precisely the right area.

If you hit too low, the deer will be wounded. Additionally, this shot can paralyze a deer requiring you to take a second shot or to slit its throat to finish the job.

Before you become a pro at shooting deer in the neck, you will have to practice where to shoot a deer diagram with a rifle. For practicing with crossbows or archery, I would recommend you choose the best archery target for honing your skills. Shooting a deer in the neck with a bow is not recommended. It is important to note that a neck shot, though acceptable, is not recommended for deer hunting.

practice with targets for aiming in the vital organs of the deer

If you insist on taking down a deer with a bow, it is important to ensure you have the right broadheads. Moreover, the bow you are using needs to have sufficient draw weight.

In summary,

The deer neck shot placement can be tricky since you have to aim precisely at the spinal cord. If you miss the spinal cord, the deer might scamper off to die a slow, agonizing death. This is especially true if you hit the lower neck area.

The Heart

The deer heart location is the low areas of the chest cavity. The heart is thus a small target to aim at. However, a precise shot to the heart will more often than not lead to instant death. Of worth noting is that this whitetail deer kill zone is covered by the upper leg. Since the heart area is too small, it is wise to check the deer with your rangefinder binoculars or any other budget binoculars and calculate the distance. There’s also a fine line between securing a humane kill and the bullet trajectory.

Yes, rangefinder binos are pricier, but If you can not afford rangefinder binos, at least take some other cheaper options, such as hunting binoculars under 200.

Heart is the most vital organ of deer and great place to target

Benefits Of A Heart Shot

One of the main advantages of aiming for a deer heart is that the heart is a vital part. Thus, a deer will most likely drop in its tracks when you hit its heart. Also, this is an area where vital blood vessels are found. Thus, a shot to the heart can lead to massive blood loss.

Downside Of Aiming at Shot & Chances Of Lung Puncture

The downside of targeting a deer’s heart is that it is a small area. Thus, there is no margin for error when targeting a deer’s heart. Also, the chances of deer escaping while bleeding are higher.

Actually, placing a shot at the heart area will result in severe blood loss. Thus, most hunters will use the blood trail to track a dying deer. Also, light bullets will deflect off the rib cage and cause minimal deer harm.

If you hit too forward, the deer will be able to escape with a non-fatal injury. On the other hand, if you hit too low, you will hit the deer’s leg, resulting in broken muscles. However, if you shoot high, you might miss the heart but puncture the lungs, which will still result in death.


If you are aiming at a deer’s heart, you better be sure of hitting the heart. In summary, if you want to take down a deer by aiming at the heart, use a heavy bullet. Personally, I use .308 caliber rifles whenever I want to kill an animal through the heart. The heavy .308 bullet penetrates the ribcage and punctures both lungs and the heart. The only thing that makes me not opt for the heart shot is the meat loss. A heavy bullet will be destructive and take a huge chunk of meat, which is sometimes not desirable.

The Lung Area: Best Place To Shoot Deer With a Bow

If you are a bow hunter, the one area that you should always aim for is the lung area. Unlike a bullet, which can exit an animal, a bow gets lodged in the lung, making it difficult for a deer to breathe. This is one of the quickest ways to kill any big game or whitetail deer. The deer will be incapable of breathing and thus will be unable to escape.

lung is the most big organ of deer and easy to target

The Upside

A shot to the lung is a guaranteed kill shot on a deer for bow hunters. This is because the lung area is large and is easy to target with a bow. Also, it is very unlikely that a deer will escape with a bow lodged in its lung. Therefore, you save time.

Additionally, a shot to the lung is efficient and guarantees similar results as a heart shot. As such, if you are wondering where to aim at a deer as a bow hunter, consider the lung and heart area.

The Downside

The only downside to this shot is that it is effective with a bow. If you are using a rifle, the bullet might exit the animal, causing a wound but not killing it instantly. Additionally, when using a gun, you will need heavy bullets that will penetrate the lungs. Light bullets will only hit the rib cage and will not do the deer any life-threatening harm.

To achieve the desired results, aim for the middle of the lungs. The center of the lungs is a good kill spot for a deer. A well-placed shot to this area causes a deer to suffocate to death. Also, the shot will be clear of the heart. Thus, there will be less meat and blood loss compared to a heart shot.

Shot Placement: Quartering Presentation

Every hunter wants to kill whitetail deer or any other big game in a single shot. But their desire mostly depends on where they are aiming their shot.

Broadside shot

Whether you are hunting with your bow or rifle from your hunting ground blind, broadside shot is the ideal angle of shot placement.

In the below image, you can see the way the deer is standing and exposing almost all of the vital organs to your weapon.

By this kind of shot, you can secure single-shot dead, and even if you miss the heart, there are still chances that the shot punctures the lungs area and main blood vessels.

deer Shot Placement

The Quartering Away Shot

When the deer or target is facing away from you, then the angle of Quartering Away Shot creates.

Some hunters prefer a slight quartering away shot to a broadside shot.

This angle of the shot is perfect for securing single-shot kill for antelope, white-tailed deer, black bear, mule deer, and other big game.

If the quartering away angle is too narrow, then avoid large game shots because their massive intestines and stomach parts will hamper the penetration of the lungs or heart area.

Quartering Toward

This is the angle when the deer is facing towards you. For a lethal kill, aim at the front shoulder where the front leg meets the body.

With a bow, this is not the perfect angle to shoot, but with a heavy bullet, you can try this shot. If you can manage your adrenaline, then wait for a better angle, or if your gun is loaded and you have confidence, then go for that shot.

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Summing Up: Where To Hit A Deer?

Where to hit a deer depends on a number of variables that include how far the deer is from you, the kind of firearm you are using, and whether the deer is calm.

Selection Of  Weapons

If you use a bow, the traditional whitetail deer shot placement areas of the lung and chest cavity are recommended. On the other hand, if you are using a rifle, I recommend using a .308 caliber rifle. Avoid using small caliber rifles such as .22 caliber rifles.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Knowing where to aim when shooting a deer practice will be invaluable. Hitting the gun range can improve your shooting skills remarkably. Also, practicing will help you know where to shoot a deer from the front.

Essentially, if you are in front, a shot to the head will get the job done. Alternatively, a shot to the lungs can also be ideal.

However, when you are aiming at a deer’s chest or lung area, frontal shots might not do. This is especially true if you are using a bow. The chest area is protected by the rib cage, which is hard. Thus, arrows and some bullets might not penetrate a deer’s front end. On the other hand, if you are in a broadside position, a shot to the rib cage will be effective.

You may be wondering and want to know: how can you avoid hitting the shoulder blade with a broadside shot? The best answer is WAIT and WATCH. When the front leg is forwarded, you are good to go and can avoid hitting the shoulder blade.

Distance of the Deer

To know how to secure a lethal kill, consider how far the deer is from you. In my opinion, if a deer is not far away from me and I am in a nice, comfy position, a neck shot will be ideal. A brain shot can also be the perfect place to shoot a deer if the deer is resting.

However, if the deer is far away from me or is moving the shoulder, chest, or lung area will be a better target. I am less likely to miss an animal’s lung area than I am likely to miss its neck.

Thus, the answer to the question of where is the best spot to shoot a deer will depend on how far the animal is from me. In conclusion, if you want to know where you shoot a deer, consider its position.

2 thoughts on “5 Best Places To Shoot A Deer For Single Shot Kill”

  1. Great post thank you for sharing. I found some great insight about where to shoot the deer humanely.

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