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to take or not to take a head shot on a deer?

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Unread 01-01-2010, 09:39 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Texas
Posts: 297
Re: to take or not to take a head shot on a deer?

Originally Posted by Clark View Post
We raised pigs to ~ 250 pounds, and then gave them a 22LR to the brain.

Lately, I have been giving raccoons a 22 short standard velocity to the brain.

With both of those animals, I like to shoot down through the brain from above, to get the brain stem.
If I just hit the upper brain, the animal acts like it is drunk.
About 15 years ago my brother-in-law and I visited a friend of his somewhere south of San Antonio. I met his buddy and his son while we were there. His son was around 8 if I remember right and he followed his dad everywhere he went. 2 weeks later the boy was killed in a freak accident. They lived on a farm and raised domestic hogs. They went out to kill one to butcher and dad let the boy shoot the hog in the head with a .22 LR rifle (I think it was a rifle). The bullet bounced back and entered the boys head through his eye and killed him. Rewind even farther back in time- I used to shoot my .22 LR rifle at a target at the base of an old oak tree in our back yard. One day I shot and the round came back and hit me right between the eyes. I could see it coming but couldn't react to it in time. It drew a little blood though not much since it just barely broke the skin. It was more of a shock than a hurt. If memory serves me correctly the tree was about 25 yards away. I don't shoot at trees anymore

Not trying to preach... just saying that strange things happen with .22 rimfires
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Unread 01-01-2010, 09:47 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 653
Re: to take or not to take a head shot on a deer?

The 22 mag works more consistently for not bouncing off a thick pig skull.
And the pig only gives you ONE easy shot.

I stop feeding pigs 24 hours before slaughter.
Then I put some feed in a small bucket.
When the pig sticks his head in the bucket, he gets popped in the top of the head.
If the bullet bounces off, the pig goes and hides.
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Unread 01-01-2010, 10:50 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Truckee
Posts: 293
Re: to take or not to take a head shot on a deer?

Thats really sad how that boy died. Can't imagine what it did to the father.

When I was about 12, the family let me take a headshot on a pig with a 30-30. The bullet actually made it through part of the neck and stopped in front of the shoulder. We roasted the entire pig over a fire pit and ate more than half of it that day which was fun.

Personally I wouldn't take a headshot on deer out hunting, don't need to cause my load- 168VLD out of 7mm rem mag behind the shoulder of muley drops 'em with Zero meat damage and no bones touched. So far it has worked up to 750 yards. But high shoulder shot? Ha! Bet it would be ugly.

Last edited by theodore; 01-01-2010 at 10:57 AM.
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Unread 01-03-2010, 09:32 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 9
Re: to take or not to take a head shot on a deer?

I am old enough to know not to engage in those posts on the internet these days, but football is slow and I feel compelled to reply:

I've shot quite a few large animals in my life but never in the head/neck (until this year).

Heart/lungs simply offers a bigger, more forgiving target. I respect the animals I hunt and I will not take a chance in a crippling shot. I've lost 2 deer in my life and both still haunt me and I will do anything to keep it from happening again.

In my case this year, I was presented with a head/neck only shot at a buck antelope at 80 yards. The animal was facing DIRECTLY AT ME - the only way I would EVER CONSIDER a head/neck shot as there's (virtually) no chance of hitting only a nose or jaw. I was prone with my rifle rested on my backpack with zero wind, a rock solid rest, and the antelope was not frightened or moving. I'd recovered from my 1 1/2 mile stalk and was breathing calmly. My .270 handloads shoot cloverleafs at 100 yards and have been tested through my rifle in the prone, offhand, kneeling, bench, and multiple bi-pod positions over the years. Miss low, hit the base of the neck. Miss high, head shot. Miss left or right, Jugular/carotid, quick bleed out, game over. I actually went through all of this in my head in about 10 seconds and talked myself into the shot. It's the only time in my life I have ever considered, and taken a shot like this. I settled in, put the crosshairs on the buck's adam's apple, and pulled the trigger. The shot dropped the buck on the spot instantly, and 2 vertebrae were mush and mostly out the back of his neck when I cleaned him. If I kill 100 more big game animals in my life, I bet 2 or less will be a head/neck shot. It's got to be PERFECT. That's just my take.

Problem is, people read threads like this and think, "why not try? Never know unless you try!" They take the rifle out of the lead sled and head into the woods and try to long, low percentage shots. Just because you have the right and you can (legally), doesn't mean you should. I am a staunch conservative and used to argue "if it's legal, leave me alone" but I am older, wiser, and more mature: Just because I can, doesn't always mean I should. It's the same reason I choose not to use battery powered motion decoys while duck hunting. Guess I am a traditionalist that way. To each his own.

The same way people reserve the right to take that risk with another animal's life in the field, I reserve the right to challenge the ethics of folks who attempt these shots when the situation, equipment, and their practice/experience is not perfect. Half the folks here will condone the shot, half won't. They're both right, but the individual who is shooting has to be mature enough to know when it's right. Unfortunately, it's been my experience that some folks aren't mature enough to make that call. I've lived across the country, and it's been my observation that this *tends* to be more prevalent based on geography, but I will stop at that.

I'll grit my teeth at the folks who take what I consider unethical shots, and it does frustrate me to read, but truth be told, I am happy with who I am and how I do it, so I let it all go pretty quick.

In the end, life is too short and I am perfectly happy hunting with like minded individuals and bagging a few less animals in my life, but making their last few moments on this earth respectful and ethical.


Last edited by duck911; 01-03-2010 at 09:51 PM.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 08:22 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: UK
Posts: 13
Re: to take or not to take a head shot on a deer?

Sorry for resurecting old thread but I found this poor fella with a fresh head shot wound and had to dispatch it, not all head shots are a simple dead/missed deer...

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