Head shot anyone???


Active Member
Feb 9, 2004
Hello to all,

Is there anyone amongs you more experienced shooters and hunters who choose on purpose to take a head shot over a lungs shot?
I have never shot at a deer with a rifle but with a bow I always try for a double lungs. Any infos is much appreciated.
Thank you for your time.
If you dont want to ruin any meat the head shot is better. If you hit just a little front on a lung shot the front quarters are gonna be bloodshot like hell.

I try for headshots whenever I can, espically on does. I think my furtherest has been 150 yds but when you miss you miss it is usually a clean miss. I also aim just behind the head at the neck. A little more room for error or movement.
I have shot a few deer in the head. I shot one in the head last year and remember why I quit. I like the meat and when you head shoot a deer everything shuts down fast. This leaves a lot of blood in the meat. Compare a steak from a bow shot and a rifle shot deer. The bow shot venison is clearly much lighter in color. Also, when you thaw the meat head shot venison will leave much more blood in the sink. When you shoot a deer through the lungs with a bow or rifle the heart keeps pumping for a short time. Look in the chest cavity the blood is there instead of in the meat you want to put on the table.
In response to what bruce said it is true that everything shutsdown very quickly. Alot of guys at our deer camp shoot doe in the head, and to solve the problem of blood they simply cut the throat and hang them upside down on a tree. (May seem almost morbid but it sure gets the job done)
I'm firm believer in the neck/spine/head

No running away and chasing. I don't have the time right now to type out my nearly lost big buck story of how it had a classic side shot when i was younger and how far it went with a little .284 hole right through it's lungs at under 100 yards. After that I've just shot at the neck or head
I never go out with the intention of a head shot. Plan for heart lung and only take something else if the situation is right and you are confident you can take what is presented.

I have shot deer, elk and antelope in the head when looking straight on or moving straight away. Only because the situation was presented and right.

With a headshot it can be a matter of inches between an instant kill and a starvation kill because of a blown off jaw.
I avoid spine shots as the loin is the best meat and there is not enough of it - no need to waste more unless you have no other opportunity.

Neck shots can be tricky. You have to know where things are and be able to hit spine or juglar. If you happen to just go through the esophagus you can still be looking at a starvation kill.
The general rule i was taught if taking a headshot (assuming the deer is broadside) is put the crosshairs right behind the ear and its either hit and clean kill or a clean miss.
A head shot is a poor choice for the reasons sighted by Quiethunter:"With a headshot it can be a matter of inches between an instant kill and a starvation kill because of a blown off jaw." I've known several hunters over the years who have done just this and didn't recover the animals. Both considered themselves excellent marksmen.
The heart-lung area is a surer kill spot then the head-neck area. Also, when you hit them there it's usually a short trail to a downed animal.

Pat S.
Before I have ever hunted a new game I would look up the anatomy of the animal. I always study up the ballistic charts for what gun I'm shooting so I have a close idea to what the bullet will be doing in the wind, cold, elevation. I have shot 1000's of rounds some years at bench rest shoots. I get all prepaired to take the big guy at long range and use my 22 or 24 power on the scope.

What generaly happens to me is: The guy posting said he was bow hunter. So he knows how to get close to deer. I end up every year it seems with sub 200 yard shots even in our relatively open land scape here in the southwest. I've even shot some under 50 yards.

The deer or the elk just looking at you. Or they are standing in tall enough brush that you really can't see their body. So I go for the base of the neck.

If you can shoot a 1 inch group at 100 yards you will not have a problem with sub 200 yard animals. Just place your bullet. It's a whole nother subject at 400+ yards and your need a full 12X12 kill zone.

Just a couple of years ago black powder hunting in South Dakota I saw a nice 4X4buck walk up and start racking on some small trees right iin front of where my buddy was standing. At best 20 feet away and he shot it right in the throat and the .50 cal ball took out 2 inches of neck bones.
I got to say I got 1 deer with my 54 cal bl. powder broad side that was the only shot it would give me I found out why after I shoot it it was easy to drag out (lol) blew top of it head OFF and yes that is were I was aming about 50Y and for tracking a dubble lung pass throught with a 1 3/4 broad head works just fine 20Y track or a hart shot with a .06 at 20Y is easy to I dont know why I am setting up for long range I have never taken a deer over 75Y I am thinking about extream deer hunting jumping out of a tree with a speer or knife sounds like fun or how about using a air gun shooting them in the eye by the way I live in MN
Like others have said it really depends on the situation and your comfort level with your particular rifle. If you just go sighting in a month or weeks before season like I see some do at the range, I wouldn't recommend it. However, if you shoot your deer rifle, or rifles in general for much of the year up to deer season, then you should be comfortable. As far as distance to take that shot, again, you have to look at how well you shoot on the bench and translate that to the field. 3 years ago in South Dakota, I snuck up around 125 yards to a nice buck and doe sitting on a fence line. I waited for some time for the deer to get up, but they never did so I took the neck shot and laid that buck over right where it was laying. The doe next to it got up and took off running over a hill and two other does got up about 225 yards behind these two deer on the back hill. Two does stood there looking right in my direction, though I knew they couldn't see me. Since it was dead calm and I knew my capabilities I took a second neck shot and one of the does since I had one last tag to fill and that animal also dropped dead in its tracks instantly as well. That shot was nearly 350 yards, but I felt confident of the shot. I also shoot almost once a week for a good 8-9 months out of the year and know the accuracy of my rifles well. Depending on which rifle I would have had in my hand at the time I wouldn't have taken the shot, but I knew what my 300RUM was capable of so didn't hesitate for either shot.
Hello to all,

Is there anyone amongs you more experienced shooters and hunters who choose on purpose to take a head shot over a lungs shot?
I have never shot at a deer with a rifle but with a bow I always try for a double lungs. Any infos is much appreciated.
Thank you for your time.

I mainly use it for culling deer not hunting. When culling deer head or neck shots often result in multiple downed deer in one outing. If you drop one quick often times the others just stand there and look at the downed deer. The longer the distance the more likely the others wont run. After the first one is down I will look for a solid neck shot or go to the body on the next.

As for head shots, broadside are the most risky. For this shot it has to be dead calm and I always hold a little more toward the back of the head or neck head junction. It only takes a few inches of drift to blow a jaw off. As Sean said the going away shot is much safer neck or head shot. I also like the head on shot when the deer puts its head down to fead, you have the top of the head and all of the neck.

I mainly do this with a 6 BR If I use a larger cal I opt for the high shoulder.
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