The 'High Shoulder' shot of dreams

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Hand Skills, Nov 27, 2018.


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  1. Hand Skills

    Hand Skills Well-Known Member

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    I see the term 'high shoulder' shot thrown around with increasing regularity.

    Some people say it's preferable to punch bone with tough monolithic bullets. Others like to anchor game for a quick DRT (dropped right there? Dead right there? What does this even mean anymore?)

    I'd like to share an observation I made while processing a friend's deer last week, and it has to do with anatomy.

    As I separated the neck from the body of an average sized white tail buck (estimated ~225lbs on the hoof), I was surprised to burry my 6" boning knife to the handle before encountering the spinal column.

    IMG_8627.JPG

    I drew a green line through the middle of the deer to illustrate how LITTLE vital tissue exists in the upper half, and how far back it really is. The red arrows show the location I'm referencing.

    What I particularly appreciate about this illustration is the blue line indicating the spinal cord. Unlike many illustrations, it's halfway accurate.

    My main point here is that a perfect 'high shoulder' shot isn't very high above the midline at all. Not if the spine is to be severed. ESPECIALLY not if vital tissue is to be encountered.

    I'm not trying to discourage the use, or change the name (I believe 'mid' or 'low' shoulder would be a more accurate descriptor for those seeking permanent 'hammer of Thor' or 'lightening bolt of Zeuss' results). My hope is that bringing attention to some basic anatomy will encourage shot placement based on biology instead of hype.

    Again, nothing wrong with the 'high shoulder' location, as long as it's not too high on the shoulder...!
     
  2. memtb

    memtb Well-Known Member

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    Or “nightmares”! memtb
     
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  3. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    Shot placement Is king, but a hunter has to decide where the shot placement will/should be based on many factors. I don't have One point of impact that I use all the time.

    Conditions, terrain, distance, rifle, the amount of movement and animal behavior all have a part in the decision as to the best shot placement with the current conditions and equipment.

    Different shot placement produce different results and these can be important for recovery, so sometimes we have to decide which shot to take or if to shoot at all.
    Sometimes we have to let them walk and live to another day when recovery can be assured.

    I have used the shoulder shot to good use and other shots when they were best for recovery. I strongly believe in knowing the games anatomy as stated and using it to choose the best shot at the time and not deciding on one shot all the time. This adds to your tool belt and can improve your success ratio.

    The idea is to make a killing shot that insures recovery. one point of impact every time
    will not do this.

    J E CUSTOM
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
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  4. stx

    stx Well-Known Member LRH Team Member

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    Taggin in
     
  5. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

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    After dressing literally hundreds of deer I'd say you're about right on with both your green line and location of the spine and shoulder bones.

    I think the term "High Shoulder Shot" leads a lot of people to shoot entirely too high as well.

    Punching a whole through the shoulder blades does little to anchor an animal if you don't also break the humerus and/or sever the spine.

    You have a lot more margin of error moving a little further back just above he elbow joint. Note, the joint, not the point of the elbow which is actually behind the heart.

    Anwhere between the elbow and the spine though should put them down and out very quickly.

    If you're a little too far back and only hit the spine they'll go down like a ton of bricks but it may take a considerable amount of time for them to expire.
     
    Hand Skills likes this.
  6. marioq

    marioq Well-Known Member

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    The other thing to consider is “spinal shock.” This occurs when the shock wave or hydrostatic pressure wave and concussion hits the spinal cord. This causes temporary paralysis.
    Yes read it again TEMPORARY!!! If you don’t sever the cord. They will recover in a few seconds to minutes and run/walk off. Make sure you take some vitals out with it. At least the aorta or vena cava so they died by blood loss and hemothorax.

    Ok students class dismissed let’s put
    This stuff to the test!!!!
    I’ll be heading up to north Texas to shoot some
    Pigs and deer and WildRose can show me how to clean them!!!!! Hahahahha
     
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  7. 1973doc

    1973doc Well-Known Member

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    Out west it depends on if there is room to run or not.
     
  8. WyoHunter1

    WyoHunter1 Well-Known Member

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    As Marioq mentioned about spinal shock - I have never tried that shot because I have heard about too many animals running off. Might have to reconsider it as an option.

    As Hand Skills mentioned about how far down the bone actually is on a Deer it makes me wonder about the anatomy of an Elk for the same shot.
     
    memtb likes this.
  9. marioq

    marioq Well-Known Member

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    I think the elk is the same deal. Aim for shoulder blade area at the top. If you are high better shoot again. Lower u hit spine. Too low u hot lungs aorta and the boiler room. Just need to know your gun and your bullet impact.
     
  10. memtb

    memtb Well-Known Member

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    I’ve witnessed this “only once”, on an elk.....it was enough for me! I believe in taking out the lungs. It doesn’t look as impressive for the cameras.....but it’s darn effective, with “much” more room for error! memtb
     
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  11. Hand Skills

    Hand Skills Well-Known Member

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    Here's a picture of the deer,

    IMG_8637.PNG

    Average size 2-1/2yr old. He was definitely a scrapper, if you look closely you can see a point broken off at the base right beside my buddy's thumb. As a result his neck was relatively large for his body/antler size. Easy to see once the skin comes off, but pretty hard to judge on the hoof. Keep in mind that 6" measurement was made through muscle only. Optically, with the hair/hide that grows to 7.5", call it an even 8" from hair to the 'centre of spinal cord' on this deer.

    I've been turning ungulates into steaks and roasts for 30years, so I have a pretty good understanding of the muscular and skeletal systems. Still, this guy surprised me! There is a lot more variation from animal to animal than we sometimes consider. Elk are even trickier due to the beard situation.

    Understanding proportions is a good start, but most importantly, an animal is not dead until it's blood pressure is zero...
     
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  12. Buckfever34

    Buckfever34 Well-Known Member

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    Nice post!
     
  13. elkhuntingnut

    elkhuntingnut New Member

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    Great post! I had this conversation with a buddy of mine recently while out mule deer hunting. He is an exceptional shooter and loves the "high shoulder" shot. I personally am not as comfortable with it, and this just solidified that for me.
     
    Hand Skills likes this.
  14. Ingwe

    Ingwe Well-Known Member

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    Using the “High Shoulder” as an aiming point with monolithics is subconsciously admitting that they aren’t as effective as lead core bullets;)

    They might have a higher BC or a cool name with a famous personality(s) pushing them BUT they aren’t as reliable as lead core bullets.

    Until something better comes along I’ll stick with what works 100% if I do my job and strike the vital area of whatever I’m shooting at
     
    Str8shooterTX likes this.