Part I: What is the perfect shot?

Over the years, I have read a lot of deer hunting articles. The articles have covered every aspect of deer hunting one could imagine. I find these articles interesting, simply because I compare what the author states to my own experiences in hunting probably one of the most popular animals in our country.

Based on my own experience and from talking with other hunters, I can confidently state that bagging a deer is one of the most gratifying hunting experiences that a hunter can dream of. I can remember as a wannabe young hunter that I was consumed with being able to hunt the highly esteemed whitetail deer in our area. It was like a passage to manhood for those of us growing up in a small rural area.

Just the thought of being out in the woods with my father and carrying a rifle in pursuit of a deer that sported headgear was the stuff that would not allow me to sleep at night. I can still tell you every detail about the first whitetail buck I dropped with a rifle! I am sure that the buck being my first big game animal that I was successful in harvesting had something to do with it, but actually I get that way with every deer I harvest.

I was reading one of those famous deer hunting articles a week ago, and the discussion was about shot placement on a whitetail deer. It was interesting to read the author’s take on the subject. In just two weeks, the firearm deer hunting season will commence in our state. This year’s season opens on Nov. 28 and will run through Dec. 9.

With the season rapidly approaching, I thought it would be interesting to discuss shot placement on a deer, especially after reading this particular author’s opinion on the subject.

The very first buck that I dropped with a rifle did not fall to a perfect shot. I was down to the final couple of minutes of the season and darkness was rapidly approaching. I had been seeing deer in the preseason scouting sessions on a regular basis but once the season began I could not spot a deer to save me! The weather had turned ugly, and I was in a panic. My dream of dropping my first deer was about to go up in smoke right before my eyes.

With about three or four minutes of shooting light left, suddenly a small buck literally ran out into the wheat field where I was perched in a tree stand along the edge. I yanked the rifle up and snapped off a shot at the buck. Every aspect of the shot that I had imagined and practiced in my mind over and over in preparation for this monumental hunting day went right out the window! The buck actually dropped in its tracks! All I can say is that it was by the grace of God that the bullet actually hit the deer and put it down in its tracks! I think I literally jumped out of the stand to get up to that deer.

What I had actually done was shoot the deer high up on its body and broke the spine, thus dropping the deer right where it stood. The deer was still alive and I had to shoot it again. It was not what I wanted or had dreamed of. My placement of the shot was terrible, and I attribute that to the fact that I was rattled and in a panic. I was successful in shooting my first buck, but not proud of the way it all went down.

I guess the moral of the story is to not shoot a deer in the spine — that is not the perfect shot! So, just what is the perfect shot? I would imagine if you ask five deer hunters their opinion on this matter, you would get two to three differing opinions. Each opinion would more than likely have solid merits, and not one would be the only proper way. There are three prevalent locations that I hear and see deer hunters utilize, and we will look at each.

Tim Kellenberger106 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.


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