The Best Shot Placement for Deer – Hunting Guide

Not sure which is the best shot to take on that big buck? What is The Best Shot Placement for Deer?

Our goal is always for a clean single-shot takedown by hitting deer vitals first time, every time.

This guide will help you to make that perfect shot.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Guide To The The Best Shot Placement For Deer

Guide To The The Best Shot Placement For Deer

First Things

Rifle or bow? Ground Level or Tree Stand?

The best shot placement for deer will vary depending on what equipment you are using and from what angle you are shooting from. We have made comments about each in this article to help you decide on the best option.

How Do I Make the Broadside Shot?

The classic broadside shot aims to take out the heart and lungs for a quick humane takedown. It is the most preferred shot as it gives us the biggest target.

It is typically the shot practiced at the range giving the hunter a feeling of “I’ve Done This Before”

On a mature buck the target size is equal approximately to a dinner plate giving the hunter a much better chance of a clean single shot kill (Remember our goal).

If using a rifle then aim for the top of the shoulder, the bullet will break through the shoulder and penetrate into the lungs and heart region resulting in a quick kill.

A heavier grain of bullet is recommended to break through the shoulder, particularly if you are making the shot from 100 yards or further out.

The added benefit of this shot placement for deer is breaking the shoulder will stop your deer from traveling far once his adrenaline kicks in.

If using a bow then breaking through the shoulder is not an option.

Your aim point is below the top of the shoulder slightly behind the leg. This will allow the broadhead to penetrate the lungs and damage the heart.

When shooting from a tree stand 20 feet up the shot placement needs to be slightly higher compared to the ground level shot.

Broadside shot

How Do I Make the Quartering Away Shot?

The best shot placement for deer turned slightly away from you is behind the forward leg. Imagine your projectile traveling between the front legs.

Another sizeable target is presented allowing the shooter to hit the deer’s vitals. The shot should be aimed slightly behind the front leg of the animal, this will result in the heart lungs and back shoulder being hit.

Both rifle and bow hunters can take this shot with confidence that a well-placed projectile will meet our goal of a quick and clean takedown.

Exact placement will depend on the angle you are shooting from as illustrated in the image below.

Quartering away shot


How Do I Make the Quartering Away Shot?

How Do I Make the Quartering Front On Shot?

This is mainly recommended for rifle shots due to the penetration required to hit the deers vital organs.

Again a larger caliber bullet is recommended for this shot placement. Your aim point is the top of the front shoulder allowing the bullet to access both lungs for a quick takedown.

Bow hunters ideally should wait for the animal to turn making a broadside shot possible or run the risk of a wounded animal and a very long follow-up chase, not to mention distress to the deer and loss of meat harvest.

That said experienced bow hunters can make this shot similar to the quartering away shot by placing their aim just behind the far shoulder. If the front shoulder is likely to be hit then this shot should NOT be taken.

For both rifle and bow hunters, this is not one of the preferred or best shot placement for deer options but it is possible for experienced hunters.

Deer quartering front on shot


How Do I Make the Quartering Front On Shot?

How Do I Make the Straight On Shot?

Straight on shots are made at the centre of the chest to take out the heart and lungs. As the target area on this shot placement is smaller it is not a recommended option unless you are under 150 yards, have a heavy caliber bullet and are a very accurate shot.

For bowhunters there is just too much chest muscle to penetrate and this shot placement for deer is not recommended.

How Do I Make the Head Neck & Rear Shot?

You don’t

Rifle and bow hunters. Do not do it.


The target area is too small. This is certainly NOT the best shot placement for deer!

How many baseballs can you hit dead centre at 100+ yards?

It is not an ethical hunting shot to take, do you really want to wound that magnificent animal?

If you want to take this shot I suggest you get your kids Xbox or Sony playstation.

Best Shot Placement for Deers


Do Not Shoot

Shot Placement for Deers

Do Not Shoot

How Do I Make The From Above Shot?

When hunting from a deer stand you will be presented with overhead or shots from above opportunities.

Distance and angle make a big difference with these shot placements.

Direct vertical and close range shots can be difficult to make (Remember our goal of a quick clean takedown).

Why? The target zone of the spine through to lungs requires a precision shot and deep penetration to make it an effective shot placement.

Should you miss the spine, the result will most likely be a single lung hit, resulting in a deer that can run for many miles without leaving a substantial blood trail to follow.

On the other hand, close distance allows for more accuracy and greater hitting power so taking a vertical shot is a good option if you know your abilities are up to the job.

Taking an above or elevated shot when the deer is not directly below you is often an easier shot to make. Your aim point is the heart region just behind the shoulder blades.

Imagine the bullet or arrowhead penetrating into vitals and where the projectile would exit after taking out the heart and lung vitals.

Deer Shot Placement

How Do I Make the From Above Shot?

Practice Your Deer Shot Placement Regularly

One of the best ways to build your confidence and ensure you are up to the job of making that clean shot kill is to regularly practice your marksmanship. Thompson Targets (#ad) provides a range of hight quality targets for all your practicing needs. Best of all they are ALL MADE IN THE U.S.A. and easily available on Amazon. (#ad)

Summary Deer Shot Placement

Before taking any shot remember the number one goal is to make a clean, quick take down so you can get on to the job of harvesting that wonderful meat and then enjoying a cold beer.

Know your equipment and your capabilities before taking any shot.

If in doubt wait for a better opportunity, deer do not stand still all day.

I hope this guide on The Best Shot Placement for Deer will help you make that perfect placement and fill your freezer.