I slowly rested the cool dark barrel of my rifle on the arm of my tree stand and centered my eye behind the scope. As I struggled to control my trembling arms, I focused in on the dark drifting shape in front of me. The buck stepped from behind the tree and I knew this would be my last chance before he would step too far into the eye high cattails. His shoulder cleared the old oak and my crosshairs centered on his shoulder. The crack of the rifle jolted my cousin awake half a mile away and the buck dropped in its tracks at 30 yards. I smoked my victory cigar and then strolled over to examine my buck. No tough tracking, instant kill and venison on the table. Does it get any better than that?
In fact, it does not. This story is a great example of the perfect rifle shot on a deer. My .308 Remington shell smashed through the deer’s shoulder bone, pierced both lungs and demolished the brachial plexus. This resulted in an instantly paralyzed and quickly deceased deer. It is critical for every hunter to master the shoulder shot, as it is the most effective and humane means of killing a deer with a firearm.
The shoulder shot is so effective because it destroys three main parts of the deer’s body. First the bullet hits the shoulder blade, which results in immediate physical disablement of the deer and an immediate crash to the ground. Second, the bullet will destroy the brachial plexus, which is a hot spot around the shoulder blade of nerves, muscle, veins and tendons. Destruction of the brachial plexus typically results in paralysis. Lastly, the bullet should penetrate both lungs, which will quickly and effectively end the deers life. All hunters should strive to put this kind of hit on every deer they fire at. It is speculated that most hunters tend to aim behind the shoulder at the main vital area of the lungs and heart. This shot will kill the deer effectively, but it will not be as quick and sudden as the shoulder shot. But as a word of warning, some hunters complain that the shoulder shot damages more meat. Opinions differ, as some say the shoulder meat loss can be as little as two pounds or as much as fifteen.
David E. Petzal, when speaking of the shoulder shot says, “Almost always, when a critter is struck there and the bullet does its job, the beast goes down right away or within a few steps. The shoulder shot is the way to go if you have a bullet that will break bone reliably and if you are shooting something big that may object to the proceedings.”
So remember, for the quickest, most effective and humane killing of a deer, aim at the shoulder, hold steady and put the hammer down. The buck of your dreams should be dead in his tracks and waiting for your arrival.