Hunting is not only fun, it’s fulfilling to be able to provide meat for your family and loved ones. However, taking the animal should not be the only goal. A hunter should always make every effort to kill the animal with a single shot, one that results in as quick a demise as possible.
So, how can you know where to shoot a deer so that you can accomplish this? Well, a hunter needs to be well-versed in deer anatomy, so that the animal can be taken with as little suffering as possible.
Where you shoot a whitetail could be the difference between a clean, ethical kill and a wounded, suffering animal.
Where To Shoot A Deer
The definition of what an “ethical shot” is when hunting deer has been an oft debated topic. Whatever your definition may be, a shot that presents the opportunity for the quickest and most humane (and legal) kill should be utilized.
It’s easy for excitement to give way to poor shot selection when hunting (especially when shooting at long range). Unfortunately, this often leads to the wounding of an animal, resulting in unnecessary suffering.
So, where is the kill zone on a deer? The following are locations of a deer’s anatomy, that if properly executed, will result in an effective kill.
The Heart Shot
Simply put, a heart shot on a deer is lethal. However, while it will result in the death of a whitetail, it does not necessarily always provide the best blood trails. When the heart is hit, the flow of blood decreases and may result in less of a blood trail than you were hoping for.
bullet or broadhead that penetrates the heart often pierces the lungs as well, which is beneficial to ensuring a quick recovery of the animal.
When taking a heart shot, it’s good to be sure that the caliber of bullet you are using is sufficient to penetrate the shoulder blade and ensure a clean kill. The downside to a larger bullet is it can result in a larger amount of unusable meat upon processing.
The Lung Shot
The lungs provide a large target for rifle hunters and bowhunters alike. While a bullet can enter the lungs of a deer and exit, shooting its lungs with a broadhead will make it difficult for the deer to breathe. Usually, that difficulty breathing will keep it from being able to run too far after the shot. Sometimes, however, simply clipping a lung or not having a complete pass-through shot can result in poor blood trails, making the deer more difficult to track.
A lung shot with a bow is often as effective as a heart shot. Just aim for the middle of the lung area. A well-placed lung shot will cause the deer to suffocate to death. However, a lung-shot attempt that hits too far back may only pierce the liver, which can result in a much slower death and more difficult to track animal.
The Neck Shot
You can drop a deer with one shot if the spinal cord is severed. A neck shot that severs the arteries in the large arteries in the neck can be particularly bloody and lethal. But, while a lethal neck shot causes little damage to the meat of the animal, if the spine is not severed, it could be difficult to recover and it may even survive.
While a neck shot can be a risky shot with a gun, it’s simply a very poor shot to take if you’re a bowhunter.
The Brain Shot
If it is well executed, a brain shot will drop a deer immediately. When you put a bullet through the brain, it will disrupt the life functions of the deer and it will lose consciousness immediately. This shot results in no loss of meat, but is a very difficult shot to make, due to the small target area. If the shot is not accurate, it can result in unnecessary suffering of the deer and you may not be able to recover the animal.
Deer Anatomy | The Rest Of The Story
While we’ve covered various parts of a whitetail’s anatomy that can be aimed for during a hunt to result in a kill, it’s also good to be well-versed in the rest of a deer’s anatomy, so you can become a more well-rounded and knowledgeable hunter.
Wait, a deer has how many stomachs? Well, just one… sort of. Read on…
All deer species have a four-chamber stomach. The four chambers are called the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. Deer are able to consume large amounts of food in a relatively short period of time. That food is swallowed and passed to the first stomach, which is known as the rumen.
The digestive bacteria in the rumen begins to break down the cellulose found in the plant life that the deer has consumed. However, the rumen cannot completely break down and absorb all the necessary nutrients, so the deer will regurgitate the food later and chew it again. This is often referred to as the deer “chewing its cud.” This allows the deer to further break down the food, so it can absorb the nutrients it needs.
Once the food is chewed the second time, it moves to the reticulum, which serves as a strainer of sorts. Foods that are more difficult to digest will remain in the rumen and reticulum chambers for a longer period of time. This can cause a “roadblock” of sorts and can lead to malnutrition and sometimes even death, all while having a “full stomach.”
After a period of about 16 hours, the food will pass from the reticulum to the omasum. In the omasum, the water from the food is absorbed. The food then passes to the abomasum, which produces acid that further breaks down the food that the deer has eaten.
After leaving the abomasum, the remaining food particles and liquid are passed to the deer’s intestines, where it will eventually exit the body as feces and urine. Whitetail typically defacate an average of 13 times per day.
While whitetail cannot maintain top speed for long distances, they can run up to 40 miles per hour in short bursts.
With the use of their hooves, they are able to make sharp turns and pivots, even at high speeds. Their hind legs provide the power for their speed and jumping ability. In fact, deer are also good swimmers.
Whitetail bucks have tarsal glands on the inside of their hind legs. These glands secrete a musky scent unique to that individual deer. The buck will urinate on the glands and leave the scent in areas that it paws out on the ground, called scrapes.
Other male and female deer visit these scrapes to check scent. During the breeding season, or “rut”, bucks will scent check scrapes to identify what female does may be in the area or what intruder buck might be in his territory.
Male deer have antlers on top of their head as part of their anatomy. Although rare, it is also possible for a doe to grow antlers occasionally. A whitetail’s antlers are actually live tissue that are composed of bone. A deer’s antlers hold the distinction of having the fastest growing tissue of all animals.
Whitetails begin growing their antlers in the Spring and they can grow at an average rate of up to two inches per week! During development, the antlers are covered with a spongy tissue called velvet. The velvet contains blood vessels that generate growth of the antlers.
Antler growth typically stops in late Summer to early Fall. Once growth stops, the deer will remove the velvet from their antlers by rubbing them on the bases of trees. After the breeding season ends, bucks will shed their antlers. Shed times can vary in different parts of the country, but typically take place between January and March.
Whitetail Ears And Hearing
A deer has hearing that is far superior to human hearing. This serves a whitetail well in identifying danger in the form of humans and other predators. Muscles attached to the whitetail’s ears allow it to rotate them and hear in multiple directions without having to move its head. This helps it to determine which direction the sound or is coming from and possibly even how far away the sound is. This part of a deer’s anatomy plays a critical role in its survival.
Eyesight… “All Around” Vision
You may have heard the saying that someone has “eyes in the back of their head.” A deer of course does not have those, but because its eyes’ location on the sides of its head, it does in fact, have a 310-degree field of vision. Almost as good as eyes in the back of the head!
Although it is hard for deer to focus on one object, their excellent vision helps them see clearly in the night-time hours.
A whitetail’s excellent sense of smell is one of its best defense mechanisms. A deer will lick its nose to make it moist. This allows it to “capture” odor particles that are carried by the wind and that stick to the deer’s nose. This not only helps a deer identify danger, but also plays a huge part in the breeding process.
Both male and female deer leave scent behind via urine and various scent glands. Among other things, a whitetail’s incredible sense of smell allows a buck to know when a doe is ready to breed, or when an intruder buck is in the area.
It’s very important to not only be familiar with deer anatomy as a hunter, it’s just as important to know what your limitations are with the weapon you are hunting with. Is the weapon going to be effective in producing a clean kill? Is your skill level such that you can safely and accurately make an ethical shot? Practice. Practice. And practice!
If you pair knowledge of deer anatomy with skill and patience, success is on the horizon!
As a hunter, it’s always nice to see deer tracks. At least you know you have deer in the area. But deer hooves do much more than just leave a “deer was here” signature in the dirt.
Hooves make just about everything a deer does possible and easier. Deer hooves are made up of keratin, which is the same thing human finger nails are made of. The hooves consist of two divided, or cloven, elongated toes. Each deer hoof has two “dew claws” (see picture), located above and behind it. Mammals such as gazelles, sheep, hogs, cattle and goats also have cloven hooves.
A deer’s dew claws typically will not show as part of its track, unless the deer is travelling through mud or snow. In these conditions, the dew claws give the deer’s foot a larger and wider platform with which to move about.
Hooves are one of the most important parts of deer’s body and are useful for many purposes. So, let’s take a look at 5 ways in which deer use their hooves…
Running And Jumping
Deer obviously run and jump using their legs. But, while powerful hind leg muscles account for much of a deer’s ability to run and jump, hooves play a vital role as well. A deer’s front cloven hoof helps it to turn sharply and push off when jumping. So, whether deer are running up to 40 miles per hour to evade predators, chasing during the rut, or jumping in excess of eight feet in the air, they couldn’t do it without their hooves.
The keratin in deer hooves is sheeted and runs in all directions. This results in hooves that are stronger, harder and more crack resistant than bone, making them durable enough to support the animal’s weight, even when it is running or jumping with force.
When deer run, the toenails on the front of the hooves allow it to reduce the area of the foot that touches the ground, resulting in a longer stride that allows it to cover more ground.
If you’re a hunter, you have probably experienced the ‘ole “foot stomp.” It usually goes something like this… You’re watching from a tree stand or a permanent blind when a deer sees your shape or movement, or gets wind of your scent. It senses the danger and stops abruptly, curls up a front leg and starts stamping its hoof.
Deer do this to either confirm the apparent danger or become comfortable that there is actually no threat. Sometimes the deer will flee, but hopefully for the hunter, the animal will eventually settle down and continue browsing or travelling in a manner that allows an ethical shot.
It’s not uncommon, especially in suburban areas, for people to mistake deer for defenseless animals. But don’t let their majestic appearance and graceful movements fool you. In addition to hunters, deer have other natural predators. These can include coyotes, wolves, bobcats, and sometimes even bears and alligators.
When a predator threatens or attacks, a deer can either run or fight. Bucks often use their antlers to defend themselves, but just like does, can rise up on their hind legs, using their hooves to strike predators. They can also kick from behind, using the hind legs and hooves, if necessary.
For hunters, the rut is a magical time of year. It’s that time when many hunters dream about that deer of a lifetime walking into view. Bucks are rubbing trees, using licking branches, and making “scrapes.”
In addition to hooves giving a buck the ability to chase does back and forth at high speeds, they also play a key part in the deer scraping activities. Bucks and does alike will visit and use scrapes, but during the rut, bucks scrape more aggressively and will use the scrapes to announce their presence in the area as well as to tell other bucks to stay out of it.
Bucks will make “scrape lines” along travel routes and as they move through their territory. These can show up along field edges, fence lines and between feeding and bedding areas.
Bucks will paw and clear (scrape) an area to be free of leaves and debris. They will urinate in the scrape to leave their scent, effectively marking their territory. In addition, they will lick and chew overhanging branches, leaving forehead scent as well. Does will also visit and use these scrapes, allowing bucks, upon a revisiting of the scrape, to know if a doe is ready to be bred.
Deer have interdigital scent glands in between the two hooves on each leg and one of the most important glands the animals have. Deer use the scent dispersed from these glands to track one another.
The interdigital glands are small, sparsely-haired sac located between the hooves on each foot. The sacs contain a yellowish material called sebum. The scent is left in a deer’s track every time it takes a step.
Whitetail Deer Hooves Vs. Mule Deer Hooves
Whitetail deer and mule deer have many discernable differences in appearance and movement. Both have a unique antler structure. Mule deer utilize a bouncing gait, known as a pronk or stot. The whitetail do not utilize this type of gait, but rather tend to run and leap when fleeing danger.
While whitetails and muleys may have their differences, hoof structure and tracks are nearly impossible to differentiate. Both whitetail and mule deer have two hooves that form and upside-down heart-shape on the ground with the rounded bottom. The side of the hooves are convex, while the tips of its hooves are located towards the inside of the track. The outside of the toe is usually slightly larger than the inside toe while the hind feet are smaller than the front feet. Without other non-hoof signs, distinguishing between whitetail deer and mule deer is nearly impossible.
Hunt The Deer Tracks?
Hopefully, we’ve been able to provide you with a useful overview of how deer use their hooves. Here’s one final thought… those deer tracks you find will only tell you where the deer have been. Here’s to hoping you find out where they end! Happy hunting!
Have you ever watched those movies where they shoot arrows with a bow and wished that you could shoot them too?
Archery is indeed fascinating and remains one of the oldest arts still practiced today. In fact, archery is now one of the famous Olympic sports and is even a sport in the Summer Paralympic games.
So, just how did archery come about? And, when was is invented?
Archery was mainly used for hunting and warfare in the past, but is mainly a recreational activity now. If you have been longing to know more about archery, keep reading! We will cover the history of archery, archery equipment, famous historical archers and even how you can get started in the sport of archery.
History Of Archery
The evolution of archery dates back to the beginning of mankind’s history as studies have found evidence of ancient archers around the world.
Ancient Egyptians are known to have regularly used bows and arrows for hunting and warfare around 3000 BC.
Also, in China, archery has been traced back to the time of the Shang Dynasty in 1766-1027 BC, when a war chariot carried an archer, a lancer, a driver and a three-man team.
So, what exactly is archery?
According to Oxford Living Dictionaries, archery is the sport of shooting with a bow and arrows.
Merriam Webster defines it as the art, practice, or skill of shooting with a bow and arrow.
Someone who participates in archery is called an archer or a bowman. Anyone fond of archery or who is an expert at it is called a toxophilite.
Today, some still use archery for hunting wild game (known as bow hunting) and bow fishing has also grown in popularity. Archery is now rarely used for defense, except in leisure pursuits such as archery tag.
You might be wondering… who invented the bow and arrow and when were the bow and arrow invented? Well, we don’t know for sure who invented archery, but it’s believed that Egyptians may have used bows and arrows as early as 5000 BC.
When a skilled archer takes charge of a bow and arrow, the result can be effective and deadly. Thus, ancient bows and arrows out-classed other weapons, such as swords, that were available in the olden day. The ability to shoot an arrow from a distance gave archers an advantage in battle over those bearing swords.
History Of The Ancient Bow And Arrow
You can’t really talk about the history of archery without examining the history of the bow and arrow. In the ancient times, the major weapons were:
• The axe, sword and mace for short range • The spear and javelin for medium range • The bow and sling for long range
A Bow had two basic parts, including the string and the body, made of pliable and tough wood. The archer would the wooden part of the bow (grip) at the center when ready to shoot. When the simple bow was made, it had only one convex arc so it didn’t exploit the maximum pliability of the wood. So, the double-convex bow was invented to provide a greater range and tension.
The composite bow was later invented for warfare purposes, as it was made of four materials including wood, glue, animal sinews & tendons and sections of animal horn. The wooden part of the bow was made from different trees with different pliability and the back of the bow was covered with sinews bands. The belly of the bow was also reinforced with two sections of animal horn. The composite bow had a range of 300 to 400 yards.
Today there are many types of bows, including flatbows, longbows, cable-backed bows and compound bows.
Arrows were also made of three parts, including the tail, body and the arrowhead. The tail was designed to ensure the arrow stayed on course in a straight and smooth flight, which was why it was made of feathers of sea-fowl, kite, vulture or eagles. These feathers, or “fletchings,” are now sometimes substituted as plastic “vanes.”
The body of the arrow was also hard, light, straight, long and thin to ensure maximum speed. The arrowhead was the hardest part, made of metal, flint or bone.
Arrowheads could be either triangular or leaf-shaped, flat or with central rib or spine. In ancient times, the form of an arrowhead was based on the nature of the armour of the enemy that needed to be penetrated. Today, arrows are made of fiberglass, composite materials, aluminum, wood and bamboo.
The Oldest Bow Ever Found
So how old is the oldest bow?
The oldest bows were found in Holmegard swamp in Denmark. Some date the series of bows found in the bog between 20,000-9,500 BC. The municipality called Holmegard is no longer in existence as of 2007, because it has been merged with other municipalities to form the Naestved municipality.
The first bows ever used were made of wood and stone or wooden arrowheads. In 3300 BC, the arrowhead was changed to bronze which could be shaped and sharpened with ease.
Development And Evolution Of Archery
Chinese introduced archery to Japan in the 6th century and it had a great influence on later techniques and etiquette. One of the Japanese martial arts was originally known as kyujutsu, meaning the “art of the bow.” But, now it’s called kyudo, which means ‘the way of the bow.”
Presently, modern kyudo is mainly practiced as the method of moral, physical and spiritual development. With kyudo, the archer has to perform a certain ritual movement before moving to the shooting line and shoots from a distance of 28 meters. During Greco-Roman times, the bow was mainly used for hunting or personal exploits, rather than for warfare.
The superiority of Middle East technique and equipment continued for centuries. In 1200 BC, the iron age paved way for arrowheads to be made from iron, which allows for a deadlier shot and better armour penetration.
Archery was used for hunting, but Koreans, Indians, Parthians, Persians, Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Japanese and Chinese used it in their armies.
The English longbow was made from yew wood in 1337 and used during the Hundred Years War because of its ability to outreach the enemy bows. Although the English longbows were effective, the Turkish and Asian bows were more efficient and far better than an English yew bow.
Later, firearms were developed and rendered bows obsolete, causing the use of bow to decline until the 18th century, when archery was revived as a sport. Since that time, there have been several big tournaments.
In the 1900 Paris Olympics, archery was included. Professional engineers started developing new types of bows in the 1920’s, including the modern compound bow and recurve, which are currently the most popular forms of the bow in the Western hemisphere.
Although bows and arrows were already in existence when Central Asian peoples crossed over to North America, the people didn’t seem to know about them. It’s believed that Native Americans did not begin the practice of archery until about 500 AD.
It’s believed that once they discovered the bow and arrow, that it became the preferred weapon of choice, because it took less raw materials to make than spears.
Indian tribes, such as the Cherokee Indians, used the bow and arrow to hunt for animals. They would bowhunt for fox , turkey, rabbits, elk, bear and deer. Deer were especially useful, as they provided materials for clothing and tents, as well as for food.
Indians used deer antlers to make weapons like spears, arrow heads, fish hooks, needles and other useful tools.
Archery In Mythology
If you’ve watched Chinese, Korean and Japanese movies, you will understand how popular archery is. Robin Hood is another modern movie where archery was made popular. And if you’ve read Odysseus in Book 21 of the Odyssey, where Odysseus was mentioned as being skilled in archery, you will see that the history of archery is a rich one.
Due to the use of the bow and arrow for warfare and survival, many heroes and gods are still depicted as using bows and arrows. Some of these mythological figures and folk heroes include:
• Abhimanyu • Kama (son of Radha) • Cupid • Artemis and Apollo • Hayk and Marduk • Heracles • Shiva • Rama • Arjune • Robin Hood • Wilhelm Tell (William Tell)
How was archery developed into a sport?
During the time of King Henry VIII, archery was developed into a sport in England. At that time, men younger than sixty were asked to practice shooting with arrow and bow. From that time, people started competing with one another during festivals.
In 1900, archery was included in the Olympic Games and was among the first sports in which women were allowed to participate.
During the 1920 Olympics, archery was included, but afterward dropped because of lack of consistent international rules and lack of interest.
When people again started showing interest in archery in 1931, an international governing body called the Federation of International Target Archery (FITA) was formed to establish rules accepted around the world. But, that did not convince Olympic organizers to include archery again in the Olympic program until the 1972 Olympic Games in Germany.
When the archery was added again to the Olympic Games, each archer was asked to use bows made of wood and covered in graphite. Their arrowheads were made of aluminum, with strings made of Kevlar or hydrocarbon.
Athletes were asked to use protective equipment like shooting gloves and arm guards to protect their forearms and hands.
Modern Day Archery
Unlike in the olden days when archery was mainly used for defense and war, modern day archery is practiced in different forms with different types of bows.
We now have disciplined martial artists, recreational archers, world championships, record-breaking distance attempts and Olympic level competitions. Although people still use archery for hunting game and for bowfishing, it is rarely used for war and defense. Everything about archery in the modern setting is leisure pursuit and anybody can learn archery and become an archer.
Most archers wear an arm-guard, called a bracer, to protect the inside of the arm that holds the bow. It’s not that the bracer braces the arm; the word was formed from “brassard”, which means an armoured badge or sleeve. Some archers (females especially) wear plastrons or chest guards on their chest for protection.
Fascinating Facts About Archery
Archery has come a long way and since it is now mainly used for the recreational purpose, here are some interesting facts about archery:
1. Archery is one of the safest sports
Archery is considered to be one of the oldest sports in the world. With just one injury out of 2,000 participants, the National Safety Council has deemed archery as three times safer than golf. In fact, USA Archery claims the sport is safer than bowling. This means archery is fun and safe for everyone and you can try it too!
2. Archery is the national sport of the Kingdom of Bhutan
The Kingdom of Bhutan has made archery their national sport. Almost every village has an archery range. That is how popular archery is in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
3. An archer is also called toxophilite
Although the word sounds funny, it is legitimate. The word “Toxophilite” originates from Greek “toxon” meaning bow and arrow and Greek “philos” meaning loving. So you are also a toxophilite if you are an archer!
4. King Henry V was a toxophilite
In 1421, King Henry V of England ordered 500,000 arrows for his army and the arrows were kept in the Tower of London where the king’s arrow keeper watched over it.
5. Archery was the first Olympic game that allowed women to compete
In the past, women are not allowed to participate in the Olympic Games but archery changed that. Archery allowed female competitors in the Olympic Games in 1904. Now, you can’t talk about the Olympic Games without mentioning female archers like Khatuna Lorig and Mackenzie Brown.
6. Monarchs in Britain have banned golf, bowls and football for archery
In Britain, various monarchs have banned golf, bowls and football because men refused to practice archery because of these sports. In fact, during King Henry VIII’s reign, he ordered every man in the country to practice archery after church on Sundays! So, England was the first country to organize archery competitions in the 1500s.
7. Archery has been featured in many movies
If you have watched movies like The Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood, Rambo, The Hunger Games, Brave and some of the Korean and Japanese movies, you would understand why a many people around the world want to become archers.
How archery can benefit you
You may be asking; is archery really that important? Does it offer any benefit? Well, archery offers both physical and mental benefits. It doesn’t offer these benefits to only adults; children can learn al lot from archery as well.
The act of drawing a bow is an exercise and can help you burn calories, as well as build up certain muscle groups. So, if you are looking to stay fit, archery can be a good form of exercise.
2. Upper body strength
When you draw the bowstring, your shoulder, arms, hands, back and chest are involved. So drawing a bow can help you stabilize your leg muscles and core muscles for balance.
When you are successful in a competitive archery, you can gain self-esteem and confidence. Winning a competition and boosting your confidence can help you in other aspects of your life.
Merely seeing your arrow fly and hit the target can give you a relaxing and satisfying experience.
5. Hand-eye coordination
With archery, you can gain hand-eye coordination. When you practice standing correctly, nocking an arrow, drawing your bow, setting up your shot and releasing the arrow, you are sure to gain hand-eye coordination. If you are consistent in practicing archery, you will increase your coordination.
To achieve a good shot, you need to be precise, account for variables including power, distance and wind. Because you are required to be focused when shooting an arrow, it can also help your focus in other aspects of your life.
7. It is a cool sport
Archers are usually portrayed by Hollywood as heroes because that is how people view old and modern legends like Robin Hood and Katniss Everdeen. Archery is also considered one of the safest, if not the safest sport in the world.
Archery is a great pastime to take part in with friends. Whether you are target shooting or hunting with a bow, archery gives you a chance to connect to like-minded individuals.
Being successful at archery requires patience and dedication. So, if you are looking for a lesson in patience, this is the right sport for you!
10. It is open to all
Whether you are able-bodied or disabled, this sport can be taken part in by anyone. Even the blind can use special equipment to enjoy this sport. Archery is for everyone, whether young, old, male or female.
How to get started in archery
Maybe you’ve seen others shooting a bow and arrow, or you’ve watched movies that feature archery and now you’re wondering how you too can get started. It is easy. Whether you want to shoot arrows for fun, or learn to become an archery competitor, there is a place for you in the sport of archery.
Archery at its core is fun, addictive and challenging. And, with the many benefits it offers, you are sure to love it. The most important disciplines you need in archery are field, target and 3D. You can easily find an organization that offers classes in each of the disciplines. And who knows, with practice and dedication, you might even be offered a chance to compete in competitions including national and international competitions!
After figuring out the aspect of archery you like, you need to consider the type of bow you would like to use.