Can you shoot an arrow through a mysterious vacuum of tissue and air beneath a buck’s spine and above the lungs, and have that deer run off to live another day? Or will a broadhead shot here most certainly clip the lungs and/or cut vital arteries and kill the deer, even if you never find it?
If you’ve ever pulled a shot high—and who amongst us hasn’t?—you’ve agonized over this as you tracked on a sparse blood trail, looking for a “dead” deer that might never have materialized.
Is this “no man’s land” conundrum for real, or a myth?
Dr. Grant Woods, one of the nation’s top deer biologists and a hard-core bowhunter, told me one time: “This is a frequent debate among bowhunters. Both sides hold solidly to their opinions. This is probably because both sides are correct, at least according to their observations.”
Bowhunting across the country the last 35 years, I have seen strange and unexplainable things happen when I or others shot a deer too high above the lungs and beneath the spine. I count myself a cautious believer that no man’s land does indeed exist.
OK, that is the backstory. Now to this email I got from Zach the other day:
Hello Mike: I shot an 8 pointer last Wednesday 1/14/15 on an evening sit. I knew the shot was a bit high but felt good about the placement. No blood at spot of impact. Blood started about 40 yards away and I had a nice steady trail. Snow did help. Followed him about a quarter mile into a thick cedar bedding area. Never went into the bedding area that night, I left him lay until the morning. I thought for sure he would bed down and not get up.
Went back in the morning and walked up within 20 yards of him staring at me. He took a couple good leaps and I backed out. I did check his bed and there was a nice pool of blood in it. I backed out just hoping he would stick around the area; I just didn’t give him enough time. Went back the next morning and same thing. After the second time I jumped him, I felt I should just be more patient but should still keep looking, so I gave him a few days.
Went back a third time and with fresh snow found a couple beds with far less blood and a bit of puss in them. Made me think he is not a dead deer but a healing wounded deer. Went back the other day over a week later and no sign of him anywhere. I’ve been running a few cameras just to see if he would show up.
Sure enough he showed his face one evening. I attached a picture of him. No man’s land, you can clearly see entry hole up on his side. Hope this helps to confirm the no man’s land theory. Thanks—Zach
i had this happen to me this weekend. Missed judged the yardage and went high when i released the arrow. i have lighted knocks’ and seen that i had hit way high as the arrow hit the deer. complete pass through. when i went to pick up the arrow there wasn’t a drop of blood on it. all cover in fat and tallo. left the deer for several hours went back to start looking for blood and found 3 spots in one place about 400 yards from where i hit it. made circles for 4 hours and couldn’t find anymore blood. called a dog tracking service and told them what happened and he told me not to waste my money to have him come out because 100% of the time that they have went out for other people with the same hit they never find it. there was no beds where he laid down and seen that he went full tilt across an 8o acre bean field with again no blood. i haven’t lost a deer in 17 years and beat myself up for 2 day about and couldn’t even eat.
Sounds like you know exactly what we have been talking about. Nobody said the spot was a lethal one….just that the location does exist where a arrow or bullet can go through a deer close to the ‘Magic” kill zone and the deer will survive. Nothing more to it than that!
Im kind of embarrassed to see this on such a mainstream site.
There is no such thing as no mans land.
1. The deer in questions was shot right through the backstraps, yes the MEAT… and its nothing but a flesh wound. It actually makes MORE sense the buck would live with a pass through as the healing starts as soon the the bleeding clots. I know this only by common sense AND butchering my own deer. Sounds like most of you just drop them off?
2. Depending on angle you could get a lung…. deer, just like humans and most other animals can live off 1 lung. Simple as that, but 99% of this no mans land crap is a shot high right through the best tasting meat on that buck and is nothing but a scratch to a wild strong health animal.
I can provide some cutouts that will prove all of this, but knowing where the spine is should clear it up. Take a look for yourself and THEN reply.
Its 2015… this is ridiculous.
My friend shot one with an arrow right where you guys are talking about and never recovered it. Three weeks later during gun season he shot the same deer. It had a hole right through it where he had hit it with the arrow.
I think it’s true. Many years ago while shotgun hunting in NY my father hit a great buck around the last rib or two just below the spine, remington copper solid. We had a good blood trail and found bone pieces, pooled blood every time he stopped so we let him lay over night. We looked for days, thought for sure he would have hit a piece of the liver but never found him.
Well that spring while doing some scouting for Turkey’s in an alfalfa field I noticed some deer and one big bodied one. Through up my binos and could visibly see that was the buck, he had one white patch/healed hole on both sides right where my dad said he hit him. Still looked like he should have killed him but I guess he just hit that no man’s land spot. After winding me that buck jumped a 3 barbed wire fence, a little gimpy but no worst for ware. If they can live from slug arrow is very possible.
Hate to say it but been there, done that! Yes, I do believe there is a spot under the spine and above the lungs that doesn’t stop deer. I hit a nice 9 pointer there broadside from 15 yards about 15 years ago with a Razorback 5 and tracked him for around 800 yards before losing the blood trail. ,I went back for the next 2 days, looking and watching for buzzards and nothing. 3 weeks later, the buck walked out into a hayfield with a slickhead about 50 yards away and didn’t offer me a shot. You could see the spot back and up a little bit where the hair had been cut by the broadhead, but the deer went off with his slick and I never saw him again. Whether or not he lived, I can’t prove, but he looked perfectly normal the last time I saw him. Maybe it’s just a way for my conscience to ease the guilt of hitting one like that, but I really do believe he made it. Just throwing in a little of my experience for what it’s worth.
It sure seems like the deer would parish either way. If you do manage to pull a shot high to this area it would break the vacuum in the body cavity and the deer wouldn’t live anyway. But I’m no scientist, just a knowledgeable hunter/blogger. I’ve learned alot, however, I don’t know the answer I just thought I’d toss in my 2cents
I figured the picture to make it tricky, looks like he took it off computer screen w/phone and has a lot of reflection/distortion, but the story sounds legit to me. I have seen and heard first-hand so much on no man’s land (including with deer I have shot and not recovered) that all you can really confirm is what Grant Woods told me one time: “Both sides are correct, at least according to their observations.”
Not sure what kind of picture that is. Looks superimposed over a pic inside a house. But enough of that. The entrance wound does not appear to be between the lungs and spine (“no man’s land”) that people disagree about. This wound is above the spinal column. Just my opinion.