Mike: I was just curious, where do you aim on a deer when you are hunting with a gun? I have had terrific success with the shoulder shot versus the standard behind-the-shoulder shot. The recovery rates and distances that deer run, margin of error and terminal performance are all superior when I use this aiming point. I think others could benefit if they changed where they shoot a buck and go for more shoulder. Thanks, Kenny from VA.

Kenny: I have shot a bunch of bucks through the shoulders and agree that it is a tremendous shot. When you’re on target, you not only take out both shoulders but also get the front of the lungs and shock the heart. The deer goes down hard, often on the spot. Just be sure to hold so that if you miss your mark a few inches windage wise, your bullet will smack back in the lungs and not forward into the brisket/neck.

No question, a doe or buck shot farther back through the lungs/heart jumps and runs farther than a shoulder-hit deer.  In an extensive South Carolina rifle/cartridge study some years ago, researchers found that 170 deer shot through the shoulders ran an average of three yards versus 50 yards or more for 152 animals shot father back though the lungs. Impressive, but I add this: A lung-shot buck might bolt 40 yards or sprint 100, he is dead on his feet and you will find him.

One potential problem with the full-on shoulder shot is if a deer is quartering away from you. If you aim at too much shoulder, your bullet can angle too far forward, missing the lung vitals. On a quartering-away shot, remember to hold your crosshair (or bow sight pin for that matter) BEHIND the shoulder and back ON THE RIBS and drive your bullet so it angles through the vitals and into the off-side shoulder. The more severe the quartering shot, the farther back on the ribs you aim. This is an absolutely devastating shot on any animal.

Bottom line: I shoot for either shoulders or heart/lungs, depending on the distance, how much aiming time I have time and the angle of the buck. Every opportunity is different; either shot, if on target, will kill your buck.