Shot Placement For Whitetails: Is No Man's Land Real?

4 Tips for Better Archery Shot Placement on Whitetail Deer

One of the first things bowhunter's need to have a good understanding of, BEFORE bowhunting is the anatomy of a whitetail.  There is a lot of information regarding proper shot placement for whitetails, and some of it is good and some of it is bad.  

We sat down with Chris Creed of Afflictor Broadheads who is a pro at tracking blood trails to discuss: where exactly is a perfectly placed arrow on a white-tailed deer? 

Listen to the Full Podcast Here:

 #1. Is No Man's Land Truly a Factor?

No Man's Land or The Dead Zone is a phrase used a lot to describe the anatomy of a whitetail above the lungs, and below the spine.  There are countless trail camera images on the internet of big bucks with wounds in this exact area, leading you to believe that there is a spot on a whitetail above the lungs, and below the spine that results in a non-fatal shot. 

The fact of the matter is if you look at the anatomy of a whitetail, there is no dead zone. The lungs come up above the body of the vertebrae, and it is a pressurized chamber. The inexplainable photos with wounds looking like fatal hits are due to improper shot placement. It is possible for a white-tailed deer to survive a shot that only clips the top of one lung due to a bad angled shot.  So, master the anatomy of a whitetail and strive for putting that arrow through both lungs for the best results. 

#2. The "Vital V" is the Focus.

The vitals of a whitetail are framed by the scapula, and leg of a whitetail creating a window that bowhunters refer to as "The Vital V."  This 8 inch region of the whitetail is the perfect placement for a shot with a bow and arrow
Depending on your shot angle, if you put your arrow in this portion of the deer, you may impact both lungs, and the heart.  When you hit that mark, your tracking job will be short, and your recovery will be rewarding!

#3. Should You Take a Frontal Shot on a Whitetail?

Trends in archery and bowhunting come and go.  As of late, High FOC arrows with cut-on-contact fixed blade broadheads are at the forefront of archery education.  With this concept comes with discussion of shot opportunity, especially when it comes to quartering to angles, and the frontal shot. 

This is where your understanding of Whitetail Anatomy becomes crucial.  The frontal shot can be an extremely effective, lethal shot when your setup allows. However, your margin for error is extremely narrow.  The bone structure of a whitetail creates a very small window for a properly placed arrow head on.  As the size of the deer grows, the bones become more dense and the window only enlarges slightly.  

At the end of the day, the frontal shot comes down to your angle, are you in a tree stand or on the ground? Is your broadhead and arrow setup ethical to take this shot? and are you confident enough in your ability to execute that shot? It's never a bad shot if you decide to wait for a better shot.

#4. Broadside, Quartering to, Quartering away. Does My Point of Aim Change?

Bowhunting Whitetails is unpredictable and this can make getting the perfect shot on the buck that has been filling up your trail camera SD cards all year, extremely difficult.  You may be presented with shots that are not perfectly broadside.  Again, the whitetail anatomy is critical in these examples.

A good rule of thumb for shot placement is to visualize the exit point.  The goal is always to get a pass-through shot so when picking your point of aim for a broadside, quartering to, or quartering away shot,  best practice is to aim for your exit.  This concept gives you a clear picture of what vitals are in your shot angle, and will be a good gauge to whether or not you should execute the shot.

Photo Cred: Realtree Outdoors
At the end of the day, knowing and understanding the anatomy of the game you are pursuing will not only make you a better hunter, but will also result in more recoveries, and better memories! 
Written by: The Exodus Team