AIM For The EXIT!!!

AIM For The EXIT!!!

exitThe goal of every hunter is to make a perfect shot but what does that mean? The arrow or bullet needs to impact exactly where it is aimed.

Aim for the Exit!!! The other day I was called upon to track a buck that was wounded from an arrow. The hunter had made a “perfect shot”. In almost every case where I have had to recover a wounded critter, it was a “perfect shot”.

In many cases, the critter is hit behind the shoulder in what looks like the kill zone. This area contains lungs, heart, or liver. The buck we were searching for was hit exactly at the center of the shoulder in the kill zone but the angle was wrong. The arrow hit a rib and passed out the other side without touching any vitals. The deflected arrow changed its angle by nearly 45 degrees. By adjusting the angle and aim point, we would have been filling out a harvest tag instead of searching for a wounded animal.

Fortunately, deer and elk have blood that clots quickly and allows them to survive from these poor shots. I have seen hearts from these animals with a broad head imbedded In them. The wound had encapsulated with scar tissue and the critter lived for years after the event.

Ideally, you want to make a double-lung shot. Broadside shots offer the best and most consistent angle for an ethical and effective harvest. That means that you need the bullet or arrow to pass through both lungs. Will Primos, the famous hunter and caller, says that “if you make a double-lung shot, they will lay down like babies”. Elk and deer that I have harvested with an arrow and broadside shot, never knew what hit them and laid down within 50 yards.

If the target is at an angle, uphill, downhill, or something you did not plan for, things can get tricky. Now the hunter needs to adjust. When most hunters practice shooting, they are at a nice flat and level range. They have never made these adjustments before. Most shots afield are never what they practice. They are not seated, elevated, or without a rest.

Practice the shots you anticipate. If you are hunting from a ground blind, tree stand or still hunting, shoot from these positions. The projectiles that you shoot arc and have a trajectory. You will learn this when shooting up and down hills.

Hunting is incredibly exciting. The hunter sits for hours or days waiting for that one special moment. Their heart rate and breathing increase and things happen very fast. SLOW DOWN!!!! Breathe slowly and focus. You can yell and dance around after a perfect shot. You need to become deliberate, calm, and allow the muscle memory from practice take over. Be all business for just a few important moments and the outcome will be positive.

AIM for the EXIT!!! This sounds so simple but this is the mistake most hunters make. You need to imagine where the projectile is going to exit the target. This wound channel is essential to making a clean and humane harvest. You may need to aim slightly back, forward, higher, or lower. The goal is for the projectile to hit vital organs without deflection or obstruction.

This moment of calm will determine if the critter is down or crippled. Hunters love and respect their prey. We do not want them to suffer or make a shot that will ruin what we plan to eat.

Once you visualize where the arrow or bullet will exit, connect the dots and aim for that angle. I rarely take any shots other than a broadside angle. Other hunters will argue that an angled shot, or a frontal shot or something else, is just as effective.

 As a Biologist, it is simple anatomy. Understand the vital organs and their locations. Plan for the projectile to pass through these areas and you will humanely fill your tag.

Arrows now have mechanical broadheads that open on impact. Some have 2 or more razor sharp blades that create huge cutting circles. These blades function differently when impacting at an angle or when they hook a rib, shoulder blade, or bone. Now the angle changes and can deflect missing any vital organs. Fixed broadheads cut more consistently.

Velocity and kinetic energy carry a projectile through the target. Longer ranges, trajectory, and angles now impact the aim point. Crossbow bolts are shorter and have less mass. They travel faster but with less kinetic energy. The slightest miscue will prevent them from effectively passing through the target.

Bullets travel at a variety of speeds, have different construction, and many shapes. Ballistics are critical and good marksmen are students of these characteristics. It is never just one thing that makes for an effective shot. Great marksmen consider all of these variables before making their one, best shot.

Don’t take a shot that you have not practiced.

“AIM SMALL, MISS SMALL!” “ONE SHOT, ONE KILL!” These phrases are often used when teaching marksmanship. The one important shot is a result of hundreds of practice shots.deer anatomy


Montana Grant

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