By Jon Silks, Game & Fish
You may have seen the debates online about this shot opportunity. Folks claim they can make it every time and that if you know what you are doing, this is a dead deer.
Don’t Shoot! Do not get hooked by the bravado and chest thumping – it is a bad decision every time. The window into the vitals is small and the slightest error will result in a tracking job that may very well not lead to a deer – only frustration, disgust and a loss of confidence.
The Texas Heart Shot, as it is sometimes referred to, is a horrible choice for the ethical deer hunter. I have heard stories from bowhunters telling of their amazing shot and how quickly the deer died with this.
Don’t Shoot! Your chances of success are low, and there is just no good reason to risk it. If you have ever butchered a deer, you know what you are up against, and it isn’t encouraging. Stay away from this shot.
A deer that is quartered toward the shooter puts me in mind of a soldier who puts up his shield to protect his vitals. The shield may not cover the entire body but it is certainly an effective defense.
Don’t Shoot! With this shot it is all about angles – make an error an inch or two in one direction, and you are into the stomach; go the other way and you hit solid bone. The best you can hope for is maybe one lung and liver depending on the degree the deer is angled. The real question is why take this shot? The deer is obviously already moving or turning at an angle and chances are that a little patience will produce a high percentage broadside or slightly quartering away shot. Patience.
This is one that many of us have been tempted by. Come on! The deer is only 3 yards away. How hard can it be, right?
Don’t Shoot! My first question to you would be, “How many times have you practiced this shot?” Some bowhunters may practice this shot. However, most of us typically start out at 10, 15 or 20 yards on the target range and never shoot closer than that. A shot straight down is a different ballgame altogether.
Secondly, this is just a bad shot selection regardless of how good you are. A deer’s body and bone structure can do weird things with an arrow. I have been told of two instances within the last few years of the arrow entering an animal only to follow the line of a bone that knocks it off course and away from the vitals.
Have you ever shot at a deer that is alert to your presence? You can see their muscles twitching, ready to explode at the first hint of your movement or any unusual noise. When I was younger I took a shot at a doe standing broadside at 30 yards. By the time my arrow reached its destination, the doe was literally not there. She had spun on her back legs and bolted low and fast. It was a lesson I learned well. If a deer is looking right at you or is otherwise aware that something is wrong – Don’t Shoot!
It is amazing how lightning fast a deer’s reflexes are. It would be better to wait for your quarry to relax somewhat and then attempt the shot.
I know there are some who will try to squeeze their arrow through a tight opening in some brush or other obstruction. However, there are simply too many things that can go wrong to take the risk. True, you may get through the obstacle between you and the deer. The problem is that nobody knows how your arrow will react if it happens to hit anything before it makes it to the intended target. You can hope that it would only result in a clean miss but there is also a very good chance you will strike the target with less than a lethal hit. This is where having a good grip on your limitations will help you make the right decision.
If there is plenty of space to allow a clean hit considering your skill level, then by all means, let your arrow fly. On the other hand, if you are not positive and cannot be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt – Don’t shoot!
This article was contributed by Game & Fish, a publication of Intermedia Outdoors. Visit http://www.gameandfishmag.com/ for more useful articles.