Whitetail Deer: To Shoot or Not To Shoot

Broadside, running uphill, quartering away...A buck can present any number of angles. Here's an illustrated guide on where to put the crosshairs. This article covers six common shooting angles hunters face in the deer woods. Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Standing Head-on ** A deer facing head-on presents a solid killing shot""with a couple of caveats. First, you have less margin for error with bullet placement. Make sure you can centerpunch the buck and that you are confident in your own ability as well as your rifle's. Second, a deep-penetrating bullet design will ensure the maximum amount of damage to the vitals. Hold the crosshairs at the base of the neck when you shoot. Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Broadside ** This is the bread-and-butter deer-killing shot that all hunters look for. A broadside animal at rest presents the best and most uncompromising shot at the vitals. Put your vertical crosshair just behind the deer's front leg and hold about a third of the way up the deer's body. You will take out both lungs as well as some of the major blood vessels leading to and from the heart. Another bonus: This shot allows for the greatest margin of error if your bullet goes astray. Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Positioned Below You ** Taking a shot from above""whether from a tree stand or the top of a hill or an outcropping""is one of the trickier angles to calculate, particularly when the deer is quartering toward you. Put your crosshairs high enough on the animal so that your bullet traverses the full width of the deer's torso as it cuts through the vitals, exiting low from the far rib cage. At close range from this angle, the most common mistake is to hold too low on the deer, risking a shot that passes under much of the vitals. From a long distance, avoid the temptation to hold too high to compensate for bullet drop. The horizontal distance to the deer is shorter than you think. Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Deer on the Move ** Should you shoot at a running deer? Often, the answer is no. One exception is a follow-up shot on a wounded animal. Don't get carried away with trying to calculate the lead. If you put the crosshairs way ahead of the animal, the chances are you'll miss way in front. Instead, keep the reticle centered in the hair on the front edge of the deer's body while smoothly swinging your rifle and shoot. Don't be surprised when the deer balls up on the ground for good. Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Quartering Away ** One of the great advantages of this shot is that you have a better chance to get your gun into position without the deer spotting the movement. Hold at the back of the ribcage on a line that exits at the front of the off shoulder. Your bullet will take out both lungs and, more likely than not, some of the major arteries of the heart, too. Outdoor Life Online Editor

Broadside, running uphill, quartering away…A buck can present any number of angles. Here’s an illustrated guide on where to put the crosshairs. This article covers six common shooting angles hunters face in the deer woods.