John’s Note: The hunters who score deer year after year know the truth – you have to give Lady Luck a helping hand. Here’s how!
To shoot accurately, the sportsman must forget about the buck’s antlers, the size of the deer’s body and instead concentrate on the spot where he wants the crosshairs on his rifle to rest when he squeezes the trigger. From years of hunting, I’ve learned that the most-effective shot to put a deer down quickly is to shoot 2 inches in front of the point of the shoulder. If a deer is standing broadside to you, this shot will break the animal’s spine and put him down instantly. If the buck’s facing you, and you’re shooting from a tree, the downward path of the bullet usually will pass through the heart and lungs. Although a total broadside shot at the neck is the best shot, if the deer is quartering away from you, then aiming for the point of the shoulder still will have you in an effective kill zone.
When the crosshairs settled just in front of the buck’s shoulder, I squeezed the trigger of my 6mm. Some hunters might argue that a 6mm is a very small caliber to use for hunting whitetails. However, bullet placement is far more critical to deer-hunting success than the size of the bullet, the velocity at which it hits or the range that you can shoot. When I fired, the buck reared straight up, fell over on his back and kicked the leaves about three times. Then he was on his feet again – running in heavy cover. I knew I’d made a good hit and realized that one of the keys to recovering the deer would be my ability to listen and interpret the information that I heard and saw after the shot.
The buck fell the second time and then vanished into heavy cover. I heard him blow and make a deep gurgling sound, which notified me immediately that the bullet had at least hit his lungs. Next there was a thrashing sound and then total silence. I assumed that the buck was down. However, I’d learned that if a hunter waited 30 or 40 minutes before he attempted to recover a trophy, even if the deer was not put down instantly, there was less chance that the animal would jump up and run off if he wasn’t pursued immediately after the shot. I also needed the time to replay the shot in my mind, scrutinize the terrain carefully and try to predict where the deer should be.
And, since woods would take on a different appearance once the hunter was on the ground from when he was in the tree, I intently studied my reference points. I made sure I knew the exact tree the buck was standing by when I took the shot. I searched for unusual characteristics along the route that the deer had taken after the shot. I shook my legs out and made sure that they hadn’t gone to sleep before I started climbing down out of the tree stand. Many an excited hunter has fallen out of a tree stand after taking a deer, because his legs have gone to sleep, and he tries to go down a tree before his legs wake up. After 30 minutes had passed, I climbed down the tree.
To get John E. Phillips’ eBooks and print books on hunting deer, including his newest deer-hunting book, “Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks,” available at http://amzn.to/2bYwYOK/, and you can click on these books to learn more, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “Deer & Fixings.” Or, go to www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. You also can find John’s books on Nook at www.barnesandnoble.com.