Shot Placement: Where to Shoot a Deer

Mike Slinkard

October 28, 2022

Achieving the best shot placement is essential to securing a swift and efficient takedown when hunting deer. But getting the perfect shot doesn’t come easy — you need to know where to shoot and how to get as close as possible to maximize your shot accuracy.

You’ll find yourself aimlessly wandering the forest with one poorly calculated shot, following a blood trail to finish the job. These circumstances are less than ideal: The hunter loses control of the situation, and the animal is left to suffer.

Out in the field, experienced hunters know how to achieve a one-shot kill and can adapt if the situation doesn’t provide a perfect scenario. You can find the best shot to fit your skills when you know what to look for and where to aim, so here’s what you need to know about one-shot kills.

3 Reasons Why Deer Shot Placement Is Important

Whether hunting, you know how important it is to ethically and quickly put down an animal. So when you are looking for successes in the field, you want to be discrete and accurate during the shot because deer move quickly — especially if they sense danger. 

That’s why a one-shot kill is necessary: Mule and whitetail deer will flee at a moment’s notice if the shot does not impact their significant organs. That means if you can’t align your shot just right, you’ll be stuck searching the forest without the guarantee of recovering the injured animal.

Reason #1: Minimize the Animal’s Suffering

As an ethical hunter, your goal should be to take down the animal quickly and efficiently to ensure a painless expiration. Proper shot placement is key to a quick and ethical harvest of game.

If you’ve honed your shooting skils and have quality, multi-level deer hunting camo (like HECS® Stealthscreen, which offers concealment on both visual and electrical planes), you’ll have the best chance of getting ultra-close to an undisturbed deer, helping you get access to a better shot. 

Reason #2: Maximize Your Chances of Recovering the Deer 

A hit to the vitals will always be fatal to the animal, which means less tracking and a quick recovery. Getting as close as possible before you take your shot will make putting your projectile in the middle of the vitals much easier and will keep tracking to a minimum.

Hitting non-vital areas will mean the animal will flee and often blood trails are sparse and hard to follow. Add in  the fact that many deer are often in an area where distinguishing your bucks tracks from all the others can be difficult.

This makes it likely that you will lose the trail, which is heartbreaking for the hunter and unfair for the animal. 

That’s why one of the keys to proper shot placement comes down to your angle and distance. In other words, the closer, the better. The patented technology in HECS® apparel is a crucial advantage when stalking close or attempting to remain undetected by wary whitetails. 

HECS® blocks your body’s natural electronic emissions, which we now know most animals we hunt (including deer) can detect and use to verify living beings from inanimate objects. With HECS® technology on your side, you will stay undetected longer and have closer shots at calmer deer. 

Reason #3: Get the Highest-Quality Meat

Deer are challenging and satisfying to hunt and harvest, but they also provide a bounty of some of the most nutritious and healthy protein you can have. In fact, deer meat is among the leanest and heart-healthiest meats out there!

The best part? Two deer can last as your main meat source for an entire year. 

However, you need first to harvest the deer before you can begin planning your years’ worth of food. A quick and clean harvest ensures that you can recover the deer and create less stress for the animal, which goes back to the first point about ethical hunting.

But beyond ethics, a poor shot placement will result in a stressed deer. And if you’re lucky enough to recover, a stressed deer produces adrenaline, making the meat tough and gamey-tasting. 

That’s why being prepared before the hunt to get as close as possible before the shot can make all the difference. Using cutting-edge multi-level deer camo apparel makes you much more likely to get that close range at a higher percentage shot opportunity, resulting in that desired quick and clean harvest. 

Where to Shoot a Deer for a Single-Shot Kill

Whether it’s the head shot, neck shot, broadside shot, shoulder shot, or brain shot, you might wonder which shot placement is actually the best.

While there are many different options as to where to shoot a deer for an effective kill, there’s really only one option that an ethical hunter should ever consider — and that’s called the boiler room shot.

To novice hunters, head and neck shots might seem like the best way to get a quick kill. However, many factors are in play: Wind, brush,and the small moving target of the head/neck area.

That’s why today, experienced and ethical hunters know better and opt for a better choice. So while it’s true that other shots can take a deer down, the boiler room shot is the only reliable and ethical shot that is certain to provide quick expiration. 

Understanding the Boiler Room Shot

The boiler room shot refers to a shot hunters can take with a broadside or quartering away deer. The shot goes directly into the deer’s chest cavity and hits the main organs — the heart and lungs — and arteries, hence the “boiler room” name.

In turn, you can guarantee a quick death and easy harvest. 

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Keep in mind that a deer standing broadside gives you the best angle to the boiler room.

The heart-lung area is located within the chest cavity, which is in the front ⅓ of the animal behind a line straight up from the front leg. To aim at the center from the broadside, you need to aim in the crease just behind the shoulder and about ⅓ up the deer’s belly line. 

But what do you do if the deer is at an angle? Well, that’s called a “quartering-to shot” or “quartering-away shot.”

What’s a Quartering-Away Shot?

Whether a novice or expert, odds are that you know what it means when a deer is “quartering” toward you. This is when the deer is facing towards you, but at an angle that poses a bit of a challenge when it comes to hitting that heart-lung area just right. 

If the deer is quartering away, you’ll need to aim further back on the deer’s body to reach that heart-lung area. Your projectile must be able to penetrate all the way into this area effectively so that it ends up in front of the animal’s diaphragm and well through the actual vital organs (heart or lungs). Once the vacuum created by the diaphragm (this enables the lungs to function properly) is pierced and any of the vital organs are severely damaged, the deer will expire within seconds. 

A good rule of thumb when taking quartering away shots is to visualize the position of the offside shoulder and aim at that point on the animal with the intent to have your projectile exit the animal on the offside shoulder ⅓ to ½  way up from the belly line.

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Of course, there are challenges with taking the boiler room shot when the deer is quartered toward you: The deer’s shoulder is likely protecting a good portion of the heart-lung area, which poses a big problem for bowhunters. Many hunters will say to avoid the quarter shot if you’re bowhunting altogether.

Rifle hunters can often succeed with this angle as long as they’re shooting a marginal to heavy bullet at a reasonable speed. The bullet should break the shoulder (if encountered) and travel effectively into the heart-lung area with ease. 

Achieve One-Shot Kills with the HECS® Advantage

Whether after a big 10-point whitetail or just a mule deer for your winter’s meat, getting as close as possible while staying undetected is the key to success. 

That is where HECS® patented technology really plays a big role.  

HECS® apparel helps hunters more easily approach their prey while minimizing the animal’s ability to detect you. The patented StealthScreen technology shields bioelectrical transmissions from the human body, so hunters can approach wildlife more closely and take the perfect shot. 

HECS® doesn’t make you invisible to deer, so you still need to keep your wind right and stay quiet. But with HECS® in the game, you will see much closer and more frequent encounters with virtually any animal you may encounter.

That makes getting that perfect shot at the vitals of your target buck immensely easier — plus more filled tags and better memories of your time afield. 

How HECS® Technology Works

Blocking your electrical output may be new to you, but the technology has now been available to hunters, divers, biologists, and the military for over 12 years and has been tested for almost 20!

With the patented HECS® Advantage blocking your body’s electrical output while at the same time concealing your outline on the visual plane, you will be able to approach closer, and the deer will be calmer than you ever thought possible. 

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Simply put, patented HECS® StealthScreen technology shields hunters’ natural bioelectrical emissions, causing animals to have difficulty sensing danger in their environment. HECS® apparel is made with high-quality fabric and materials, so hunters will remain silent, comfortable, flexible, and ready for anything the wild may throw.

There is no downside to using HECS® either by itself or in conjunction with other hunting gear, but without HECS®, a hunter is simply not using all the tools at his disposal to achieve that perfect one-shot kill we are all looking for.  


When you’re out in the field pursuing America’s most popular game, you owe it to yourself and the animal to do everything possible to achieve a quick one-shot kill. The best way to do this is to first get as close as possible to your buck before pulling the trigger.   

Concentrate only on that magic heart-lung vital zone, and be sure your bullet or arrow successfully takes out one of those critical organs. A successful shot will put the animal down cleanly and humanely, allowing you to retrieve it quickly, process it, and enjoy the fruits of your labor for months to come.   

Utilizing 21st-century hunting technology like HECS® StealthScreen will help you get close enough to get your winter’s meat easily and without drama. Click here to see HECS® apparel in action as our guys go head-to-head with wary mule deer. Our Youtube channel @HECSStealthScreen has many more examples of the HECS® effect in full display with all species of deer and other game. 

Get your HECS® hunting apparel today, and get ready to take your perfect shot! 

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with HECS clothing.

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About the Author : Mike Slinkard

A hunter displaying his bear on rocks near a lake

Mike Slinkard is a life long bow hunter, professional archer, successful entrepreneur, and self described science geek from the rural town of John Day Oregon. Mike has spent his life in close proximity to all types of animals. His grandfather was a well known cattle and horse rancher who first instilled Mike’s keen interest in animals and why they react the way they do in different situations. Mike’s insatiable curiosity in this realm led him to team with other professionals to make the HECS discovery in 2009. Mike has hunted all over the world and has taken over 30 species with archery gear including 48 elk to date. Mike currently hosts “Hunting with HECS TV” on the Pursuit Channel. He has also written many bow hunting and archery articles as well as being a guest on many different hunting podcasts.

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