Best Places to Shoot a Deer – The Ultimate Hunting Guide for Beginners

If you are only starting out, you probably want to make your first kill. It should be slightly easy, right? The aim, shoot victory. Think again. Hunting deer takes a little savvier and know-how than you would think. For starters, your weapon of choice plays an integral role in where the best place is to shoot the deer.

Your skill should also be up to standard as you don’t want to hit the deer, miss the actual target, and have a wounded deer bucking away and suffering. So, for starters, it would be a good idea to get enough practice in with target shooting, get a mentor to show you the ropes, and study up on the best times and regions to find deer to hunt.

In our beginner’s guide, we will take you through 5 of the best spots to shoot a deer for an immediate kill, the pros and cons of each as well as best weapons for each shot. We’ll end off our guide with an insightful conclusion, and you should be fully prepared to go deer hunting after following our hints and tips.

#1: The Lung

If your weapon of choice is a bow, the lungs are probably the best area for you to aim at and hit when hunting a deer. This shot makes it impossible for the deer to breathe, and because the arrow won’t exit and will remain anchored in the lungs, the deer will not be able to get away.

The lungs are an easy shot and a large area to aim at, so the chances of you missing the target are scarce. Also, while using a bow, the deer will not escape because it will have trouble breathing, meaning you won’t waste time tracking a wounded animal.
This shot is only advisable if you are in fact using a bow, which means it is limiting. Using any other weapon might lead to just wounding the animal.

#2: The Neck

Probably least favorable and considered to be unethical, a neck shot is still possible and preferred by some deer hunters. The reason for this being that there is little to no meat loss when killing a deer with a shot in the neck. Weapon of choice for this shot is a rifle, as a bow can cause more damage.

The reason why a lot of hunters prefer shooting a deer in the neck is that this shot will cut off all oxygen and blood flow to the deer’s brain, killing it instantly. If executed correctly, the spinal cord is also hit, which means the deer won’t be able to move or run away.
It is a difficult shot to take because the neck is a small target, and you have to get the shot exactly right. If you don’t make the shot, you might end up having to slit the deer’s throat.

#3: The Upper Shoulder

One of the most popular shots when hunting deer is in the upper shoulder. For this shot, you should use a rifle with heavy bullets. Not only does the shot kill the deer instantly when executed correctly, but you won’t have to worry about the deer only being wounded and in pain if missed.

An upper shoulder shot can paralyze a deer instantly due to the shock it experiences as soon as it has been hit. It will not be able to move and therefore not be able to run away and suffer if hit incorrectly; in other words, it is a clean hit.
As you are only able to use a rifle with heavy bullets, you will lose some of the best pieces of meat if you decide on taking an upper shoulder shot when hunting deer. It might also be a bit difficult to execute a perfect shoulder shot.

#4: The Heart

Not a shot for beginners! One should be quite experienced in executing a perfect and successful heart shot when hunting deer. The reason is that the target is so small, and the likelihood of you missing it or not hitting it is quite significant. If executed correctly and with heavy bullets though, it can be deadly.

A heart shot will most definitely kill the deer instantly; if only wounded, the deer will more often than not bleed to death, leaving a trail of blood to be followed. Some even miss and hit the lungs, which is also considered an acceptable shot as this will ensure that the deer won’t suffer and won’t be able to breathe.
The target is behind the deer’s leg, which means it is almost impossible to hit. It is also a tiny area, so only seasoned, experienced hunters will be able to execute this shot flawlessly. If you do try to shoot a deer in the heart and you use the wrong bullets, you might not even cause much damage, and the deer may get away unscathed.

#5: The Head

Shooting a deer in the head, or brain, is considered to be the most humane way to shoot or kill a deer. It can be a bit tricky though as the area is a bit small, and to make matters worse, it is protected by very thick bone. It is advised to use a rifle or shotgun when taking a headshot and to use smaller and lighter bullets.

A successful headshot will mean instant death to the deer, and no pain whatsoever as it will lose all consciousness immediately after the bullet hits the brain. A successful shot will also disturb any of the other bodily functions rendering the deer completely immobile.
Due to the fact of the tiny target area, it is difficult to hit the brain and probably not a great idea to use heavy bullets. Also, you can’t use a bow for taking this shot because of the very thick bone surrounding the brain.

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Final Thoughts

Before heading out and getting your hunt on, there are a bunch of things to consider before deciding which shot you should take to kill a deer. A lot of things play a role in the success of the hunt, and some of these are external factors that you have no control over.

Each situation might call for a specific weapon. The selection of the type of shot you want to take will also rely on the distance the deer is from you and whether or not it is moving or not. Restless deer are difficult to hit in a strategic and challenging area such as the heart or brain. Other things to keep in mind include:

Practice Makes Perfect

Being prepared and getting as much practice as possible is paramount to success, especially for those beginners out there. Practicing will allow you to get used to different shots and to understand what the best type of shot would be relative to your and the deer’s position. It will also allow you to get used to your weapon.


The best weapon for a shot in the lung? A bow. The best weapon for a brain shot? A rifle. Be sure you have the right equipment at hand that will enable you to act on the everchanging environment and take the best possible shot.


At the end of the day, how far the deer is from you and how it is acting will play a deciding factor in which shot you should take to kill it. A moving deer that is far away might be easier to shoot in the lungs, while a peaceful deer up close might be easier to shoot in the head or neck.