Are You Aiming at the Wrong Spot on a Broadside Whitetail?

Do you aim a few inches behind a broadside deer’s near front leg and low on its chest? Bad idea . . .
Are You Aiming at the Wrong Spot on a Broadside Whitetail?

As I’ve stated in articles before on this website, I enjoy watching various hunting shows on TV and online. Some, like The Hunting Public, I admire very much, and others ... well, as the saying goes: If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

One troubling practice I see over and over on these shows is bowhunters aiming at the wrong spot on a broadside whitetail. And much of the problem seems to stem from a lack of understanding regarding whitetail anatomy.

My advice? Don’t aim low on the chest and a few inches behind the near front leg on a broadside whitetail. If you do, then your arrow will hit liver — at best. More likely, your broadhead will go into the front of the deer’s paunch. Either way, not good.

I’m not preaching anything new here. In fact, several years ago I made a video tip for North American Hunter TV (which is no longer in existence), but thanks to the wonders of the internet, the clip is still available. You can check it out below. I apologize for the dated music, but hey ... it was cutting edge back in the day. I discuss leg bones, shoulder blades and lung location, and demonstrate exactly why so many archers make poor shots on whitetails.

Compounding the aiming problem, in my opinion, is that a few so-called deer anatomy targets (3-D and paper) don’t accurately represent the lung area for a whitetail. These misleading targets show the lungs extending well behind the front leg and low in the chest cavity. This is false. The lungs do extend well behind the front leg, but they do so in the middle of the chest cavity and higher toward the spine. Check out the topnotch paper targets shown below from Caldwell Shooting Supplies and Birchwood Casey for accurate whitetail anatomy.

broadside whitetail

As shown on the targets above, if you aim at the red dots, then you’ll miss the lungs. Instead, aim for the green dots.

broadside whitetail

Magnus Black Hornet Ser Razor

Like I said before, if you aim low and behind the front leg, then you’re asking for trouble. If you must aim a few inches behind the front leg for fear of hitting the leg bone or shoulder blade, then at least place your arrow mid chest, even a touch higher. Equipment tip: Many mechanical broadheads fail when impacting leg bones and shoulder blades, which is why I prefer tough fixed-blade heads such as the 125-grain Magnus Black Hornet Ser Razor, 125-grain G5 Montec and 125-grain G5 Striker.

Where do I aim on a broadside whitetail? I guide my bowsight pin right up the middle of the near front leg, halfway on the chest cavity (higher if I’m in a treestand), and then release. Hammer them here and they won’t go far.

broadside whitetail

The author used a decoy to lure this South Dakota buck in close for a broadside shot. Treestand height was 14 feet; shot distance, 10 yards. See the entrance hole? It's right over the front leg. The buck ran only 50 yards.


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