Can I Hunt Deer with a Shotgun?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Our Associate portal can be found here

Come deer hunting season, and you shouldn’t be the hunter who is still wondering ‘Can I hunt deer with a shotgun?’ The answer is yes. In many states, shotguns are about the only hunting weapon you can legally use against deer. 

Arguments Fronted by Hunters around Shotgun Deer Hunting

Among hunters, opinions run high on the issue of using a shotgun to hunt deer. Aside from the legalities and efficacy factors, some see a scattergun as overkill, a wasteful and inhumane way to kill an animal.

World Record Deer
World Record Deer

And they do have a point since a shotgun is only accurate for up to 100 yards. Beyond that, the shot flies haphazardly and might lead to an injured, unrecovered animal.

Other hunters view the weapon restrictions that leave them with only a shotgun to kill deer as a civil rights infringement. The sense here is that these regulations on rifles or certain shotgun gauges will later become an outright ban on shooting as a means of hunting. 

Some hunters see the same restrictions as a safety measure that’s essential for sufficiently populated hunting grounds. Whether you are using slugs or buckshot, shotgun projectiles don’t carry as much velocity or muzzle energy as rifle bullets.

This reduces the chance of stray pellets or slugs that may cause unintentional injury or property damage. Shotguns make hunting safer, helping to counter the claims of those that find excuses to campaign for an outright hunting ban. 

What to Consider for Successful Deer Hunting With a Shotgun 

Hunting deer with a shotgun offers two essential benefits for the hunter. There are also downsides to using shot as opposed to rifles or muzzleloaders. 

Let me share here what I’ve learned, after burning my fingers on slug or shotguns. In essence, this is experience picked up the hard way.

Shotgun Design, Slug or Shot Placement

Many shotguns are designed for clay pigeon shooting and waterfowl hunting. Shooting at land-based stationary targets brings the Point of Impact (POI) a few inches higher than is desirable.

Shotgun hunting novices will typically place a bead right on top of the deer’s shoulders. This sends the buckshot or shotgun slug whizzing harmlessly over the back of the deer. 

When I shotgun for venison, I find it vital to put Point of Aim (POA) on the base of the torso above the deer’s front knees. At close range, the shot should be placed on the d