Deer Anatomy: What You Need to Know

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Deer hunting is fun and fulfilling. However, the goal should not just be taking down your targeted deer. Every hunter has an obligation to make an ethical shot when killing deer. It means making efforts to kill the animal in the quickest, legal, and most humane way possible. To make this possible, it calls for hunters to learn and comprehensively understand the anatomy of deer.

There are several aspects of deer anatomy that will help hunters comprehend the deer’s makeup, including their behavior. These would include their ways of communication, eyesight, sense of smell as well as their habitats. With such knowledge, a hunter is better placed and can move around undetected when going after the wary animal.

Since deer anatomy is a broad spectrum, this article will discuss deer anatomy pertaining to deer’s critical organs. It will aid in ensuring proper shot placements to quickly and humanely dispatch the animal. It will also cover some general aspects that are deemed important to hunters.

Deer’s Best Organs to Shoot

Heart, Lungs, and Liver

The three mentioned organs make up the vitals that possibly every hunter targets. Well, if you are hunting for deer meat, this knowledge ensures that you do not mess up.

The heart lies low at the center of the animal’s chest, right below the lungs, and slightly past the diaphragm. Not to the left nor to the right of the chest cavity. On the other hand, the lungs are located behind, rearward of deer shoulders, and are the largest vital organs. The liver lies behind the lungs.

Referring to the first aid class basics, the Air Breathing and Circulation (ABC) are critical to animals’ lives. Deer is no exception. Any damage or compromise in any of the systems will render a deer dead.

The lungs are the largest organs in the deer’s breathing and airway system. Therefore, damaging the lungs with a bullet compromises the system; hence oxygen levels suffer. As a result, the brain does not get sufficient oxygen, causing other body systems to shut down.

Furthermore, torn lungs lead to massive internal bleeding since all the blood passes through the lungs for oxidation and deoxidation. This would lead to a quick death.

When it comes to the circulation system, we think of the deer heart anatomy. The heart muscle is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to other organs of the body, including the brain. Therefore, a damaged heart negatively impacts the pumping efficiency, and the animal dies eventually.

Whatever the hunting scenario, the heart/lung region remains to be the most ethical since it results in a quick death. In fact, it presents the target that every hunter should aim at on deer or any other deer-sized game.

The Head

Aside from the deer vitals, a head should not be ignored. A headshot calls for the understanding of the deer skull anatomy. It is a no brainer that properly executed headshots will drop a whitetail instantly. This mainly focuses on the brain. Damaging it disrupts the entire body functioning and throws the animal into total unconsciousness.

Another huge perk of targeting the brain is that it causes minimal meat loss and damage.

When targeting the brain, draw two lines on the animal’s forehead. One line from the right ear to the left eye and the other from the left ear to the right eye. A perfect shot will be where the two lines intersect.

Although the brain is an excellent target to instantly take down deer, a slight miss makes it potentially brutal and inhumane. This is because the little impact on the brain may lead to several agonizing death days, if not weeks. Actually, the deer’s brain is such a small target, and hence there is a high risk of missing it.

It is also worth noting that a thick bone of the deer’s skull protects the brain. As a result, more than often, a bullet trajectory may deflect and slide off upon hitting the skull. In such instances, the worst-case scenario is when the bullet glances to the jaw. A jaw shot is not immediately lethal and leads to death full of pain and misery. That said, it writes off the idea of changing the brain with a bow.

Besides the brain, the base of the skull is also a great hit. It is located where the neck and the head meet. One of the advantages of hitting the skull base is that it has a shallow error margin. Although it is not a great initial target, it is a kill shot with minimal meat loss. Also, it does not damage the skull nor the antlers.

The Neck

Upon studying the deer skeleton anatomy, you realize deer are vertebrates. Thus, damage to their spines is life-threatening. In this regard, there is a vital point on the neck where the spine can easily be targeted. When using a high-powered firearm, it does not necessarily mean that you have to hit the vertebrae. By hitting the solid muscle close to the spine, the impact creates adequate concussion to dismantle the animal.

However, the vital area is very narrow and thus making it riskier. In fact, even experienced hunters get it wrong more often. A miss, either too high or low, will only injure the animal, and the chances of recovery are quite small. Also, hitting the windpipe or the edge of the neck can result in an ugly miss. 

Another con of this target is that mostly, neck shots will only paralyze the deer without killing them. This causes extended suffering. Therefore, the chances are that a neck shot will need a follow-up shot if not a throat slit to kill deer. The neck is also a no-go zone if you are using bows for hunting deer. 

Other Organs and their Significance in a Deer’s Adaptability

As a deer hunter, it is essential to understand the other aspects of the deer anatomy other than the deer anatomy shot placements. They include;

Deer Eyes and Eyesight

Their eyes are set on the sides of their heads, giving them a broad field of view. Deer have a 310-degree vision even though their eyes seem to loo