How Long Does a Liver Shot Take to Kill Deer?

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Not so many people will aim to hit the deer at the liver. Often it is as a result of an off-mark shot aimed at the rear vitals but slightly missing. But when you hit deer at the liver, it can take longer to die than when you puncture the lungs or heart. A liver shot takes from three to five hours before the deer finally falls. 

That said, a liver shot is also a fatal shot; however, it will take deer more time to succumb to its wounds. As an experienced hunter, you will get the most significant challenge when tracking deer when you have a liver shot.

When you are sure you have hit a liver shot, expect the deer to run away at a high pace, sometimes with the tail down or up. However, you should also expect the deer to bed down because of the injury. And if you do not disturb the deer by tracking it immediately, it will bed and die on the same spot.  

To confirm that you hit deer on the liver, the blood that comes out is usually a dark red or maroon. 

What Follows After Confirming a Liver Shot 

The first thing is to confirm the body part that you have hit. In this instance, if it is a liver shot, be sure to follow these steps for easy recovery.

Always try to play in your mind the reaction of the deer after you hit it. How did it flee from the scene? Was it jumping frantically with the tail up or down? Did it run fast or slow? 

After the deer takes off, be keen to listen if it stops nearby or continues with the run. It is crucial so that you can determine the direction it runs towards. The deer might also go down kicking, leaving clues to its death bed.

You can take another shot with your arrow to mark the spot that you shot the deer. Once you come down from your stand, things may look different on the ground.

Where to Aim and Shoot Deer 

High Shoulder 

It is the perfect shot if you get it right. It often shocks and awes the deer as the bullet or arrow snaps the spine. The shot is fatal as it disrupts the nervous system and may break and shatter the ribs. 

Despite the high fatal kill shot, high shoulder shots are not simple to make and require a skilled hunter to pull one. Also, there is lots of damage to the meat and skin. 

Heart and Lung Shots

When aiming at the heart and lungs, you have a target that leaves the deer with no room of recovery. An accurate shot placed on these deer parts will cause massive bleeding and lead to almost instant death. 

However, accuracy is still a must. Hunters who hit only one lung have seen deer overcome these shots and survive. Heart and lung shots will not down a deer immediately, and following blood trail is sometimes a must. 

Brain Shot

A brain shot is an instant kill, and there is no way a deer can survive it. An advantage of the brain shot is that it leaves the meat and skin intact and undamaged. However, it is easier to miss a headshot than a body shot, and you should not attempt unless you are close range and with a better scope on your rifle. 

Neck Shot

A neck shot damages the spinal cord as it leaves little or no damage to the flesh. Though the neck area is a small target, the deer will not move far from where it is shot if you hit it correctly. It also paralyzes the deer leaving no chances of recovery. 

Do Deer Come Back to A Place It Was Shot?

Many things might compel deer to return to a place if it survived a non-lethal shot. Although deer will not forget the incident, it may just turn back after a few days. Here are the reasons why

What Time of The Year Is It? 

When it is during the rut season, the deer has more in mind than safety. If you hit a deer and it survives, it can still return to the place, especially if it’s in the middle of the rut season. 

Did the Non-Lethal Hit Cause Deer Any Trauma?

If you have seen a mature deer, then you know how oversized some of them are. Wounding deer and leaving it with a big flesh wound may take days or weeks to heal. It can make the possibility of deer coming in the spot where it was shot minimal. 

Shot Placement

Where you hit deer matters a lot, shots placed at vital organs affect mobility, while shots aimed at the head disrupts brain function. Any other hit that does not affect mobility, chewing, and internal damage is non-lethal, and deer may scrap off the pain if it survives. 

Location of Your Stand

Deer rely on the bush cover for its safety. If you happen to wound or scare deer when in an open field, it may take the cover of darkness for it to return to open areas again. After a poor shot, it is advisable to change your stand position. 

The Habitat That Surrounds the Property

If the habitat has food security and provides quality cover for deer, it is only a matter of time before deer turns up again. However, just as there are no two same properties or bucks, there are no two similar shots. The variables are many each time you aim, and therefore deer may never come back or may take time to go back to a place it felt threatened. 


Every sign of a good deer hit lies in the deer reaction as it labors or buckles away. For liver shots, consider letting the deer to bed and give it between 3-5 hours before blood trailing it. Liver hits are also thick droplets and not blood sprays; hence you can determine if to start blood trailing or let the animal die faster if you do not spook it.

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