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Sometimes bowhunters must decide quickly what shots to take and what shots to turn down. You must be mentally prepared to accept that just because an animal is close doesn’t mean you’ll have a high-percentage shot. Your commitment to avoid wounding an animal must be stronger than your desire to take that animal. Shot selection decisions made when no one else is around will ultimately decide the future of bowhunting.

It is the responsibility of every bowhunter to learn which shot angles are considered high-percentage shots. Understanding the anatomy of the game you hunt is a critical element of shot selection. To be effective, a broadhead must penetrate the vital area that contains the greatest concentration of blood vessels.

This life-sized model of a white-tailed deer is designed to show the chest cavity, which contains the heart, the lungs, and several major arteries. The goal of every ethical bowhunter always should be to place every shot so that the arrow penetrates the center of this vital zone.

There are only two body positions that should be considered high-percentage shots. They are the broadside and the quartering-away positions. If placed properly, such shots should result in the broadhead penetrating either both lungs or one lung and the heart.

Certain shot angles result in a high degree of wounding and must be avoided, even if an animal is very close. These angles include front-quartering, head-on, and rear-end shots. In addition, archers should never purposefully shoot at the head or neck of a deer. And no matter how tempting, never attempt to force a shot through brush or other obstructions. An animal that is directly beneath your stand also offers a poor shot. And always be aware that an animal that is frightened or alerted to your presence is likely to bolt at the moment of the release, potentially resulting in a poor hit. So if you have any doubt, be patient and wait for a better shot.

This video segment is from The Basics of Bowhunting: Traditions in Safe and Ethical Bowhunting on the 2003 Kansas Bowhunter Education DVD produced by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; written, directed, photographed, and edited by Gene Brehm; and narrated by Bob Mathews.
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