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Elk shot placement

The abdominal cavity, on the other hand, is not an aiming zone for bowhunters.

  • The abdominal cavity holds the stomach, kidneys, liver, and small and large intestines. If the arrow strikes one of these vital organs or blood vessels, the animal may bleed to death in an hour.
  • More often, a slow death begins when an arrow cuts open the stomach or intestines, spilling the contents into the abdominal cavity. The bacteria and acids in the contents cause peritonitis, a severe inflammation of the cavity. The animal becomes sick and usually dies within 8 to 12 hours.
  • There may be very little external blood loss, so tracking is very difficult. However, most animals that are gut shot don't appear badly frightened or hurt. If undisturbed, they tend to travel a short distance and then lie down, where they die peacefully.
  • Even though the liver is located in the abdominal cavity, it is often hit in a quartering-away shot because of its size and location just behind the diaphragm. The arrow may pass through the front portion of the abdominal cavity and liver on its way to the chest cavity.