Whitetail ATLS Part 2

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted but you know how life can get in the way sometimes. As we get prepared for the start of turkey season I had a break in the action and remembered to make this post.

I’ve been torn about which shots to approach first but I decided on looking at the most basic approach the broadside lung shot. Mostly I wanted to examine a couple of common misconceptions on a few common shot scenarios and placements. The ideal shot scenario is to be at eye level with deer perfectly broadside or slightly quartering away. But as anyone who has hunted whitetail from the ground knows, this is difficult to say the least.

Shot #1 broadside from tree stand inside 10-12yds

The first thing that we can appreciate is that this is a steep angled shot. Almost certainly this will result in a single lung shot, or if you perfect you will catch a piece of the right or left ventricle. Unfortunately the heart is quite well protected by the thick and tough dorsal rib-cage at this angle making the heart hit difficult. For guys shooting heavy draw weights, fixed blades and cross bows this steep angled shot isn’t nearly as puzzling. These hunters usually get complete pass through, good blood trails and deer that drop within 100yds.

But what to do when you don’t get pass through? Inevitably there will be a limited blood trail and the deer will live longer and run farther than you’d think. The reason in the cause of death. These deer contrary to popular belief do not dye from blood loss. A single lung without an exit wound dies from hypoxia. How you ask? The bleeding from the entrance wound fills the pleural space with blood increasing pressure in the closed cavity eventually tamponading the bleeding and slowing it considerably. At the same time the increasing pressure is going to compress the lung on the opposite side as well as the heart. This will make it increasingly difficult for the heart to pump blood and move oxygen to the tissues.

Important things to remember when tracking this deer: 1) the only blood you will find is that being coughed out and it will be sporadic. 2) it will take at least 7-10 mins for the deer to expire from poor oxygen delivery so remember this when thinking of far it could travel. 3) when blood spots begin to get closer together, within 5 yds, your deer is slowing and expect that it will be close by.

Shot #2 steep up hill angle at any yardage

This is a rare scenario most likely to be encountered by chance when stalking through the bush. If by chance you find yourself in this spot however this is one of the best scenarios you can have. The lower rib cage is much more cartilaginous making pass through much easier. Furthermore your chance of catching one of the major vessels such as the aorta or vena cava, which run dorsal beneath the spine, is high. Expect an easy blood trail and a short tracking job.

Shot #3 single lung slight quartering toward you

This is likely one of the most common shots in all of bow hunting. We almost all setup our stands such that the deer are coming at us head on. It is also frequent that we misjudge the degree of quartering. Another important consideration is how the deer may or may not be arching it’s body. Convex away from you, opening the space between the ribs making pass through easier versus concave towards tightening and closing the gaps between ribs.

In any event the mostly scenario is a shot catching the base of one lung and the passing the abdominal cavity. Now this is a shot where I commonly hear “I must have caught the liver too”. The fact of the matter is that if this was a shot from a tree stand, unless it was a long shot where trajectory would be low, you will most certainly pass beneath the liver which sit more dorsal. So what your left with is a single lung and intestine shot usually with a full pass through. Not this is very important. This is a fatal shot. The deer will die of blood loss or pneumothorax but both will take time. You need to lest this deer lie down. If you push it the adrenaline will flow, the vessels will constrict bleeding will slow and you could be in for a long track.

Ok that is all for now. Hopefully if nothing else these scenarios will have thinking more critically and carefully about your shots and help you be a better hunter. As always please send us your stories we would love to share your knowledge with out faithful followers.


Leave a comment