When to take the shot, when the moment of truth comes, you will find there are many factors to consider in making a clean ethical shot. Is the angle of the shot too steep (if the deer is really close)? Are there any obstructions in the way, which may deflect an arrow or bullet? Is the deer clear from having any others behind it which may get hit on a pass through shot? Is the deer alert to your presence causing it to possibly “jump the string”? These are all questions which factor into when you take “The Shot”.
The manner in which a deer acts is something that a hunter needs to notice, whether the deer is at 20yds, 40yds or even 100’s of yards. If a deer is relaxed, feeding and unaware of your presence they will generally offer you many more shot opportunities within a single encounter then a deer that is aware of your presence, or traveling somewhere and not feeding. When a deer becomes alert to your presence by scent, sight, hearing or just the sixth sense that some deer seem to posses, they will either run offering no shot opportunity or they will become very weary and alert. Their ears will be up, they will be licking their nose to get better scent. They will stomp their feet and occasionally blow (you’ll know what I mean by blow when you hear it). While this action doesn’t affect a shot from a gun, with a bow and arrow it can cause a deer to “jump the string”. Their senses are so alert and reflexes are so fast they can drop their bodies down or jump over a speeding arrow before it makes contact with them.
Is the shot path clear from obstruction?
This question is key in making a clean ethical shot. The smallest twig can throw an arrow or a bullet off from its mark causing a miss or even worse, wounding the animal. Waiting for an deer to present a clear shot at it’s vital organs is an absolute must.
Can a shot be too close?
Absolutely! Important to when to take the shot. Especially when hunting with a bow and arrow. Very steep and vertical shots are less than ideal due to a few factors. Steep shots have much less gravitational effect on your arrow causing it to often hit higher then intended. The steep angle of these shots can result in only hitting one lung vs. two lungs. A deer hit in one lung can live for hours before expiring. The entry and exit holes on steep shots can cause headache when blood trailing. The exit hole being on the bottom can plug with organs and stop blood from draining. At that point the blood must essentially fill the body cavity before coming out the entry hole on the top making for a gap of visible blood in the blood trail.
When to Take the Shot
This being said, the optimal time when to take the shot is while deer is relaxed and at a comfortable range where the shot angle isn’t too steep but the shot isn’t out of your comfort range. The shot should always be clear of obstacles in including other animals. Always plan entry/exit strategies and treestand locations to avoid being detected by scent and keep movement limited to not be seen. Raise your gun or draw your bow when deer aren’t looking or their eyes are blocked by a tree. By avoiding detection by scent smell and hearing it will not only increase sightings but offer ideal shot opportunities when the moment of truth comes.
Taking all of these into account will help you make the perfect shot.