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Explaining Marginal Shots on Whitetails

The arrow entered the buck here and appeared to be ranging forward for a killing exit (note the position of the left front leg). The author later discovered he had missed his target by roughly two inches. (Photo courtesy of BowhuntingMag.com)
The arrow entered the buck here and appeared to be ranging forward for a killing exit (note the position of the left front leg). The author later discovered he had missed his target by roughly two inches. (Photo courtesy of BowhuntingMag.com)

Will a marginal shot on one deer get the same results as a marginal shot on another?

I spent 25 days between Oct. 4 and Nov. 11 hunting one buck before finally getting a shot. The impact looked good to the eye – and to the camera, as my cameraman and I saw when we played it back on video – but I missed the spot I was aiming for by about two inches at 30 yards. I hit the deer right behind the heart; he mule-kicked and tore off. However, the buck showed back up on the other end of the field chasing a doe (though not too energetically) an hour after the shot. Finally, he gave up and went down into a draw, presumably to die.

I produce a web series, Midwest Whitetail, and when I ran the shot on my daily video blog that evening, most viewers thought it was a dead deer; so did I. I decided to wait until morning to go after him, as it was very cold that night and the meat would be fine, but when we returned the next day, we found very little blood and no deer.

My cameraman and I looked for two solid days – with thousands of viewers watching over my shoulder. Then I looked by myself for another half-day before finally giving up. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t dead, but we sure didn’t find him. That certainly took the wind out of my season!

As you can well imagine, the comments section of the video player lit up like a Christmas tree with every kind of advice from, “You should quit bowhunting,” to, “I hit one just like that two years ago, and the same thing happened.”

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