For Proper Shot Placement, Aim Small and Tight
By: Lynn Burkhead
No matter how well a deer hunter has done his homework of getting new gear, proper stand placement, solid camera usage and good food plot planting, it still all comes down to being able to put an arrow, bolt or bullet into a big buck's 10-ring
Every year, deer hunters spend hours on end playing the year-long whitetail hunting game.
From ordering new gear to spying on deer with high tech cameras to planting food plots and creating mineral licks to hanging a stand in that perfect hunting tree, there is much that goes into this woodsy game of whitetail chess.
But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make a move that results in a big antlered checkmate, it all comes down to being able to properly execute a shot, be it with a bow, a crossbow, a rifle, or a muzzleloader.
And at that moment of whitetail hunting truth, #DeerWeek co-host Tom McMillan has a tried and true thought that he relies on, much like a professional golfer has a key swing thought to help him knock the ball straight down the fairway.
"(It's about shot placement)," said McMillan. "When it comes down to the time to execute (a shot), I try to get a saying going around every deer camp, 'Hit 'em in the armpit, hit 'em in the armpit."
Keep in mind, that's true not only for McMillan the deer hunter and McMillan the Sportsman Channel television show host. It's also true for Tom McMillan, one of the nation's top whitetail hunting outfitters on the hallowed hunting turf he calls home in the Sunflower State of Kansas.
"I will literally say that throughout the day as a new group of hunters comes in," said McMillan. "If we're out shooting on the bow range (before a hunt), I say shoot for the armpit."
Why is that?
"That is going to eliminate a lot of problems, things like when the deer jumps the string, when they drop out of sight as they're getting ready to leave, etc.," said McMillan.
"If you aim for the armpit and the deer doesn't move or flinch, you've heart shot him," he added. "If you aim for the armpit, and they jump the string a little bit, you've lunged him.
"(So), aim for the armpit. I try to ingrain that into people's thought processes, to know where I think the best shot placement is going to be. (And) it doesn't really matter what kind of weapon we're talking about (either)."
McMillan says that in addition to aiming for the armpit, it also pays to aim small.
"That goes to my next tip," he said. "When you start thinking about the sight place, the place where your bullet, your arrow or your crossbow bolt is going to hit, try to pick out a one-inch square on the animal."
It's the old shooting idea of aim small, miss small.
"Don't ever aim at the animal (as a whole)," said McMillan. "If you do, guess what? Two things are going to happen. (First), you're either going to miss it completely or (second), yeah, you're going to do worse and hit the animal somewhere and injure it."
So what's McMillan's best advice when it comes to shot placement on a big buck?
"Pick out a one-inch square of exactly where you want your target to be and aim for that," he said with a smile.
As long as that one-inch square is right behind a buck's armpit, that is.
Because that's the shot placement location where McMillan believes the dream of tagging a huge world class buck actually comes true.