Any time we get a nice, broadside crack at a buck standing within range, most of us know exactly where to aim. Trouble is, not all deer do us such favors, and there are plenty of completely lethal, ethical shots that do not require whitetails to assume this position.

Do you know those shots? Even more important, do you recognize the ones you shouldn’t take?

Of course you can learn by taking lots of shots at lots of deer, but there’s a better way. The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) recently introduced an interactive CD called “Cyber Deer,” an ingenious tool that teaches users whitetail anatomy in a comprehensive fashion. Then it allows you to shoot deer from a variety of angles (using a gun or bow) and evaluate the effectiveness of your shot placement. Cyber Deer is available from the QDMA for about $10.

In brief, here’s how it works. You select a weapon. A deer appears on the screen. The animal can be rotated to simulate various shot angles, and even made to stand or walk. As the deer is manipulated, comments appear on the top of the screen reflecting whether the deer is standing in a “great”, “good” or “too narrow” angle. The user makes his decision and shoots the deer. Then the hit is evaluated. The program allows the user to peel back the whitetail’s skin, skeleton, even the organs, to view how the arrow or bullet entered and exited the deer. If you’re dissatisfied, you can “reload” and try again.

I view Cyber Deer as one of the most exciting teaching tools for deer hunters in recent memory. As a former hunter’s safety instructor, I know that too little time is devoted to shot selection and placement. And when the topics are covered, explaining anything beyond basic whitetail anatomy is difficult without excellent visual aids. Cyber Deer appears to solve these problems and–perhaps most important–it comes in a format that today’s youngsters (and many adults) will feel totally comfortable with.

Your thoughts?