Now that I’ve got you all frothy-mouthed and howling from my last Shoot Me Down, it seems like a perfect time to throw Will Brantley, F&S contributor and redneck troublemaker, to the pack. Brantley detailed how to make a clean-killing bow shot on a quartering-to deer in the September issue, which should be in your mailbox or on your counter right about now.
What’s that you say? “One should never take a quartering-to shot with a bow?”
Well, take it up with Brantley. Here he is. —Dave Hurteau
One frosty morning I blew a grunt call at an 8-pointer that was crossing a picked cornfield 200 yards away. The buck immediately spun and trotted toward my treestand. When he was at 40 yards and closing, I drew, but he slammed on the brakes at 20, not quite straight-on, but far from broadside. I put my pin on the crease of his neck and shoulder, hit the trigger, and watched him collapse 70 yards away.
Hunter Ed instructors and outdoor communicators have long cautioned against taking the quartering-to shot with a bow, but it does seem to be gaining more acceptance these days. Maybe it’s because bows are faster. Maybe it’s because archers are better, more confident shots.
Regardless, I’ve never understood why the controversy over this shot is so fierce. The target is a 6-inch circle around the crease of the deer’s shoulder and the base of his neck. Hit near that crease, and the arrow will exit through or behind the opposite shoulder. The tracking job will be short. Miss it, and you’ll wound and lose the animal, of course. But you take that chance any time you shoot at live flesh and bone. And this shot isn’t as low-odds as people claim. The target is a bit bigger than a softball, and plenty doable inside 20 yards.
I’ve killed a dozen or so deer with a quartering-to shot, and the scenario has often been like the one above, when a deer has responded to calling. I see it coming in, and it’s moving fast, so I draw my bow. When it stops at 15 yards, I shoot. I could dally in the hopes that it turns broadside, but why pass on an absolutely lethal shot I know I can make? Every second you wait is another second for the deer to figure out the gig. And when you’re calling, odds are they will figure it out.
I’ve badgered Hurteau about writing this for years (and actually had to go behind his back to finally land the assignment). Hurteau worries that the average bowhunter cannot be counted on to hit a softball at 20 yards under field conditions, but Hurteau’s also getting curmudgeonlier by the day. I have more faith in humanity. I also believe if you can’t hit a softball at 20 yards, you need more practice before going hunting anyway. The shoulder blades of a whitetail are easy to penetrate with any of today’s hunting bows set at 60-plus pounds and teamed with a decent broadhead and arrow.
If you can hit that softball, know where to aim, and keep the ranges short, the quartering-to shot is a lethal and perfectly acceptable option. Killing a deer with it doesn’t put you on the fringes of deer hunting society. Or maybe it does. But it’s the fringe that kills more deer.
Stand with me or Shoot Me Down.