The Best Place to Shoot a Deer with a Crossbow

Hunting Tips: The Best Place to Shoot a Deer with a Crossbow

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If you are a novice crossbow hunter or huntress, learning the techniques to kill game animals properly can be a lengthy process. Since a crossbow has more power than a regular bow and causes more damage than a traditional bow, it is the most recommended archery tool for deer hunting. You’ll also want to consider the type of broadhead you’re using, and choose one that’s designed to instantly kill your prey.

Identifying the best place to strike a deer with a crossbow is crucial to achieving your goals as a hunter. By learning where to anatomically hit the deer, you’ll be able to deliver precise shots with a little practice.  This helps eliminate unnecessary pain and suffering for the animal, an underlying rule of hunting.

Best Parts of the Deer’s Body to Hit with an Arrow

1. Heart-Lung

For beginners, the heart-lung area of the deer is likely the easiest to aim because it has a larger surface area. Also, it’s more forgiving if your aim is not a hundred percent accurate. You can still deliver a fast, one-shot kill without pinpoint accuracy and precision.

The reason this type of shot is one of the best places to shoot a deer with a crossbow is it has the highest concentration of the essential life-sustaining blood vessels.  Hitting this area causes volumetric hemorrhage.

deer lungs location

Image credits

When the shot is delivered perfectly to the heart and its surrounding blood vessels, the deer dies fairly quickly. Also, hitting this area anchors the deer to one location because of the poor delivery of oxygen to the brain. This allows you to track the deer easily.

However, the main problem with a heart-lung shot is that if you hit the lungs first, the deer has a better chance of getting away. In some cases, the deer can eventually recover completely. Unfortunately, most of the time the shot results in a long, painful death for the deer.

2. High Shoulder

The high shoulder is also considered one of the best places to shoot a deer with a crossbow.  About one-third to a quarter of the deer’s shoulder is where the spine anchors the nervous system. When appropriately delivered, a shot to this area will cause a deer to fall dead immediately.

shoulder shot

When you shoot a deer in the correct location at the right angle, the shot breaks the spine and causes central nervous system damage. That paralyzes the deer instantly, and because of the trauma, the deer will expire in a matter of seconds.

The challenge with a high-shoulder shot is that the target area to deliver the maximum damage is relatively small in comparison to other options. There’s also debate on whether a “dead zone” exists on this area or not.

That means you have to aim carefully and not give the deer any time to run away as you shoot. You will also need a high-speed crossbow to help with the task. The other issue with aiming for this spot is that if you are hunting for meat, the shot causes a lot of damage to the shoulder meat.

3. Brain

As with any animal, a crossbow shot to the brain provides an instant and clean kill. Since deer have a smaller head, and the brain itself is only about three inches long, any shot to the top of the head results in a hit to the brain.  For the same reason as the shoulder region though, it’s also a tough target.

While this isn’t the highest quality image, here’s a picture of one of the most impressive headshots we’ve seen:

When a crossbow shot to the brain is delivered correctly, unlike the high-shoulder shot, it does not affect the meat quality. The brain is also the center for all motor function, so a shot to it will halt the deer faster than possibly any other shot will.

Image Credits:

Without enough skill, a brain shot may not be possible at all, but it’s a good target practice and a significant challenge to take. If you are aiming for the brain and miss, the results can be quite traumatic for the deer.

Also, when you miss low, the arrow typically goes through the deer’s jaw. While they will survive and get away, this shot leads to a long, slow death from starvation.

4. Neck

The neck is another best place to shoot a deer with a crossbow. Like a shot to the brain, accurately shooting a deer in the neck provides a nearly instantaneous death and the deer drops in its tracks with no hope of recovery.

The reason why this type of shot works so well is that the neck houses blood vessels, vertebrae, and the spinal cord. All three of these anatomical components are vital to keeping the deer alive and running.

Although a well placed shot to this area damages all three items and avoids damaging any significant meat, the neck poses some challenges even for experienced hunters. The critical spot that you must hit to cut the vertebrae properly and ensure a quick death is very small. Likewise, deer often move their necks, so you have to aim very carefully to ensure the correct outcome.

If you are aiming for that crucial spot on the neck and miss, like a misplaced brain shot, you will only injure the deer and begin its slow death. You will need a second shot to bring the deer down.


Although there are a number of good places to shoot a deer to provide a fast and relatively cruelty-free death, much of the process comes down to your experience level. If you are a novice hunter, aiming for a target with a lot of surface areas, such as the high shoulder and heart-lungs, makes the most sense.

The best place to shoot a deer with a crossbow also comes down to your hunting style. If you are hunting primarily for meat, the head or neck would be the best targets.

At the end of the day, the goal should be a fast, accurate shot to drop the deer quickly. Consistent practice with good targets will help you develop the confidence and ability needed to achieve your hunting goals.

About the Author Pink Crossbow

Jen loves the outdoors and enjoys exploring a wide-range of activities. A mother of 3 whose seen far too many friends suffer from cancer, she believes Pink Crossbow reflects a sport for LIFE. It's a reminder that archery belongs to everyone regardless of age, size, or gender...and real enthusiasts aren't afraid to wear pink!

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