The Best Place to Shoot a Deer with a Crossbow

The Best Place to Shoot a Deer with a Crossbow: Quick Kills

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If you are a novice crossbow hunter or huntress, learning the techniques to properly kill game can be a long process.

Even though a crossbow has more power than a regular bow, placement is still crucial.

The best place to shoot a deer with a crossbow takes time to learn and perfect.

While you may initially think that because a crossbow causes more damage than a traditional bow, you need not worry about shot placement, it’s important. You’ll also want to consider the type of broadhead you’re using.

Though it may cause more damage, poor shot placement can also cause the animal undue harm and pain before it dies.

By learning the best place to shoot a deer with a crossbow, you will be able to deliver clear shots without causing unnecessary pain and suffering for the animal.

The point of hunting should not be to cause pain to the deer. Proper crossbow shot placement ensures it stays that way.


For newer shooters, the heart-lung area of the deer is likely the easiest place to take aim.

Because it provides a larger surface area, it is more forgiving if your aim is not a hundred percent accurate.

You can still deliver a fast one-shot kill without a total pinpoint accuracy and precision.

The reason this type of shot is one of the best places to shoot a deer with a crossbow is because of the high concentration of blood vessels in the area.

deer lungs location

Image credits

The most important and life-sustaining blood vessels in the deer’s body are from the heart to the lungs. Hitting this area causes a hemorrhage.

When the shot is delivered perfectly to the heart and surrounding blood vessels, the deer dies fairly quickly.

Hitting this area also anchors the deer to one location because of the lack of oxygen getting to the brain fairly quickly. This allows you to track the deer easily.

The fear with a heart-lung shot, however, is that if you hit the lungs primarily, the deer has a better chance of getting away.

In some cases, a deer can eventually recover completely from a shot to the lung.

In many cases, however, the shot results in a long, painful death for the deer.

High Shoulder

The high shoulder is another one of the best places to shoot a deer with a crossbow.

It is about one-third to a quarter of the way up the deer’s shoulder where the spine anchors the nervous system.

When delivered properly, a shot to this area will cause a deer to fall dead in its tracks.

shoulder shot

When you shoot a deer in the correct location at the correct angle, the shot breaks the spine and causes central nervous system damage.

This paralyzes the deer instantly, causing it to drop in its tracks. 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 talk on whether a “dead zone” exists on this area or not.

This means you have to aim carefully not afford the deer any time to run away as you shoot. You will 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.

Of course, the draw of stopping the deer dead in its tracks is still very attractive, even considering the damage to the shoulder meat.

The video below gets a shot slightly above the location we’re talking about, closer to the spine. See how incredibly effective it is:


As with any animal, a crossbow shot to the brain provides and instant and fairly clean kill. Since deer have a smaller head, essentially any shot to the top of the head results in a brain shot.

Of course, since the deer’s head is so small, it is also a very difficult target to hit.

While this isn’t the highest quality imag, here’s a pic of one of the most impressive headshots I’ve seen:

When a crossbow shot to the brain is delivered correctly, unlike the high shoulder shot, it does not affect the meat quality in the slightest.

Also, the brain is the center for all motor function so a shot to it will halt the deer faster than possibly any other shot will. It is a fast kill and drop.

The size of the deer’s brain, however, causes the most trouble for this type of crossbow shot.

The brain itself is only about three inches long, making it like hitting a perfect bullseye at the range.

Image Credits:

Without enough skill, a brain shot will likely not be possible at all.  But it’s a good target practice exercise to set up as an ongoing challenge.

If you are aiming for the brain and miss (a very possible occurrence), the results can be quite traumatic.

Typically, when you aim for the brain and miss, the arrow goes through the deer’s jaw.

While they survive and get away, this shot leads to a long, slow death from starvation.


The neck is another one of the best places to shoot a deer with a crossbow because it drops the deer quickly with no hope of recovery.

Like a shot to the brain, shooting a deer in the neck properly with a crossbow provides a nearly instantaneous death and the deer drops in its tracks.

The reason this type of shot works so well is because 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.  A well placed shot to this area damages all three items and avoids damaging basically any meat.

Like a shot to the brain, however, the neck poses some challenges even for experienced hunters.

The critical spot on the neck that you must hit to sever the vertebrae properly and ensure a quick death is very small. 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 fully bring the deer down. Also, since deer often move their heads erratically, the neck is a very small moving target requiring exceptional skill to target.


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 experience level.

If you are a novice hunter, aiming for a target with a lot of surface area, such as the high shoulder, 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, choosing the head or neck as your target likely makes the most sense.

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 it takes to be a skilled bow hunter.

About the Author Lisa

Lisa 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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