Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Odd Technical Question for You Deer Hunters

Coming home a couple night ago, there was a woman in a Jeep who had just hit a deer.  She told me it was bleeding from the eyes.  It wandered off road.  This being Idaho, she sounded absolutely ashamed to not have a gun.  (Tourist?)  From 15 yards, I could see the left hindquarter had a 5" x 2" skin opening with bloody flesh exposed.  Probably an animal in need a mercy shot. 

I normally keep in my car a Firestar loaded with 124 grain JHPs.  This being Idaho, I worry very little about criminal attack, but an injured animal does concern me.  A deer already anchored by the ultimate major caliber, a motor vehicle (go ahead, calculate the grains and foot-pounds) is simple: A head shot would be sufficient.  Heck, even a .22 LR might be enough to enough to put it out of its misery.  But what would a 9mm JHP do in a torso shot at 15 yards.  Anything at all?  Or just increase its agony?

I hate to see animals suffer.


  1. Hmm, I have a Firestar too. (Cut out the Magazine safety because it scratched the magazines and didn't allow them to drop out, and because I don't want any control I can't manipulate to keep it from going Bang when I want). Only downside was that it was Single Action, and condition 1 in a fanny pack holster is a bad idea.

    Hard to say about shooting the deer. Shot placement is critical. Nevertheless, I can't imagine a deer is harder to penetrate at that range than a man.

  2. Unless you are an experienced pistol hunter, I would not recommend that you take the shot. While I like the ammo you carry in your pistol, it is still a pistol caliber. Shot placement is exceptionally important. I don't trust head shots because the skull may stop or deflect the round. Most pistol hunters aim for the heart, but often end up with a lung shot. A larger caliber will allow more room from the error of an inaccurate shot.

    In a nutshell, if I was in your situation and all I had was my CCW, then I would leave it to the professionals. A bad shot would only end up compounding the deer's suffering.

  3. A lung shot (or shots) is more merciful than letting it continue to suffer. It's actually not very hard to hit the heart from 15 yards, if it's not moving around. If you can hit a 4" diameter circle at close range, you can hit the heart and end it's life quickly. You just have to know where the heart is on a deer, but that's something that you easily find out. Just remember that the deer is 3 dimensional, unlike the 2 dimensional diagrams you'll see in books and on the Internet.

    A good rule of thumb is to come up behind and below the deer and aim for the opposite foreleg, just a little bit above where the "elbow" of the foreleg closest to you. That will get you a heart shot. But even if it doesn't, it will be a solid lung shot. And if the animal is anchored, you can of course take as many shots as necessary. A "One shot kill" really isn't your concern at that point, your concern is ending their life as quickly as possible.