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How to Drop a Deer in Its Tracks? – 4 Effective Kill Shots!

How to Drop a Deer in Its Tracks
Written by Marc Niad
Last Update: August 11, 2023

Deer is a swift animal. If you are hunting one and you miss the shot, it will be gone before you release the trigger from your finger. So, it is important to know how to drop a deer in its tracks to make sure you don’t lose the opportunity.

Any good hunter knows that dropping a deer in its tracks requires research and knowledge about the deer’s anatomy. Learning about this will help you kill the deer with one shot. This shows great respect for the animal as well as the sport.

Most experienced hunters recommend shooting the deer through the near-side shoulder and out through the off-side shoulder; however, there are multiple ways to drop a deer in its tracks.

Let’s look at the different methods to use.

How to Drop a Deer in Its Tracks?

Where to shoot a deer to drop it in its tracks

High shoulder shot

Where to shoot a deer to drop it in its tracks - High shoulder shot

Aim directly in line with the deer’s front leg, about one-third below the back. Accomplished hunters like this shot because the bullet enters through the scapula, destroys the brachial plexus (part of the central nervous system), and makes the deer immobile.

Back of the neck shot

 Back neck shot on a deer

Neck shots on a deer don’t leave much room for error. It would be the best place to shoot a deer to drop it in its tracks if you are precise in your shooting. If you attempt this one, use a gun (which is ethical) and not a crossbow (which is unethical) because it will leave the deer wounded and not dead.

Face-on chest shot

Where to shoot a deer to drop it in its tracks - Face-on chest shot

Numerous hunters find this a very effective shot. If a deer faces you with an exposed chest, targeting the aorta or heart is the perfect kill shot on a deer. To penetrate these vital organs, aim where the chest and neck meet. You will kill a deer extremely quickly this way.

Behind-the-shoulder lung shot

Where to shoot a deer to drop it in its tracks - Behind-the-shoulder lung shot

It’s advised that hunters just beginning the sport should shoot a deer behind the shoulder while it stands broadside. The logic behind this is it provides a large margin of error and ensures that a vital organ like the lungs will be hit.

How to stop a deer in its tracks

Strike one 

The noise of striking a match alerts the deer but doesn’t make them feel worried. You don’t have to light an actual match, but rather, make a “scritch” or “chick” noise to stop a deer in its tracks. You’re making them look up at something they don’t understand, and a lot of the time, that’s all that’s needed at the moment.


Many hunters find a smooching noise very effective at getting a deer to stop, look at you, and listen. This kissing sound will make them stop but not run away in a panic. It makes them try to assess if you are a threat or not, and by the time they figure it out, the shot has been fired, and it will be too late.


Sounding a bleat call is a beautiful method to get a deer’s attention, especially if a buck thinks a doe is in heat. Some will use devices to make the bleat call, but you can also use your voice. Make a “meeeh” noise like a sheep.

Finger snap 

It’s not very hard to snap your fingers. Most people can do this loudly enough to attract attention without much movement. Fawns and young deer seem to be attracted to this sound the most.


This is a tried-and-true method for hunters to stop a deer in their tracks over the years. You’re trying to get a deer to stop moving so you can take the shot quickly. Using your mouth for this noise is better than using a tube because if you overdo it at close range, you will probably not get lucky enough to attract a deer.


Some hunters like using a hand mirror. It’s literally like a deer in the headlights scenario. It doesn’t use noise or use a lot of movement, and it’s not guaranteed that it will work for you.

Things to Avoid When You Want to Drop a Deer

In order to master how to drop a deer in its tracks, there are a few things that you need to avoid.

Don’t shoot the root of the tail if you aren’t an expert

The root of the tail shot, or as it’s sometimes known as the Texas Brain shot, is favored in keeping a wounded deer from bolting away. You should only attempt this if you are an expert and can strike the base of the spine. It will drop the deer’s back legs, and you can finish it off.

Don’t take a headshot

Never take a headshot. The deer’s head is a tiny target, and if you do manage to hit it in the head, it will cause a bloody mess. Even more terrible is if you hit the lower jaw, the deer will suffer excruciating pain. It’s disrespectful to the sport and the deer.

Wait, if you don’t like the shot

They say patience is a virtue. This pertains to your shot. If you don’t like it, take your finger off the trigger and wait. Precision is critical because deer don’t usually stay still for very long at a time. This means your angle will change in an instant. Breathe and be patient. A good shot will present itself eventually.


1. What caliber will drop a deer?

Ans. Deer are the most popular animals to pursue by North American hunters. There are many caliber options, but some prominent ones include .270 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, 6.5 Creedmoor, .7mm Remington Magnum, .243 Winchester, and the .308 Winchester.

2. What is the best time to hunt deer?

Ans. Deer are chiefly active in the morning and evening hours. Hunters think they are the best time to shoot deer. There are some exceptions, but deer are more nocturnal, sleeping during the day and moving around at night.

3. What to do if you miss your shot?

Ans. Missing a shot happens from time to time for hunters. The best way to recover is to reflect on how to improve your shooting by evaluating your mistakes and learning how to be better. You never want a deer to suffer unnecessarily. The goal is for a quick and precise death.

4. What is the most significant responsibility of a hunter?

Ans. You never want to cause unnecessary suffering and pain for the animals you shoot. A hunter’s worst nightmare is causing a painful injury to the animal, and it gets away, causing you not to end its agony. That’s why you should first learn how to drop a deer instantly before going hunting.

About the author

Marc Niad

It’s been several years that Marc, a retired teacher and a proud dad, has silently been piling up mature bucks down the South. This humble hunter began his hunting journey at quite an early age and since then, he spent countless hours in the woods and learned good lessons in terms of woodsmanship. Along the way, he also made money sharing his skill with his followers and well-wishers.

The Ranger Expert is the brainchild of this veteran hunter who loves hunting the swamps and the hills around the Mississippi and Homochitto rivers. His most favorite hunting technique is taking his climbing gear and going to the top of pines with a 25.06 – the old-fashioned way!

He gets most of his games during late December through mid-January – his favorite hunting time. Marc strongly believes that hard work, passion, and a bit of luck can bring you success in the wild.

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