Where Do You Shoot A Dear with A Crossbow

So you are new to crossbow hunting and you’re wondering what your need to know to take down your first deer, Well let me help a bit. One of the first questions I had on my first ever crossbow hunt was, ” Where do you shoot a dear with a crossbow?”. it seemed like a logical question to me. And it turns out that I am not the only one who asked this same question.

Mostly, your gonna go for the heart and lungs. This is the highest percentage shot.  The traditional way I take down a deer is broadside. It seems for me the best point of view and there are no obstructions of view when in range for the kill. However, there are quarter turns and views that you can use with a rifle or shotgun to knock a deer down. The quarter turns to allow for a shot at the heart and lungs with the quarter-turn towards you the more difficult shot.  There are many reasons to choose a broadside shot so let’s just cover a few here.

BARNETT Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow


First, being new to using a crossbow takes time to adjust and get used to. There are a few differences when hunting with an arrow as opposed to a bullet. The number one thing to get used to is the trajectory of the arrow. When taking your shot, the arrow does not fly in a straight path. Under 20 yards the arrow will have a slight upward trajectory so you need to adjust aim downwards slightly as to not miss too high. The opposite is true for over about 40 yards. Your aim should be up slightly as the arrow will fall in a downward trajectory and you could miss. So as you can see, this can take a little getting used to. Making attempting a quarter-turn shot that much more difficult.

Secondly, as with the above, when a deer is turned in any direction aside from broadside, the anatomy shape changes. Hahaha…yeah I know it sounds funny! Well, the anatomy actually doesn’t change but if you were to look at anatomy on an x-ray and turn the deer, then the angles of the turn would change what you see, thus changing the shape and amount of anatomy you see. Okay…I said a whole lot of crazy stuff there right? Yeah…so lets me try to simplify what I am saying. If you stand in front of a door with it closed, you can see the entire flat surface of the door. But when you open the door and stand in front you can only see the edge. Which would be an easier target?  The opened edge door or the closed full door? Hopefully, that helps explain because I’m not the best.

Brachial Plexus shot with a crossbow

Where Do You Shoot A Dear with A Crossbow


This area of the deer which is near the shoulder blades is a very small area. This shot is approx. 2-4 inches in diameter and will immobilize a deer if you can hit it. This shot I would only take with my rifle because I need the accuracy and strength that my crossbow arrow does not give me. My crossbow arrows, although strong run the risk of hitting the bone a ricocheting off. So I now lost an arrow and broadhead and missed the deer. This area has a higher percentage of failure with a bow than a rifle. Too many things can go wrong with this shot and it’s not worth it. I mean…I’m out there to get some meat not site see. Not that I don’t enjoy the time spent in the woods, but I love filling my freezer with the spoils of my hunt.

So, to answer the question in simple terms,” Where Do You Shoot A Dear with A Crossbow”, you go for the heart and lungs and if possible wait for a broadside set up before shooting. This is your highest percentage shot and the one you shouldn’t miss. I would definitely not turn down a quarter-turn shot but I prefer the quarter-turn away from me for improved odds. The “brachial plexus” shot is one I would not recommend to any bowhunter. I mean you are more than welcome to try but again the percentage of failure is pretty high. So if you like me and want a full freezer, it’s a broadside heart and lung shot! You can’t miss it.

You may also like my article on “How accurate is a crossbow at 100 yards

Drop me a message below and give me your opinions on your perfect setup. I would love to see if I am missing an easier shot. What range are you shooting at? Has anyone attempted and been successful with a  brachial plexus shot? Well, I hope that answers your question and as always happy hunting friends. Time to go clean my shotgun and get the crossbow ready.

Related Links:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossbow /By Wikipedia
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_crossbows /By Wikipedia
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullet-shooting_crossbow /By Wikipedia
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_on_crossbows /By Wikipedia


  • https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Crossbow /By Wikihow
  • https://www.wikihow.com/Shoot-a-Deer /By Wikihow
  • https://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Modern-Crossbow /By Wikihow