[Post-jump images Not Safe for Non-Hunters] As long has I have been hunting, “experts” have been telling me to shoot whitetail deer by aiming for the large area behind the shoulder. A shoulder shot won’t to ruin the hide and the deer’s heart and lungs occupy a relatively large, easy to hit area. If you’re a trophy hunter, agreed, take the heart shot. Your taxidermist thanks you. If you’re like me, if you hunt for meat, aim for the neck or head . . .
As any zombie can tell you, the head is full of delicious brainssssss. Good for them! Everything forward of the shoulders on a Texas Whitetail deer will never find its way onto my plates. Whatever meat you can scrounge from this area is tough and sinewy. It’s about as tasty as a Bridgestone Dueller. Given those factors, the neck/head area makes a compelling case for well-placed shots.
My go-to hunting rig is a Ruger M77 Mark II chambered in .243 Winchester shooting 95 gr. Winchester Ballistic SilverTip rounds. I will be the first to tell you that the SilverTip round is not a good round for those that aim behind the shoulders. It is prone to fragmentation and massive tissue damage. It is these qualities that make it the perfect round for the neck shot. They tell you that a photo is worth a thousand words. I will let the following photos speak for themselves.
This is a smaller Whitetail doe taken at 100 yards using the aforementioned round. All of the useable meat is intact, there is a massive wound channel, and death was instant. As an ethical hunter, you cannot ask for much more. And yes, a hacksaw makes an excellent field-dressing tool.
A mature buck taken with the same gun/ammo setup at roughly the same distance. With a bit more flesh, the neck shows less damage, but an equally deadly wound.
Evidence here of what can happen when a bonded bullet does not stay bonded. This buck was shot behind the shoulder at less than 75 yards with a 7 mm Magnum. The bullet disintegrated internally and ruined a prime cut of meat.
The axis buck on the right was taken with a neck shot at 100 yards. He dropped immediately at was dead on arrival. The same cannot be said for the buck on the left. The first shot taken by my 7 mm toting friend was placed squarely behind the shoulder. The second shot was taken on the run without enough lead and destroyed the stomach The third shot (from 10 yards to the head) finally put him down. Pay no attention to the rip in the crotch of my pants.
Again, if you are trophy hunting, take the shot behind the shoulder. You’ll preserve a good cape for your taxidermist. Assuming that your bullet stays bonded and you made a clean shot, you’ll have a good portion of meat to bring to the table. If you are hunting/harvesting, give the neck shot some consideration. If you miss, you’ll miss big. If you score a hit, it will be a devastating one. You’ll save good meat, and be making ethical kills in the process.