Head shooting wild deer

UK Outfitters

If the stalker is competent, should the head shot be used on wild deer ?

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Well-Known Member
After a successful early morning stalk this morning I called in at the game dealers. The dealer is a friend of mine who taught me to shoot full bore rifles 13 years ago. I have spent countless hours stalking and culling park deer with him over the years.

I manage several captive herds of fallow, one of which is pretty much wild as the enclosure is 30 acres. When culling these deer I regularly head shoot the deer. I would love to hear from anyone who culls parkland fallow who has found a way of separating specific deer from a very tightly bunched herd so a heart shot can be taken! I have also head shot wild red deer on the hill with the permission of the Stalker.

Our conversation got round to shot placement. The buck I shot this morning was a heart shot with a 308 at 140yrds. The dealer suggested I should be trying to head shoot wild deer. Before the tirade of abuse, it is important to stress that this chap has spent 50 years as a deer manager, has guided many people 'new' to stalking, and also knows how I shoot.

His reason for this is as follows: We are not too far away from legislation interfearing even further into meat hygene, he believes that in the not too distant future that if a beast has been chest shot that the entire front end will be rejected by the authorities, which will create disposal problems and will obviously be wastefull.

Many of the postings on this and other forums state that the authors and contributors to the threads are grouping shots at sub inch at 100yrds. A brain shot on a Roe is a 2 inch target at the same distance. For those that feel confident to take the head shot is it really such a taboo ? In the past I have (as have all honest stalkers) fluffed a shot, in my experience of head shooting PARK deer there is enough shock on a low placed 243 100g shot to stun the deer for more than long enough to effectivley place a further shot.

Having read some of the recent postings on this site I am sure that this may spark some strong views. If you wish to post some negative personal attack of a rant please **** off and do it somewhere else.



Well-Known Member
I think the question for the poll should read - Recreational Stalker or Average Deer Stalker.
If someone is Competant then by association one can assume they are already taking Head Shots to know whether they are Competant or not!
and again, if they are Competant then surely there is nothing wrong with taking head shots!
I have been shooting Deer for over fifty years and I would guess that 60% were neck shot, 35% chest/heart shot and 5% head shot.
How each one was shot depended on the distance, terrain and weather conditions and all had to be perfect for me to make the decision as to where to place the shot.
I do tend to go for, and recommend, chest/heart shots these days, unless they are stood on the end of my gun barrel!


Distinguished Member
Emcc i have read two day on this forum two or three posts where head shots have been used and the flak one member recieved yes he made a mistake and got away with it and another very experienced stalker shot one 150 and again the shot was also good but both could have ended very differently . i think your reply above is exactly spot on and commend you on your experience and views on the debate on headshooting .


Site Staff
I assume you are talking about Basil and possibly my post. Not to be too picky I would add that my shot was a neck shot (not a head shot) of a firm rest of a tripod at approx 150yds with a mod on the rifle with someone spotting for me, and a trained dog sitting next to me, plus nearly 30 years experience managing and stalking deer in all terrains and guiding many clients.

That is slightly different and I think covers most of what would be required to make a professional assesment to take such a shot, and as I have said I have taken very few shots at Roe over this distance. ;) it could have ended badly, it did not, but with a trained dog and a semi professional stalker who works for me by my side. I think it was a safe decision to make, and one I will say I am qualified and experienced enough to consider capable of taking under the right conditions.


Distinguished Member
sikamalc yes i am talking about both of these posts and no i am not being picky as i described you as a very experienced stalker as i define from your regualry posts on this forum . that was my point you made a decision on your experience and got the job done . my reply to EMcc was that his remarks on the subject were in my opinion totally correct gained from 50 years experience and how i will conduct my stalking in the future and do my best not to f..k up . im a great believer in you learn the hard way in life and those who havent ever made mistakes talk **** .


Distinguished Member
sikamalc one thing i have learned is how important it is to own a trained dog when stalking and taking out clients i commend you for owning buying and training as we have talked about every situation can end very differently but at least we can do our best if the worst does come about . ps look forward to meeting you at future events regards pete .


Site Staff
Your comments are commendable I was not refering to you being picky, but myself in my reply to your post (sorry for the confusion).

I hope your future stalking is trouble free, but as with everything in life if you keep at it long enough now and again something goes wrong. Basil made a bad descison, but it did not turn into a nightmare and I have the greatest of respect for him standing up and being counted. He has learnt from his mistake, and that is all to the good.

I have over the years had to follow up a few wounded beasts when clients have cocked up, and very occassionally taken extreme shots to finish beasts off, all in Scotland I might add. Hence my now having a dog I can rely on, something that some continental hunters must have before they even go out.

Good luck with your future stalking.



Distinguished Member
sikamalc your reply shows what a gent you are i would if possible like to come up to scotland and buy a weekends stalking with you in the future . reply or pm me if this of interest to you . got to see what the new 7 mm o8 s capable of :lol:


Well-Known Member
Good evening Malc,

Basil made a bad descison, but it did not turn into a nightmare and I have the greatest of respect for him standing up and being counted. He has learnt from his mistake, and that is all to the good.

What was Basil's mistake here, take the shot or post his experiance.

The animal was dispatched cleanly, his explanation on the other hand could have been better explained.

I am left wondering?

I read one of your earlier posts and thought thank god for that Malc has had the final word on this one and put it t bed, is it not now time for this?


Well-Known Member
There is nothing wrong with head shooting, but the circumstances have to be correct. It all comes down to angle of the shot, weather, situation, ability of the shot. I head shoot sometimes, but not often, I prefer chest or neck.

I have to add, I usually shoot less than .5 MOA at the target so know my abilities and the rifles.


Well-Known Member
This thread is a breath of fresh air compared to the other thread! A good constructive debate long may this thrive! Personally I dont go out to head shoot but this year Ive shot 2 in the head each circumstance was different and when on the field any shot must be wayed up. 1 beast I took a heart shot had to be "finnished off" yes I pulled the shot but the beast suffered until I got to it which was about 60yds!! Me and my rifle can put 3 shots into the same hole at 100yds and has been witnessed.


Site Staff
Steyr.308 I think Basil only knows the answer to that question. What I will say is that head shooting deer in general IMHO is to be avoided unless it is as about as near 100% as possible, or you have a situation with a wounded deer, and its the only option open to you.

Head shooting in deer parks is to save meat damage, and most places are small enough to find the animal if its wounded, but I still do not advocate head shooting as a matter of course.

in the wild fair chase I think taking a head shot is also down to a number of factors. One knowing your limitations and not kidding yourself either. Knowing your rifle and scope, the round you are shooting and the quarry you are taking. The weather has a big part to play as well, a 25mph cross wind is pushing to take any shot. Also knowing its a nice head and the old RED MIST coming down, clouding your assesment and judgement. Distance involved, again dont kid yourself. And most important respect for the animal, its not just a target.

Those that have done enough stalking will all have had those feelings and experiences, I know I have, and you learn from them.

I do not condem Basil, I think he did not access the situation properly IMHO but it did not produce a wounded animal, although his description of taking a lower jaw shot was bound to rattle a cage or two of those that post on here.

Now let sleeping dogs lie ;)


Well-Known Member
I have mentioned in the past that i have head and neck shot quite a few deer in my time, and haven`t got a problem with it, so long as you know what you are doing. When i have done it, it has been done because that was the only shot that presented itself. I have done culling for the FC, as some know, now, when you`re livelihood depends on getting deer into the larder or you don`t get paid, then to a certain extent there is a price on the deers head. Having said this, this is not a license to go shooting at "ANY" price as i have still got the deers best interest at heart, shooting to kill.

Head and neck shots were taken on both red and roe as the situation gave me no option, long grass being the biggest reason.
What i will say, after a while shooting deer day after day and night after night, you get to know your rifle, it almost becomes part of yourself and you know that wherever you put that crosshair, you are going to hit it.

The picture that i put into articles the other day, that was neck shot, but it was only yards away and seemed daft not to take that shot to save on meat damage, and ofcourse i know what i am capable of with my experience.

With head shots you have to accept like with anything else that something will go wrong evetually and you have to be able to live with it when it does.



Well-Known Member
Enough of Person punching!!
All you out there decide what is for you! (Dodgy dont do it !) Doubt wait!
Certain take it!
simple equation , (SHOT ON DO IT )! mind some will draw this out till time stands still.


Well-Known Member
if the line is now drawn under head shots on deer , now can we discuss the real issue WHATS THE BEST RANGE TO TEXAS HEART SHOOT A DEER.........neil
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