Interesting Debate

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There is an interesting debate currently ongoing on another deer stalking forum about the rights and wrongs of head shooting deer at ranges greater than 100m plus. As being advocated on a training course that was the subject of an article in Sporting Rifle latest issue.

Is this something that should be encouraged or discouraged?


Well-Known Member
Head shots are not something I would personally endeavor to undertake.

However that is just me, I don't like to shoot outside of my comfort zone, I must say I am a big advocate of neck shots but again personal choice.

Every beast that you shoot presents with a choice of shots and I think that under less than perfect conditions we take the one that we can achieve the most humane kill with.

%age wise I would say I shoot 80% neck, 20% engine room and a big fat zero head shots.

Discouraged I would say.



Well-Known Member
Must say I agree with Blaser3006 absolutely.
There is bound to be some other folks ideas put forward, I'm not saying they are wrong, just that I think it is wrong for me and would think wrong for others, that's my take on it. Save the head shots for Park Deer at ten paces or despatching animals that are already down.


Well-Known Member
Personally I support the comments that it should be discouraged.

Head shots require a very accurate shot... the brain/atlas joint are very small targets to hit. Add to that the fact that there is a sheet of bone in the way (ie the skull) then the chances of deflection increase.

The risks to the animal for a poorly placed shot are not worth thinking about: shattered jaw, shattered skull etc. The animal would run and die a slow and unpleasant death! I could not bring myself to risking a head shot, the consequences of a poor one are not what any animal deserves.

Patience and a disciplined shot make a good stalker... risk takers do not!

Save the head shots for Park Deer at ten paces or despatching animals that are already down.

Comments I completely agree with...

Robin Hood

Active Member
I've never taken a head shot but I will take neck shots when the chance arrises. My ratio would be something like 80% chest 20% neck 0% head.



Distinguished Member
Head Shots

I like Robin Hood take probably 80% chest shots, but on a few occasions when I've been into a group of Fallow I sometimes take a second beast with a head shot. The first is always a chest or neck shot and as Fallow sometimes do they stand with vertical necks looking back at the shot deer this presents a stationary high neck/atlas joint shot. I will add I only take this shot if the deer is looking away from me how there is no chance of hitting the jaw, limit the range to 100yards and normally only off a bi pod.
I personally think head shots should be discouraged but I'm just being honest saying I have used this shot on occasion.



Well-Known Member
Head Shtot

I had a chance at a head shot on a roe the other night he was head on to me about 30m away. I can confidently head shoot rabbits at twice the range. but I waited for him to turn side on but he winded me and headed off. He will still be there for another day. Better than me getting slung off my shooting permission for leaving a roe running arround with its jaw hanging off not to mention the suffering of the beast.



Well-Known Member
I posted this on another site but it is my veiws were ever I am posting.

I have a couple issues with neck shooting, often while the deer will drop on the spot, when approached the deer still has eye reflect activity indicting that the deer still has brain activity while being paralyzed, this in my mind is not a dead deer. (I have seen fallow, red and roe all do this in the last year.)

The deer may also drop on the spot, and while the stalker is congratulating himself in a job well done the deer springs to its feet and runs off.

If the bullet has damaged the windpipe it will have a agonising death drowning on its own blood. A wound to the back of the neck can become infected, the deer can not reach to lick it which seems to help clean a wound and prevent infection.

I have and will neck shoot if I have too, one estate I shoot demand that all deer culled are high neck shot as they process the venison themselves for the farm shop. But given the choice I will heart/lung shoot all my deer, as for the excuse that they run after you have shot them, then get yourself a dog, if you put the dog on the trail after 15 minutes it will have no problem finding it provided you did actually hit it, and neck shot deer still run away.



Well-Known Member
Well Gentlemen you have posted generally commonsense !
I have shot many Deer in my lifetime but only a handful or so in the head.
I have run and scored at Stalkers shoots for over 30 years and believe me the general standard of shooting is only fit for body shots.
We never hear of the cock-ups the self appointed Daniel Boones make.

Only the unfortunate Deer suffers.

Carl Gustaf

I think that this thread was put on by bradley to cause an argument, luckly common sense prevailed! I sometimes meet the odd stalker who boasts of head shots at long range and I wonder if they should call themselves stalkers.
Surely long range shooting is what the Royal Artillery do. The art of stalking surely requires that the said stalker can, through skill and guile, get close to his prey using his/her knowledge of field craft and the terrain to approach and despatch the deer humunely.
During the Boer War and the First World War Lord Lovat recruited his own highland ghillies to operate as sharp shooters/scouts to defeat the Boer and later WWI Germans snipers. Their field craft, precise shooting and use of camoflauge (Ghilliesuits) was the foundation for modern sniping. Men who boasted of their shooting prowess were considered unfit for the purpose.
I personally subscribe to the view, a stalker is the hunting elite. We have all most likely started off with a Webley air pistol, owned lurchers and terriers, not to mention ferrets, had a play with shotguns and have evolved into a higher state. A preditor capable of making informed decisions on the situation as it unfolds and to battle all that nature puts in our path, and at the end of it know that we have done justice to the grassed deer before us, be it Muntjac doe or Imperial Red stag!
Many people can shoot well at long range and those of them that are honest will admit sometimes it goes wrong. 'Horses for courses' but the thrill of getting in close knowing that every minute that goes by exposes you to the watchful eye of the old hind. Surely thats what stalking is all about!
I have a romantic view of stalking, I put it down to reading 'John Macnab' at an early age and at least once a year every year since!

Well thats my take on it, its an opinion, hopefully not a contentious one.

Thank you.

Carl Gustaf

I totally agree with you Thar,
I was very happy to dispatch Roe Bucks through the top of the heart. I got no end of hassle from the chap I stalked with to take high neck shots. I didn't see the need as I always brought the vension.
All damaged meat is readily gobbled up by my dogs. I got fed up of the stick I was getting, so on the next outing I shot a cull Buck squire in the neck and he dropped like a stone. We approached to find that the deer was imobilised but his eyes moved and set on us. His brain was still working and could understand what was happening. The lead Stalker carried on with the gralloch regardless. I now only shoot heart shots!


Well-Known Member
Watched the postings on this topic with interest.My penny worth.
A neck shot is taken to knock down a deer with minimal meat spoilage.As the bullet travels what actually happens? On entry to the neck it expands on hitting resistance causing hydrostatic pressure,bone damage and destroys the spinal column causing spinal shock.Most die whilst others are temporarily knocked down to get up and run off with severe injuries necessitating a follow up.Others are rendered quadriplegic.Some stalkers have mentioned eyes moving,therefore the animal is still alive but paralysed .Blood is still getting through to the brain as the heart is still beating.It is only truly dead when the pupils are wide open. Each stalker IMO has to make their own decision as to what they feel comfortable with as to the humane placement of the shot.


Well-Known Member
Carl Gustaf said:
I totally agree with you Thar,
I was very happy to dispatch Roe Bucks through the top of the heart. quote]

The thing is a top of the heart shot drops them on the spot, it is with low heart/lung shots that you get runners. If you think you are good enough to take a neck shot then you should be able to place a high heart shot no problem and if you are not quite as good as you thought you were, well you will still have a dead deer.

Earlier this year I tracked a roe doe that had been shot by one of our syndicate member’s he hit it in the neck just missing the spine at the back, you could see the bone though the wound after we had found it. It was shot with a 150gn Norma soft point in .308 more than enough gun for roe does in most peoples opinion. It did drop on the spot but when the member moved to get out of the low box he was in, it got to it’s feet and ran. My GWP tracked it 670 yards raising it from it bed before she caught up with it. The most heart lung shot deer seem to run is 150 yards.


paul k

Well-Known Member
I would personally never take a head shot at any range. I think that the chances of the shot being slighty off target or the deer moving are too high.

Like many above I generally go for the "engine room" unless the estate specifically asks for neck shot deer and in that case my maximum range is 100 metres off a bipod. For a heart shot I will go out to around 200 metres in the right conditions but prefer not to shoot much over 150 metres as the name of the sport is deer stalking not deer shooting and it is the getting close to the target that is importnat to me. OK if I had cull numbers to achieve I might take a different view on that but I am a recreational stalker out after one generally specific type of beast.

Having said that, I did recently shoot a boar with a heart shot at about 150 metres off a bipod but it was a big stationary target and I felt good about the shot.

It's not that I doubt my ability, I have put shots into the fatal zone of a paper fox target at over 700 metres, it's just that I think that we owe it to the deer to take the shot with the greatest chance of a 100% kill and it has to be the heart shot.


Well-Known Member
neck shots

i take heart shots when stalking, not heads, not necks, hearts are pretty big I am not a bad shot but i don't like the idea of creased animals or animals with thier jaws shot off.BUT each to thier own.


Carl Gustaf

The heart shot is the safest shot, okay.
But what is the big deal with some stalkers saying 'The meat around the chest is wasted, neck and head shots mean less waste'! Surely if the meat was so important, you should shot two deer and then there is lots of meat for everyone. I've only shot Roe, but it seems to me that the neck holds more meat than the chest anyway.
I personally just cut the ribs down and throw them in a pan to boil up for the dogs. How much venison can you eat after all!

I've got the David Stretton deer butchery Dvd, its very informative. Amazing how much meat you can get out of a properly butchered carcass.


Well-Known Member
In my stalking life l can count the no of head shots l have taken on one hand and the same applies for neck shots all have been sucsesfull and all have been on deer couched up,when it comes down to meat damage a destroyed shoulder is a small price to pay concidering what suffering can be inflicted upon the unfortunate beast should things go bad,one of my landlords on a piece of local ground were l cull up to 30 beasts a year said to me under no circumstances should l take head or neck shots on the initial shot that suited me right away,l learnt to take high heart shots from the start many years ago they work everytime.
Also when it comes to neck shots on mature munjtac bucks,fallow bucks and red stags in the rut there is much more neck so therefor much more can go wrong.


Some of the Gamedealers are now starting to insist upon head or high neck culled deer.

Either that or they will refuse the carcase or reduce the price paid by up to 50%.

If you're culling deer and have a few to get rid of such a attitude can make life rather difficult. I'm not a fan of head or neck shooting but I also need to know that the beasts shot will be wanted, and a fair price achieved at the end of the month.


Well-Known Member
How nice to see a thread that engenders disagreement being so amicably discussed.

I dont head shoot but do generally neck shoot and for personal consumption I always neck shoot on the basis if dead immediately there is little or no adrenalin to toughen the meat.

As posted above there are occasions when the spine is not totally severed with a neck shot and although I have fired again at a downed animal if movement is seen I have never had a neck shot animal regain its footing.

I agree there is a tendency to halve the value of body shot carcasses locally as well and that alone increases my inclination towards neck shots.
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