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Bowhunting Elk: Shot Placement
Here's what to look for when it comes to arrow placement on elk.
When bowhunting for elk, or any big game animal, making sure of an accurate, lethal shot is the ultimate goal of the hunt. Having taken many big game animals around the world with my bow, I’ve learned that the moment of taking the shot comes down to reading the animal’s body language. Being able to predict what they’ll do next really helps, and that is learned through spending time afield. During the busiest time of my TV career, I was hosting 52 hunting shows a year, going on over 60 hunts a year. There’s no substitute for time in the field, which greatly helps in closing the deal during the moment of truth. When it comes to elk and other North American ungulates, here are the shot opportunities I look for when bowhunting.

Broadside Shot: This is the best shot there is to take on any big game anima
l. When the backside of both front legs match up (parallel), 
place the arrow at the top of the crease, rightbehind the shoulder, just below the center of the body, and you’ll hit both lungs. Drop the arrow two inches down and one inch to the right of the red dot, and you’ll take out the top of the heart (missing the leg bone), along with both lungs.

Slight Quartering Away: This is a great shot to take, just make sure to place the arrow so it exits tight behind the offside shoulder. At the angle this bull is standing, if you hit the red dot you’ll end up with a quick, double lung, kill.


Quartering Away, Legs Forward: When an animal is leaning forward on both front legs, the vitals are really exposed. Hit this bull on the red
dot, so the arrow exits tight behind the offside shoulder, and you’ll get that double long hit.


Quartering Away: This is the classic quartering away shot. The biggest mistake made on this shot is placing the arrow too tight behind the nearside shoulder, in the crease. You don’t want to hit the crease when the animal is quartering at such an angle, for the arrow can actually miss the near lung, travel just beneath the shoulder blade and lodge in the brisket. At this severe angle, if hit in the crease, the arrow may not even penetrate the rib cage, simply traveling between the ribs and shoulder blade. But hit where the red dot is, so the arrow exits at the center of the far leg, and you’ve got your bull. You can hit another couple inches to the right of the red dot and still be fine, the arrow will just have to travel through more of the stomach, liver and diaphragm before reaching the offside lung. I don’t mind shooting for the center of the offside leg at this angle, making sure I hit the center of the offside lung, but if the arrow hits the leg bone, it may not exit. Know that a one-lung shot is lethal, but the tracking job will be longer than a double-lung hit.





Strong Quartering Away: This is a tough shot and should only be taken by experienced, confident shooters. Don’t attempt this shot, or any shot with a bow, when the animal is moving. Mentally, this is a challenging shot to take, but with plenty of practice on a 3D target, you’ll hopefully connect come crunch time. Place the arrow tight over the back hip, at the red dot. This will drive the arrow through the stomach,liver and diaphragm, and could hit the heart and offside lung, depending on the point of impact. What I like about this shot is no bones are hit until the sternum, unless you pull it left into the ribs, or right into the hind quarter. If there’s any doubt, do not take this shot, but if you nail it, it’s a quick, clean kill.


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