Deer hunting season is approaching, and there is nothing more fun about the season than getting the prize home. For beginners in the deer hunting business, having complete hunting gear does not guarantee a good kill. You need to go the extra mile, and that extra mile is knowing where to shoot deer with crossbow for a clean shot. For beginners wondering what these spots are, this article is a perfect manual, and for the masters of the game, well, this is a good way to revise.

The Best Crossbow Shot Targets For Deers

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on HunterExperts. For more information, read full disclosure here.

Factors to Consider For A Perfect Shot 

Before we go any further on the best spots to target known to mankind that terrorize deers, know that certain criteria need to be met, certain steps need to be taken and put in place, and certain things need to be known to ensure that when you eventually fire that shot while aiming for the best target, you will get it right once. 

The Anatomy Of The Deer 

The deer is a strong animal with a body built and designed to protect itself from predators, and while its entire body is fully designed for protection and survival, certain parts are more vulnerable than others and knowing where these parts make your deer hunting experience easier and more interesting. 

The most vulnerable parts of a deer are its vitals, the heart, lungs, and liver. A direct and clean hit to any of these vital areas results in either a massive blood loss or suffocation, leading to death. 

The deer’s lung is its largest organ, making it the perfect vital organ to target. It is located behind the shoulder, and coincidentally, the larger the deer, the larger the heart making the larger deer better targets to hit. The heart is located below the lungs and the liver behind the heart. So essentially, the best spot to shoot a deer is at its vital area. 


If you are going to shoot an arrow at a deer, you know you have to be within a certain reasonable distance from the target. Preferably, you are advised to stay within 35 yards range of the deer for the perfect shot. The longer the distance between you and the deer, the longer it takes for the arrow to hit the target, plus the faster the deer can react to the incoming attack leading to a last-minute save. 

But if you feel you can hit farther than the35 yards mark, no problem, but to save yourself stress, hitting from a range of 35 yards does the trick. 

The Movements Of The Deer

Is your target moving or staying still? For a great shot, it is best to target a still deer. This allows you ample room to calculate the perfect angle take the perfect shot without sudden shifts that can disrupt your plans. A moving, running, or walking deer is quite unpredictable, reducing the time you have to calculate and trace the perfect angle to shoot as well as take the shot. 

Shooting a moving deer is generally more difficult and stressful, and unless you are sure that you won’t be able to find another deer to target, then a moving deer isn’t worth targeting.

The Movements Of The Deer

The Crossbow

The type of crossbow and the type of components available in your crossbow also matter when it comes to deer hunting and having the perfect kill. Choose the best crossbow for hunting deer as there is a variety of crossbow types on the market. 

You might be wondering what is an advantage of hunting with a crossbow? And the answer is that they are powerful; hence any crossbow is a perfect choice for deer hunting. But ensure you choose durable and reliable crossbows that won’t drain your account much, and as the deer hunting season is not an all-year-round thing, choose crossbows like the best crossbow under $400 and the best crossbow under 500 to save cash.

The Best Target Spots 

The Heart And Lungs

The heart and lung of the deer make perfect target spots for a quick kill. You can either target the heart and the lungs directly or target the area around them where the life-supporting blood vessels that connect to both organs are; severing these vessels with a good shot will get you a clean kill immediately. 

The Neck 

The neck is often the finishing spot to target if you want a snappy end. A perfect shot to the neck area will immediately or almost immediately kill the deer, and if the shot is not so perfect, there is an assurance of immense blood loss that will kill the deer faster. 

The High Shoulder 

In times when you cannot directly target the deer’s vital organs, particularly when you find yourself in a straight-on angle or quartering towards an angle, a good spot to target is the high shoulder. The high shoulder of a deer is surrounded by the nervous system and spine of the deer. Therefore, a perfect shot at that spot will completely immobilize the deer within seconds.

Hitting a target like the high shoulder can be tedious and would require some practice to get it right. You can have target practice before venturing into the woods with the best crossbow target to get a better feel of what to expect. 

The Brain or Head 

It is common knowledge that a headshot will kill any living thing, and deers are not excluded. Fortunately, a deer’s head is small, and the brain is about three inches long; therefore, any direct shot to the top of the head of the deer will certainly hit the brain.

The Best Target Spots

The Best Shot Types

The Broadside Shot

When either side of a deer is facing directly towards the hunter, such an angle is called a broadside, and it is the perfect shot angle as well as the most popular shot angle to get a deer. 

A broadside angle exposes the vital areas of the deer without obstruction, allowing for an ample area to target and hit right with a lethal hit. To make the best use of the broadside angle, if you are on the ground, the deer shot placement should be aimed at the lower center area about two to three inches behind the front shoulder, incapacitating the deer and reducing its chances of leaping away. 

If you are shooting from a tree stand, there is the need to factor in the extra height you have as you are above the deer and aim right. For a tree stand shot, the closer the deer is to your tree, the greater the angle and the higher you’ll need to aim, but don’t forget to aim right behind the front shoulder. 

The Quartering Away Shot

Just like the broadside angle, the quartering away angle also allows for a proper shot at the vital organs since it exposes these vital areas while presenting a large and wide target once the deer is in a moderate angle. 

The quartering away shot and angle occurs when the deer angles away from the hunter with its head facing away from the hunter while its rear-end is nearer to the hunter. With a quartering away spot, you have easier access to both lungs, the liver, and also the heart.

When targeting this spot, focus on your arrow making an impact with the back of the deer, particularly somewhere around the third rib-cage area at the back of the deer. 


The above-mentioned spots are the best, easiest, and most ethical options when it comes to targeting a deer without inflicting irreparable injuries or losing the deer entirely when hunting. But for hunters who are more skilled with the crossbow, the likes of the masters of the game, there are two other spot styles available that are highly risky and require extreme calculation to make it work but are invariably also good spots and angles to use.

The Quartering To Or Quartering Towards Shot

As the name implies, it is the opposite of the quartering away shot. In this position, the deer is coming towards the hunter, with the head of the deer being the closest part of its body to the hunter while the rear is farther away. 

Unlike a quartering away shot, you are offered no clear sight of the vital organs as the frontal view of the deer with his shoulders block any access to the vital parts; hence, taking a shot at the quartering to spot will require the hunter to aim at the front of the deer right inside of the shoulder blade. 

The shot requires the arrow to penetrate the front portion of the first lung and exit at the back portion of the second lung. 

The quartering to spot is quite tricky, and unless you are left with no other option, it is not the best shot to take. It is a shot often taken by professionals who are highly skilled with the crossbow.

The Brisket Shot

Also known as the straight-on shot or head-on shot, it is the shot taken when a deer is walking directly towards the hunter.  

There are many disadvantages to this shot; one is that there is little to no clear sight of the vital parts, and two, the deer is moving, meaning that a seconds’ spooking can ruin all your preparation. 

Although the heart and the innermost parts of both lungs are accessible to the hunter, a single miscalculation can bring it all to an end, and this is why this shot is often avoided by deer hunters. 

For a brisket shot, aim at either side of the deer and below the ball located on the deer’s chest towards the center of the deer’s brisket. Hitting this spot right, the arrow should impact either the heart or the lungs, and in some lucky cases, both.

What To Avoid When Shooting A Deer

  1. Don’t take a shot at a deer if you think it will require more than one shot to kill the deer. Taking a badly executed first shot can lead to an unrecovered deer or a badly injured deer that might not die eventually. Instead, make sure that your single shot does the trick and gets you the prize within minutes. 
  2. Choose a quartering towards shot only if you have the proper skill to identify the right spot to target and to take the perfect shot. This will save both yourself and the deer a lot of stress. 
  3. If possible, avoid headshots if your bolt and arrow are not long enough and strong enough to fully penetrate the skull of the deer.
  4. Avoid shooting a deer when it is facing directly away from you, and you can only see its rear end. 
  5. Avoid shooting where there are large obstructions like trees that are partially blocking your view. 
  6. Do not shoot a deer that is farther than 45 yards; the longer the distance, the more things can go wrong. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to shoot deer with crossbow?

The best spot to target a deer with a crossbow is the vital organs which comprise the heart, lungs, and liver. 

What is the best shot angle to shoot a deer? 

The best shot angle to shoot a deer is the broadside angle or broadside shot which gives a full-on access view to the vital organs allowing for an easy target. 

What shot type should you avoid when hunting a deer? 

When hunting a deer, avoid using a straight-on or head-on shot, which is when the deer is walking directly at you. This shot angle is very risky and reserved for the best of the best with the crossbow. 

Where do you aim a deer with a crossbow? 

For a clean and lethal kill, it is best to aim at the vital organs of the deer, which are its most fragile areas. 

How far will a deer run after being shot with a crossbow? 

Depending on the crossbow type being used and the areas targeted and hit, a deer can run approximately 25 to 100 yards after being shot with a crossbow if it was shot at its vital organs. If the deer is shot in its non-vital areas, it can run for miles. 

Will a crossbow go through a deer’s shoulder?

It’s possible for a crossbow to go through a shoulder, but that is by sheer luck and depending on how the arrow was shot. The shoulder of a deer is quite strong; hence any attempts to hit right through the shoulder could be stopped by the bones. 

What distance should I sight my crossbow?

You can begin your sighting-in at 10 yards for safety’s sake; once you are sure that your arrows are hitting in the center of the target at 10 yards, you can adjust your sighting-in distance to 20 yards.

At what range is it best to shoot a deer? 

The best range to shoot a deer is approximately 35 yards which places you close enough to the deer to deal significant damage.   


As you prepare yourself for the hunting season, also prepare your mind and, if possible, educate and practice on the best spots to target a deer and make the perfect hit to ensure that your hunting activities are successful at the end of the day. Have the right tools, the right state of mind with the right orientation on what to do, and enjoy the deer hunting season.