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To make a one-shot kill (a shot that kills an animal at once so you do not need to shoot again), one of the things you need to know is where to aim. Even when you know how far away an animal is, and you know you can hit a target at that distance, you still have to place your shot correctly to get a clean and immediate kill. A poorly placed shot will wound an animal and inflict unnecessary suffering. The animal may run off or fly away and you may not be able to find it. It may die from its wounds and is wasted. It is illegal to intentionally waste game in Montana.

Good hunters can hit what they are aiming at and they know where to aim to kill an animal quickly and effectively. They know, in effect, how to place a killing shot.

The most effective shot is one delivered to an animal’s vital organs—heart, lungs, and liver—located in the body cavity inside the rib cage behind the shoulder. A shot placed in this area, referred to as the vital area, is fatal and produces considerable bleeding since the area also contains major blood vessels. Bleeding is essential in case tracking is necessary. Do not attempt to place a shot in the head or neck since they offer very small targets and may result in an animal being wounded. If you can’t make a killing shot, don’t shoot at all.

There are three different positions that make a killing shot more likely. To make a clean shot, wait for an animal to turn broadside or to be quartering-away or forward.