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It is critical that you educate yourself about the game you’re hunting. Understanding your quarry also will enhance your hunting experience.

Understanding Game Anatomy

Vital organs of a deer

An ethical hunter always wants to inflict a minimal amount of suffering on an animal. Knowing game habitat and anatomy are essential to placing a shot for a clean kill.

  • Knowing your quarry may be necessary to taking legal game. For example, you may need to determine a game bird’s gender on sight or quickly recognize protected species as they move into firing range. If you hunt where white-tailed and mule deer occupy the same area, you’ll need to know how to identify both.
  • The most effective shots are delivered to an animal’s vital organs—heart and lungs. In large game animals, these organs lie in the chest cavity behind the front shoulder. A lung shot is the most effective shot for big game.
Vital organs of a brown bear
  • The area of the vital organs also contains major blood vessels and arteries. A shot in this area causes considerable bleeding. If the animal doesn’t die immediately and tries to flee, it will leave a blood trail that’s easy to track.
  • Aside from being a good marksman, the key to a clean kill is patience. Hunters should limit shots to the vital organs only. If you do not have a clear shot to the vital organs, wait until you do.
Vital organs of a moose