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The abdominal cavity is not an aiming zone when hunting with a firearm or a bow.

Cavities of an elk

The abdominal cavity holds the stomach, kidneys, liver, and small and large intestines.

  • An animal hit in one of these vital organs or blood vessels may bleed to death in an hour.
  • More often, a slow death begins when the stomach or intestines is cut open, spilling its contents into the abdominal cavity. The bacteria and acids in the contents cause peritonitis, a severe inflammation of the cavity. The animal becomes sick and usually dies within 8 to 12 hours.
  • There may be very little external blood loss, so tracking is very difficult. However, most animals that are gut shot don’t appear badly frightened or hurt. If undisturbed, they tend to travel a short distance and then lie down, where they die peacefully.