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The Neck Shot?

I am in the the throngs of reading about Alaskan hunting in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. There seems to be a prdominent reference to the “neck shot” and “ear hole” shot. Having grown up in the 50’s in Wisconsin I also remember the old timers touting the same types of rifle shots.

I quickly moved to bowhunting at an early age to remove myself from the crowded rifle season. I had no experience with this type of shot with a rifle and bowhunting taught me to put my arrow in the chest cavity.

As I aged and long since moved from Wisconsin to Colorado I again took to firearms for hunting (and love it by the way). Given my bowhunting experience my rifle shots have always been chest cavity shots.

I am curious as this type of shot as I have never tried it. I have always opted for putting the bullet in the “boiler room”.

I believe I understand the benefits, animal drops, less damage to the meat, etc. But what is the shot to the neck, where do you aim, how does it kill, and there seems to be a lot of chance of missing the right spot?

What is your experience with this type of shot?

Last edited by WagonMaster; 09/29/22.

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On a side view ,if the bullet passes over the vertebrae thru the muscles it may put the deer down momentarily . As your patting your self on the back that animal might get up and run off. Dang near happened to me in 1996 as she stood back up I run another thru her ribs. 100 gr corelokts in a 243 at 125 yards but I missed the spine by an inch. Best shot placement is in the chest , it's the largest vital target. No more stunt shooting for me.
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I`ve done it a number of times with no problems. My furthest about 100yrds. IME, the shot requires the the animal to be relaxed and unaware of your presence.
A plus is if you butcher your own deer, knowing where the bone is helps. I`ve killed them facing to me, facing away, and from the side. I find facing to and from the best, as I center the neck and cut the spine. DRT.
Deer feeding to me with their heads down present an excellent shot to the spine at the neck/shoulder junction, bullet will pass into the chest cavity. DRT, in my experience.
Do not attempt this neck shot with buck fever, and the reticule dancing all over the animal.

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I like neck shots. I put the bullet high on the neck, close to the head. Instant bang-flop, clean field dressing job. Conditions don't always allow for it but when presented I will take it. I prefer when the deer has it's head up. They will usually wag the tail before putting the head down to feed. When the head is down, they will often jerk it up with no warning. It's a small target and I prefer it when harvesting does. With a big buck I am often too excited to risk it.


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Originally Posted by Magnum_Bob
On a side view ,if the bullet passes over the vertebrae thru the muscles it may put the deer down momentarily . As your patting your self on the back that animal might get up and run off. Dang near happened to me in 1996 as she stood back up I run another thru her ribs. 100 gr corelokts in a 243 at 125 yards but I missed the spine by an inch. Best shot placement is in the chest , it's the largest vital target. No more stunt shooting for me.
.mb


This! X 100

The neck and ear are SMALL targets and very mobile.

Also they don’t bleed out well on a spine/ ear shot. Much better for your meat to have them bleed out.


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I have taken many neck shots over the years, but like you I am a bow hunter as well and we both know that the pass-through lung shot is the highest percentage shot with the biggest area aim at.

When I am hunting moose and it's within 150 yards and I have a clear shot at the neck I have no issues taking it. My longest was a nice bull moose at 157 yards, he was facing me, so I shot right under his chin with my .30-06 with 180g. Dropped him in his track.

The best part of a well-placed neck shot is ZERO meat loss and I hate losing any of the delicious moose meat!

I would only recommend a neck shot to hunters that are excellent shots and know their equipment and do not suffer from any type of buck fever. If you cannot consistently shoot 2" groups at 200 yards, I do not recommend it, and for the average shooter a well-placed lung shot is always the preferred option, IMHO

Cheers and Happy hunting!

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It's not just the size of the group. It's knowing the POA/POI relationship for the particular distance.


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The neck shot works well with small calibers (which allow very precise shot placement because of low recoil) such as with a .222 at reasonably close range when you're a good shot.

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Much more meat on a big bucks neck than on its ribs....Joe


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Originally Posted by POKERFACE6
Much more meat on a big bucks neck than on its ribs....Joe


That is where hove shots come into play! hehe


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Do it quite frequently, but only if I have a very solid rest for both front and rear of rifle.
Especially when shooting does.
Facing me, head up the white patch on the throat is point of aim.
Broadside, base of neck just forward of shoulder junction.
Killed a 10 point buck on my Missouri lease several years back w a broadside neck shoulder junction at around 85 yards because he was standing in CRP grass that was 5-6 feet tall and I couldn't see anything other than head and neck.
I shoot my hunting rifles year round, handload all the ammo for them.
Also wait until weather cools off here then take them all to the range and verify cold bore zero at 50,100 and 200 yards before the season starts.


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Luck was with me when I’ve done it. You gotta know where and you need to be sure you’ll hit the right place. I go for the ribs close to the heart if I can. Of course the darn animals don’t want to stand broadside for me all the time and I’ll aim the best place I can.


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Growing up, my dad shot all his deer and elk through the neck. Works good for a drt. I still use the neck shot quite a bit if shots are under 50 yds.

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Absolutely not…..never! Same with head shots! memtb


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I’ve done it once when it was the only shot I had. His body was behind two big oaks and he was a little nervous and I was afraid he was going to bolt. It was about 90 yards and I was shooting a very accurate 243 with a good rest. Worked as advertised.


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Neck shots are pretty effective. At least the three I've shot. Lots of vital structures are lacked in that neck.

The problem is, you are at risk of screwing up a neck roast, which is a dang good cut.

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Originally Posted by TimberRunner
Neck shots are pretty effective. At least the three I've shot. Lots of vital structures are lacked in that neck.

The problem is, you are at risk of screwing up a neck roast, which is a dang good cut.

True, but not as good as other parts, like shoulder meat for Jalapeño and Cheddar Cheese Smokies, or Hot Italian Sausage!


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I shoot does in the neck, good bucks in the shoulder

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Not me. I much prefer a double lung shot, and can’t think of an exception.

Maybe somewhat different against an animal that might be inclined to put holes in my hide.

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My first bull elk was a neck shot. Went down in a step or two.
Finest big game shot I’ve ever made was on a very large bear, in one ear and out the other. Tipped over mid step.
Both shot placements work in competent hands.

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