Tips & Tactics

Gut Shot Prevention

Gut Shot Prevention

By Lorelei Menist

I believe one of the most common fundamental errors made by hunters is shooting at moving animals.

Whether hunting with guns or archery gear, knowing how and when to properly stop a whitetail will help you make a lethal shot and save a lot of long blood trails.

Better shot placement starts with learning to be patient when a deer appears, and resisting the urge to shoot before it gets away.

Adrenaline often results in jerking the trigger and shaky shooting. Observing patiently as an animal approaches allows time for your heart rate to recover from that first rush of adrenaline, especially if you breathe deeply.

Plan ahead. Observe the deer’s probable path, figuring out potential openings where you want to stop the animal for a slam dunk shot.

Gut Shot PreventionJust as it arrives in that opening, use your voice to get its attention. Be as subtle and gentle as possible.

Often, all that’s needed to get them to pause is a soft grunt or bleat using your voice.  A barely audible “meh” or “bah” should do the trick.

This takes advantage of a whitetail’s curious nature, which is wired to freeze immediately and figure out the mysterious noise.

But be careful not to spook the deer by grunting too loudly, especially on quiet days. The closer they are, the softer the noise. If you call too sharply, it will have the opposite effect and send your deer to the next county.

A soft whistle will also do the trick, but again, avoid being too loud. What you want is for the deer to barely hear the noise and think, “Whoa, what was that?”

Gut Shot PreventionAlthough, if it’s windy or if it’s a buck focused on chasing a hot doe, you might have to increase your volume in order to get the deer’s attention at all.

Learning to judge your volume, as well as when and when not to grunt, is the key to better accuracy.

Editor’s Note by Tim H. Martin

Properly stopping whitetails is probably the most important factor in reducing gut shots.

If a deer is moving, even at a casual pace, and you aim for the vital area, you are asking for trouble. Over the course of a half-step, the animal will move enough inches to turn your heart/lung shot into a gut shot.

For more on this preventing this all-too-common phenomenon, read Stop That Deer!

Editor’s Note: If you have a unique or special tip you’d like to share with Buckmasters fans, please email it to and, if chosen, we will send you a cap signed by Jackie Bushman, along with a knife!

Read Recent Tip of the Week:
Trail Cam Tip for Streetwise Bucks: Try this tactic the next time the old bucks on your trail cam pictures seem to have vanished.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd