Where To Shoot A Deer With A Crossbow?

One of the most asked questions of new hunters is where to shoot a deer with a crossbow. The best places to target a deer with a crossbow are the heart, lungs, head, high shoulder, and neck. A broadside shot is easy to kill the deer with a crossbow.
By Rebecca Rios | Updated On December 10, 2022
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Where To Shoot A Deer With A Crossbow?

You got your favorite crossbow and archery season is also around the corner, so what are you waiting for? Are you still stuck on where to shoot a deer with a crossbow? If this is the reason for the delay, then do not worry. This article will untangle all the knots about deer hunting with a crossbow. Read the guide till the end to know all the dos and don’ts about the crossbow hunting of a whitetail deer.  

Where to shoot a deer with a crossbow?

The anatomy of deer has remained the same for more than a decade. But it is also said that a whitetail deer has undergone some changes. As modern hunters, we should know where to shoot a whitetail deer with a crossbow. By understanding and targeting the best place to shoot a deer with a crossbow, the chances of a successful fatal shot will increase simultaneously.

As an ethical hunter, you are responsible for giving fatal shots, so the deer expires as soon as possible. The best point to target a deer with a crossbow is the high shoulder, heart, neck, lungs, and head, basically the brain.

shots to kill a deer with a crossbow:

Common shot placement techniques for shooting a whitetail deer are described below. You may find yourself in any of these scenarios, and after reading this guide, you will know what to do. So, let’s dig into the in-depth details.

The broadside shot:

The goal of every hunter while shooting the deer is to penetrate the bolt into the lungs, heart, or some combination of the two. A broadside shot is ideal and easiest if this is the goal. Thus, shooting a deer with a broadside shot means that you will directly target the heart or damage both the deer’s lungs, resulting in a quick death. The faster the deer expires, the more successful a hunter will be.

The broadside shot is the one the hunters are comfortable taking. The widest view of the deer’s vital organs is in front of the hunter when the deer is standing parallel to you. Apart from the position, another perk of the broadside shot is the miss of the shot. Suppose the shot is slightly off (which happens in most cases as a crossbow is louder than any other bow, so chances of deer jumping the string exist) while hitting the whitetail deer; even, in that case, the bolt will hit the important organs (heart and lung), resulting in the lethal shot.

No doubt broadside shot is the easiest and most common shot but always remember the key to hunting; focus and alert. Be careful while aiming the deer. Hit the right position, and soon you will load this whitetail deer in your truck.

The shot: while focusing on the deer for a broadside shot, your target should be lower center mass, one or two inches behind the front shoulder. The vertical scope reticle of the crossbow should be aligned with the back of the deer’s front leg. The horizontal scope reticle of the crossbow should be aligned one-third to halfway up the deer’s body.

The broadside shot

What happens when a deer is not posing correctly for a broadside shot at ground level? In this condition, using a quartering-away shot is the backup option.

A quartering away shot:

After the broadside shot, a quartering away shot is every hunter’s dream. A quartering away shot gives access to the important internal organs of deer, including the liver and heart, and it can cause damage to both lungs too. The condition of quartering away shot arises when the whitetail deer is moving away from the hunter. In this situation, the rear end is in front; however, the face is turned away from the hunter.

So, the positive aspects of quartering shots are done but look at the alarming points too. Unlike the broadside shot, the shot window to shoot the deer’s organs decreases in the quartering shot as the angle of the deer from you increases. If the angle between you and the deer is more than 45 degrees, then simultaneously, the possibility of a fatal shot decreases because the shot window decreases. So, the possibility of a glancing shot increases with decreased fatal shots. An ethical hunter does not want to injure or harm the deer. So, in quartering away shot hunter should use discretion for the lethal shot.

The shot: in a quartering away shot, a horizontal angle is used to hit the deer from the ground level. A perfect and correct quartering away shot should penetrate the bolt into the back third of the rib-cage area of the deer (the exact location depends upon the angle). The bolt will travel from the deer’s vital organs to the front shoulder. While focusing on a quartering away shot, the vertical reticle should be aligned with the off-side leg or shoulder of the deer. The horizontal reticle shot should be held one-third to one-half-way up the deer’s body.

A quartering away shot

A quartering to/ quartering towards shot:

A quartering to is the reverse of a quartering away shot. This shot is quite difficult as it can only be taken if conditions are right or you are confident about your shooting skills. Otherwise, an accurate hit from a quartering to shot is risky because the shot window is much smaller. Often, hunters wait for the deer to give a better angle so they can take a lethal shot. However, the crossbow has made this shot a bit easier and more accurate.

In this shot, the deer faces the hunter in a position in which the deer’s face is towards the hunter, and the rear end is farther from the hunter. When a deer comes towards you, the near-side shoulder blade blocks a few vital organs, especially the heart, and lungs. If you miss the shot, the bolt can deflect into the non-vital area of the deer’s body, resulting in an injured animal.

While taking a quartering to shot, the chances of hitting the sternum exist, or you can hit the poor animal in the brisket. These are not the deer’s vital organs, so these shots will not be lethal but injurious. I suggest only attempting a quartering to shot when you are left with no other option, or the chances of deer posing for a quartering away or broadside shot vanishing completely. Otherwise, do not risk the poor animal’s life.

The shot: this tricky shot is only possible if the deer’s angle is large and visible. The shot window and chances of a fatal shot decrease if the deer’s angle is less acute. As the vital organs are not completely visible, take a shot at the quartering spot. Target the front of the deer, and hit the bolt inside the shoulder. This way, the bolt will penetrate from the front of the first lung to the back of the second lung. Some other options are targeting the behind the elbow of the lead leg and between the lead leg and breastplate. While giving a quartering to shot, align the vertical reticle inside the near-side leg and hold the horizontal reticle one-third to halfway up the deer’s body.

A quartering to/ quartering towards shot

Brisket Shot:

Another sensitive shot is a brisket shot. A brisket shot is one in which the deer comes directly toward a hunter. Now, the arduous part is that the hunter has very little access to the deer’s vital parts, and also the deer is looking at the hunter while moving continuously. Hence, there is a high possibility of missing the shot and injuring the whitetail deer. The ideal condition is to take this shot from the ground instead of the tree stand. The elevation will make this risky shot even more difficult.

Just like the quartering to shot, it is suggested to avoid this shot as much as you can. Wait for the deer to move and provide you a chance of a broadside or quartering away shot.

The shot: The only organs a hunter can target in a brisket shot are the heart and the lung. This shot should be taken below the “ball” on the deer’s chest toward the center of the deer’s brisket. In this way, the bolt will penetrate either heart or the lungs.

With that said, different shots you should take with a crossbow while targeting a whitetail deer are completed. Now, where should I shoot a deer with a crossbow is no more question. But are there any shots that should be avoided? Let’s find out.

avoid these shots while targeting a deer:

Here are two shots you should shun as an ethical hunter.

Texas Heart Shot:

The condition of the texas heart shot is that the deer are moving away from the hunter, and the hunter is only facing the rear end of the deer. It is unethical; in fact a dumb shot as the deer offers no vital organs in this case. The intestines, blood-filled muscle groups, and major arteries are present in the rear end of the deer but avoid this shot no matter what weapon you are using.

Head Shots:

Do not take a headshot. Please do not if you are an ethical hunter. The target on the deer’s head is so small also the head is moving continuously. It will be a horror story if you miss the shot even by one inch. An arrow stuck in a deer’s head, and blown-off jaws will be your nightmare. So, do a favor and never think about a whitetail deer’s headshot. Just do not.

The hindrance:

Another situation is deer is standing at a perfect place, offering an easy broadside or quartering away shot. But, any hindrance, such as a giant tree, blocks the deer’s vital organs. So, it would help if you thought twice about releasing the shot as the bolt can be easily deflected and wound the whitetail deer.

For my last tip, do not take the shot of the deer if you are not confident about your shot. If you think the first shot will not cause lethal damage then, please skip this shot too.


The hunting season is about to start. Ready your crossbows, practice the angles, grab your pals, and load the truck with whitetail deer. When you see a whitetail deer, take a deep breath and give the best precise fatal shot but always remember not to be brutal to the animals.

I have described all the shots you should take and the shots you should avoid. The broadside shot is the ideal shot. Quartering away shot is the hunter’s favorite. Quartering to shot is a bit risky, and brisket shot is the least option to target the deer. A tip for a hunter is to plan the angle and the shot strategy for a successful fatal shot. Hopefully, where to shoot a deer with a crossbow is answered in detail.


The closer a deer is to you from a tree stand, the greater angle is required to target the deer. Even if you are on a tree stand, the orientation of the shot will be the same as for a broadside shot from the ground level. The position to hit the deer should be right behind the front shoulder.  

Like the elk and bear, the broadside shot is the best to target the whitetail deer. The broadside shot angle works best for both; rifle and crossbow hunters.

Primarily, the answer to this question depends upon the shot type. If the shot is fatal and the bolt penetrates the vital organs, then 100 yards is considered an average that the deer will run. But the deer can cover even miles with a bad or careless shot.

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