Originally Posted by snakeoil
....part of my plan in shooting a deer in the neck, is to make sure Id hit it in the "base" of the neck! Most people shoot a deer behind the shoulder because it gives them more confidence that they harvest the animal. I don't like stirring up the woods with tracking a deer all over the hunting range...just hunting habits not to disturb land...If you like to look for the harvest,go for it....
A lot of it has to do with the caliber and bullets you are using. I have shot many deer with .303 British round noses behind the shoulder and every one of them dropped in their tracks except for one that was almost at a run when I shot. I didn't lead him enough and I hit him in the liver. He turned before he fell over. Faster bullets are a different story. I shot a deer once with my first 30-06. A few minutes later another deer stepped out in the same spot and I shot it and it dropped in it's tracks. I got up there and was excited about getting two bucks, and looked at the deer and it had two holes behind the shoulder less than an inch apart. It was the same deer and it circled back to see what that was.
Faster moving hunting bullets are designed for penetration as well as speed and they just don't perform as well when shooting deer behind the shoulder. And in my experience the faster the bullet the less damage you get. They tend to go straight through without doing a lot of damage because it is mostly soft tissue. I finally figured out the best place for a faster bullet is directly in the shoulder. They don't go far without shoulders and it still takes out the lungs and heart. The down side is you loose more meat but the deer ain't going more than 20 yards.
I also shoot heavier bullets just to slow them down a little bit. I took a deer to my processor last year and he wanted to know if I was using a 300 mag because of all the damage. He couldn't believe it when I told him it was a .308. I literally had to go get a bullet to show him but I'm also shooting 180gr bullets in my .308. I deer hunt with .308, .303, and 30-06 and I shot 180gr bullets in every one of them.
Most of the people I know that strictly hunt for meat shot for the neck or head. And that is a great spot, except for on a big one. Personally I don't mind losing a little meat in the shoulder because I know the deer ain't going but a few yards. That shoulder shot is also 100% effective on all deer and for me it's important to aim for the same spot every time. To this day I still have to consciously tell myself every now and then to aim for the shoulder instead of behind it. I killed so many deer with that .303 shooting behind the shoulder that it just became second nature. There are situations when you don't have time to think about shot placement and that is when muscle memory and instinct kick in. That's also when having one spot you always aim for pays off and it always seems like it's the really big ones that only give you a split second to react.
I hunt power lines a lot and the big ones are bad about never stopping when they come out on a power line. You only have a couple of seconds to react, if that, and a neck shot is generally out of the question on a moving deer. But a shoulder shot is no problem. The only way a deer is getting past me on a power line is if he is at a full run and I don't see him until he's over halfway across. Other than that he's leaving in the back of the truck.
The big thing is everyone just has to figure out what works for them, their caliber, and the bullet they shoot. Neck shots work for you and shoulder shots are the way to go for me. As long as we're both eating venison that's all that matter.
And here is a pretty good diagram of deer anatomy in case anyone is interested: