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Elk Hunting Shot Placement: Where to Shoot a Bull

Where is the best elk hunting shot placement?

Vital organs are always our main targets when aiming at big game, and the elk is no different.

Lung and heart shots are what we're almost always looking for, and waiting or that bull to shift into the right position can be agonizing.

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As a general rule, a spot in the middle of the lungs or slightly lower is ideal. An arrow or bullet through both lungs will bring down any large game animal. Broadside shots are known as the best opportunities to aim and shoot a game animal in the right spot, so that's where we'll start.

For bowhunters, following the back of the front leg up about 1/3 or 1/2 of the chest cavity and aiming there will hopefully produce a double lung hit. You likely already know this, but avoid head and neck shots on an elk with a bow.

Firearm hunters have basically the same option, with a neck shot added for skilled shooters. While neck shots typically offer up quick harvests, they can result in non-fatal head shots.

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If an elk bull is quartering away from you, there is still a good chance at a fatal shot. Since elk are broader and have larger intestinal tracts, arrows shot at them in the quartering away position are not as ideal as they would be with smaller deer. Sill, 1/2 to 1/3 of the way up the side from the back of the front leg is where you'll want to aim.

Bowhunters with lightweight equipment are best waiting for a broadside shot to present itself, but firearm hunters can trust in the power of their guns and approach quartering away shots in much the same way as broadside.

If an elk is facing you head on and you're bowhunting, it's probably not worth taking a shot. The image below shows where a firearm hunter will ideally want to aim.


Bow and muzzleloader shots usually shouldn't be taken when an elk is facing the hunter, but centerfire shooters have the green light.

Remember, rear-facing shots, with the elk's backside facing the hunter, are never ideal and should be avoided.

When it's all said and done, knowing the best shot placement for elk hunting takes experience and practice. Train at the shooting range with a life size target that indicates vital organs. Shoot from different positions, but always with the same equipment and clothing you plan on taking into the field.
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Know your abilities, your gear, and your range before hunting; that's just basic, 101 kind of stuff. But when you're ready for the field, hopefully this guide will help make that quick decision and lead to a n ethically harvested animal.

What other pointers would you include for elk hunting shot placement?

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Elk Hunting Shot Placement: Where to Shoot a Bull