The Frontal Shot
By Scott Haugen
May 25, 2006 – 12:15:00 AM
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I?ve heard it by
many hunters over the years, ?Never take a frontal shot on a big game animal
with bow and arrow.? This is a shot most
archers, even veterans, shy away from, and I often find myself asking why. If you know your equipment, the anatomy of
the animals you?re hunting, and more importantly, their behavior under any
given situation, then you?ll understand why a frontal shot can be effective.
|The author depended on a frontal shot to drop this bull.
My last frontal
shot came on an African lion. It was
bedded, facing me, at 42 yards. The cat
had not yet seen me, and my intent was to use the wind and sneak around for a
side shot when it stood. Several factors
prevented me from reaching this point, which is when I consider taking a
At first I
couldn?t get a shot due to tall grass, but I repositioned myself and when the
cat stretched out it?s neck, a window opened.
Quickly I reached full draw and seemingly in one motion my BowTech Allegiance sent a broadhead under the
cat?s chin. The arrow ran the full
length of the body and exited near the tail, destroying the atrium and piercing
the lungs. It was the perfect angle and
the situation was right. The cat went
eight yards and died, and we captured it all on film.
On one of my best
Rocky Mountain elk, the bull came running to
the call. When I saw small tree tops
swaying, I reached full draw, and held.
When the bull broke from the trees he stopped, looking for the source of
the sounds. There was no wind, the sun
was in the bull?s face and he was obviously not aware of what I was. He stood facing me, and at 24 yards, I put
the arrow right in his throat.
disappeared into his deep chocolate mane.
He went 40 yards and collapsed.
When field dressing him, I found the broadhead in his pelvis. On the elk, lion and all other animals I?ve
taken with a frontal shot, the blood trail has been immense. Never have I missed a frontal shot, nor had
an animal turn on me upon release. This
is not a bragging point, rather an example of how the frontal shot can be
highly effective when selectively taken.
The key to making
a frontal kill shot is being able to hit a small target, under pressure. If you shake at making a lung shot on a
broadside animal, then a frontal shot is likely not in the cards. However, if you?re drilling animals and have
the confidence you can hit a small kill zone, then no longer will a facing
animal at close range walk away from you.
numerous stories of archers who have let big bulls and bucks walk away, despite
the fact they were within 15 yards, staring at a hunter who was at full
draw. This is where knowing an animal?s
anatomy is crucial. Where the windpipe
goes into the body, there is a soft window of tissues which are great for a
broadhead. Avoid shooting too low,
beneath the windpipe, as this is where bone and cartilage become a factor.
I use the bottom
of the windpipe as a reference to the lowest point at which I?ll take a frontal
shot, and a few inches above the base of the windpipe as the highest. Above the windpipe there is a narrow margin
of neck muscle you can shoot through, prior to hitting the spine. This gives you a shot window of about five
inches high by four inches wide on elk, a bit smaller on deer. If this window is not within your comfort
zone, then the frontal shot is not an option.
Another factor to
consider when evaluating a frontal shot is body position. Ideally, the animal will be on level ground,
where an imaginary line can be drawn all the way from the throat to the anus,
or at the highest point, the base of the tail.
If the animal is below me, where I?m looking at the arrow to exit out
the stomach, I won?t take the shot. This
is because the target entry spot, beneath the throat, is quite small, not
because the arrow won?t pass through the vitals.
another key to consider. I won?t take a
frontal shot beyond 30 yards, simply due to personal preference, but this
decision also depends on two other factors.
First, I don?t want to risk an animal jumping the string or seeing me
move, then flee; the closer they are the better. Second, because an animal is facing me, it?s
likely already on alert (unless I?m sitting on the same trail it?s walking up),
and this means a quick evaluation of it?s next move.
wind, distance, light and angle of the animal, predicting its behavior is the
last item on my checklist as to whether or not I?m going to take a frontal
shot. This comes from years of hunting
experience, and observing how animals behave, both disturbed and at ease. If I sense an animal is on edge, I won?t take
the shot. If I?m confident I can send a
speeding arrow into the kill zone when an animal is facing me, I won?t
The more time you
spend in the woods, the more animal encounters you?ll have, the more familiar
you?ll become with their behaviors.
Combine this with educating yourself on the anatomy of your quarry and
honing your shooting ability, and the odds of connecting on the frontal shot
greatly increase. But one factor you can
control that will help make that frontal shot is a fast-shooting bow, one you
know will get the arrow to the sweet-spot before the animal has a chance to
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