Bears are tough, hit them right and they’re yours. But if you do it wrong, it’s a big problem. It can eat you off when it’s ticked off. Thus, knowing where to shoot a bear is equally important to learning how to shoot it. Still, using either a bow or a gun to hunt a bear is such a challenging task. What we want is not just wounding the animal, but having some certain kill shots that actually take the game down. So instead of fretting about whether you are going to make a good shot, it’s crucial to learn where and how to shoot a bear properly.
Where to shoot a bear?
When finding where to shoot a bear, there’s no doubt about the head being the surest fatal shot. If you want to make a clean, one-shot kill, practicing to aim at this area is ideal. Also, what is best about shooting at the head is that it results in little-affected meat. However, this placement is not a “highly recommend” area in most circumstances.
For beginners, the head is a small target. And just a narrow miss can bring about a just a damage in the bear’s jaw, eyes or other similar wounds that bring the animal to a slow and unpleasant death. Whether you are aiming at the brain or not, you cannot say it for sure. And even you hit it right, the buck would be very laboring, more than often you will find yourself choking on its blood.
A neck shot is another fatal shot that demands marksmanship level of the hunter. A shot along the spinal cord can bring an instant death, but a little miss will just cause pain to the bear’s neck muscles. Thus, there’s a high likelihood that the animal will easily recover.
In the worst case, you may break the trachea, making way for the animal to escape but suffer a lingering death. Additionally, when the shot does not connect with the spinal column, the animal may instantly fall on the ground, but quickly recover without much agony.
Many hunters are for this placement because they can disable the game while imposing more damages to the heart and lungs. There is another reason making shoulder shots more preferable than head and neck shots. They can bring down the animal and render it helpless even if there is no collateral damage.
Shoulders shots are ideal for dangerous games, particularly bears. However, a significant disadvantage of these shot is that the dispersal of arrows and bullets will cause bone fragments. They will thus ruin more meat than those shots aiming at the head and spinal cord.
Another note for shooting the bear at the shoulders is the distance of the arrow/ bullet from the front. If you shoot too far, too high, or too low, you will just leave the animal with distressing wounds.
The heart shot can be fatal, but it needs a lot of attention. In fact, many hunters don’t actually know where exactly in the chest that the heart lies. But just like head and neck shots, the heart shot offers a small target. And it’s even more challenging because the upper legs covering the heart make it tough for the hunter to estimate the placement correctly.
There is also some rooms for error while shooting in the heart. If the shot is too low, you just hit the muscle or the legs. If the shot is too far, it will be just a brisket shot. And if it is too far back, it will be just a gut shot. The ideal use of heart shot is to follow it with a lung shot. This combo will make the game collapse faster.
More than any placement, the lung shot is the most favorable one. It is not only ideal for bear hunting but also for most of the big game hunting circumstances. More than often you won’t see an instant death. Instead, the animal can go about 100 yards further before dropping on the ground.
Unlike head, neck, or heart shots, the hung shots offer a large target. In other words, the lung shot allows for a wider margin of error. Shoot a bit high, and you can break the spinal column. Otherwise, a low shot will help to take out the heart.
How to make every shot count
Understand the bear
Bears are grumpy animals. And the older it gets, the more irritable it may become. Besides having a short temper, they are also fearless and highly territorial. This means that the efficiency in hunting is critical, we want every single arrow or bullet comes out with great accuracy and placement.
If you have a chance to shoot a bear, and you miss or make a bad shot, which does not really kill the animal, you will be sad. Not only because you miss the chance, but also because you will have a furious bear on your hands.
As I stated earlier, the center spot in the lung is where the hunter should target all the time. This shot can also affect to the organ placing next to the lungs. The heart is between the two lungs, and the aorta artery is just on top of the heart. Also, the kidneys and liver are at the back of the lungs, and the spine stretches along and above them.
A bullet or an arrow striking at the head, neck, heart, shoulders and lungs can be fatal if the aim is perfect. The shot will thus cause massive shock and tissue destruction. Even though hunters should avoid hitting the large bones of spine and shoulders, a sharp arrow or a robust bullet directly penetrating the rib bones is perfect to take down the animal immediately.
If the bear is standing broadside, it is offering the best chance for your shot. For the bow, the ideal placement should be the lungs. And for the gun, it should be shoulder and chest area. To find the best aiming spot, follow a line up the center of the nearside front leg to a point 1/3 or ½ up the chest.
+ Quartering away
This posture needs a little bit of imagination when spotting. Imagine where the lungs are and decide where to aim so that the arrow/bullet will leave the bones behind and instead, angle forward into the vital area. Also, the more the animal angles away, the more likely it is to make a wounding rear-end shot.
+ Quartering toward
This one is the poorest shots for both bow and gun. A spot behind the shoulders may result in a miss of most vital organs. A small error can bring out a non-fatal hit in the shoulder, and even worse is that the bear can see the hunter. Thus, it’s best to wait for the broadside or quartering away shots.
Patience is a virtue after you make the shot. If the bear runs away, it’s preferable to wait for about half an hour before tracking the bear. Even if you’ve made a good shot, waiting is still advisable. If you are rushing into find the bear, its adrenaline will kick in, enabling it to escape from any tracking effort. Or even worse, it will trace you down.
It’s also better if you are familiar with the hunting area. The further the bear go, the less likely you are to find it. Being familiar with the area means that you should be able to identify the thick tree covers, understand the overall terrain and memorize the map. Also, it’s advisable to bring fluorescent trail marking tape and a game tracker to approach the bear more effectively.
Making clean kills is always the top priority when hunting for any big-game animal, in particular for bears as they are highly dangerous. Knowing where to shoot a bear is thus crucial in making consistent one-shot kills. Please make sure that you have a certain level of marksmanship, thorough knowledge of the bear anatomy, and a true-shooting bow or firearm. The only way to acquire these skills and knowledge is to learn and to practice. This piece of writing hopefully provides useful understanding on shot placement for bear, enjoy your hunting season!