Anatomy Lesson – Pigs & Deer

You hear various mantras about shot placement when hunting for certain animals.

“Only shoot them broadside.”

“Take out the shoulders, they won’t go anywhere.”


“Right in the neck, takes out the spine.”

“Texas heart shot.” (bleah)

I don’t think there’s any one and only right way, other than the way that puts the animal down as quickly and humanely as possible. What that is remains the subject of much debate.

What I think ultimately gets you there isn’t just having some blind or relative notion of where to shoot. That is, it’s not just about “broadside, just up the leg” because that only tells you how to shoot in that particular instance. If that shot doesn’t present itself, you’re out of luck or you may end up taking a marginal shot. I think a better course of action is to understand anatomy. If you can know the animal’s actual anatomy, you can adapt and make better, more informed decisions about what is presented to you and if it’s a good and ethical shot.

Whitetail Deer Anatomy

Take a look at the pictures from’s anatomy page (I’ve made a PDF of that page, in case it ever goes away). I like how it shows the animal, the muscles, the organs, the circulatory system, and the skeleton. Layers, so you can better understand how all the parts fit together. Plus they keep an outline of the animal’s body around so you can learn relative placement of these things.

This article on discusses some of the possible shots. Every hunter will have their own assessment of “what is ethical” and this article provides a good starting point for the discussion.

Feral Hog Anatomy

Found this picture:

I’m not sure where the picture came from or who made it (if you know, please let me know so I can properly attribute it). It’s a good illustration of their anatomy. has this great write-up of pig anatomy, including pictures taken of an actual pig in various states of field dress so you can really see how it looks on an actual pig. This is very important because you need to learn where that “shield plate” is. They also have another picture at the top of this page that shows the kill zone.

Another good article from the California Hog Blog. It shows not only a good kill zone (and also discussions of neck shots), but also argues against the head shot.

8 thoughts on “Anatomy Lesson – Pigs & Deer

      • Feral pig shooting at the father-in-law’s ranch. Haven’t fired a shot yet at a pig in the years that I’ve been looking for them. The article explains some of the mistakes I’ve been making. He’s set up a corn feeder to try to keep them contained to one area also.

        I would have been shooting way too high on the pigs also. Won’t make that mistake now.

        • Awesome. If you need any help, give me a call. 🙂

          The interesting thing is that the pig’s anatomy is slightly different from say a whitetail deer — vitals are little further forward and down so typical index points like the front leg are different.

          Sounds like you’re going to have fun, and success.

  1. I am cautiously optimistic.

    I’m going to be -1 kid for the next week since she’ll be at grandma’s until christmas, so I’m going to try to get to the range and get a bit of practice time in on the MAC-90. It has probably been years since it has had a shot put through it.

    • Before you go, take it apart, blow out the crud, clean it, oil it. Yeah it probably will work fine without it (given what it is) but a little love should be good for it.

      Should take care of the piggies just fine.

  2. Pingback: Feral Hog Anatomy « Stuff From Hsoi

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