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 deerhunting.ws’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 about.com 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.
TexasBoars.com 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.