Virginia Hunter Safety Course


Shot Placement

Shot placement is crucial to achieving a quick, clean harvest of game animals. Since hunters do not want to wound a game animal and have it run away and not be found, it is every hunter's responsibility to first practice at a range to ensure they can place a shot successfully. Consistency is key. Do not take a shot unless you are certain you can hit the vital area to achieve a quick and clean harvest. If you are unsure, don't take the shot.

After taking a shot, wait for at least 15 to 20 minutes before looking for the game animal. Patience is a must at this point. Remember that if the game animal does not drop immediately after having been shot, it will try to hide in a safe place. It is every hunter's responsibility to find any game they shot. This can sometimes take hours if it was a poorly placed shot, but it is your duty not to give up. If the animal ran onto private property, contact the landowner and get permission to go find the animal.

With a properly placed shot - in the area of the heart or lungs - the game animal will expire within a few minutes. After waiting, the hunter can start to track and find the game animal. When tracking the game animal, look for signs that it was shot - drops of blood on the ground or on plants are good signs. Take time to observe everything in the immediate area. You might find some hair or feathers on the ground or see a trail in the direction that the game animal ran. It is a good idea to carry some flagging tape with you to mark the blood trail. This will show the general direction in which the animal ran. Be sure to remove any flagging tape when you are finished your hunt. If the blood trail runs out, return to the last clear indication of blood, and try again, moving in increasing circles.

Approaching a Downed Animal

Once you find the game animal, approach it with caution from the rear. That way, if it is still alive and jumps up, you will not be in its way. If you see any movement from the downed game animal, you will have to take another shot at it - aimed at the base of the skull where it meets the spinal column, or in the heart and lung area. Most game animals will have their eyes open when they expire. Be sure to immediately attach any game or harvest tag as required.