Vital Shots Buck by Captain Chauncey Hugh Stigand (1877 - 1919) Vital Organs - Impala Heart It is very difficult in a chapter like this to avoid repetition, as all animals are built much alike as far as their interior anatomy goes. Buck will be generally shot in the body unless occasionally in the case of the larger species such as roan, sable, waterbuck; or kudu, but even these ought to be shot in the body, for the neck is a very unsatisfactory mark to aim at, and we advise the young sportsman to take the body shot when it offers. Vital Organs - Sable Antelope The best spot to aim at is the shoulder, for if the heart is not struck the lungs may be, or the shoulders broken and the buck unable to run off, or the big arteries round the heart may be damaged. A facing shot is more difficult; the base of the neck should be aimed at, so that the bullet will rake the vital organs from front to rear. When this has been thoroughly mastered, the neck shot may be attempted in a shot which often offers itself, when the animal faces you, having just been disturbed in thick grass, which may be hiding his body all but the head and neck. Shots over 200 yards should seldom be tried, for if the sportsman cannot get to within this distance he should leave the animal alone until a better opportunity offers. Sometimes in flat, coverless dambos one is tempted to fire long shots, but even in these places 200 yards should be the limit. Occasionally when following a wounded animal it gets up and rushes off, then one should fire a raking shot at its stern, high up, as the bullet will have fallen a little before reaching the lungs and heart. Some of the buck are most difficult to kill, such as waterbuck, puku, hartebeest, and sassaby, and it is extraordinary what wounds some of the smaller kind can carry off, for we have known a duiker trying to get away with half its entrails out. The first is the all-important shot, and an animal is much more easily killed by it than any subsequent shot. If this is not delivered in a vital place, once the animal has recovered from its shock it will generally take several more shots to finish it. An animal hit vitally will, as a rule, either collapse instantly or gather itself together as if for a buck jump, dash off in a wild gallop for 50 to 200 yards and then fall dead. If, on firing, an animal falls over it is generally not hit vitally, and if it lies on the ground it should be instantly finished with another shot, for if it is given time to rise again you may not get another chance at it. On following a wounded animal if it is found lying on its side, it is probably dead or dying, but if sitting up it will probably get up or attempt to do so on being approached. Care should therefore be taken with dangerous game not to approach too closely if they are seen to be sitting up. The shot at an animal sitting is often a very difficult one, especially where there is any grass, and we are inclined to advise the neck shot under these circumstances, if it is at all feasible. A wounded animal would still live and, perhaps, charge with a few shots put in the neighbourhood of the heart, but a good neck shot would kill it instantly. We have tried to describe how to make most certain of a deadly shot, but a good deal depends on uncertainties, such as the way the bullet sets up (no two bullets ever expanding in exactly the same manner) ; the direction the bullet may take after it strikes (bullets often take the most extraordinary and unaccountable directions after striking, instance the many remarkable wounds received in the Boer war), and the condition of the vital organs at the moment they are hit. The heart is always dilating and contracting, and the exact state it is in often accounts for the different behaviour of two animals hit with a bullet of the same calibre in the same place. In expansion the heart offers a bigger target, but when hit in this condition the contraction which immediately follows closes up the hole, so that no blood escapes until the next expansion. On the other hand, in contraction the heart offers a smaller target; but if hit in this condition, the bullet-hole is extended in the subsequent expansion, and a large flow of blood ensues. There is little left to add, except that it ought to be the young sportsman's endeavour to try and kill quickly, and not to wound; but if he does wound an animal he should spare no pains or exertion in following it and trying to bring it to bag, so remember that a well-placed first shot is better than three or four badly placed afterwards. The Eland is a harmless, inoffensive animal, but very tough to kill if the first shot is not a vital one. The question of vital shots is a most important one, for, after the game is sighted, it is necessary that the sportsman should know exactly where to hit it, so as to kill it quickly, saving the animal perhaps many days of suffering, and the hunter the time and trouble of following it up. Nothing is more distressing to the man with humane sporting instincts than to feel that he has sent an animal off with a painful wound to die slowly, tormented by flies, maggots, and the nightly terror it will suffer from lions, hyaenas, jackals, or hunting dogs. It would be well, then, to shoot coolly, and not to aim at an animal's whole body, but at the exact spot you wish to hit. Never jerk the rifle off, but press the trigger gently, and, when possible, sit down. When this is impossible, if a tree is handy, rest the rifle against it, taking care to have the arm or hand between the barrel and tree to prevent jump. It would, perhaps, be better to take the animals in order of size and the difficulty in killing them.