Why Do Deer Kick When Shot?



Deer kick when shot due to a reflex response triggered by a hit to the spinal cord or nervous system. This can cause their legs to twitch and appear to kick, even after death.

Deer hunting is a popular activity in many parts of the world. However, the moment of truth when the hunter takes the shot can be especially challenging. If the deer is not hit in the right place, it may run off and be lost, causing undue suffering to the animal and frustration for the hunter. Even when the shot is accurate, the deer may kick or twitch afterward. This can be alarming to the hunter, who may wonder if the animal is still alive or in pain. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why deer kick when shot, and what it means for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

Understanding The Phenomenon Of Deer Kicking

Why Do Deer Kick When Shot?

Credit: deerassociation.com

Deer hunting is a popular sport, and understanding their behavior after being shot is crucial. When a deer is shot, it often kicks its legs before fleeing. This behavior is a natural reflex caused by the hit to their nervous system, which causes a loss of muscle control.

It’s important for hunters to understand this behavior so they can track the wounded deer without causing further harm. Following the blood trail left by the deer is a great way to track the animal and recover it. Observing the deer’s behavior after being shot can provide insight into the effectiveness of the shot.

Hunters can adjust their shots to minimize stress on the deer and cause a swift and humane death. By understanding deer behavior, hunters can ensure a successful and ethical hunt.

Understanding Deer Anatomy And Nervous System

Deer have a unique anatomy that allows them to run at high speeds and jump with precision. Their legs are thin and thin-skinned, providing a lightweight structure that makes them highly maneuverable. The placement of their eyes provides them with a 310-degree range of vision, allowing them to detect movement from all angles.

The nervous system of a deer is also highly evolved, and it controls every aspect of their movement. When shot, the deer’s nervous system experiences a shock reaction that can cause them to kick their legs involuntarily. This reaction is unconscious and a biological instinct.

Understanding the anatomy and nervous system of deer can provide hunters with useful information that can help them make ethical and successful shots.

Reaction To Pain

Deer are known to kick when shot, and understanding their pain response is crucial for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts. Pain triggers a flight or fight response in deer, causing the animal to react to the source of the pain. Deer have a unique pain response compared to other animals, and this is why their reaction to getting shot may differ.

It is important to note that the kicking movement should not be confused with the animal being dead or immobile. Always approach injured animals with caution and take necessary safety measures to avoid accidents. By learning about the deer’s pain response, hunters can better understand and respect these animals.

Fight Or Flight Response


Deer, like any other animal, have a flight or fight response when faced with danger. This response is triggered by the release of hormones that help them either fight or flee. When shot, these hormones get released, causing the deer to kick involuntarily before they ultimately collapse.

The response affects their ability to move and orient themselves, and they may stumble or run in an erratic pattern. The response also triggers a heightened sense of alertness, causing the deer to become more aware of their environment and making them more difficult to track.

Hunters need to be aware of this response and take measures to ensure a clean and ethical kill. Understanding the science behind this behavior will help hunters to make more informed decisions when out in the field.

Hunting Techniques To Reduce Kicking


Reducing the kicking of deer when shot can improve your hunting skills. It’s crucial to focus on the placement of the shot to avoid targeting their legs and result in kicking. Moreover, using the right caliber of bullet helps to avoid over-penetration.

The best hunting techniques are to aim for the lungs or heart area and fire before the deer senses you. Another useful tip is to have a follow-up shot ready in case the first one misses or fails to take down the deer.

Mastering these techniques can significantly increase your success rate and the time you spend tracking a wounded animal. Remember to stay alert, quiet, and be patient when hunting as it’s about precision and preparation, not luck.

Frequently Asked Questions On Why Do Deer Kick When Shot?


Why Do Deer Kick When Shot?


Deer often kick after being shot as a biological response to pain and stress. Their bodies release hormones that trigger muscle spasms, resulting in kicking movements.

Is Kicking A Sign Of A Fatal Shot?


Not necessarily. Deer can kick even if the shot is non-fatal. However, if the shot is well-placed and damages vital organs, the deer will eventually stop kicking, indicating a fatal shot.

How Long Do Deer Kick After Being Shot?


Deer can continue to kick for several minutes after being shot, depending on the severity of the wound and the amount of stress and pain that the animal is experiencing.

What Should I Do If The Deer Is Still Kicking?


If the deer is still alive and kicking after being shot, approach it carefully and humanely dispatch the animal to minimize its suffering.

Can A Shot Cause A Deer To Break Its Leg?


Yes, a poorly placed shot can cause a deer to break its leg and trigger kicking movements. It is important to aim for vital organs to ensure that the deer is killed humanely.


Deer kicking when shot is a natural reaction to pain and stress, and can vary depending on the location of the shot. Understanding deer behavior is crucial for any hunter, as it helps to predict how the animal will react to different situations.

The reaction of a deer shot with a firearm will depend on several factors such as the type of bullet, the distance from the shooter, and the angle of the shot. Hunters should aim carefully and avoid shooting in areas like the legs, which can cause unnecessary suffering.

Understanding deer behavior is vital for successful hunting. By taking careful aim and being aware of the animal’s natural reactions, hunters can minimize the suffering of the animal and make hunting a more humane activity.

Here are a few related resources:

National Deer Association

Field & Stream Deer Hunting

Deer & Deer Hunting Shot Placement

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