Whenever we decide to shoot an arrow into a whitetail, there's guesswork involved. Where, exactly, is the best place to hit the deer at this particular body angle?
We know we need to put that broadhead through the lungs and/or heart. But deer aren't transparent, and we don't have X-ray vision. Thus, as we aim, we engage in a bit of speculation. Not only are we concentrating on hitting the spot we're aiming at, we're hoping we've chosen that spot correctly to begin with.
How that choice is made depends on the person doing the aiming. If the archer has previously taken deer with a bow, he or she is banking mostly on experience in deciding where to aim. If the shooter is a rookie, the reliance probably is on what's been read in a magazine, seen on TV or video and/or suggested by a friend or family member who's arrowed some whitetails.
The best way to learn to shoot deer is to shoot deer. But trial and error involves uncertainty, especially for the inexperienced archer. How do we practice hitting the right spot when only a deer's body can show us that spot? We can't shoot anatomical correct deer on the practice range.
Or can we? Enter a new bowhunting tool that takes the guessing out of range practice and replaces it with genuine confidence. It's the Ultimate Anatomy Organ Buck, now being announced by Revolution Taxidermy Supply of Hayward, Wisc.
This practice aid is different from other commercial products before it. Through years of research (including consulting with wildlife anatomists at several veterinary colleges) and experimenting with the most lifelike materials, sculptor Brian Johnson has succeeded in "building" a quite realistic whitetail.
Except for the fact it shows the actual positions of the front and rear leg bones (including the shoulder blade and hip), the deer's left half is essentially as it would appear in life. This is the side into which arrows are shot. The right half is cut away to show not only the leg bones but also the spine (other than the rib cage) and each individually molded internal organ accurately sized, placed and fitted together to represent their actual positions in a real whitetail.
The result is a first-ever chance to shoot an arrow into one side of a deer and then go around to the other side to see both the path the arrow took and which internal organs it pierced en route. The material used in constructing the soft organs is self-healing, so it will last for a significant number of shots. (Note that users are advised to shoot only practice points, not broadheads.)
Molding the internal organs piece by piece, so they then could be "locked" together in place, certainly added to the complexity of this project. However, the result is never-before-seen realism in a target.
While dressing out a whitetail, it's difficult to open the body cavity in such a way as to reveal the natural position of each organ in a standing deer. And those positions are critically important in selecting an aiming point. How far back do the lungs extend? Where is the liver? Are vital organs shielded by the shoulder blade from overhead? This target's sculpting is so detailed that even ligaments and major blood vessels are shown as they are in a live deer. And all organs and passages are clearly identified.
Another value in using a practice aid of this type is that it could help in the case of a difficult recovery. No matter how well shot, an arrowed deer sometimes leaves little sign and is hard to find. Using this target to review the location and angle of the hit could help a bowhunter figure out the nature of the hit and perhaps make better choices in trying to recover the animal.
While the Ultimate Anatomy Organ Buck isn't designed for shooting with a firearm, it's easy to see how just looking at it from both sides can help a rifleman or shotgunner gain confidence in choosing an aiming point. As the same organs are most reliable, ethical targets with gun or bow, just confirming where various body parts are in relation to each other should make anyone a better shot.
According to the manufacturer, the Ultimate Anatomy Organ Buck's public debut will come at the 2014 Archery Trade Association show, which is set for Jan. 6-8 in Nashville, Tennessee.