Shoulder shots

JJHACK

New member
Joined
Jun 21, 2001
Messages
302
Location
Rural Wa. State/ Ellisras South Africa
This question has come up many times in my lodge when the hunters are deciding on where to shoot our African game.

First I think it's best to sort out a few terms. Such as "shoulder". The shoulder is not a bone, it's a joint it's also referred to as the muscular region around the scapula and humerous. I would bet the great mojority of people don't fully understand this bit of anatomy. The scapula is also know as or referred to as the shoulder blade. The humerus is the first long bone of the front leg which is connected to the scapula. There is no single part of the anatomy that is a Shoulder, but rather an area that is called the shoulder.

fb716838.jpg


In this Kudu anatomy drawing you can see the scapula is not really covering anything vital. A small portion of the spine which is a very small target to define when under the skin. If the shot is to high the bones can still be hit solid, but no vital organs will take a direct hit. A miss of the scapula too low is much better.


When you hear a person say they broke the shoulder(s) they typically refer to that (in my opinion) as the scapula or humerous bones. An absolutely dead on the money bullseye into the shoulder would be the joint between the two. However I challange anyone to show me they have broken them both!

Shooting through the shoulders is simple enough but does not always mean any bones were broken, or vital organs hit. I have a shoulder blade right here on my desk from a black bear that has a healed bullet hole right through it. It has another hole from my bullet which killed the bear.

If an animal has the shoulder joint between the scapula and humerous broken on both sides they cannot make forward progress with there front legs. That is plain and simple. If you shoot too high through the shoulder blades you will be below the spine and above the organs just as this scapula I have shows. If you blow through the humerous you will in nearly every case hit vital organs and make quick death of the animal.

fb71686d.jpg


This shows the relationship of the scapula and actual humerus bones. The lower Humerus was from the other side of this bear, or opposite front leg. It was shot and broken and then healed just fine allowing this bear to keep on living although he had a severe limp. The scapula also had a bullet hole on the top edge. My bullet hit lower and killed the bear many years after the original hunter wounded him by taking the shoulder shot only inches too high.
The great majority of hunters I have heard say" I broke the shoulders" are refering to the front legs being broken. My question would be( if I was rude) lets skin him and see what's broken I want you to show me where the shoulder is. It would never be identifed properly by the majority of people.

I like the low scapula shot and take it often. Anyone shooting this way must have a fair bit of anatomy knowledge. This whole assembly floats inside the body. The front scapula and leg bones are not linked to the rest of the skeleton with a joint. They are free floating and have no skeletal connection to the rest of the skeleton's bones. From the scapula down they are only connected to each other and not the rest of the skeleton. Again most hunters don't picture it this way and most assume there is some big joint connecting the front legs to the main skeleton.

fb7168d0.jpg


This is a closer photo of the off side broken Humerus bone which had completely healed. It's 30% shorter then the other side, but this bear lived many years after the shot in the leg. My guess is the bears legs were far forward climbing up hill or even a tree and the bullet that broke this leg exited the armpit and missed the body completely.

Because of this when the animal walks climbs or stands up hill or down hill the joints in the front legs move a great distance. The scapula can move nearly a foot under the skin in every direction, it's loose under there and moves all around depending upon the stride or reach of the animal.

Making this your aimpoint causes various concerns depending upon the way the animal is standing. The bones on the right does not alway match the bones on the left either. They are fully independent of each other. I like to "break the shoulders" but what exactly does that mean?

To me it means break the humerus or the joint connecting the humerus to the scapula. Anything higher is non vital except for the very small section of spine( although likely pretty painful) and lower is below any reasonable reference to a shoulder shot. Even though lower can be a perfect heart shot and still very lethal.

With some high powered rifles and explosive bullets a shot through the scapula will destroy enough bone that the additional fragmnets will explode into the chest cavity causing additional hemorage of vital organs.

I think the most important thing to remember about the whole thing is not to deliberately shoot for the scapula but rather just below it or at the bottom of it. A shot going only a few inches high will be a complete distaster and the animal will run for a long way! Missing the mark on the lower side is going to be better every time.

I think it's important to understand these concepts before you go out and start trying to bust shoulders!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 08-08-2003 23:29: Message edited by: JJHACK ]</font>
 

1_pointer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 20, 2000
Messages
18,113
Location
Indiana
Thanks for that! So, if one is faced with a broadside shot and wants to break the onside shoulder, if possible should they wait for that leg to be in the rearward position? I ask because many bowhunting books/articles tell you to wait for that shot with a bow due to the arrows time of flight allows the animals to get the bones out of the way. Again, thanks for the report. I guess we all could learn a bit more by doing a little more looking at the animals we are skinning/dressing instead of trying to get it done in the shortest time possible.
 

JJHACK

New member
Joined
Jun 21, 2001
Messages
302
Location
Rural Wa. State/ Ellisras South Africa
Here is another angle of the scapula above showing the top edge of the bullet hole. Not much of a miss to high, but it was enough to allow him to survive for years. It has quite a lot of abnormal growth but the hole is still through it.

fb70bdf3.jpg
 
AMK Sportsman

Forum statistics

Threads
95,233
Messages
1,429,888
Members
29,880
Latest member
Grepgaston
Top