Is there a dead space between a deer’s spine and the top of the lungs?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Biology

First off I love the show and have learned more from you in the past year about deer and deer hunting than I have learned in the last 5 years.

This year I have run into some issues and I’m not sure what to make of it. It could be poor shooting or it could be anatomical mishaps.

Is the myth of the “dead space” below the spine and above the lungs? I have hit two deer there this season and one doe we never found and this last buck I hit there I am still searching for.

I have been under the impression the lungs will butt right up against the spine so I thought by shooting from a twenty foot stand at a twenty yard deer I would certainly clip the top of the lungs. I would like to have this myth clarified to avoid anymore mishaps this season and future seasons. Also perhaps you could touch on it next video, as I see many deer hunters confused by this myth.

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.


Kevin Urbeck



There isn’t normally a “dead space” between a deer’s spine and the top of the lungs.

Deer that are hit high in the lungs can travel a long ways and often don’t bleed much externally.  The high entrance and exit holes results in most blood remaining in the deer.  I recently hit a doe high and she traveled several hundred yards.  It was tough to trail her and I ended up using a dog (legal in Missouri). You can see that shot and entrance and exit holes at:


October 28, 2015