No hunter should ever attempt a spine shot because it’s too difficult to execute. However, if a spine shot should happen accidentally, quick action is required.
- When hit in the spine, the animal will drop on the spot. It won’t die immediately, so a second shot is necessary to dispatch the animal humanely.
- If an arrow hits the backbone but does not cut the spinal cord, the animal may drop from “spinal shock,” which is similar to hitting the “funny bone” in your elbow. The paralysis is temporary; and within a minute or so, the animal may get up and run away. This is a serious problem because the arrow is frequently still stuck in the backbone. Because the animal is not incapacitated or even significantly slowed, it’s likely to escape. This type of injury is not only unfortunate for the animal, but it also creates a public relations nightmare for all hunters.
- If an animal drops instantly when hit with an arrow, you must be able to re-cock your crossbow quickly and safely. Then shoot the animal again immediately. Don’t climb down out of your tree stand first. If you hit it the first time from where you were, you should be able to hit it with a second shot. This ensures that it won’t escape or suffer needlessly if it is paralyzed temporarily.