The Void Myth Explained

nobullshitEvery bowhunter has either heard about it or experienced it firsthand…the dreaded shot through “the void.”  That non fatal wound where the arrow supposedly goes above the lungs and below the spine is a thoroughly discussed topic every bow season.  It is also a phenomenon that doesn’t actually exist.

There, I said it.  I’m not talking about other types of wounds like gut shots or one lung hits.  This is solely about the so called void shot.   This isn’t based on opinion and it isn’t up for discussion.  It is settled science based on logic and fact.  The void on a whitetail does not exist and here is why.

Let’s first look at how a set of cervid lungs work.  When the deer takes a breath, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract and the chest cavity expands.  When the chest expands, the pressure inside the chest cavity becomes lower than the outside pressure, allowing air to enter the lungs and inflate them.    When deer exhale, the muscles relax, the pressure increases in the chest cavity allowing the lungs deflate.  The lynchpin of this process though is that the chest wall is intact.  If there is a leak, like an arrow wound, the ability of the lungs to inflate is compromised and wouldn’t work out well for the wounded deer.  In humans, a compromised chest wall is referred to as a pneumothorax and it is very serious.  There’s reason number one there is no void.  If the void was real, a deer shot broadside with a hole in each side, a pneumothorax would develop and eventually lay down and suffocate with a set of collapsed lungs.  But we all know that doesn’t happen.

So where does the arrow go on a “void shot?”  The simple answer most of the time is right above the spine.  People highly overestimate the size of the chest cavity.  Look at the photo below.  If you look at the size of the chest cavity in proportion to the space located above the spine, it becomes pretty clear how a “void” shot can look like a chest hit especially if you’re shooting from an elevated position like a tree stand.


deercrossThe final reason there is no void between the lungs and bottom of the spine is because it is physiologically impossible.  A whitetail’s lungs fill its chest cavity.  The idea that the lungs are like little balloons just hanging in empty space is absurd.  The internals of a mammal are set up for efficiency.  There is no wasted space.  If an arrow penetrates the chest cavity, lung tissue is getting cut.  Plain and simple.

There is no void below the spine.  These perceived shots are really just blowing though the back strap and doing no lasting harm.  I’ve skinned several whitetails in the past 10 years that bore these wounds.  In summary, there is a great deal of non vital space to hit, but there is none of this space located below the spine.  If the shot is truly in the chest cavity, you will recover the animal.  A shot north of that will just produce a muscle wound.  End of story.