Tracking wounded deer

Posted: August 16, 2014 by gamegetterII in hunting, Uncategorized
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Sometimes you make a less than perfect shot on a deer,and you hit it at the edges of the vitals,it happens to everyone at some point if you hunt long enough.

If you know you made a bad shot,the first thing you have to do is stay put-do not attempt to track the deer for at least 45 minutes to an hour.

I carry a roll of surveyors tape in my hunting pack,you need to carry something that can be used to mark the blood trail. I use the surveyors tape because it’s brightly colored,and easy to tie around branches,shrubs,logs,etc.

After you have stayed put for at least 45 minutes,go to where the deer was standing when your arrow hit it-or your shotgun slug,muzzleloader bullet,or rifle bullet. Look for blood until you find it,or look for your arrow. Mark the first spot where you find blood.

Walk-very slowly- in the direction the deer ran,look for blood drops on the ground,on branches or grasses at the deer’s height until you find the next blood drops.

Look at the blood,the color of the blood can tell you a lot-bright red blood means you hit an artery-a good sign,dark blood usually means a liver shot,blood with bits of partially digested food-acorns,corn,grasses,etc. means a gut shot.

If you have found dark blood,or bits of food in the blood-stop tracking the deer,let it lie down and bleed out,wait a couple hours before following the trail any farther.

*The only exception to this would be if outside temps are very warm,and will not go down below 40 degrees that night. In that case-keep slowly following the trail,paying attention to your surroundings,and keep looking for places that provide thick cover for the deer-that’s where it most likely is.

Try to stalk as close as you can to the cover without spooking the deer,you may be able to get a second shot at it when it gets up from where it has bedded down,as it is not going to be able to get up and run very fast,due to it’s wound. If you don’t get a second shot-keep tracking it,as sometimes keeping the deer moving will help it bleed out faster.*

Keep slowly walking in the direction the deer ran,marking each place you find blood with the surveyors tape. If you lose the trail,and don’t find the next blood drops-go back to the last place you found blood,and slowly walk in a circle,with the trail being the center of the circle,start with a small circle-say 5 yards on each side of trail,if you don’t find blood,walk a slightly bigger circle,keep repeating this until you find blood.

Mark the spot you just found blood,look back at the tape you marked the last blood at-and see if the deer is going the same direction,or if it has changed direction. Keep slowly walking in whatever direction the deer is moving until you find the next blood drops.

99% of the time,you are going to find the deer.

Keep tracking the deer in this manner until you have found it-don’t quit looking-you owe it to the deer to do your best to find it.

We all make a bad shot once in a while-it happens to the best of us.

The blood trail from a good shot is easy to follow,as there is a lot of blood on the ground,it’s very easy to see,and the deer seldom goes more than 50-100 yards or so.

I’ve never had a deer go more than 75 yards when hit with an arrow or crossbow bolt-I once had a heart and lung shot whitetail run over 100 yards up a mountainside in W.Va.

The deer was hit with 3 170 grain bullets from a 30-30 using Remington Core-Lokt ammo.

When we field dressed him,the first shot had hit the heart,and got both lungs-one of the three follow up shots had gone through both lungs,one missed,and one hit him in the “knee”. It’s harder than you think to hit a running deer with a rifle.

That was when I was young,no follow-up shot was needed,I knew my first shot was good-I just didn’t know at the time that a deer runs like hell after being shot-no matter how good the shot is-unless you took a head shot,or broke it’s spine-it’s gonna run very fast.

See my previous post for some good target practice methods to hit moving targets-like a running deer. * I do not take shots at a running deer unless it’s one I’ve already hit,or it’s an Ohio deer drive where a line of guys walks across a cornfield to push the deer out towards the guys standing at the spots deer are most likely to come out of the field at.*

Here’s the link to the target practice…




Do more PT !

  1. gamegetterII says:

    Reblogged this on Starvin Larry and commented:

    Since I’m on the subject of deer hunting…


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