Tomorrow is opening day of OIhio’s gun season for whitetailed deer.
Over a half million hunters hit the woods and fields for the Ohio deer gun season.
Something I neglected to say in my previous hunting posts this year-
If you do not know how to track and find wounded deer-or any other or any other animal you plan on hunting-then you have no business being in the woods and fields hunting-none whatsoever.
Just because you can shoot sub minute of angle groups from a bench at 100yds-that does not mean you can hit a deer-or any other critter in it’s vital organs for a quick,clean,humane kill.
If you do not know how to track wounded game-I’ll go over the basics,but use Google,use You Tube-there’s a plethora of info on how to track game available on the ‘net.
First of all,when you take a shot at a deer,lean against a tree if possible to steady your arm,shoulder,and rifle or shotgun. If you can rest the forearm of your shotgun or rifle on a branch at the right height for you-that’s even better. Carrying shooting sticks is hands down the best way to insure that you have a stable shooting platform-aside from using your pack as a rest and shooting from prone.
If you are taking part in a deer drive-pay attention to where the other hunters are at ALL times!!!
When shooting at a deer that’s walking/running-do not stop moving your weapon when you pull the trigger-it’s just like shooting clays-keep the gun moving,pull the trigger as the gun is moving-as you keep your sights/bead on the deers vital organs-(look it up-behind and slightly below front shoulder).
Pay attention to where the deer was when you took your shot.
If you do not see or hear the deer fall-sit down,wait at least a half hour before tracking the deer. Keep your eye on the spot where the deer was when you shot.
Slowly and quietly walk to the spot-mark the spot. I carry surveyors tape/ribbon in my hunting pack. It’s simple to tie a piece on a branch,or leave it on the ground with a rock or stick to anchor it in place.
Start walking a small circle around the spot you marked,looking for fresh tracks and blood,walk a slightly bigger circle each time-when you find either-mark the spot. (use toilet paper if you don’t carry anything else)
Follow the trail as far as you can-marking it every 20 yds or so-closer in heavy cover-if you lose it,start walking circles around the last blood you found. Watch the trail in front of you-wounded deer will lay down in cover almost every time-that’s why you wait a half hour-if you made a good shot,the deer will lay down and bleed out.
If you took your shot at last light-it helps to have something reflective-trail tacks,the orange Tink’s scent bottles-something you can easily spot with a flaslight/headlamp.
Another thing that helps tracking at night is a light with a blue filter or blue light/lens.
Blood seems to show up better under the blue lights.
The rest of tracking at night is the same as tracking during daylight-mark the trail,if you lose it-mark the last spot you found blood-then walk a circle-starting small,then slowly increasing in size with each trip ’till you find the trail again.
Every animal that moves through the woods leaves signs of it’s passing-learn what those signs are,and you’ll have an easier time tracking.
A few points about the blood you find…
If the blood is bright red,and full of bubbles,sort of foamy or frothy looking-that’s a sign of a solid lung hit,which is a fatal wound.
Blood with deer shit in it,partially digested vegetation in it means you gut shot the deer,and it’s going to die eventually. Best to back off,and come back in the morning-(unless temps are over 50-55 at night)
Really dark colored blood usually means a liver hit-again,the deer will die at some point,usually not quickly. A liver hit deer will bed down ASAP. If conditions are right,and you can move quietly,follow the trail-marking it as you go-watch ahead of you for the deer to get up to run again. They often have a hard time getting up,so you have a chance at putting another round in it.
There’s more to it than that-too much to get into in this post-my version of tracking basics comes from over 45 years spent hunting whitetailed deer,elk,moose,bear,bighorn sheep,antelope,mule deer,dall sheep,and caribou.
I’ve worked for outfitters,tracked and found wounded game for clients to earn my paycheck-I highly reccomend the trail tacks,surveyors tape/ribbon,blue light method of tracking.
When you know the area,you can often predict where the critter is going,and save yourself a lot of tracking time-which is slow,tedious work.
You owe it to the animals to kill them as quickly and humanelay as possible.
Don’t take questionable shots.
Before deer season,when you are at the range-don’t just shoot from a table or bench-shoot offhand,shoot sitting,shoot leaning against a tree/post,shoot kneeling,shoot prone.
If you have somewhere to do this safely-take an old tire,using good duct tape,tape cardboard over the hole,then thumbtack targets to it-we use a 3″ bullseye,then have a friend roll the tire down a slight hill. When you can hit that target every time-you are capable of hitting a running deer. Also great practice for rabbit hunting-which you should also be doing if there are bunnies in your area.
*alternate method of attaching cardboard-drill small holes,use tie wire to attach cardboard-use duct tape or thumbtacks to attach targets.
If you don’t have a hill to use the tire method-hang a tire from a tree branch-(where there’s safe backstop behind it)-or make a frame from old 4×4’s or landscape timbers.
Drill a small hole in bottom of tire-through tread-screw in a medium sized stainless steel eyebolt,get yourself 50 or 100 yds of rope,tie to eye bolt. To the side of frame,install another eye bolt-run your rope through that,then pull it to where you will shoot from.
Pull the rope with a hard quick pull to get tire moving-then practice hitting target attached to the moving tire.
That’s how you get good at hitting moving targets.
Good luck to everyone hunting this weeks Ohio gun season-and to those in the second week of W.Va and Pa gun seasons.
Pay attention,wear hunter’s orange-too many guys shoot an anything moving that’s even close to the color of a deer-but I have yet to see a day-glo orange deer.
Do More PT!