View Full Version : A Lost Deer

November 2, 1999, 12:37 PM
I know this is a firearms forum but I need some cheering up.
I was bow hunting this past Saturday and finally had my first shot ever with a bow. I was watching a doe and a forkhorn buck for about an hour before I felt I had a good shot. Finally the buck offered a quartering away shot at about 20 yards from my tree stand. He ran off towards the woods behind me with my arrow about 8 inches into a spot towards the last rib. He stopped as soon as he got into the woods and walked away. It was nearly sunset at this point so I left my stand after about 1/2 hour and went to get my truck. When I got back I found bright red blood and the exposed part of my arrow which had broken off covered in blood. I followed the trail for about an hour in the dark until I lost the blood. I came back the next morning with 2 other experienced bow hunters and we picked up more blood. We searched for about 2 hours and finally lost any sign.
It doesn't bother me that I did not get a deer but I feel awful for not knowing what happened to it. I can only hope that it died quickly or will heal.
I practice regularly and am pretty good but I only blame myself, not my equipment as some others seem to do.(I think Joey knows them ;))
Sorry this post is so long but I had to get this off my chest.

November 2, 1999, 01:07 PM
Friend, you're the kind of guy I want in the woods! Do you know how many there are who don't care? Respect for life and concern for the suffering of an animal is one of the sure things which sets us apart from the other predators and the prey.

I always agonize and beat myself up if I merely wound and lose a targeted animal, of whatever species. I have lost a couple of deer and one mountain lion under similar circumstances, i.e., a diligent and dedicated search. I still feel bad about them, though the sense of shame isn't so sharp now. It's, sadly, an inevitable part of hunting if you do it long enough. It's also, happily, an incentive to make certain to do better next time!

My advice is to keep striving to avoid such events, as it's apparent you have from the beginning. Some people feel it's necessary in such a circumstance to consider their tag "filled," even if the meat ins't in the freezer. I'm not of that opinion, but I certainly wouldn't try to convince them otherwise. It's a judgment call.

Best wishes to you as an ethical hunter.

November 3, 1999, 08:21 PM

Thank you for your post. It actually made me feel a little better about the situation. :)

I cannot imagine someone not putting forth the maximum effort to recover a wounded animal. Then again I do not consider these "people" hunters.

Best of luck to you as well this season!


November 3, 1999, 09:46 PM

I had a similar experience this fall. I shot an elk at sunset and it bailed off into the coulee from hell. My brother shot an elk only 50 yards from mine at the same time. He began field dressing his while I looked for mine. I quit looking at dark and we finished dressing his elk and retrieved the pick-up truck. With the aid of artificial light we looked for my elk until 10:00PM. No luck.

I returned the following morning with a good friend of mine who is also an experienced hunter and guide. Also along for the ride was his father in-law, and his two sons. We had a total of five people looking. The terrain was open Wyoming sage mixed with rocks and sparse Juniper. We found only one drop of blood and we could see where the herd had entered the draw. Even though we could not find a blood trail, we knew we were close unless the animal was very poorly hit. We looked until 11:00AM then gave up in disgust. I was walking up a steep hillside near my truck when I found the dead elk. The critter had expired on a small game trail between several clumps of chest high sagebrush and an 8 foot tall juniper tree. The animal was only 75 yards from where I shot it. The elk was all but invisible unless you were within 10 feet of it. I hit it high in the lung cavity with my 30-338 with 180 grain Nosler bullet. The animal bled out internally accounting for the absence of a blood trail.

Now what? The elk was shot at 5:00 PM the day before and it is already 60 degrees at noon the next day. Well, we gutted the stiff old critter and hauled butt to the nearest wild game processing plant two hours away. The jury is still out on whether or not the meat will be palatable…but I gave it my best effort.

I called our local game warden to advise him of the situation since disposing of the animal would constitute “wanton waste” and is punishable by loss of hunting privileges and a pretty hefty fine. If the meat is spoiled, I will be in a bit of a pickle, but nothing that can’t be worked out. Our game and fish people work with, not against, the ethical hunter and I am sure the situation will be resolved without any hard feelings either way.

Very few people would have even bothered to return the following day to look for your deer. Even fewer would tag it and attempt to salvage the meat. You have nothing to be ashamed of and I commend you. It does my heart good to know there are people like you in the field. You are a refreshing break from the stories I hear about poachers, party hunters, and slobs. Next year I hope you stick a Pope and Young buck, you have paid your dues.

November 3, 1999, 10:49 PM
I can only hope that when I start hunting again if/when I have the same kind of situation you did I react in the same way.


Glad to see you found your Elk and took the actions you did. Hopefully the meat will come out all right. My old supervisor shot a elk south west of Laramie and it took them about 14 hours to find it, but it tasted great :)

How does your 30-338 compare to the 338 win mag. A gun shop here in town has a used Winchester M70 338 with weaver rings for $460.00 and it looks like it's in real good shape.

November 3, 1999, 11:26 PM

I had a .338 but I sold it. Recoil was more than I wanted to tolerate. A .30-.338 is a .338 necked to .30 cal. Compares to a .308 Norma magnum. For all practical purposes, the .30 magnums are about the same. By the way, what a small world, I am originally from Laramie and now reside in Shoshoni.

November 4, 1999, 10:17 AM
I appreciate your honesty and willingness to search for the wounded deer. One of the hobbies that I enjoy as much as hunting is canoeing and it is canoeing that changed my personal views on bowhunting. Every fall as I canoe the rivers in eastern and central NC I find many wounded deer that have died by the waters edge. Most of these have been shot by a bow. I will not state how many I have found in a single day so it won't be used against us by the anti's. First let me say that I will fight,and fight hard, for our right to bow hunt big game but I will not bow hunt deer anymore. I still enjoy small game hunting with a bow tremendously. I just don't have the time and place to bow hunt the way I feel "I" should do it, measuring shots in feet not yards and tracking any animal shot until I find it, if it takes hours or days. Until I can obey my own rules I will continue to hunt with the 30-06. Am I saying you should think about giving up bowhunting? Absolutely, positively not! I guess the point of this long and rambling post is don't beat yourself into the ground on this one. This has happened to lots of hunters, most of them will not admit it. The key is to try to never let it happen again.

[This message has been edited by CapeFear (edited November 04, 1999).]

November 5, 1999, 12:03 AM
Cape Fear:

This is kinda off topic, but here goes. I lost a deer when I first started bow hunting and I got soured on it. Quit for a number of years.

I had a very, very long conversation about crippled big game animals with an Enforcement Specialist and a Game Warden with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.

According to the Game and Fish, there are fewer crippled animals from bowhunters than firearm hunters. I argued that their data was skewed because there are fewer bow hunters than rifle hunters. Not so they replied. According to them, the most crippled animals per hunter in the field come from handgun hunters. Next in line is rifle hunters, primarily new hunters and dummies shooting jaws off from failed neck and head shots. And lastly, bowhunters. Frankly, I don't believe it, but I thought I would share it anyway.

Will Beararms
November 5, 1999, 10:05 AM
I am 1/4 Choctaw Indian. I can say this and I would say it if I didn't have an Indian Grandmother. Have you read in any history books about any fat Indians? I repsect your passion for bow hunting and will defend it but it's a hard but eminently challenging sport. We have an overpopulation of deer in most places and you have shown that you exercised due dilligence. Learn from it, move forward and continue to enjoy God's rich blessings. Remember, God gave you and I dominion over the animal kingdom. While He expects us to be good stewards, he knows your heart.

"When guns are outlawed;I will be an outlaw."

November 5, 1999, 10:07 AM
Arkeny, I believe it. There are 2 types of hunters: one's who know their equipment, and those who don't. Nearly anyone can "hit" a standing deer with a bullet at 50 yards, even with a half hour's practice. But a bowhunter with only a half hour's practice will be convinced that it's impossible to hit a deer at 50 yards (which is beyond what most bow hunters will shoot). The point is, even novice bow hunters will usually know their limitations, but a fool with a gun can shoot at anything they can see. Do you know any bowhunters that would invite someone with no experience or practice to join them? How many gun hunting "deer camps" are really just a bunch of guys with beer and guns. // Richardson

November 5, 1999, 12:28 PM
Thanks for your support guys!
Ankeny, great job :D and congratulations!
Also, very interesting about the stats on wounded game.

Byron Quick
November 9, 1999, 09:14 AM
Well, I've been there too. Three years ago, I shot a buck in a frozen beaver swamp. Knocked him down with one shot and he didn't even kick. Worked the lever on my Marlin 336
(.35 Remington) and the thing jammed. I couldn't clear the jam but sat and watched the deer for ten minutes. Not a twitch. I jacked my climber down the tree and approached the buck. When I was within twenty feet he jumped up and hauled butt as I watched helplessly. I walked over to where he was laying and there was lung tissue and a swatch of hair about six inches in diameter.
I searched the rest of the day in that damned frozen swamp in 16 degree temps. Not a sign.

The jam really pissed me off. Used it as an excuse to buy my Browning BAR in .300 Win Mag.

A tip, though. Met some guys at the range that hunt a few miles from me. They've got a small beagle mix dog that they've trained to trail wounded deer. They don't use the dog to hunt just to find deer. Works really well, a lot better than trying to blood trail in the dark. I'm thinking of doing the same.

Byron Quick

November 9, 1999, 01:21 PM
Well, here's my story:

A month ago I had to work a mid-0800 shift (I work for Game & Fish oddly enough).

Anyway had a couple of errands to run so I get home around noon, and pass my hunting partner coming out of the woods. I figure he's going to want to shoot the breeze for a few so hey no problem.

Mark gets out of the truck and instantly say's "Gator, I've just shoot the biggest
8-point I've ever seen and I can't find him."

Great I think, I've done without sleep before so it's nothing new. We go out to look. Mark took the shoot with a bow at a stepped off 28 yards. Hits a little high for a lung shoot, but the ground shows the animal was hit and knocked on the ground. Start following tracks, no blood though. Tracks show animal definetely favoring right side. Track for over an hour and half. By this point I NEED sleep.
We go back to the house. Mark goes to work and I go to sleep. Sleep to 6 pm then take the 4 wheeler out to look. Again no signs, deer was shot at 8 am and in Florida that is way too long for it to be out in 75 degree temps.
Needless to say Mark was out the next morning to look some more.

I told this to an LT of mine and he laughed, one of our officers was hunting and shot (w/bow) a ten point. Looses him, feels like crap. Another guy shoots a ten point a few weeks later and guess what was lodged in his vertebrae, the arrow the officer shoot him with.

So don't feel bad for loosing the deer, if you searched for it. Also don't know the animal suffered he may be okay. (Not always but the story above is an example).

I see a lot of calls about dumbasses hunting. You know the guys who wake up at 7 am and start the day w/a six pack and then go. See it all too often. What you don't see are people who really take the time to plan the hunt and who are generally concerned about the animals.

Sorry so long!


Root Hog or Die Poor

Paul Revere
November 9, 1999, 04:01 PM
It's true that bow wounded deer do not suffer and die painful lengthy deaths as animal rights activists would have you believe. A thesis study performed by Wendy Krueger and the Minnesota DNR several years ago at Camp Ripley showed conclusively that bowmen recover their wounded animals or those not found, recover. The wound-loss ratio was calculated at something less than 10%. Further independent studies show that arrow wounded deer that are not recovered typically recover from their wounds, especially when those wounds entered a non-vital area, including the gut.

My advice to first time bowhunters is to never take any shot that isn't absolutely perfect. That is, the animal is relaxed, head turned away, with a broadside or slightly quartering away position offered. In addition, keep even those shots less than 20 yards. Most folks who can drill paper or 3-D targets on a range can't always shoot as accurately on live game. Therefore, you have to reduce the chances of mistakes by taking your time.

I always carry two field pointed arrows in my quiver and take practice shots at unknown distances from my treestands. During squirrel season I even shoot squirrels during this practice. Once, after shooting a squirrel, a red fox ran up and grabbed the squirrel off of my arrow (stuck in the ground), breaking the arrow. I quickly nocked a broadhead and bagged the red fox. Both shots were within 11 yards.

Deer are incredibly resilient to injuries. Deer jumping fences often do flips landing on their heads or backs, or are even stabbed by branches or fence posts during their fall. Younger bucks are always being stabbed by older dominant bucks with larger antlers. In populated areas, you'd be surprised at just how many deer survive incredible deer/vehicle collisions.

But back to deer recovery...it sounds like your arrow didn't make it through both lungs if at all. The fact that your arrow did not make a complete pass through is indicative of a marginal shot, since full bellies can stop an arrow from doing any damage to vitals (which are located much further forward than you say your arrow entered). At the end of your blood trail (which you should mark with toilet paper to see a traveling pattern), start making ever widening circles away from your last blood trail. Marginally hit animals will usually get back onto game trails, so look on those as well. A mortally hit animal (with an arrow wound) will typically be dead within 100 yards from where you originally hit it. Marginal shots, hitting only one lung can allow for hundreds of yards of travel. You owe it to the animal to keep searching, even if to finally conclude that your deer did not die.

As in any endeavor, we learn from our mistakes. Evaluate your hunt that day, and correct what needs correcting. Practice, practice, practice. Keep your shots short with archery equipment, you'll feel alot more confident.

November 13, 1999, 08:39 PM
you posted this original message on 11/2. How long has it been since the hit? if its fairly warm , you can return to search with your nose. take your dog they always find decaying carcass. You may at least recover rack. I know this from experiance, 16 yrs of traditional bow hunting.

November 13, 1999, 11:46 PM

In my state removing the rack is illegal. The intent is to keep someone from shooting a critter then returning at a later date and claiming they "found" the carcass. Better check your local laws.

November 14, 1999, 08:08 AM
Very good point. It is illegal to poses any part of a deer without tag for that animal. If the animal is found tie the rack to a tree. call your game warden & tell him your story he may let you recover the rack if you agree to tag it. my opinion is if this guy does find animal he deserves the right to keep rack. He hasnt been dishonest, but the law, I know would see it different. no harm in trying, good luck! 2tapcm

Keith Rogan
November 14, 1999, 02:50 PM
A few years ago when I was stationed aboard a CG cutter here in Kodiak I was in the habit of going up on the bridge while inport and glassing the mountains round about for game with the "big eyes" mounted up there.

One winter I spotted a doe with a front leg missing up on a bald knob of the mountain across the bay. I pointed her out to friends and we speculated on how long she would last - not long was the general consensus. She sort of of poked around and grazed using her front leg as a sort of "tripod". I looked for her every time we were in port and she appeared to survive the winter.
The following year she was there again and amazingly, the year after that!
That was 6 or 7 years ago and she surely has gone back into the food chain by now but it was a lesson in how tough an animal really is.
This animal survived a grave wound of some sort, surely followed by massive infection and then at least 3 tough Alaskan winters on 3 legs!

I read about a big white tail buck taken somewhere that had the head of another buck locked in its rack. It had gotten locked up in a fight, dragged its opponent around for some time until it was able to twist its head off and then survived long enough to be taken by a hunter who was very surprised to find this smelly double-rack trophy.
Surely, thats the most unusual mount on any wall anywhere!

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