View Full Version : GOOD SHOT! Now what do I do?

Wild Bill Bucks
March 20, 2006, 03:00 PM
Thought I would throw this in for some of the new-comers. I'm sure they would like to have some thoughts from the rest of you guys.

Being prepared for tracking is a must if you are going to be succesfull at locating your deer after it is shot.
I take a pencil, notepad, marking line, tissue paper, a watch and a compass and a good flashlight with me.
As soon as I make my shot, I write down the time, and direction I heard my deer last. After about 20 minutes or so, I quietly get down and look for my arrow. If the blood on it is bright red, I know I have made a good shot, if the blood is watery or there are signs of grain or seeds on it, then I have probably made a gut shot, if the blood is frothy or has bubbles in it, then I probably made a lung shot, If the blood is dark red then I have probably made a muscle shot and the chances of finding my deer goes way down.
I then tie off my tracer line to a bush, and mark my blood spot with some tissue, and begin trailing my deer.
It is important to move VERY slowly so you don't cover up your trail by walking over it to fast. Be observant and look for blood on trees and grass above the ground. Every time you come to a blood spot, mark it with your tissue. This will keep you from losing your place as you look around.
If you run out of blood, STOP, and squat down and look around for"The path of least resistance", that being a hole in the brush, or an opening big enough for a deer to get through with out having to dodge. You can't do this standing up, you will have to squat down to give your line of sight the same as the deers.
Most wounded game will not run uphill, or into areas that require a lot of ducking and dodgeing, and will mostly take the path of least resistance trying to get away.
Most of the time you will pick your blood trail up again by doing this.
Be sure to keep your marking line going until you find your game, as this will give you a trail back to your stand.
Marking line sounds like a trivial thing, but it is easy to get turned around (especially at night) when your nose is on the trail.
By tieing it to your deers leg when you find it, will also give you a trail back to your deer. If your like I am, I have to go get my 4-wheeler to get him out and the line gives me a way back to him.
I'm sure some of the other guys can tell you how they do it, but this has worked for me, and so far(knock on wood) I haven't lost but one deer in years.

March 20, 2006, 04:55 PM
I have never used the tracer line but will add that marking the trail is an excelent idea. If you loose the trail, move back to your last marker and see how the trail lines up. And if getting down low isnt helping, begin walking in concentric circles from the last point of blood.

Wild Bill, have you noticed deer tending to run (baring a physical barrier) in a large arc in the direction of the entrance wound? IE, a deer arrowed in its left side will veer in a counter clockwise arc.

March 20, 2006, 05:11 PM
Ultraviolet light causes blood to lumenes (sp?). At night an ultraviolet flashlight comes in very handy.

Sometimes wounded game goes to water.

If the trail is lost you can spiral out from the last spot of blood.

If you loose a feral pig in a tank be careful. You can easily upset the boat and sink. It does make for a great story if you are on the bank watching.:p

March 20, 2006, 05:11 PM
Wow, thanks for the great info, WBB! I will be using that.

March 20, 2006, 05:41 PM
along the same lines of the UV light...hydrogen peroxide from a spray bottle will cause blood to bubble, handy in areas with red stemmed grasses and every leaf looking like it has a small drop of blood on it. This is usually found about 10 mins after you begin walking out the concentric circles from the last blood spot. Just a little spray of the peroxide may help put you on your way.

Art Eatman
March 20, 2006, 11:33 PM
1. Shoot'im in the white spot. No tracking needed. :)

2. If a deer is wounded in a front shoulder, odds are that he'll go uphill as well as upwind. If wounded in a ham, odds are he'll go downhill.

We had a guy flinch one time, and he didn't get the neckshot he wanted. We tracked the deer, which followed a contour. That's when I found that my colorblind father could see drops of blood in the beam of a flashlight where the rest of us could not. ??? Anyhow, when we found the buck, the bullet had gone through a shoulder, along the ribs, and into the ham, down low. Sorta explained the contour deal, I guess.

3. I always take some toilet paper along for marking the spot where I shot from, and marking where I'd hit the deer. That lets me track and return to re-track if necessary. Thank the Lord, mostly it was to mark where the deer lay so I could come back with a jeep...

:), Art

Wild Bill Bucks
March 26, 2006, 03:57 PM
About 3 years ago my two sons and I went across the lake to bow hunt, and since none of us had ever been there before, I took everything I could think of but tracer string. About 5:30 in the evening I got a really good shot on a nice buck, and watched him run down a draw and off into the thick woods.
I waited for my sons to join me, which by now was after dark. I took out my compass, and holding it down in front of me, I took a bearing to our boat, and off we went to trail my deer. We had a good bright red trail to follow and it was pretty steady, so I didn't mark my trail with tissue. After about 30 minutes of walking around with our heads to the ground, we found the deer piled up in a brush pile with only his back foot sticking out. After wrestling him out of the brush, I feild dressed him and we all realized that none of us knew where we were in reference to the boat. By now, as my luck generally goes, it has started to rain pretty hard and my deers blood trail is washing out. I wasn't to worried at the time because I had taken a bearing and new that all we had to do was go east, and we would come out on the lake, and could follow the bank around to the boat.
I once again pulled out my compass and put it down around my waist, holding it up against my body to get a good reading. And off we went.
After about 2 hours of walking east, it dawned on me that I was wearing a steel belt buckle that was pulling my compass to show north behind me every time I read it.
By now the rain is pouring down, and we decided to find some cover and sit it out. After the rain stopped I put the compass down on a rock and got a good bearing and we were out of the woods in less than an hour. When we got back home, my wife and their wives were just short of calling the patrol and turning us in as missing.
I was pretty embarrassed about the whole thing, so from then on, the tracking string has been part of my neccessity gear that stays with me all the time.
Every time my sons and I get together with some other hunters we don't know, I get to re-live that embarrassing night-mare all over again.:(

March 26, 2006, 11:10 PM
hee hee, I enjoyed that story, WBB - so you had dragged that deer for 2 hours before you realized your compass reading was messed up, or were you walking without the deer, planning to come back? Was this Sardis lake?

Being lost in the dark sucks - I'll bet that was a scary experience. I would have been panicking at that point.

March 26, 2006, 11:41 PM
The only thing I want to touch on again is go slow.... Real Slow....

I've walked past deer laying dead in brush a few times and wasted lots of time that I could of saved if I just would have slowed down.

March 27, 2006, 11:40 AM
I use very small pieces of surveyors flagging or tiolet paper to mark a trail. I mark my shooting spot, take a good sight line to where the deer was when I shot. It is funny how quickly your memory clouds about the actual spot where you hit an animal. So, take precautions. Often it is not as easy as it would seem.

I wait about 20 minutes or if I am sure that the animal is not likely to be within 50 yds of impact point, I carefully and quietly move to the spot where I think I hit the deer and look for blood. I make that spot. Sometimes there is not a lot of blood at this location.

Begin following the trail and marking periodically. Deer will often run through some of the thickest under growth after they are hit. So, I end up sighting back on the trail periodically. The marks allow you to quickly find the blood trail if you loose the trail.

If no more blood, make circles around the last spot looking for any sign. There will usually be some blood, but it may be small spots on the leaves or grass. Take it very slowly. Have a flash light with you too just in case.

In the rain, it is tough to follow a blood trail as it gets washed away or diluted quickly. In this case, try to remember all you can about the path the deer took after you hit it from the shooting location. Mark the trail at any blood that you find as it may be your last. If you have problems as in loosing the trail, for the good of the sport, you have to be able to back up and re-think and begin again. The marked trail allows you to do this.

March 27, 2006, 12:48 PM
post it notes in bright pink. i take toilet paper along, but, thats another thread.

March 27, 2006, 01:19 PM
Thats a great story. Sounds like something I would do. This is a little off subject but hopefully relevent. My co worker Jim had an incident with shooting a deer, marking the spot, and when he brought his partner back to help him drag it. He caught a guy steeling his deer! Jim is 6' 4" ,a vietnam vet and weilding a 30-06. He held the sob there at gun point while his partner dialed the sheriff on his cell. Long story short the deer nabber was a convicted fellon and ended up getting what he had coming to him. I've never had it happen but those people are out there.
Thanks for the usefull info!

March 27, 2006, 01:44 PM
Nice stories and I enjoyed each of them. I was tracking right with you guys on some of those stories.
I have been using a tracking line for years. I use white thread. It is cheap, easy to carry and plenty long.

A coleman lantern is a great night time tracking aide.

I agree with slow slow slow. I usually mark last blood found and if I can't see next blood, I get down to deer level and move inches at a time.

One thing to add, I find blood on tall grass or brush that wiped off of the deer as they passed. Don't just look at the ground, check for higher blood sign.

Droplets tend to splatter in the direction the deer is moving also.

Deer will flop around trying to get the arrow out, if it happened to not pass through. When you find this spot, stop and observe closely what was happening. There will be blood in many directions and you may find your arrow. If the deer removed the arrow and proceeded, many times you are close to your deer(within 20 yards) Flopping and removing the arrow many times is the cause of death. Circles around the area will indicate the exit direction of the deer. Do not overlook the enterance direction as a possible exit direction. Again droplets will tend to splatter in the direction the deer is moving.
Happy bowhunting and always, with no exception, use RAZOR SHARP BROADHEADS. Anything less will seriously alter your success rate.

charlie in md
March 27, 2006, 03:10 PM
I used to have a copy of the book, "Trailing Whitetails", by John Trout. The book has alot of good information, along with accounts of trailing both deer and bear. I think it is still available for about $10.

March 27, 2006, 05:11 PM
You ever had this happen??? My partner shot a 3 pt blacktail at close range w/a .270 win. It knocked it back but it bolted. The weird thing was that there wasnt any sign of blood. Looked and looked but no blood found anywhere and the deer was never found.

March 27, 2006, 07:53 PM
i bought the "blue light blood tracker" lense for my surefire. waste of money. plain white light picks up blood trail better.

March 30, 2006, 11:44 AM
2. If a deer is wounded in a front shoulder, odds are that he'll go uphill as well as upwind. If wounded in a ham, odds are he'll go downhill.

If you shoot him BEHIND the front shoulder like you're supposed to, he won't go anywhere...:D

March 30, 2006, 12:31 PM
So, anyone else notice the "trend" of deer tending to run (baring a physical barrier) in a large arc in the direction of the entrance wound? IE, a deer arrowed in its left side will veer in a counter clockwise arc.

Wild Bill Bucks
March 30, 2006, 12:44 PM
I always figured that if I hurt my left side, I tend to walk in circles to the left, because you are weaker to that side. I would imagine a deer would tend to do the same thing.

March 30, 2006, 07:33 PM
In my experience a deer that is not hit hard will walk a deer trail and leave it to cut across to another trail, stay on that one for a while and cut across to another. I have had the fortune to often have snow to track by and a father who was getting worse at killing and better at hitting as time wore on. For sure use a coleman, toilet paper (it is quickly degraded in the envionment), and look up on weeds and brush also. Be patient and persistant.

Wild Bill Bucks
March 30, 2006, 08:18 PM

Sorry about taking so long, but it's been a really tough two days. My sons came up with the I dea that we should put the deer on a pole and that way we could carry it on our shoulders, and split the weight up.
At the time, this sounded like a really good idea, as the dragging was wearing all of us out. The rain was not making it any easier.
Unfortunatley, we hadn't thought about the weight of the deer swinging back and forth on the pole.
I would not suggest this method for deer retreival, as it will keep you stumbling over everything in your path.
I was ready to leave the deer after dragging it for about an hour, and my oldest son threw a fit, telling me that if we were as lost as he thought we were, we might have to eat the deer before we got home.:D
Neither one of my sons would let me leave it, so we drug it around with us until I figured out the compass thing.
After I figured out I was going the wrong direction, I wasn't about to tell them, until we got home.:D
I weigh in at about 160 lbs, and either one of the boys weigh in at about 240 lbs. I figured if they new what I had done with the compass, I might take a pretty good whooping.:D
It was difinetly a night I would rather put behind me.:o

March 30, 2006, 08:51 PM
Two seasons ago, I shot a small whitetail and had a one-mile drag on dry ground primarily up hill and through brush and so forth. I thought I was going to die (and could have unfortunately). Last season, I had the fortune to shoot a 7pt and this time after doing the necessary field dressing and so forth, hiked out to my vehicle and brought back one of those wheeled deer carts that they sell at Cabela's. The "drag" was about the same distance (different route), but I barely raised a sweat bringing the 7pt out. (should have been an 8pt, but browl tine broke off.) I highly recommend the carts if they make sense in the terrain you hunt. Sure beats a pole and you can wheel them over fallen logs if necessary or across creeks. I'm not an ATV hunter, so I walk in and out....

The buck I shot in 2004 with a 270 only bled a little bit and tracking was a very careful task. I would find a few drops every 20 feet or so and you had to look for them. Shot right through the deer without much bullet expansion right behind the heart. Didn't hit a front shoulder.

March 30, 2006, 09:19 PM
After shootin a half-dozen with .44 revolvers, a half dozen more with various .30 caliber rifles, and close to a half-dozen more with various other handguns, I am sure of one thing- they'll always go down faster and be easier to track if you punch a substantial bullet all the way through the deer. A big hole all the way across is the surest method I have found for getting meat, and the bigger that hole is the shorter the drag.

Beyond that? Follow the blood, and look for it above the ground as well. I have brought home a few that I might have missed otherwise, by finding blood on brush & grass 2-3 feet above the ground.

March 31, 2006, 12:47 PM
Having watched my father bow hunt for many years, I have seen him get many deer. This is due in large part to his 70# draw and no let-off. Last season I watched an arrow go clean through a 185#(after field dressing) 8 point and he dropped after walking about 5 yds.

Never knew what hit him!:)

The following day was another story:

Same stand he shoots a doe..again arrow goes clean through...she staggers about 10 yds. to the south and falls over a fence.

What's the problem? Said fence was at the top of a 300+ ft. drop!:(
2 hrs. later we get the deer out with a ATV and a winch.

Needless to say there was no meat tenderizer needed after that haul.

April 2, 2006, 12:11 AM
we have a standing rule in our camp, if you shoot a deer and it runs, you can not go walking for it till someone else arrives. Before we did this we would a deer every couple of years. now, we do not. shooter sits in the tree and directs the searcher to the area he believes the shot was made from, it is surpriseing how manytimes when you find blood, it is quite a ways from where you thought the shot was. BUt once blood is found, a orange or chartreuse surveyors tape is tied up high in a sapling to mark. We then go from blood spot to blood spot till we find a deer. Adding a ribbon when your eyes do not see the next spot keeps you from losing the trail, (easy to do in bad light or weather) Getting down low, on hands and knees and looking from blood spot to blood spot makes it easy to see the path the deer took. If you see the deer, back up slowly, get a round loaded and the rifle up, or an arrow nocked, and re trace slowly looking for signs of life, If the deer is still breathing but does not flinch, move back to wear you still can shoot but giving the animal a chance to die. they seem to go faster if they rest. If you push, they can go for a freaking long time.

As to a shot in brisket and no blood, yup east to do and a bad shot if it does not hit anything important on the way thru, Almost certainly the paunch caught the bullet or maybe a back ham, but the bullet opened up the guts and it will die, slowly, painfully, and not the way you should treat that animal. I saw one run over a mile with only one lung left and a sucking chest wound, my brother finally shot it when it ran past his stand on the far end of the 320 we hunt. From the dry blood on it chest, we figured it had been shot for an hour, maybe more. That deer was dog food. After running that far under stress the meat was so tainted, it was only good for feeding the dogs.

April 2, 2006, 06:41 PM
Good advice all round. If shot with rifle they usually circle towards the exit wound if bullet goes through, as it is much bigger than the entry and must weaken that side. I use surveyor tape to mark shoot position and position of animal when shot, also last blood found. Surprising how quickly you become unsure of where animal was when shot, the kneeling and circling is very good advice too, I have found more than one deer where it died under the brush when searching kneeling, would have walked right past standing up and missed it. Good stories, I reckon plenty of us were right there with you and the compass thing is easy done, me and a buddy spent a good time walking the wrong direction, he had compass in right hand and rifle on right shoulder, it was pulling it off a long way, the sun came out and we realised we where heading the wrong way too, shusssssh tell no one :o