View Full Version : lost buck = heartache

January 10, 2009, 12:43 PM
This season I shot the biggest buck of my life (130 class 10pt), 15 yds w/ a 30-06. I had plenty of time and the buck fever passed long before I squeezed the trigger. Rock solid rest, steady cross hairs. 50yds into the blood trail i found a piece of lung the size of 50 cent piece. 400yds into the blood trail it dried up and no deer in sight. The shot may have been a little low but definitely a lung shot. Anybody got any idea of how this deer could have possibly escaped the taxidermist. I have replayed the whole thing in my head 1,000 times and can't figure it out.
15yds, 30-06, 150gr PSP bullet, steady rest, PLEASE HELP END MY TORMENT!!

January 10, 2009, 12:46 PM
Wow. Hmm....
Are you sure it was his lung that you saw?
Maybe he took a different turn than you expected and was laying out there somewhere?

January 10, 2009, 12:47 PM
Maybe you where just too close. The bullet went in and out to fast. Too bad to hear what happened.:(

January 10, 2009, 12:51 PM
It was definitely lung, the trail started drying up at 200yds until it just disappeared at 400yds

I have considered the possibility of just being too close, no bullet expansion etc.., but it still doesn't make sense. He should have bled more.

January 10, 2009, 12:57 PM
If you can still search I'd take a few buddies out there at the last point and look for paths with "ease of egress" as the main searching technique; think downhill, no jumping fences ect. Check every place he could have hunkered down to die. Sometimes they circle back toward the location they were shot. 400 yards is a very long way for a lung shot deer to travel. If it was a good shot I doubt he could travel much farther. Good luck.

January 10, 2009, 01:00 PM
How long did you sit before trailing?


January 11, 2009, 09:01 PM
get you one of those led lights for tracking blood from wally world.

January 12, 2009, 06:59 AM
I have seen this happen a couple times with some freinds. What happened in their case was they only got one lung when shooting so the deer went a long way before laying down, with one lung they can live for quite some time. We ended up finding them but it was well after the blood dried up and hours of looking. I would say it would be worth taking a few freinds and looking again until you find it, it's dead so it's a matter of just finding where it layed down, make sure to look under every item they could crawl into or under.

January 12, 2009, 08:22 AM
VaFisher is right about the one lung. If you only got one, they can go a long ways.

My dad shot a mule deer buck many years ago with a bow, and we tracked it for a couple of miles. It looked like it just walked until it fell over in the trail it was on.

I'd go back and look some more. Look for blood, of course, but also look for other signs of a deer passing. Tracks, scuffed up leaves, and broken twigs and branches might show the way. Also, don't forget to look on brush and trees that might have brushed the deer's side as it passed. If it brushes a bush, it'll leave some blood on it.

Good luck!


January 12, 2009, 09:51 AM
Would like to get the answer to Pax`s question. Push a one lung shot deer to fast a he can run into the next county on ya. Usually a shot deer,if not pushed, will travel to the point it feels safe,lay down and expire. Rule of thumb I follow:on a KNOWN good heart lung shot with a gun,if deer runs oughta sight, its a good thirty mins. before trailing. Bow at least an hour and if shot is right before dark I`ll go back next morning unless rain,snow is expected. Years ago, hunting one evening,right before dark I shot what was probably a 150-160 class buck while bowhunting. Thought I made a good boiler room 25 yd shot,watched deer run about 40yds,fell behind thicket. He thrashed around and when he stopped, I knew he was mine. Its now well after dark about 45mins after shot. I go to thicket and no deer. Instead of me backing out I tried bloodtrailing and jumped deer approx. 20yds from thicket. Went back to house and next day five good hunters combed(with no luck) a good 5 mi. area. That buck haunts me today and now everytime I shoot, extreme patience is what follows shot.

January 12, 2009, 10:13 AM
If that was truely lung, I doubt he could go any further than 400 yards. Every lung shot deer I've taken hasn't went more than 100 yards tops. I'd guess you missed part of the blood trail some place.

I'd go to the last blood trail and search in ever widening circles. If it was lung, he's down someplace.

I over looked my buck this year at first. Damn thing feel in a drainage ditch and I couldn't see him even standing 10 feet away from him. No blood at all where he was hit and it was a lung shot too.

He's there - just take your time and you should be able to find him. And as Pax mentioned, always give them time to lay down and expire before pushing them.

January 12, 2009, 11:34 AM
Some thoughts:

In FL, unless you are in the panhandle, no vertical to worry about, so downhill doesn't work so much.

Water. How about some cypress swamp or creek nearby?

Palmettos. I've seen deer and hogs take a leap into palmettos. If they walked through, definitely look high on the fronds. Its easy to miss the blood at deer chest height when you are focused on the ground.

Circle back. Is the 400 yds straight or working towards something?

Dogs? Can you find someone like hogdogs to help you out? Put a curr on the scent and see where it goes. I'm pretty sure FL allows use of dogs for tracking shot deer for recovery. Perhaps someone can shed light on current laws since I left 14 years ago for my USAF adventure.

Good luck. This is the second close shot deer (the other w/ a .35 at very short range) I've seen on this forum in the last month or so. The last one he found within a few yards of where he lost the trail, albeit it was the next day and due to temps the meat was done.

January 12, 2009, 01:34 PM
Well, your deer is coyote dinner by now. You where too close to that deer for the caliber/ bullet you where using. Im guessin you where after antlers. At that range, I would have clocked him in the eye. No need to track. Sorry to hear of your loss.

January 12, 2009, 03:38 PM

Not sure we can do that for you.

I can't tell by your first post how exactlly you you went about everything after the shot. Maybe if you could spell that out...

January 12, 2009, 05:37 PM
Hey Cracker31,where are you? Give us an update and some more info. Your probably right Armedtotheteeth. Head,kneck or shoulder shot at that range. If shot was broadside hitting no bone, probably no exspansion at all. 30 cal. hole straight through. If thats the case you wouldn`t get bleeding compared to an exiting expanded bullet or a broadhead. Deers innards can plug small holes off and stop external bleeding. If shoulder would have been hit at that range don`t think any trailing would have come into play. If that was lung tissue deers out there. As Globemaster said maybe in waterhole. You might go to place where shot and tie a marker up high,walk to where last known bloodspot is at and go 50yds or so past spot. Fan out and start circling around spot where you shot him checking all thickets,downfalls and ditchs.

January 12, 2009, 06:09 PM
this buck was shot in SW GA, in a creek bottom. After the shot he ran into the creek directly behind me and stopped approx. 25yds away. I thought he was down because I never heard any crashing or splashing and this place is thick and wet. We trailed the first 200yds that evening and lost blood trail in the water. came back the next day, picked it up on the other side going up hill into thinner brush (who'd have thought that). the trail peter'd out on a deer hwy, we searched another 200-300yds in all directions and came up with nothing.
Guys, this ain't my first rodeo. With the exception of not waiting (i've been spoiled by longer shots and ballistic tips), we did everything right. Any chance a deer w/ a low lung shot can survive, I've been told by some that it is very possible others disagree.
When I hunt that stand next season, I will be carrying either a 12ga or a 44 mag. Lesson learned.

Brian Pfleuger
January 12, 2009, 06:47 PM
Any chance a deer w/ a low lung shot can survive, I've been told by some that it is very possible others disagree.

If it's both lungs, no, not a chance. If it's one, maybe, highly unlikely but maybe.

I will be carrying either a 12ga...

150 yards or less, I wouldn't carry anything else if I could. I like 74 caliber holes. Even with sabots you get a guarantee of .54.

January 12, 2009, 06:59 PM
It's OK cracker.
It is part of hunting. We all have those experiences. Many, including myself, don't like to discuss it.

Just know you did your best before, during, and after the shot.

Try and pick out how you could have done something wrong.
My best guess is too much speed with the wrong bullet. It passed thru the animal too fast to fully expand. Thus resulting in a 'poked' animal.
ATTT is a fan of meat, as am I. Rack size on deer have little to do with our hunting trips.
We are also big fans of ballistic tips, made by Hornady. Yes, they explode. No they don't explode on impact like other BT's. Hornady V-Max's explode post impact, ie: .308 cal, 110 gr, explode after the first two to three inches of penetration.
Had you used one of those, the deer would have toppled over DRT. It would have also ruined both shoulders and portions of the backstrap.
That's why we wait for the perfect head shot; looking away.
I suppose a decent area to shoot with that bullet, and still have the rack, is the neck about 4 inches under/behind the jaw.
As a last resort, use it with a chest shot.

I feel your pain. Just try and learn from it.
Oh, and thanks for sharing your learning experience.

January 13, 2009, 05:53 AM
15 yds w/ a 30-06.

When I hunt that stand next season, I will be carrying either a 12ga or a 44 mag. Lesson learned.

I won't tell you what to use next year, but it wasn't the fault of a 30-06 that you didn't find the deer.

You made a bad shot, and that's the only reason that you didn't find it.

Back in the early/mid 1990's, I re-took a firearms safety course here in Arizona so that I could get the extra bonus point in the big game drawings (I'd taken it back in January of 1979, but the G&F dept only offered the bonus point if you'd taken it since 1980).

Anyway, they did some demonstrations at the range as part of the course. One of the demonstrations involved shooting a grapefruit at about 15 yards with a 30-06.

I've no doubt that the instructor knew how to shoot, but he flat out missed that grapefruit, using a scope...several times. He didn't compensate correctly for his rifle hitting an inch and a half or so low at that range, and was shooting under the grapefruit.

You stated low lung; I'm betting brisket. You might have clipped one lung, but you didn't hit the deer right. If you had, you'd have found it.

Use whatever you're comfortable with next season, but don't blame the 30-06 for a lost deer.


January 13, 2009, 06:32 PM
strange things can happen shooting animals. strange things can happen with bullets. Some animals bang-flop, some seem to be made of steel. I've had ballistic tips act like barnes-x and the opposite with the barnes. you never can tell, all you can do is your best with the shot and the tracking.

January 13, 2009, 06:47 PM
I lost a good buck six years ago. I know where I was aiming , but I don't know where the bullet actually hit. If you don't find the deer you will never know the story, but you can bet you made a bad shot.

January 14, 2009, 05:54 PM
Thanks for all of the input. As with everything else, opinions vary. I guess I'll never know what exactly happened, but I will say this I have never been more sure of a shot that I have taken in my life. When this buck came out I had the fever something fierce but I had time to recover and I locked those crosshairs on him. The rifle was shot before and after and groups are sub MOA @ 100yds. I am a better than average shot, I know this because I do it frequently and practice off hand as well as from a rest. There was a good sized piece of lung in the blood trail, which means I hit vitals. Even with a low one lung shot the deer should have been within 200 yds of where we lost the trail. I'll just have to hope that by some off chance he lived and try again next season. thanks again.

January 14, 2009, 09:48 PM
I've had a bullet not expand at close range, about 20yds in my case. The exit looks the same size as the entry wound and there wasn't a lot of blood. Luckily I only had to go 100yds or so before I found it.

Sometimes stuff happens and you lose the deer. You might want to go back and look around at the place you lost it. In an earlier thread a guy did that, found the deer and donated it to a wild animal park.

January 15, 2009, 08:35 AM
I never saw you answer the question about how long you waited before you began to track this Buck? I would be curious to know how soon you got down and began to track this buck after shooting it?

I have been hunting for about 25 years and I have only seen two bucks that ran as far as the one you are talking about here and both times the shot ended up not being a good one and we started tracking them to early and they both got up and ran. If we had been more patient we would have found them within 100 yards of where they were hit. In fact of all the deer I have taken only one ran more than a 100 yards.

So again...how long did you wait before you started tracking this buck?

If you did not wait a while perhaps this will be considered in the future. It is ALWAYS a good idea to wait a little while before tracking a deer. If you hit it good it will still be there...if you shot was not good then you have a much better chance of finding it if you will wait a while. There is always circumstances that impact the decision to wait or not to wait but if you have ANY doubt you need to wait!

January 15, 2009, 09:47 AM
Hey I just saw where you stated you did everything right except for waiting a while. That in and of itself could be the issue here...

I know that although I have never had an issue where I shot at a deer and KNEW I hit it lost the animal. A buddy of mine has lost two this way. I also saw where you say you are a good shot...I do not think anyone on here has actually questioned this. My buddy is a better shot than I am, I am not a bad shot though :), so I would tell you this can happen to anyone.

I shot my buck this year and it was the fourth animal I had shot this season, 2 hogs and a doe before him, and the others had all dropped in their tracks. This one though ran about 60-70 yards. The first thing that went through my mind was...did I miss? NO! was the answer. He then turned and ran back in front of me and the whole right side was covered in blood. I knew then he was not going to run far. I gave him about ten minutes and then went and found him. So unless you KNOW you made a good heart lung shot and saw where he went down I would always tell you to wait a minimum of 30 minutes and perhaps even longer. If it is getting dark and the animal ran quite a ways I would try to find blood at the place I shot him and mark it and then come back later.

January 15, 2009, 10:11 AM
just went thru the same exact thing myself this past season.... shot a huge doe...only deer i seen that day... at 12 yards ... hit only 1/2 inch up on the lung area with howa1500 .06 150 grain... should have head shot it.... ended up tracking it down but ran me 3/4 mile up the holler for i got it back.... made the long drag home even longer...

January 15, 2009, 07:02 PM
i dont no exactly what happened, but im going to go with daryl opinon it makes since if you compensate to little or too much at that distance is critical. ur a good shat at 100 yards that fantastic, but thats what tour scope is also sighted in for. so you could have also hit it high or completly missed at that range. i haven't shot guns very much i just got my shot gun license, but its what makes since to me it kind of like shooting at a deer with your 30 yard pin when its only 5 yard away. i men i understand an arrow travels many light years slower but it seem possible. just gotta pray u get a second chance and when you do keep every thing every body said in your mind. see what happens when you shot your target at close range compared to 100 yards and please get back to me on that i would like to no.

January 17, 2009, 03:10 PM
I shot a tough deer once deering bow season.Hit one lung and found part of lungs like you said, during the begining of the hit.Tons of blood,then slowed down and lost trail.If you back track, make cirlcles look on you hands and knees where it turned off,you should find it?The deer don't sound like it made it,if you found a piece of lung like that.Sounds like you might have pushed it?If your finding good blood and you know your close?Back off,it's hard to do?But it is the number one mistake people make when tracking deer.Let them have time to bleed and die.Even if I know, I made a perfect shot I will still wait a GOOD 15min before I get off my stand.

January 17, 2009, 03:38 PM
when you shot your target at close range compared to 100 yards and please get back to me on that i would like to no.

It'll hit about 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" low at 25 yards if your scope is mounted with average high rings. More if it's mounted with high "see through" rings.

I've known some shooters who tried to compansate by holding low, thinking that their bullet would be high, and it can really throw a shot off target.

I don't know what happened either; it's just a guess. The OP stated a low chest shot, and it was likely lower than he figured on.

It's an easy mistake to make.


January 17, 2009, 05:45 PM
I feel for you. I have never lost a Buck but came close one time. I tracked a big 6 point for over two hours and luck ended the chase, when I cornered it near a fence. He was too weak to jump over the fence and one shot from my Model 70 30.06 put it down hard. I had shot it in the neck (a glancing shot) the first time and couldn't believe a deer could bleed as much as it did and still be on its feet. .

January 21, 2009, 08:12 PM
I feel your pain. Shot my first antlered buck this year with my compound bow at last light, 23 minutes after sunset (we have a very limited gun season in Delaware) . Found it around 1030 pm, on the ground, but not dead.

That yearling got up, charged at me, wheeled around and ran off with tail up. It had a good foot of arrow in him with a razor sharp broadhead in him. Bright red blood coming out of his mouth leaving a trail that was not hard to find or follow in the dark, apparent lungshot broadside.

More experienced hunters have told me that it is a sad truth that these things happen, to take this experience and learn from it. Which is why I am so fond of our shotgun season.

The button buck I put a remington sabot in dropped in his tracks. Not a big deer but exquisite table fare.

Bottom line, accept it after you have done your best ( I looked for a week), and use the experience to make your next shot even more carefully placed. We owe it to ourselves and the animal. I know that the next time I loose an arrow I will be sure beyond any doubt that I will hit both lungs.

James R. Burke
February 23, 2009, 12:45 PM
I think Fisherman66 is right. A good lung shot maybe 100 yards. Probably to close, and a little off. I no it is a bummer, but it does happen to most of us sooner or later. I am sure you will replay it in your head for the rest of your life. My wifes first year hunting she thought she missed the buck she shot at. It was with a few other deer, and she just watched were they all ran. I started making circles, and increasing the size of them were she shot at the deer. Found the buck about 35 yards in the opposite direction she tought it went. Sorry about your deer sounded like a nice one.

February 23, 2009, 09:30 PM
Unfortunately, it happens. If I had to guess, you 1 lunged it.

February 23, 2009, 09:56 PM
Too bad to hear about your buck.
You probably walked right past him. It happens in the thick stuff. Stick with the .30-06, it's a good deer caliber.

March 8, 2009, 09:32 AM
Sorry you didn't find your deer. I have been there many times and learned that diligence and hard work DO pay off ...sometimes.

Since early in the Summer, I have several trail cam pictures of the buck known as the "Swamp Buck". I could tell from the pictures over the course of several months. That he was on old deer, that was past his prime, but, a dandy none the less. He never showed himself during hunting hours but would frequent the area. I shot a decent buck the first week of November with a second tag. So, I was pretty content with harvesting one of the big bucks with archery equipment.

The days went past without the sightings of any of the three big ones that I knew of. The rut was a running a little late this year and was pretty mild compared to most other years. I first caught a glimpse of him on November 25th. He was a brief visitor to one of my rattling sequences but never offered me with a shot. He vanished as fast as he came in. I could do nothing but watch.

On Thanksgiving morning, He came in to check some does that were hanging out under my tree stand. I came to full draw and had him broadside at 22 yards. I released the arrow which went into slow motion. I watched as the arrow landed high and back of where I would have liked for it to went. I knew then, I had made a bad shot. I sat for over an hour in my stand trying to relive what just happened.

We left him for several hours before beginning to track him. I recruited some help of a couple buddies and we started tracking him. We had gone close to a mile with fair to good blood. We went, as far as where, he had bedded down. He had since gotten up and was on the move again. We lost our blood trail and decided the best would be to let him go until morning.

I continued to look myself on Friday. I caught up on some new blood. I instantly called upon my buddy to help. We spent the rest of the day on our hands and knees thru briar thickets, trying to put the pieces together. We attemped to stay on blood until it was too dark to see anymore.

Saturday brought 2" of new snow fall which pretty much whiped out any hopes of finding new blood or him for that matter. I spent the day in the woods looking for coyotes or magpies, In hopes that they would take me to my buck. We had lost any hope of trailing him with the snow on the ground.

On Sunday, I called up a couple of my other buddies, to continue the search. I had done some online research, made some google earth maps of the area, and found the owner of the piece of ground. We had a good feeling about he might have headed into. I gained permission and we could not find him anywhere. So we resorted to making circles checking every brush pile or cattail slough as best we could. Sunday evening came and we had all but given up. I had counted on him being dead somewhere and I would always have too wonder where he was? Is he alive or dead?

I made it out to my treestand about 2:45 pm on the 27th of December. I settled in with my 35 Remington lever action across my lap. I wanted to do take a nice one with my bow but had given up on that also.Season was winding down and I made a compramise with myself. I said "I will not shoot one past 40 yards".

I began to see some does heading my way out of the bedding area, to the north. As 10-12 does walked under my stand, I noticed some more coming. Along with them was a buck that I knew instantly when I saw his horns. It was the buck that I had hit with my bow. I wasn't sure until I saw the tuft of hair where the arrow had entered. I was relieved just to see him alive and well. He was acting like a normal buck would with no apperant injuries. There was another much bigger buck with him that was a true shooter! But wanted to fininsh the deal, I started almost a month ago to the day.

It took nearly an hour for him to make it down to my stand. He came within the 40 yards limit that I had put on myself. A doe and a fawn were under my stand, which, kept his attention. I raised my rifle and pulled back the hammer. He knew something was up and froze. I held the crosshairs on his shoulder. At the report of the rifle he nearly fell but kept his feet. I said" Ohhh no... NOT AGAIN!. He went a mere 50 yards before he fell. Even with a pefect shot, the big ol' ugly buck was still a pretty tough customer.

I gave him a few mintues to expire and went to retrieve him. The Saga of the "swamp buck" was laying at my feet. All the history and the worries were there with him. He was not as big as I what I could recall on the morning of Thanksgiving. But it was my buck just the same.

I am excited to put another good buck above the fire place. But, this one will hold something special. He tried he hardest, and I can rest knowing, I tried my hardest as well. He is at home where he should have been a month ago, if I would have done my job correctly. I guess, if nothing else, it shows that being relentlous pays off.

The Swampy Buck aka "Swampy"



Enterance hole complete with shaved hair...

The exit hole... (shooting an Grim Reaper Razorcut)

The holes were both scabbed over and appeared to be healing nicely.

Trail camera pics of "Swampy"...



It amazing to see just how hard a rut is on an ugly old whitetail buck. If you look at his trail cam pictures compared to the pictures from tonight. You can see how broken up his G3's are. Both are broken off nearly in half, from the end of September.

Hope you enjoy...

March 8, 2009, 10:31 AM
PredatorHunter, thats a nice buck for sure. Sometimes things work out for best and its great that you got that buck. Deer can be tough and have a strong will to live. I don't like those long tracking events but sooner or later its going to happen. The main thing I learned years ago was to never give up and to search hard for even the smallest drops of blood.