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Old October 11, 2012, 03:47 PM   #1
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Have you ever shot & lost big game animal?

I saw a thread on this forum about tracking wounded game.

So it got me thinking, so I'll pose this question:

Have you ever shot & lost a big game animal?

I done it twice I am sorry to say; once a whitetail was quartering away from me and my shot was off (way off) and luckly it only grazed the shoulder.
(I saw it a short time later on a hillside about 500 yards away and was able to see the deer clearly). I wasn't happy but at least (i hoped) it recovered.

The other was a decent-sized buck that I didn't take my time (too sure of myself) and shot was low and it broke it's left front shoulder. I searched all day and part of the next day but no luck. Needless to say it both of them put a damper on each season.That was many-many years ago and I still get upset over it, actually both of them - since both of them could have been avoided.

Since then I've passed up several shots because I just didn't feel right about the shot.

Sooo what about you - What say you?
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Old October 11, 2012, 04:47 PM   #2
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Have you ever shot & lost a big game animal?
Yep, dropped a nice buck, went to the truck to get a knife, got back 3 guys had loadedd it up and Isaw their truck off in the distance.... had my tag in its mouth....
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Old October 11, 2012, 06:28 PM   #3
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Nope. I've never lost nor has any one that I've hunted with although sooner or later it will happen.
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Old October 11, 2012, 06:36 PM   #4
Brian Pfleuger
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I've lost a few, mostly "gimme" shots that I could never explain what went wrong.

One time, I was sitting in a large pine tree using a Rem 870 12ga with Winchester Super-X 2-3/4 slugs. I had a small-ish buck and a large doe walk directly under the tree. I took the shot on the buck, straight down, aiming for the heart, having made similar shots several times before. He dropped like a stone and the doe ran about 30 yards up hill and stopped broadside. I put the crosshairs on the center of her vitals and fired. She blaated, took a few stumbling steps sideways and tipped over in the brush, out of sight.

I looked down and the buck was gone. I climbed down and looked around for a minute or two but found no sign at all so I figured I'd go get the doe and look for him when my father came down the hill.

I went up to where the doe was and she was GONE. I managed to find a few drops of blood and followed her trail about 100 yards, my dad was there by then and neither of us could find any more sign. We circled through every inch of woods we could access, which was a good 300 yards in every direction and never found another sign.

Back to the buck, we looked for a solid hour and never found a SINGLE drop of blood or any indication of which direction he might have even gone. We circled around in that general area too, as he had been facing the opposite direction of the doe when I shot, but never found a thing.

Another time, I was in a blind watching a doe at about 40 yards, same 12ga, several years later. After watching her for awhile (I wasn't going to shoot, hoping for a buck) I decided to take her. I was sitting in a chair, left elbow on my knee, scope on 5x, centered on her vitals. At the shot, she turned and ran straight away from me. About 30 yards from the shot, we found a few drops of blood and a bone chip. Looked like rib, but hard to tell, it was finger-nail sized. Never found another sign, with 3 guys searching for quite awhile.

Last year, bow hunting from a blind. Doe at 15 yards, broadside. I shot, she turned and ran, unfortunately directly to property about 125 yards away that is a RABIDLY anti-hunting area. I'm sure that deer died, but I obviously never found her.

Also last year, rushed a shot (bow) on a nice buck that I estimated was 35 yards and turned out to be about 25, grazed his back. Got lucky though, and shot him again two weeks later from the same tree, he only went 50 yards that time.

Probably 10 years ago, sitting in the same tree with the same gun as in the first account above, I had a BIG buck at 75 yards, quartering slightly toward me. It felt like a good shot, no reason I couldn't make it, had a decent rest with my elbow on my knee and I've made much harder shots with no trouble. There was snow on the ground so following him was fairly easy, at least some of the time. The first trace of blood was over 100 yards from where he stood at the shot and I followed him for nearly a mile back and forth through a hemlock stand before I lost the trail. No idea why he didn't drop inside 100 yards.

I suppose that's the worst thing about losing one. The shots where you MOST want to know what happened are, obviously, the ones where you never will know.

These sound like a lot, I suppose, but I have killed several dozen deer, so the loss rate is roughly 5-8%. From other hunters I've known, hunted and talked with, that is a very common rate, at least when you're forced to hunt with shotguns.
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Old October 11, 2012, 07:00 PM   #5
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Only lost two in over 10 years of hunting but it tears me up to think about each to this day. 1st was about 5 yrs ago during bow season.(my first year hunting with a bow). I arrowed a nice doe that took off into some thick brush not far from my stand. Unfortunately my shot was a little to the rear and I believe I only had a liver shot. However being a bow rookie I did not allow enough time to pass and only 5 min later went after the deer. About 50 yards away from where she had been for the shot I jumped her out of her bed and after seaching for over 5 hours and following a scarce blood trail for about 400 yards the sign simply stopped.

Next was just last year when I hit a big doe during our shotgun season. She dropped in her tracks, however moments later got back up and disappeared through a field onto posted property. I contacted.the land owner but was refused permission to go get my deer. Low and behold two hours after contacting said owner while sitting in the same stand I watched him walk his property line until he picked up that deers blood trail and disappeared. Makes me sick and ticks me off just to think bout it.
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Old October 11, 2012, 07:01 PM   #6
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I was once hunting an area in eastern Oregon Called Owyhee. The area was near a huge canyon. I was hunting Antelope. Long story short, I shot the animal and it ran about 40 yards to the canyon and plunged about 200 feet down and landed in the river and was never seen again.

I think its pretty safe to assume it did not make it.

here is a picture of what the terrain looks like.

now think about hunting near the tops of those cliffs and the animal jumping off... no way your going to track it in any timely manor, even less when it lands in the river and floats down stream. The area we where hunting was more narrow, the river was more shallow but moving pretty fast.
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Old October 11, 2012, 09:36 PM   #7
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Yeah, with a 30-40 Krag. It looked like a hard hit the way it reacted. I may have been able to shoot again, but did not bother. It threw blood like crazy. It crossed a creek twice (Doubled back) and the blood was less and less. It was really windy and I had to find sticks with blood on because the leaves were blowing away. The creek was really running hard and I screwed around finding a log to cross. After 4 hours I gave up. That bothers me to this day. The only thing I can figure is that it fell in the creek and was swept under a log jam.
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Old October 11, 2012, 09:45 PM   #8
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Yes, I have lost three deer. Two with a bow and one with a shot gun. They all make me sick to this day. Luckily I have learned from each scenario. The craziest one was 4 years ago bow hunting. Had three bucks walk past all with hair bristled up and acting tough. The first two were six points, the third a dandy eight point. Made the shot on the eight point at 15 yards. Hit one lung I assume because of angle. He ran about 50 yards and stopped. There he hunched up and began to wheeze and cough. After about a minute he went down. All of a sudden the two six points came charging back and attacked him. That's when he got back up and started to fight. He somehow ran off the smaller bucks and followed them. It was a total blood bath from the shot to the fight, from there not another speck of blood. We tracked all that night and during daylight the following two days and never found a clue. This was the day I decided to train a dog to track. Luckily with better shot placement I haven't had to use her yet. I still think about what I could have done differently and it makes me sick. So ya I know the feeling.
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Old October 11, 2012, 10:03 PM   #9
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Yeah, I've lost one. Posted the story here many years ago ...

Lost another I shot with a Ruger Super Redhawk near the end of shooting hours. Knocked him down, but he got up and ran. It started to snow ... heavily ... and I completely lost the blood trail and then his tracks in less than 100 yards. Did the whole grid search, but never recovered him.
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Old October 11, 2012, 11:27 PM   #10
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yeah, but not proud of it

I'm ashamed to even admit it.

I'll take this as an opportunity to print this comment. Few things gall me more than to hear some loon in a boastful tone, in some largely public place, spout "yeah, I stuck one", or "I knocked one down but couldn't find it".

Sort of like,......................"Well, I'm at least a good enough hunter to get a shot, aren't you proud of me?" Losing a deer is one of the WORST things than can happen on a hunt. I'd rather miss clean. I'd rather not shoot than miss. But some guys must not think that way. This same bunch seems prone to blame their gear. "Darn broadhead", or "I'm getting a magnum for next season".

We can tell these stories amongst ourselves, but always with the thought that we should do all we can to learn from them, avoid them and recover the animal.
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Old October 12, 2012, 04:12 AM   #11
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One that I can think of, with a bow. I was a rookie and hit the chest just forward of the shoulder and got little penetration. Lost the trail and only discovered it days later when the buzzards showed me where it was. Never have bow hunted again.

I'll take this as an opportunity to print this comment. Few things gall me more than to hear some loon in a boastful tone, in some largely public place, spout "yeah, I stuck one", or "I knocked one down but couldn't find it".
Dialogue goes something like this:

"Shot 'im right through the heart I did. Never did find 'im. I'll tell you right now boys, damned .308 ain't no good for deer. Gonna get me one o' them big Ultry Mags for next year. Knock 'em plumb into next week with one of them thangs."

Yep, sure will Bubba. Only problem is you can't hit a bull in the butt with a bass fiddle.

So Bubba goes and buys something that has even more recoil and muzzle blast than the rifle he can't hit with in the first place, so it just gets worse.
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:31 AM   #12
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Most of my deer have been killed with my .45 cal. flintlock rifle and round ball. I have lost one. Hit him clean (I thought), he ran in an arc around me and along a hillside then I lost sight of him. My wife came by and we scoured the area, up and down, cross ways, etc. Never found him. Two weeks later during the modern gun season I was walking that same hillside and found the carcass. Cannot imagine how we overlooked it, must have walked no more than 2 - 3 feet past it several times. He ran a total of less than 100 yards. I have always felt bad about that.
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Old October 12, 2012, 09:08 AM   #13
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I almost did once. I had a cow elk lined up at about 300 yards. I was using a .308. I shot, aiming for the head. The rifle went off, and she just stood there. The rest of the elk looked agitated. I shot again...and again...and again...and again....and you get the picture. Luckily I shot until she was down. I thought I'd been missing. It turns out, the first shot connected about 1" right of where it should have, under the eye. I imagine she would have been able to take off after recovering being stunned. I ended up connecting 5 times on her. She eventually toppled. You would have thought it was a foam archery target, though. No reaction to the impact. That got me second guessing the .308 for elk for a couple years, but really, if I hadn't tried the stupid fancy head shot, and simply gone for the lungs as I usually do, it would have put her down faster.

I've come across more than one kill that was obviously a bad shot and was bloated and spoiled by the time we got there. Sometimes it happens. It's not pretty, and nobody likes it, but it does happen. I hate the idea of losing an animal.

Last edited by chewie146; October 12, 2012 at 09:16 AM.
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Old October 12, 2012, 09:34 AM   #14
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I did lose a deer once. The only white tail I have ever shot.

We were horseback on a local mountain that is known to hold large Muleys when two very nice white tail bucks jump from the sage and begin running up the hill.

I bail off the horse, pull my .300 Win Mag from the scabbard, take aim squeeze, and the larger deer falls! Yeah! My first WT deer, and it is a nice one!

As I unload my rifle, and start to put it back in the scabbard, the deer begins sliding down the hill (very steep) head first. As I am getting back on the horse, the deer's antlers catch on a sagebrush, flip it around, and the deer jumps to it's feet and runs over the ridge!

I am dumbfounded! My friend and I race the horses to the spot where the buck went down. We find lots of blood and some hair were it had been sliding down the hill. We reached the top of the ridge just in time to see the buck jumping a fence on the next ridge over.

We trailed that deer for the next 4 hrs until it got dark. We came back the next morning and tracked it another two miles till it crossed onto a ranch we did not have permission to trespass on and we had to give up!

I was sick. I have never had a shot at another WT since. Those are some tough animals!

P.S. The rancher that had his land closed later told me he found a large WT dead in his hay medow the next spring. COuld it have been my buck?
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Old October 12, 2012, 11:22 AM   #15
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Yes, I've lost one deer in 25 years of hunting. Had a few more that were very difficult to find but eventually we did. The one that I did lose was sort of freakish in that the bullet (Nosler BT 165grn) failed to expand. It entered between two ribs and exited between two ribs punching a .308 caliber hole through. The deer ran off into some planted pines and down into a swamp. The blood trail was very slight and when it hit the water and bog area, became non existent. Eventually we found him a couple of days later laid up in a small copse of brush on a rise in the swamp about 600yds from where he was shot.

Made me sick to think about it, still does. Its the main reason I spend so much time at the range and making sure my guns shoot tiny groups. I take the high shoulder shot whenever possible because I have never had one run anywhere after both shoulder were broken and the spine wrecked.

It does happen but as sportsmen we owe it to our quarry to do everything we can to make preparations for a clean kill and recovery.

Wait, do pigs count? We don't recognize them as game around here, more as vermin to be eradicated at any turn. I'd shoot a pig in the butt with a pellet rifle if I thought it would get gangrene and die.
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Old October 12, 2012, 03:17 PM   #16
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In almost 45 years of hunting......bows, pistols, rifles.......yes.....lost a few.

More when I was younger, and most of them with the sharp sticks. Always feel sick about it. On a number of occasions have gone back the next day.....couple of times finding usable animals, couple of times nothing and once a nice buck that I must of walked by in the dark at least 2-3 times and never saw.

Lately.......last 20 years or so........only a couple......that buck included.

I count hogs, mainly because I feel responsible if I shot it.
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Old October 12, 2012, 04:03 PM   #17
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These sound like a lot, I suppose, but I have killed several dozen deer, so the loss rate is roughly 5-8%. From other hunters I've known, hunted and talked with, that is a very common rate

I've been blessed to hunt deer(both gun and bow) for almost half a century in a state with good deer numbers and liberal tags and seasons. Over those years, I also have had the privilege to hunt with many family members and good friends. I agree, Brian's percentage of losing 1 outta 20 seems to be a good guesstimate on average. While losing any deer to scavengers and the thought of any animal having to suffer longer than necessary should always be avoided if possible, in reality, it does happen and happens more than most here seem to want to admit. In those 48 years I have either butchered and processed or helped in the processing of the majority of the animals I and/or my family members have harvested. I have seen many a strange thing done by bullets and arrows after they have entered a deer's body. I also know a deer's anatomy very well. All bad shots do not start out as bad shots. Not all poor shot placement is due to lack of skill or knowledge or apathy. Sometimes stuff just happens. Sometimes the bad shot isn't a mortal wound either. Had two bucks over the years during early bow seasons where the hits looked good, blood trail was heavy and still lost the bucks to coyotes, or so I thought. Only to harvest the same deer or know of someone else harvesting the animal during the later gun or bow seasons. Wounds were superficial and deer were perfectly normal except for some scar tissue. Over the years I have known folks that claim they have never lost an animal, only made one shot bang flop kills or clean misses. If the animal was never seen again, can one be absolutely certain the miss was clean? Coupla years ago I was in an elevated tree stand on the edge of a large swamp on public land. Hour after daylight another hunter comes and stands on the other side of the swamp. After watching a doe walk by I see the hunter raise his gun and fire as the doe starts across the swamp. Deer drops immediately. I assume since it is early opening day, he's gonna wait to dress the deer in hopes a buck will come by. Hour later another doe steps out on the same trail and the hunter shoots again. Again dropping the doe in her tracks. This time the hunter walks halfway to the dead deer, walks in circles looking down and then goes back to his original spot. Being somewhat curious as to what's going on and knowing my state regs, I climb down and walk over and ask why he has two deer on the ground and hasn't bothered to do anything with them. He gives me this surprised look and says he's missed them both. The look was repeated when I took him to the spot where both deer laid less than 20 yards apart. Thru his scope the deer looked closer than they were and even after making a good effort to find blood, he was looking in the wrong spot. Since he lost the deer in his scope due to recoil, he never saw them go down. He made two good shots, got two bang flops looked hard for blood, and still almost left two deer to go to waste. Had I not been there, he too may have thought he had never lost a wounded deer.
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Old October 12, 2012, 05:47 PM   #18
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A few, over the years. The majority the result of crossing "hostile" property lines or equipment failures (scope malfunction, bent broadhead, cheap clip-on shotgun sights when I was young and poor).

I've had a couple with archery that to this day I don't understand what went wrong. However one that was almost lost was a dandy 10-pt I shot right through the heart with a 3-blade broadhead. Not a drop of blood. We lucked out and found him almost 200 yards away. I have no idea how he ran that far, and didn't bleed a drop, with the exact impression of that broadhead square through his heart. That experience gave a bit of insight into the other cases. All 3 of the archery losses I can recall were in the same spot...they ran out into a tall grass field where a deer could be 4 feet from you and you'd never find it. In the woods, seems I can always find them if I look hard enough.

With a gun I can only think of one. Shot a doe twice with a shotgun from ~90 yards, she fell over. We were running a corn field, a couple $&#% road hunters stopped right by me on the road. They pulled up on her (planned to jump out and grab her right in front of me? I'll never know) at the sound of the engine she jumped up and took off, trailed her 3/4 mile until I lost the trail. I could see both holes in her through the guts, 2" apart. I took the gun back and sure enough, the cheap clip-on sights had gotten knocked off in the brush and I was shooting left. I saved my hay baling money the next year and bought a cheap ML, never lost a deer with a gun again.

One of the bucks on my wall I am proudest of was a miserable shot. He bolted right as the trigger broke, I hit him in the rear leg and found a big chunk of bone where I hit him. I let him lie as long as I could, then tracked him. Jumped him 20+ times over >3 miles, tiring him out. Luckily he kept on properties I could get permission. After 5 hours I caught up with him standing in a pond and took him down. I am so proud of him because I did NOT let him become one that crawled off to be lost, despite the bad shot (hunt long enough they happen).
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Old October 12, 2012, 05:59 PM   #19
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I'll take this as an opportunity to print this comment. Few things gall me more than to hear some loon in a boastful tone, in some largely public place, spout "yeah, I stuck one", or "I knocked one down but couldn't find it".
I have a co-worker that has that exact story at least 2-3 times a season. It makes me REALLY angry. Of course, it's always a good shot and never his fault that he couldn't find the animal.

Last time he brought it up, I told him "you either need to learn to shoot, learn to chose better opportunties, learn to track an animal, or quit friggin hunting."

I haven't lost a deer in 20+ years of hunting (yes, I know it may happen eventually) I take more pride in choosing my shots and never having an animal go more than 30 yards than I do in bagging trophies.
May I add that I am not bragging about my "hunting prowess," it's just that I am very choosy about my shots.

I've lost a few pheasants, grouse, and ducks; and it bothers to no end that I wasted the aminal.
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Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; October 12, 2012 at 06:33 PM.
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Old October 12, 2012, 06:25 PM   #20
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There's other ways to "lose" a deer.

Many years ago (I was 18 and I'm 65 now) a friend at work got me deer hunting. He loaned me his 30-30 Winchester and off we went. We were hunting the paper company land near Adams-Friendship, Wisconsin where there are miles of land and hundreds of hunters. I had the asian flu that week and was still recovering. I found a babbling brook with tamarac on the other side and a nice sloping grassy hill on my side to sit (and eventually sleep) on. I woke up hearing this crashing like a hunter going through the tamarac and out pops the biggest old swamp buck I've ever seen, 40 years broadside. He was a real wallhanger. Huge rack and had to go 200 or more lbs. field dressed.

I emptied that 30-30 into him, broadside at 40 yards and he never flinched! He just trotted up the hill. I went over and there was a nice, easy to follow blood trail so I tracked him 100 yards only to find him tagged by another hunter. And who was that hunter? The guy that got me started deer hunting and who I rode with. He argued that it was there for a long time and that I didn't shoot it. Well, it was tell him he was an ass and walk 50 miles home or just shut up. He knew it was my deer. He offered me some meat from it that I didn't accept. Glad I didn't because that deer was so old and had been rotting inside from a broadhead that the smell of the meat gagged you. I figured there IS a God.

So that's the only deer I've shot and lost. In a different sort of way.
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:19 PM   #21
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The one that almost got away.

One small doe in better than 1/2 century of my hunting deer. Remember as if it happened yesterday to me when I had color in my hair and a great set of eyes.
I was sitting in a tree platform stand 15 ft. off the ground with no wind on a cold Minnesota morning over looking an open 40 acre wild grass field. I had at that time a brand new Ruger model 77 in 243 with a 2-1/2 to 8 power Bushnell Scope Chief mounted. And a magazine full of 75 gr. H.Ps. After getting up into the stand and watching the field for maybe a half hour not a thing did I see that early morning. I heard something below me. I looked down below my stand and watched a red squirrel for a few seconds at most doing his early morning thing on the ground. And than back to the fields center area to re-concentrate on. Low and behold there stood a lone doe. She had to have been sleeping out there and just got up out of her bed maybe 175-200 yards away right in the middle of the field. The way she stood it appeared to be a near perfect broadside shot. " A piece of cake for me to make." I took careful aim and let that 243 bark on that very still morning. That doe jumped and hobbled directly away from me towards the woods line on three legs. Not wanting to blow up a ham or take out her loin area. I chose to get down and walked to my folks house to tell my folks about the good luck I had that morning.__ And have my dad help me find her. My father. He knew those woods where that doe headed into like the back of his hand. After a cup of tea and warmed up again. We both went looking for her. A couple freshly blood soaked beds and a full day of tracking (Nothing!!) Next morning early we pick up the chase again where we left off at. Again we broke off at noon to have lunch. 1:30 we were at it again following her thru swamps in and out of tight areas where a mosquito would have a hard time flying. We found that doe at 4:30 PM that second day. Gray Wolves (timbers) had gotten to her before we did.__ What we determined happened with all that was left of her. My shot hit her on her shoulder plate at an angle and just frankly blew up on it causing a big bleeding wound._ All that walking to give a deer to a pair of wolves taught me something that day. Be sure of your aim. And don't use a bullet designed for varmint taking for distant shots at Big Game animals. The following deer season I again had another new rifle something more appropriate. Remington Model 700-ADL in 270 Winchester mounted with that scope I dearly love 2-1/2 to 8- Bushnell Scope Chief. I haven't lost a deer since. Than again I haven't forgotten about the one I did lose. (Yet)
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:30 PM   #22
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i lost 1, well not actually lost more like stolen . shot a big doe during antlerless season shot it quartering away from me with a 150 grain 300 savage load .it ran down hill toward the road about 125 yards. my cousin saw three guys stop and throw the deer in the back of a Pennzoil truck . so the next year i bought a stopper rifle, Marlin 45/70 . never had a deer run after being hit with a 45//70.
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:34 PM   #23
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I've never lost a Deer. I was taught to only take the shot if you are sure that you can deliver a clean one shot kill. I hunted for 10 or 12 years before I connected. I seen plenty of Deer and Elk during that time but no good shots IMO. I've been told I could have hit that deer at 300 yds and only hesitated, but I hadn't practiced at that distance so couldn't reliably take the shot. I took ribbing for awhile and I am 2 for 2 now. Curiously, the guy that said I should've taken that long shot has lost 2 deer that I know of and who knows haw many others that he wont talk about? He doesn't rib me anymore.

I have lost some rabbits here and there.
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Old October 12, 2012, 09:14 PM   #24
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I lost one rag horn bull elk with a bow that I shot too far forward. Nerves got me, no point in sugar coating it. I lost one doe with a bow that I either shot too high or she sqautted when she heard the snap. And, I lost one good buck with a rifle that I am not sure where the bullet hit. The deer went down and was kicking dirt up in the air. But, it got up and ran in to a thick cut over. Left a few drops of blood and quit. I looked for that buck for three days. No luck. I haven't lost one lately, knock on wood.
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Old October 12, 2012, 09:33 PM   #25
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lost one. When I was very young. Bad hit on my part. was never able to find it. Since then, I have always taken my time when sighting.
No such thing as a stupid question. What is stupid is not asking it.
sc928porsche is offline  

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