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Tracking a deer after the shot


Dinorocks

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Thanks for looking!  I’m going to be helping teach a Hunter safety class this weekend…like the previous time, I will be explaining how to track a deer following a shot.  And like last time, I will be mixing up some fake blood, both bright and frothy and dark, and using it to make trails through the woods for the students to follow…I’ll be explaining tracking points along the way.  Last season I collected a bunch of deer hair from various parts of the animal to put out at the spot where the “deer” was shot for the students to use as aids in determining where the “deer” was hit.  I like to think I’m a successful tracker but I would greatly appreciate to hear a few tips from fellow hunters that I could share with the students.

Thanks in advance!!

Dino

 

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I’ll assume you’re teaching archers and firearms hunters.   
 

The reaction of the animal at the shot is very important to note as well as direction of travel.  Listening intently is important too, high fives and whooping aren’t necessarily the best thing after the shot.  
 

Texting the forum right away is frowned on by some and lauded by others.    I’m in the frowning camp……

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I like to use smaller pieces of tissue or paper towels to mark blood trails unless it’s raining/snowing hard.  They show up well at night and in the unlikely event you don’t make it back to get them all, Mother Nature will clean things up.     Surveyor tape works fine too but last much much longer.    

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My son and I have tracked quite a few over the years and one thing to have advised him to do is after the shot Gun / Bow stop ... stand still do not move for 10 or 15 minutes ! We have lost more than one (sadly) because he was too anxious and pushed the Deer lots farther than one would think ! Patience my boy Patience !

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I'll never forget my hunter safety course. They instructor did two different blood trails.  One that a blind person could follow, then another that was sparse, with at one spot backtracking, and then leaping over a blow down too the left. 

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Whenever teaching a newbie about blood tracking, I tell them to pay close attention to where the deer was standing at the shot as well as landmarks in whichever direction the deer ran after the shot. I always carry surveyor tape for my job, so I use that and go back after recovery to remove it. 
 

I also tell them to be prepared to get on hands and knees if the blood trail is faint. And always look back at your pieces of tape because they show which direction the deer is headed. 

"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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Tree guy is very good at tracking ! When Moog came down one night a few years back to help me , we were in phone conversation with him lol .

One needs to move slow and look look look before taking the next step !

After an iffy shot ,leave and come back , Moog didn’t want me to wait till the next morning due to the shear number of coyotes at my spot ,and he came with me that night .

Sometimes If you know the land well ,and have experience with deer and their behavior you can jump,ahead after you loose the track .

My Beagle has helped me and others a couple of times , I miss that nut !

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Edited by Nomad
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I agree with Bucksnbows about the importance of picking landmarks along the deer's travel path.  It all looks different when you are on the ground vs in a tree stand.  Also, be prepared with GOOD lights for evening hunts.  At the very least a powerful light (I use a smallish rechargable spotlight that allows me to see over a hundred feet), a good headlamp (takes up little room and very helpful for field dressing) and a good flashlight (not a cheapie) for a backup.  Also a compass and cell phone will make you more comfortable if in the woods alone at night.  I keep much of this and a drag harness in a separate pack back in my truck, I call it my "Find a deer" pack.

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Threads like this can be very informative to especially newer hunters.  Not all “lost” deer run hundreds of yards or more. Sometimes they die within sight but hunters don’t see a lot of blood and wander off in the direction they saw the deer head off to. Here’s one of those times. A buddy made a good shot with a Muzzy 3 blade fixed head. I shoot the same heads myself. His arrow hit the off shoulder and remained in the buck, so not a lot of blood. He had looked for two hours before putting out a text for help. I was there in half an hour. I asked him a lot of questions knowing he’s a good shot. Everything he told me said “dead deer”. I had him walk me to the site where he shot it and I found only a few small drops of blood, but it was lung blood. 
 

My buddy kept wandering off in the direction he saw it head while I carefully marked each drop of blood. I only went 30 yards max when the blood stopped, so I got down on my knees and looked hard for another drop of blood when I smelled a buck in rut.  There he was, dead under briars within 40 yards of the stand. 
 

And because Mike forgot his tag and his JetSled back at his truck, I had to hang the “jumblies” from a branch for Mike to see when he got back. What are friends for?

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"A sinking fly is closer to Hell" - Anonymous 

 

https://www.troutscapes.com

https://nativefishcoalition.org/national-board

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The most important lesson that I ever learned about deer recovery, after the hit , is that all living things (right down to a sparrow) end up exactly where Jesus Christ wants them to go. 
 

Here is one “not so secret” weapon, that I rarely hunt without, and that has helped me with more than  a few recoveries:

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A few other little tips that I have learned over 40 some years of deer hunting are:

1.) Never approach a downed deer without a weapon that is loaded, and never bring out your knife until you stick the muzzle of your gun (or a knocked arrow) into its eye, and it does not blink. 
-this one I was fortunate enough to learn from others, and not “the hard way”.  My uncle, who was with me when I killed my first deer, lost “the biggest buck that he ever seen”, when he broke out his knife too early.  

Just a few years ago, a buddy knocked down a decent buck, with a high back hit, using his 12 gauge slug gun. As he was texting me “got one down”, it got up and ran off, never to be seen again.  If only he had used his trigger finger where it belonged, rather than on his cell phone, that story would have ended better.  
 

When a deer drops in sight, it’s best to keep your weapon pointed at it, for at least a minute or two, before getting down and/or texting a friend.  A little lost meat from a follow up shot is a lot better than a whole lost deer.  
 

As far as the follow up shots go, if I get a chance for one, I’ll usually take it.  We all owe it to the animal, to do our best to make the first shot count.  Almost anything goes after that, as long as it’s safe.

 

 When you are hunting from an elevated position, most shots are safe, because the ground will act as a backstop (assuming you are on relatively level ground).  Once again, a little wasted meat from a follow up shot is infinitely  better than a whole lost animal.  
 

2) Don’t overestimate the ability of fresh powdery snow to show blood and indicate a hit.  Unfortunately, this was one I did learn the hard way, and that helped a decent buck go to the coyotes and crows, rather than “deer heaven” (mandkind’s food supply).  
 

Hot blood cuts through powdery snow like a hot knife through butter, and can leave no visible trace on top.  The only sure-fire way to prove a miss, on a deer, is to count the holes during an autopsy.  

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