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Tracking Wounded Deer


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#1 Spirithawk

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 05:16 PM

One of the other posts on this forum got me to thinking. Most of us know the importance of doing whatever it takes, within boundries of the law and common sense, to recover a wounded animal. I've seen people shoot at a deer and, upon seeing it run off, never even bother to walk over and look for signs of a hit. On the other hand, I've seen people get down on their hands and knees and spend hours upon hours looking for sign. We all know, sadly enough, that sometimes a wounded animal just can't be found and we have to chalk it up to exsperience and admit defeat. Sooo, I thought it might be worthwhile if we all posted some tips on at least putting the odds in our favor. Now most of you know what all I'm about to list but this is for that one poor person that may not know. First, I always try to take note of the animals reaction to my shot. That can tell you what to exspect. I take note of where the animal was standing when I fired my shot, go straight there and examine the sign. The color of hair and blood can tell you where you hit the animal. If I think it's an iffy shot I'll wait and give the animal time to lay down and stiffen up or exspire. Usually a deer hit in a front shouder will not want to travel down hill because that puts all it's weight on the injured leg. Just as a deer shot in the back leg won't wish to travel up hill. Two things a wounded animal will need are a place it feels safe to lay down and water so keep that in mind. If I find blood and the trail peters out I start walking in small circles gradually making the circles larger untill I find the next drop of blood. Also I mark each place I find blood. You can then look along the line of spots marked and get a good idea of direction the deer is headed and that gives you the clue of where the next sign should be found. I know this might sound crazy but, think like the deer. If you were wounded, which direction would you travel to, 1) get away fast, 2) find a safe place to hide and 3) be close to water. You should also keep in mind that sometimes, even though hit very hard, deer do not always leave a blood trail. Often they bleed out inside and fat plugs up the wound. Remember patience and persistence often pays off. I've found deer more than once after being ready to give up and that one last stuborn try paid off. Sooo guys, and gals,please add your tips to this post. We might just make the differance in someone finding what otherwise would be lost.

#2 Whitetiger

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 07:09 PM

Some things I learned from my experience recently was :

A gut shot deer seems to hunch up when it goes to run away. Ive never seen a deer Ive shot do that until my recent experience.

They might not go that far before bedding down after being gut shot, judging from where I found my first puddle. That is until you push it into the next county by not giving it enough time to expire.

Keep in mind which side you hit it on. My doe was hit on the right side and I didnt get a pass thru. This helped alot in tracking. It helped me find sign on lower branches I'd have missed while scanning the whole trail, especially when there was a fork in the trail.

Edited by Whitetiger, 12 October 2008 - 07:10 PM.


#3 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 12 October 2008 - 07:32 PM

I have always found that the less thinking I do and the more concentrating I do helps me to follow a trail better. Usually when a blood trail suddenly stops it means the deer made a turn. If the trail is fairly easy to follow I will usually leave a marker only every 15 or 20 yds. Most times I do not like to follow a trail by myself as I concentrate on a trail so much I may not know where I am. If I am by myself I dare not concentrate so hard and keep aware of where I am going. I am not as good a tracker/trailer as I used to be as my eyes mature I have a little harder time seeing blood. I like to follow a wounded deers trail even if I saw it go down as this is great education.
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#4 Spirithawk

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 11:08 AM

I'd like to add that often a steady trail indicates an animal that can, and may, travel some distance where as an iratic, weaving trail usualy ndicates an animal that is weak or dazed and not as likely to travel very far.

#5 Leo

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 12:05 PM

Let me reinforce one thing Spirithawk already mentioned.

MARK THE SPOTS YOU FIND BLOOD! This is critically important especially on sparse trails where you are going to have to backtrack. One of those little handy packs of Kleenex is useful for this. Just stick the Kleenex on a branch near the blood.

It's not all blood that helps you track. Don't overly fixate on blood. Animals leave other signs of a distressed departure. You'll do much better if you learn to recognize those signs. You often can identify fresh tracks on a blood trail. When you can't find blood, follow the tracks.
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#6 mudduck

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 04:16 PM

Everything I type here should be preceded by the word "Generally". Hard hit deer, sometimes even gut shot deer will try to bed down within 200yds of being hit. Marginal hits leave specks and deer may not try to bed, but you will notice puddles where they have stopped to check their back trails {back off of these deer as they may head for the next county}Listen after the shot, sometimes you can here them drop, or maybe just walking off after intial burst. I have a 250yd rule, I wait 1/2 hour to start trackin and if no deer is found, I back off and wait till morning if weather allows. A gps is a good way to mark spots and will map a trail. I too believe in the "down hill and towards water" theory. Look at the tracks. How far did the deer run before it started walking? Is the blood dribbling or spraying? Spraying blood usually means a short tracking job. By all means call in extra help if you can, the more eyes the better

#7 T-Wrecks

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 08:36 PM

Yeah, usually when Dad and I are trailing deer they run right in front of his stand and then I point them out to him and get him a shot at 'em too. That way we both get to shoot deer. ;)

#8 mdwhite611

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Posted 18 October 2008 - 02:44 PM

FOCUS after the shot...it's just as important as the shot.

never walk on the blood trail...just in case you have to back track.

if you have a small blood trail that is spread out, take a look around for broken branches and raked up leaves.

turn your head side-ways and look straight with one eye...looking for openings or small tunnels in heavy cover that the deer would most likely take.

For night tracking get a "blood-light"...a flashlight that shines red and blue light. I bought one a wal-mart and it shows blood much better than a white light or lantern

#9 Spirithawk

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 05:12 PM

Reading back over these tips I thought I'd add one I haven't seen mentioned. When wounded a deer will often travel in a large circle. Not sure why this is but I know of folks that have tracked deer long distances only to finally find them right back close to where they were shot.

Also, as Jeff said, here's some GENERAL rules;

A heart shot deer will often leep straight up into the air when hit.

A gut shot deer will usually hunch up.

Pink frothy blood indicates a lung hit.

Dark, almost black blood indicates a liver hit.

Bright red blood that's been sprayed indicates an artery hit

A gut shot deer will usually have bits of stomach content in the blood trail. Often it will have a foul stench too.


Don't just look on the ground for blood. Look up about waist high on bushes and tall grass and such. It will get there by spraying from a hit artery or simply by the deer brushing against something.

The color of a deers hair varies on it's body. The length and color can give you a ball park idea of where it was hit so pay attention to where it was standing when shot so look for hair
.
Deer do not always run with their tails down when hit. That's an old wives tail that is 100% false

Also, as Leo said, don't just look for blood. Stand back and sight along the path it ran. Often you'll be able to disinguish disturbed leaves marking it's trail. Look for broken branches and such. An injured deer isn't real careful about what it crashes through to get away. Often it's because they are too week or hurt to move carefully.

When all else fails, most states allow the use of a dog to track a wounded deer as long as it's leeshed and no one is carrying a firearm.

Edited by Spirithawk, 06 September 2009 - 05:17 PM.


#10 irinman2424

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 06:45 PM

once I find a blood trail and it dissapears I use a hat/a glove/ sticks anything to mark that spot alot of hunters do not think about using articles that they have on them as markers (use common sense and do not deplete your orange people) once I find another spot I take my other glove or hat or something and mark it and go back and get the 1st article then head straight for the next one that gives direction of travel and more often then not I find blood that I missed on my way back to the 2nd article
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#11 Spirithawk

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 07:50 PM

Here's a trick I often use. I cut bright orange yarn into 4" strips and fill a small sandwitch bag with them. Easy and light to carry in a pocket. Then simply tie on branches and such with a slip not to mark the blood trail. Of course afterwards you need to retrieve them but the advantage is they won't blow away or disolve in rain like tissue paper will, are reusable, they are bright enough to see a long long ways and you can easily carry enough to mark one heck of a long trail if need be .

Edited by Spirithawk, 06 September 2009 - 07:52 PM.


#12 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 08:24 PM

I used to pride myself in my ability to track a wounded deer. I am not near as good as I once was due to age but still better than some. Eric is a pretty fair tracker too as he and I have done it together over the years. Erics favorite story is a doe I hit with a muzzleloader. It took us all afternoon and jumping it 5 or 6 times and shooting and missing a few. Yes we did get the deer.
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