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Tracking a Wounded Whitetail

Discussion in 'Michigan Whitetail Deer Hunting' started by Whit1, Sep 30, 2006.

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  1. Whit1

    Whit1 Premium Member

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    There is a thread in here that asks members' opinions of their own tracking skills that are needed to recover a fatally wounded whitetail.

    Here's an opportunity to lay out some of your ideas about the best way, or at least the methods each of us use to track and locate a wounded whitetail deer.

    Let's assume that you've become proficient with the weapon with which you are hunting.

    I believe the search starts before you hunt. Become familiar with the territory you are hunting at least 200 yards around your stand. Further is better.

    Before the shot make note of exactly where the deer is standing and which side of the animal you're aiming at......right or left.

    Shot placement is vital. When bowhunting there are many shots to avoid, but one in particular that isn't thought of is the broadside, or nearly so, position with the deer's near-side leg set back. That leg bone, if it is hit, will deflect and severely lessen arrow penetration.

    Focus on the spot you're aiming at. DO NOT SHOOT at the whole deer. Bowhunters should try to follow the arrow all the way to this spot. Try to see the actual hit.

    Notice the deer's reaction to the shot. This will give you clues as to where he was hit.

    After the shot keep an eye on the deer making mental notes of the route he takes to escape. Notice significant trees, shrubs, etc. Focus on the spot where you last saw the deer.

    Give the deer several minutes to get out of hearing before starting down your tree or out from a ground blind to go and inspect the spot where the deer was standing when you took the shot. Do this VERY quietly and slowly.

    Look for signs of a hit. Blood and hair are the two most obvious.

    Give the deer time to settle down and find a spot to lay down. If he's hit good he will lay down. If he's hit REAL good he may drop while running away. The amount of time will depend on each hunt's situation such as time, weather, knowledge of where the deer was hit.

    Be prepared to track the deer. You'll need a reliable light (I prefer a gas lantern with a shield on one side so the light doesn't blind me), compass or GPS unit, toilet paper (for marking the spots of blood or scuffings in the leaves made by the deer's hoofs, knife, dragging rope. I may be missing a couple of things here (it's 3:30AM). I also don't have any experience using peroxide type products that enhance the blood so I can't comment on using them.

    Don't bring the gang out with you to track the deer. One of the worst scenarios is a group of hunters wanting to get in on "the action" and tagging along. This is your hunt! It is "your deer". You need to take charge. If you aren't proficient at tracking then someone else who is must take charge. Some guys may think you or they are being an A-hole for keeping them "out of the fun", but that's tough. Three guys, hopefully experienced are the maximum. One on the blood/sign trail and two trailing a bit off to the side and BEHIND the lead tracker.

    One of the worst experiences I had tracking a wounded deer involved a rifle shot whitetail. I was called by a friend in the morning to come over and help find a wounded deer. The whole group, about five guys, a gal, and two dogs......neither was trained to track a wounded deer.....had been out for a couple hours the previous night trying to track the deer. It had snowed a few days before and although much of it had melted, there was still some snow on the ground.

    The trail had been hopelessly compromised by all of the foot traffic, including the two large dogs. I managed to take the blood trail a hundred yards further than they had, but it was hopelessly screwed up. We spent a couple more hours doing an organized sweep to no avail. I'm convinced the deer died and was unrecovered and that sad fact was due to the incompetence of those involved.........TOO MANY PEOPLE.

    The saddest part of this was the gal's comment when we had to give up. I know her well and talked to her about too many of the troop going out to trail the deer and how all that activity had messed up the sign. Her comment? "Well at least the boys (college age guys) had fun". GRRRRRRRRRRR! :sad: :dizzy: :mad: :dizzy:

    Use toilet paper to mark the blood trail, putting paper down on blood spots. If it's windy then be sure the TP is anchored. You may need to come back to a spot.

    With your compass make note of the direction the deer was/is heading when he bounded away. Check the compass or GPS while engaged in the tracking job to see if there's any significant changes.

    Move slowly! Take a step at a time. Find the first spot of blood and analyze it. Bright?...:) Bubbly?...:) Dark?...:sad:....Fecal Matter?...:sad: :sad:. If you find fecal (stomach/intestine) material you'd better get out of there and let the deer lay overnight. Gut shot deer are very difficult to find. They will travel for hours if pushed and there will be very little sign left behind.

    Track the deer to the spot where you last saw him. This is the spot where you KNOW he once was. Let's hope you found blood before this. NOW your trailing begins in earnest.

    Blood sign isn't all you're looking for. Keep an eye open for broken twigs, scuffed up leaves on the forest floor, etc. They offer clues.

    All sign, or lack of, tells us something. Learn from each tidbit that is offered.

    Deer will usually take the path of least resistance. This will help you to be able to look ahead for possible routes when blood sign is temporarily (we hope) lost.

    If you lose the trail look back at the line of toilet paper. It will show you the general direction the deer was heading at that point. He may very well keep on in that direction.

    When you lose blood don't proceed for more than five yards without finding more. Go back to the last piece of toilet paper. You KNOW the deer was at the spot and start anew from there.

    Keep in mind which side of the deer you are seeing the most blood. Right? Left? Both?

    Is there any blood on the sides of trees or brush near where the deer passed? Finding blood higher off the ground gives an indication of where the animal was hit.

    Move slowly and don't rush!

    Make note of how much blood you're finding. Very little? Lots of it?

    If the blood begins to lessen this may be a sign the deer is running out of steam. Now's the time time to really move slowly.

    If the deer has been leaving a decent bloodtrail and all of a sudden it stops may mean the animal is lying dead within fifty or so yards. This is the time to move even more slowly. TAKE YOUR TIME!

    I'll let others add their tidbits and advice at this point.
  2. Jeff Sturgis

    Jeff Sturgis

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    Great info Milt!

    The #1 thing in my experience is not pushing a wounded deer. Push him one time....and you've lost the game. Often, pushing a wounded deer takes no more than walking 10-20 yards in the direction your wounded deer traveled after the shot. In those yards a deer is often lost that would have otherwise been recovered within 100 to 200 yards of the shot, from a liver, to a gut, to an entestine shot.

    That right there is what spoils most unsuccessful recovery jobs, and it can be avoided.

  3. Michihunter


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    Metro Detroit
    Tracking wounded deer by Woody Williams


    Less than a minute has elapsed since you've shot one of the biggest bucks you have ever seen. It happened so fast it's hard to believe. What you do now may determine whether or not you'll recover your buck.

    Your first impulse is to bail out of your treestand and take off after him. Depending upon your arrow placement, this could be a big mistake. If a deer is not hit well you could spook him and make recovery next to impossible.

    Knowing where the animal is hit makes a difference in how you track him. For this reason, a bowhunter should use brightly colored fletching, such as orange or red.

    The chest of the deer contains the lungs and the heart which, when hit, produce the quickest kill. The lungs are easily reached by an arrow, protected only by vulnerable rib bones. The heart is low in the body and somewhat protected by the deer's leg bone.

    The following describes types of hits and how you should track for each.

    * A lung-shot deer will run hard 50 to 65 yards. After that he will
    usually walk until he falls. The blood will sometimes have tiny bubbles in it. This blood trail usually gets better as you track the deer. However, if the deer is hit high in the lungs, the blood trail may sometimes become light and even disappear completely. The deer could be "filling up" inside with blood, showing very little external bleeding. The hair from the lung area is coarse and brown with black tips. The deer will usually go down in less than 125 yards. Give the deer 30 minutes before tracking.

    * A heart-shot deer will sometimes jump wildly when hit. The blood trail may be sparse for the first 20 yards or so. A heart shot deer may track as much as a quarter of a mile, depending on what part of the heart is damaged. The usual is less than 125 yards. The hair from this shot will be long brown or grayish guard hairs. Again, a 30 minute wait is advised. But, if while trailing you find where he has bedded back off and wait an hour before taking up the trail again.

    * A liver-shot deer. The liver lies against the diaphragm in the
    approximate center of the deer. It is a definite killing shot. The blood trail will be decent to follow and the deer should bed down and die within 200 yards, if not pushed. A one-hour wait is best. The hair from the liver area is brownish gray and much shorter than the hair from the lung area. If you push the deer out of his bed, back off and wait another hour.

    * A gut-shot deer is probably the most difficult to recover because of the poor blood trail and the hunter's impatience to wait him out. A lot of bowhunters want to hurry up and find the deer. Since the liver and stomach are close together, it is possible that the deer will go down and die quickly if the shot also penetrates the liver. If the deer is dead in an hour, he will still be dead in 4 hours. Have patience, he will not go anywhere. Wait him out for at least 4 hours. Wait overnight if the deer is
    shot in the evening.

    When a deer is shot in the stomach area, he will usually take several short jumps and commence walking or running. His back will usually hunch up and his legs will be spread wide. The hair from this wound is brownish gray and short. The lower the shot is on the animal, the lighter colored the hair will be. The blood trail is usually poor with small pieces of ingested material (stomach contents). If the intestines are punctured there will be green slimy material or feces Take your bow with you because a second shot might be required.

    * A spine-shot deer will usually drop in his tracks or hobble off. Either way, a second shot will probably be required to finish off the deer. If a spine-shot deer hobbles off, wait a half-hour and track slowly and quietly. Look for the deer bedded down.

    * A neck-shot deer will either die in 100 yards or he will recover from the wound. The lower portion of the neck contains the windpipe, neck bone (spine), and carotid (jugular) arteries. If the arteries are hit, the deer will run hard and drop in less than 100 yards. The blood trail will be easy to follow. A shot above the neck bone will give you a good blood trail for about 150 to 200 yards before quitting. The deer will more than likely recover to be hunted again.

    * A hip-shot deer. A large artery (femoral) runs down the inside of each deer leg. This artery is protected from the side by the leg bones. The femoral artery is most often severed from the rear or at an angle. If this artery is cut, the bleeding will be profuse and the deer will usually be found in less than 100 yards. The ham of a deer is also rich in veins with a lot of blood. A hip-shot deer should be tracked immediately. Track him slowly and quietly to keep him moving (walking). If you jump him and he runs, back off for a few minutes then continue trailing. You want him to walk, not run. A walking deer is easier to trail.

    * An artery-shot deer will almost always go down in less than 100 yards. The aortic artery runs just under the backbone from heart to hips, where it branches to become the femoral arteries. The heart also pumps blood to the brain through the carotid (jugular) arteries.

    Sever any of these arteries and you've got yourself a deer. There is one catch, these arteries are tough. It takes a sharp broadhead to cut through them. A dull broadhead will just push them aside. Keep your broadheads sharp! Give the deer half an hour before tracking.

    * After shooting the deer, stay in your stand and be quiet for the
    recommended time. A noise might push your deer away. He could be bedded down less than 100 yards away.

    * I have found it very helpful to tie a piece of pink surveyor ribbon around my stand tree at eye level from where I shot. After noting several terrain features near where the deer was standing and where it ran too, I tie on the ribbon before coming down. From the ground looking back up to the ribbon, I can get a better visual for locating exactly where the deer was and went.

    * Before beginning the tracking, mark where you shot the deer with a piece of white toilet paper hung on a branch.

    * Mark the trail periodically with more toilet paper as you track. This will give you a line on the deer's travel.

    * When you find the arrow, check for hair, tallow, blood, etc. This will give you a good clue on how to track. Example: Tallow and slime means you should wait 4 hours.

    * Check for blood carefully, walking off to the side of the run.

    * Look for blood on trees, saplings, and leaves that are about the same height as the wound. Blood will sometimes rub off the body.

    * If tracking as a group, spread out a little. Keep noise to a minimum. In tracking, sometimes "too many cooks can spoil the stew." It would be better if only 2 or 3 people tracked the deer. If the blood trail runs out, you can always get more help to search for the deer

    * While tracking a deer that you have shot and you jump a deer and it flags its tail, it's probably not your deer. A wounded deer will very seldom "flag." BUT - check it out anyway.

    * Gut-shot deer have a habit of going to water. If you lose a gut-shot deer's trail, check out the water holes in the area. He could be down by one.

    * Tracking at night presents special problems with visibility. The blood and the deer will both be hard to see. A Coleman gas lantern will help a lot in both cases. If the deer is not hit well, and no rain is forecast, wait until morning. If he is dead in 10 minutes or 4 hours, he will still be dead in the morning.

    * Take a compass bearing to where you last saw the deer, and another one to where you last heard any noise from it's flight. It might prove very helpful.

    * It helps to have someone who did not shoot the deer to help with the blood trial. Many an experienced hunter in his excitement misses things.

    * Stay off of the blood trail, and use a small piece of tolled paper to mark each spot

    * Get down on your hands and knees when a blood trail is hard to see it helps. From this angle while night tracking you can shine the light in the direction of travel and often see blood that does not show when standing over it.

    * Look at the bottom of leaves on branches at deer body height. Sometimes as the branch slides along the body of a deer it is the under side of the leaf that picks up the blood.

    * You will often find a gut shot deer or liver shot deer dead in the water not just beside it. so look for an ear or the side of the deer in deeper water too.

    * Some shots that look good may be one lung or a poor liver hit because of the angle. These deer can take several hours to die. Be careful about pushing them to soon, since they will rarely leave much blood sign if they are jumped when bedded.

    * Look ahead as you blood trail for deer parts and movement. Your deer may still be alive and you might be able to get a second shot or back off with out spooking it.

    * Look for disturbed leaves and broken twigs as well as for the blood sign on hard to follow blood trails.

    * It is often hard to follow a blood trail in grass. It seems that the blood can fall all the way to the ground without hitting a single blade of grass.

    * Look for clusters of ants, flies and daddy longlegs. You can find small drops of blood because these bugs are feeding on it.

    * Often times when the blood trail seems to end you will find the animal off to one side and not in the same direction of travel.

    * Listen for birds like magpies, jays, and crows. Sometimes they make a ruckus where the animal lies dead.

    * Be persistent!

    * A dog can often prove very useful if legal. Even your house pet. They can see with their nose what we can not see with our eyes.

    * Use your nose. sometimes you can smell a deer you can't see. A gut shot is even more likely to have a smell.

    * When trailing at night use a couple of the Chem Lights that you can get at WalMart for less than a buck. You don't use these as lights to see blood, but they are hung on limbs at the last blood found. That way nobody has to stand on the last blood and everyone can easily see where the last blood found is at

    Did I say be persistent!
  4. J Eberhart

    J Eberhart

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    Since this is an important thread I though I would throw in my 2 cents and copy an article I wrote for Bow & Arrow Hunter.

    Recovering Bowshot Deer
    By: John Eberhart

    When a deer is hit with a questionable shot, knowing what to do, and when to do it can be critical to its recovery.

    Recovering wounded deer is a topic that gets very little ink, and most TV shows and video’s usually edit out any difficult recoveries, even when the hits were obviously poor. Unfortunately, not all deer are hit perfect and die within sight or hearing distance.

    With today’s high performance bows, arrows, and broadheads, pass-throughs are common, and should always be our goal. When hunting from elevated stands, a high entry that does not pass-through will often not leave much of a blood trail, whereas the same shot with a complete pass-through will.

    When a whitetail has been hit, watch it until it is out of sight and hearing distance. Unless the deer expired within sight, immediately mark the last sighting with a landmark that will be easily recognized from the ground. If you heard the deer running for quite a distance beyond that landmark, while still in your tree, use your compass and take an approximate reading as to which direction he went from the landmark on the ground. The compass reading will give you a direction to search if there is a lack of blood when you begin to trail him.

    Wait at least 20 minutes prior to exiting your stand, otherwise the noise you make getting out could possibly spook him if he is standing or bedded down nearby without expiring.
    While waiting to get down, rethink the shot procedure to ensure you of the angle the deer was facing, and where the arrow entered. Knowing the angle of the deer, and the entry location of the arrow should give you an idea of what vitals, if any were hit. This information should give you an idea of how long to wait before trailing.

    If your arrow passed through, check it for the following clues.

    • Blood with small air bubbles in it indicates a lung hit.

    • Heavy blood with some coagulation usually means that a main artery was hit (heart, jugular, femoral, or front section of liver).

    • Decent blood, but not a tremendous amount of blood indicates a flesh hit, or small artery hit.

    • Gritty green or brown substance indicates that your arrow passed through the stomach or intestines.

    • A mixture of stomach matter mixed with decent blood indicates a shot towards the back of the ribcage, which probably caught both stomach and liver. This could also be a stomach, liver, single lung hit with a severe quartering shot.

    • A dull blade or blades indicate that bones were hit. This is important to note with a questionable stomach and liver hit.

    • Heavy tallow on the shaft likely indicates:
    1. A high hit along the loin.
    2. A brisket or low chest hit.
    3. A high hind quarter shot.

    Deer vary in color from reddish brown to dark brown, so only when I see white hair on the ground do I pay any attention to hair. Rather than get into what white hair indicates, it would be advised to know (pictures, magazines, or roadkills) where these white patches are located. This will give you additional information on location of hit or exit when there is white hair on the ground at the shot location.

    Starting with number 1, I will elaborate on what to do in each circumstance.

    1. Double lung shot. There should be blood at or very near the point of impact with a pass through shot. This animal will rarely go over 100 yards, and should be very easy to trail. In dry conditions it is common to hear the deer expire within 15 seconds after the hit.

    If you had a straight down shot and think you may have only hit one lung, give him several hours before attempting recovery. A deer can actually live with one lung being partially cut. I have taken several bucks that had scarred over arrow wounds through one lung.

    NOTE: A double lung should always be your target area. Lungs are much larger than any other vitals, leaving margin for error. The heart is a very small target that is partially protected by the shoulder blade from some angles. Even though many targets give you more points for heart shots, aim for the lungs on the real thing. Double lung shot deer will also expire faster than a heart shot deer. A lung shot deer actually drowns from the blood filling its lungs, whereas a heart shot animal runs until it pumps most of the blood out of its system.

    2. Anytime a main artery is hit (heart, jugular, femoral, or the large arteries in the front portion of the liver) you will have lots of blood from shot sight to expiration sight. A high entry without an exit hole would be the only exception. The reason is that the inner body cavity will contain most of the blood.

    Even with no blood trail on any of the hits so far, your deer should be easily recovered by making circles where the deer was last seen or heard.

    3. Unless a decent sized artery was hit, a flesh wound will likely not kill the deer. However, any time you hit an animal you must make a concerted effort to find it. Blood can be misleading at times, and if you did not hit a large artery the blood trail will eventually just peter out.

    Wait at least 4 hours before trailing a flesh wounded deer, allowing the deer to bed down and possibly bleed out or become week if a large artery was hit. If an artery was not hit, the blood will coagulate and stop bleeding. If you jump him and the blood trail is still heavy, back off again for another 4 hours and try again. Continue this process until he is recovered or the blood trail expires.

    In December of 1967 I hit a deer just above its left rear hoof. I kept pushing that deer due to snow on the ground and blood in his left rear print. After about a mile and a half I was able to get close enough to finish him off with a chest shot. There was absolutely no way I could have trailed that deer without the presence of snow.

    4. The dreaded gut shot! There are many animals lost to this type of shot, and there shouldn’t be. The procedure for this shot is simple. Wait for 30 minutes, quietly get out of your tree, and get out of the area. Do not even think about walking in the direction the deer went for at least 4 to 8 hours. If it is cold enough that the animal will not spoil give it even longer.

    Most often a gut shot deer will travel no farther than 200 yards before getting sick and bedding down. If left alone long enough, it will likely be dead when you come back. Generally speaking the larger the animal, the longer it will take to expire (this is true with any type of hit). The down side of this shot is that there will be very little blood, and the deer will likely head for the thickest, nastiest cover available. Unlike double lung and heart shot deer, a gut shot still leaves the deer with its full mental capacities. If you push him to early, you will likely push him into an area where a recovery without a blood trail will be extremely difficult.

    With a gut shot deer, a lot of searching may be required, especially early in the season when the foliage is still on. Unlike a lung shot deer that expires all sprawled out with its white belly showing, this one will probably be bedded nice and neatly in a hard to find place. Get as many friends as possible to help look, and take a bow. It is very possible that you will need to shoot this animal again.

    Gut shot deer also find comfort lying in water, it must be soothing to their wound. I have aided in the recovery of several deer that died in creeks and lakes, and they were always gut shot.

    If you are expecting rain, still wait the same amount of time. Remember, if this animal is pushed, your odds of recovery will be greatly reduced and you will probably end up somewhere you really did not want to go.

    5. A stomach / liver hit. This is common hit, because many hunters tend to body shoot rather than pick a spot. This is a fatal hit, I have never recovered a deer that had a noticeable old stomach or liver wound.

    Liver shots can have huge variances in expiration times. I have liver shot deer that expired in 10 minutes and have had others still be alive after 10 hours. The reason for such diversity is that the arteries in the front portion of the liver are large and the arteries in the rear of it are tiny. When the large arteries are hit, the expiration time is short, with the opposite being true when the small arteries are hit. A liver hit will often leave such a good blood trail that you will keep thinking that he can’t be much further.

    Liver hit deer will rarely travel very far prior to getting sick and bedding down, usually less than 200 yards if there is cover. Like gut shot deer, liver hit deer also retain their full mental capacities, and should be left alone a minimum of 4 hours. Take your bow and if you jump him, stop, mark the spot and give him at least 4 more hours before resuming your search, even if the blood trail is easy to follow. If he can’t move very well, you can probably move into a position to shoot him again.

    6. A solid bone hit such as a shoulder or knuckle with no penetration will obviously not kill a deer. This hit will make a loud whacking sound. Make every effort to find your arrow to insure that you did not penetrate deep enough to reach any vitals, and follow any blood trail until it expires.

    7. An arrow shaft coated with tallow is not a promising sign. However with a rear, frontal, or high entry (from a tree stand only), you can have tallow and still have passed through vitals. Tallow can plug an exit wound, so with a low brisket exit through tallow if you do not find a lot of blood, do not be surprised. The arrow will likely be wiped clean by the tallow as well, leaving no indicator of what might have been hit internally. This hit should be treated similar to a gut shot unless you are sure that the arrow passed through some vitals.


    When tracking, mark last blood with something easily visible, and keep at least 2 other markers on the trail behind you to give a direction to go by. The direction of the blood splatters on the leaves can also aid in the direction he is going. When trailing gets difficult, slow down and get closer to the ground, and check where you put your feet prior to taking a step. It is not uncommon to go over the same trail several times before spotting specs of blood.

    In many instances with a poor bloodtrail, you can actually go faster by looking for kicked up leaves or dirt, especially if has rained recently, which makes any alterations on the ground very easy to identify. When trailing through dense brush, tall ferns, or tall weeds you often find more blood off the ground than on the ground due to the deer’s body rubbing against whatever it is passing through.

    Wounded deer that retain their full mental capacities, will almost always take the easiest route to get to their desired destination. When a blood trail is lost, check nearby runways, lanes, low spots or holes in fencerows to try and pick up the trail again. When trailing through a wooded area and he goes into a grass or weed field, which is difficult to trail in, look at the last two locations and get a line. Go across the field and look for blood inside the tree line where blood will easier to find on the leaves.

    Trees should also be used whenever possible if you feel your deer expired in an area of tall weeds, marsh grass, or tall ferns. Climbing trees will enable you to look down into the tall stuff for a carcass.

    If the deer runs into a standing cornfield there is a chance that it will stay in the same row. In this case, back off and get a friend (with a bow). From last blood have him give you a half hour before he starts trailing. Then you quietly cut over 20 rows (rows must be counted as he goes) from last blood, then quietly go down that row about 200 yards in the same direction that the deer is traveling, then cut back the 20 rows. This will hopefully put you in the same row the deer is in. Set up a simple ambush sight one or two rows off to the side and wait for him to start trailing. You may get a shot if he pushes the deer past you. This same scenario can also be used if you are pushing a deer towards a known funnel in a wooded area.

    Whenever you are questioning whether to immediately look, or wait prior to blood trailing a deer, always wait, your odds of recovery will be much greater. These methods of trailing deer have been tweeked through trial and error through 42 years of bow hunting, and should increase your odds of recovery.

    Just as being patient is the most critical part of successful hunting, it is also the most critical part of recovering poorly hit deer.

    Editors note: John produced a 3 volume instructional DVD series titled “Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails” and co-authored two books titled “Precision Bowhunting” and “Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails” They are available at:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2015
  5. NorthlandWizard


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    Fife Lake, MI.
    Some things just need to be said. Before tracking, we all must be reminded of the following.

    #1. Deer Hunting is NOT! a guranteed Kill & Find Sport. A wounded Deer will not always take the path of least resistence, but, quite to the contrary. It's his instinct to find cover due to predators and it's need to find solace to recuperate. (Not knowing he may have suffered a lethal wound).

    When not hunting, I watch many Outdoor Sports (Bow and Firearm Deer Hunting) Channels. One cameraman stayed on a Deer for more then 150+ yards, and the Buck crawled under a 3 tier barb-wired fence and died in a tall grass thicket. Although the Deer did die there, this dispells the theory of path of least resistence. Deer will seek heavy cover and underbrush whether being pushed or not, his natural and no. 1 goal is to preserve his own life. ~ One can learn a lot from these shows as well from one's own experience or speaking with outfitters, hunters, DNR, etc.

    #2. Emphasis must be placed on #1 again. Deer Hunting is not guranteed. If killing a Deer and finding it was an absolute, it wouldn't be true hunting. If one cuts themselves and others "no slack" or margin of error in Deer hunting, then I would recommend that one might better be served to buy Venison online or from some Butcher that carries such meat.

    #3. If a hunter is not willing to put the same amount of time after shooting a Deer in locating it as he does in all the hours of stand/blind sitting, baiting, plot planting, scouting, time traveling to and from his stand as well as pre-season and mid-season preparations and such, then he does not belong in this sport.

    #4. The patience vested prior to taking the shot, which includes but is not limited to; a) waiting for Deer to show up. b) waiting for the Deer you want to shoot. c) waiting for the Deer you want to shoot to come close enough to take a high-yield shot ........should be equal to the amount of time you are willing to put in tracking the Deer with the same level and amount of committment as one does the hunt. There should not be hours and hours of hunting, then a shot at the animal, then 30 minutes of tracking and then someone calling it quits.

    Only half of the Hunt is the baiting, scouting, luring, and time spent waiting. The Post shot/kill is as important as the pre-kill. All should remember that.

    In Deer Hunting, it would not be remiss that the Hunter must examine his own behavior as well as that of the animal's behavior. In a world hell-bent on convenience, Deer Hunting is really not much different than it was 200 years ago. The weapons may have become more modern and the tricks of the trade may be more modern, but, a wounded animal won't act much different than the many, many, of generations before of the animal itself acted.

    One should examine his own attitude and have a game plan before walking into the woods or fields. One must be willing to be as good a Tracker as he thinks he is a Hunter.

    If you think a wounded Deer traveled 100 yards, be willing to walk 200 yards. If you think he could have gone 200 yards, be willing to go 300 yards. You may not find it convenient, but, a good tracking is and may be as rewarding as the hunt itself if one is willing to look at the whole picture of Deer Hunting.

    Surely it is a rewarding feeling if the Deer drops at 30 or 40 yards or less, but, be willing to go as far as the Deer does. The process of dying is not always an immediate affair. Whether a lot of blood is found or not does not mean the Deer is not hemorrhaging inside and not bleeing profusely inside and will die in concert with the Hunter's patience.

    Where others have posted what to look for and what to do as far as tracking, I thought it important for us to be reminded of our own psyche and attitudes. Perception and our own key behaviors may make all the difference in a successful Kill & Find.

    Good Luck! Be Safe, and Be Persistent! :coolgleam
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2015
  6. gn873


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    calumet mi
    all of what i've read in these posts is very good, but great tracking skills are nothing compared to practice, shot placement and more practice, even when you think your good or even great, practice more from various shot possiblilities, the best tool for tracking is a clean shot with optimum placement for a quick kill then you won't have a long trail, remember to honor what you hunt, they deserve your best skills for a clean, quik, and honorable end. I was raised to only shoot and what you plan to take, but always wait for the exact and best possible shot. it should take one bullet or one arrow placed correctly, if the shot is compormised in any way it should not be taken.
  7. Chuck


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    S.W. MI
  8. cole1lc


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    Illinois and in Petoskey area when I can
    Very good read!!! What about us poor color blind hunters... I swear unless the blood is still wet I can't see it on brown leaves. I have tried peroxide but I don't like spraying it all over the place where I hunt.
  9. fishergirltc


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    Maple City, Michigan
    Great tips! Thanks for posting!
  10. Whit1

    Whit1 Premium Member

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    If spraying peroxide helps you recover the fatally wouned whitetail then do it. Recoverning that deer is FAR more important.
  11. thundrst


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    Lake Orion
    One thing that has not been mentioned here is what exactly to do as soon as you lose a blood trail. In addition to using toilet paper & a lot of the other great tips on this thread; what my father taught me was to:

    1. Stop trailing. DO NOT advance from one spot of blood or hair until you can see another.

    2. If you can not see another spot or speck of blood, or hair without advancing, look around 360 degrees without moving your feet. If you still cant see anything, get on your hands and knees & repeat. If you still can't find anything, mark the last sign with TP & advance slowly in line with the direction of travel no more than about 10 yards (if not crossing a field or pond etc.).

    3. This has not been posted on this thread yet.... If you still cannot find any blood or other sign, start looking in a small SQUARE about 4 yards around the spot wher you last saw blood. The quare should have your last blood sign in the MIDDLE. Mark the 4 corners of the square you searched, move a little further out & repeat. Using a SQUARE instead of a circle is much more efficient and easy to use. This really helps when the trailing gets tough. You would be surprised how many times a simple change in direction and even backtracking can be solved by this method when other fail. Try it next time!
  12. Whit1

    Whit1 Premium Member

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    I forget if it was mentioned in other posts (including mine), but when a blood trail that has been going in one general direction is lost I always stop and ask myself if the deer suddenly changed direction for some reason. Without moving I look around to see if I can figure out the reason the animal altered his/her course. Sometimes it's a simple matter of interveening brush or other such obstructions that caused the deer to detour.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2009
  13. Firefighter


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    White Lake
    Heres something outside the box, but it works.....
    Thermal Imaging Cameras. I think they should be manditory for large hunt clubs and such, as the register heat as white on the camera (or black, depending on the setting). They reach as far as you can see, and you can quickly search an area in complete blackness.
    Theyre typically used in police and firefighting applications, but I'm pretty sure they make them for hunters now. Theyre not cheap at all, but if a group of 20 hunters or so were to purchase one as an investment and use it as needed, it would more than pay for itself.
  14. deepwoods

    deepwoods Premium Member

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    In regards to the gut shot you can hardly wait to long (within reason). Unfortunately we actually had 2 deer gut shot last weekend up by us. One, a doe, we pushed too soon and she went nearly a half mile. We were very fortunate to find her that day. The second, a buck, we waited a lot longer and he only went 80 yards and bedded down. Dead as could be when we found it and with a lot less stress tracking. That deer bedded down looking back towards the stand and if he saw someone coming I am sure he was going to be out of there and deep into a swamp. We may not have been so fortunate.

    8 hours is a good rule of thumb if at all possible. Longer if its cold and weather allows even though the wait can be tough.

    The third and other track job we had this weekend only went 50 yards. A buck double lunged with a 2 1/2" Vortex. Good shots make for easy tracking.

    Best of luck and may all you bloodtrails end at a deer.
  15. Whit1

    Whit1 Premium Member

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    Updating Help Tracking Thread
    Last year Ferg put a thread up as a "sticky" asking for members who would be willing to help out tracking a wounded deer either with dogs or in person. The thread is still there, but it needs updating and some organization because it is too cumbersome and time consuming. If you are willing to help in person or with a dog or know of a site where dog help may be found send a PM to one of us mods asking that your information or a URL (for dog help) be added to a new "sticky" for a thread focused on help tracking a wounded whitetail.

    Send a PM with your member name, first name, last name optional, location by town and county, and a phone number. Do it that way rather than fill up this thread with the info.

    Here's a start.

    Rob Miller
    w/trained tracking dog
    Linden, Mi

    Dave Crispin
    Springport, Mi
    Cell (517)745-3510
    Dont have a dog but have tracked several deer. Love to track and love to help people recover animals. Am available most anytime. Am willing to travel around 20 miles or so, more if a little gas $ is offer. Otherwise I work for free.

    Mike Dixon
    Whitehall, MI
    Muskegon County
    Available days and nights - NO dog but willing to help track."

    Pez gallo
    Southern MI
    Have a young dog that I am training not the best yet, but am working with him.

    Jeff Ehrhart
    Dog "Zack" Lab Chow 13 years old but a great nose
    If I'm available I'll be glad to help, no cost.
    I'm in Genesee TWSP, if you need me, you'll have to pick me up as I don't drive.

    Jim Mayer
    Have a 7mth old dachshund that has been bred for blood trailing in training right now.
    I live in the U.P. in Rudyard which is right between Soo and St. Ignace of I-75
    Willing to travel if available

    Byron Shea
    Lake Orion area

    Buck is a bloodhound/coonhound mix pup born this Spring. His primary purpose is deer recovery, so we want to put him on as many blood trails as possible. Even if you've recovered the deer, we'd be interested in putting him on the trail. During his training this Fall, no fee will be required (donations accepted, but not expected). Call day or night. I'll answer if I'm awake!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2015
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