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The Hunter's Cabin

Tracking Wounded Whitetail Deer

By Tracker Outdoors | www.tracker-outdoors.com

Oct. 5, 2012, 3:34 a.m.

Ethical hunters should always do their best to deliver a clean lethal shot that ends the life of game quickly. We should "pass up" shots that are less than sure. There are occasions however when our best intentions require us to track game. Out of respect for the wildlife we hunt, we should make every effort possible to find the game we have shot. From the moment we raise our hunting weapon of choice the tracking process begins. When the arrow is released or the trigger is pulled pay close attention to every detail. Watch the deer carefully after the shot and study it's reactions, a grazing shot, rib shot, heart or lung shot can make the deer jump and run off at full speed. A gut shot deer often holds it's tail down and hunches it's back as it leaves the scene. A deer that has been shot in the gut or paunch is usually the most difficult to recover. Wait 2-3 hours before trailing a deer you believe was gut shot. Always follow up on any deer you take a shot at. Never make the assumption that you missed completely.

Here are some tips:

Notice the direction the deer or other game was traveling when you shot.

Notice where the game is standing when you shoot.

Look carefully for the exact area of the entrance wound or for a protruding shaft of an arrow after the shot.

If the game runs after the shot, note the spot the deer was standing and the direction of travel as it ran.

If you know you hit the deer and it runs off, wait at least 30 minutes before trailing.

Before you begin trailing, mark the location from which you shot.

Always walk in the direction your bullet or arrow traveled, checking for nicks in vegetation or any other signs that your shot was possibly deflected.

Carefully inspect the area that the deer was standing when the shot was made.

Look for blood and hair at the scene. Lots of hair usually means a grazing shot , while a little hair means a body shot.

If there is mostly brown hair the shot was high, mostly white, the shot was low.

If there are bone fragments at the scene there is a possibility of a leg hit.

Mark this area and don't disturb it, you may have to return later.

When you find the blood trail always walk beside it, not on it, do not destroy the clues.

If you lose the blood trail , go to the spot the last blood was found an mark it.

Look for any other sign that may indicate the direction of travel of the deer (i.e. up turned leaves, broken vegetation).

Search in a circular pattern around the last spot of blood you found. If you still cannot locate the game, go get help. Every effort must be made to retrieve a wounded animal before resuming the hunt.

You cannot predict the behavior of a wounded deer. Once you start trailing, move quickly to avoid giving blood time to dry and become harder to find. Always be ready to shoot, never assume the animal is dead.

Blood Sign Heart, lung or large blood vessel hit: Fine droplets sprayed on both sides of the trail for 75 to 100 yards, sometimes several feet up on trees and vegetation. Usually a clean kill and the deer should not travel far.

Gut shot Food particles and putrid smelling blood. Blood trail is difficult to find at the location the shot was made. Bloody spots appear in about the first 50-75 yards and steadily decrease. Do not follow this deer too closely. Allow 2-3 hours before trailing. The deer will bleed to death when it beds down if you don't chase it.

Leg, back muscle, neck, or body cavity hit Large spots of blood at the spot where the animal was hit, turning to continuous drops that diminish after about 150 yards. Bleeding continues while the animal is moving but stops when the animal lies down.

Good Hunting, Tracker Outdoors www.tracker-outdoors.com

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