Deer tracking tips

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by keith meador, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. traditionalhunter

    traditionalhunter Fawn

    Nov 4, 2012
    lol i agree
  2. Huntaholic

    Huntaholic 6 pointer

    May 2, 2002

    I dont post here much, but read quite a bit, and after having seen several bloodtrailing threads over the years, I wanted to offer up some advice.
    To all of those who say: "wait til morning and go find it", I say this: If its likely a lethal shot, why wait and risk spoilage, coyotes, etc? IMHO the hunting shows and their advice have caused hunters to waste more meat than EHD! It sickens me to see them do that ALL THE TIME on tv just to get good footage. We owe it to the animals we hunt to not waste them. Now with all that said, here is my advice: Either buy one yourself or borrow from a coon hunting buddy, a GOOD high voltage incandescent hunting light! Ive got a 28V belt lite and I would PREFER to track deer at nite with it as opposed to tracking at noon on a sunny day. Turn that lite up on the high side and blood will actually GLOW in it! We have used the commercial "bloodtrailing lights", white LED hunting lites, different lens covers, etc.. and out of them all, NOTHING beats a high voltage incandescent lite. Ive been going to Ontario bear hunting for 5 years now, and in the beginning, my guide was of the "wait til morning" mindset. After having seen how well we can track at nite with our lites, he has since decided that us TN boys can track down pretty much anything that bleeds. LOL We aint that good, but we are determined and we know what to use to do it with. As always, YMMV and my advice is worth exactly what you have paid for it! :D
  3. deerpox

    deerpox 6 pointer

    Dec 1, 2011
    Western Ky
    All else fails start walking creekbeds. In my past experiences with this deer often find themselves getting in these creeks but to weak to get out. Also the water in the creekbeds is something wounded deer stay close to. I have found more "lost" deer both shot by myself and other hunters in these areas days after the shot.
  4. SmokeyBear

    SmokeyBear 8 pointer

    A ton of good tracking tips on here. The only thing I would like to add is use the tracking job as a scouting trip also. I've located some of my best hunting spots while tracking wounded deer. They will lead you right to their sanctuaries when they are wounded.
  5. allseasonhunter

    allseasonhunter 6 pointer

    Feb 2, 2010
    when i doubt back out and call in a bloodhound. mine has found deer up to 4 days after being shot and lost by the hunter. most of these get jumped up and pushed further than they should have been. most cases when you jump a deer you will lose the bloodtrail as the blood clots when they lay down.
  6. critter55

    critter55 Fawn

    Feb 21, 2013
    I agree I track with dog two its easier and it don't take as long eather
  7. Ranger_2-81

    Ranger_2-81 Fawn

    Sep 7, 2012
    Lots of awsome tips. One that picked up is using the orange and reflective bread ties. They work for day and night. If your tracking takes that long. The reflective bread tie can't be missed with a flashlight. Just sayn.
  8. kyhunter1992

    kyhunter1992 Fawn

    Sep 9, 2013
    crittenden co
    myself find it easier to find my deer if I find blood and don't take a step further until I spot more blood. meaning I don't just guess and walk 10yrds up and look in circles. the only times I will do that is by marking my last spot of blood. I have only lost one deer in my life and it was just a poor shot over half mile of tracking and I gave up. but as most will say if u drop him in the tracks u don't have to be good at tracking
  9. jeepndeer

    jeepndeer 6 pointer

    Nov 19, 2006
    I don't really have anything to add, lots of great tips. One thing to try is No I don't work for them or get any commission, it's just a neat product, it's like Luminol that police use, after dark, mix with water and spray, no lights, makes blood glow. Supposedly works even better after rain but I haven't tested that. They also have a good book on tracking.
  10. Hoytman86

    Hoytman86 6 pointer

    Apr 19, 2013
    Burlington, KY
    I realize this is an older thread, but I wanted to add to a few things that have been said.

    One tactic I've used in the past on a deer that wasn't hit very well (my first deer, single lung shot with a 20 gauge sabot) was, when the blood spots are few and far between, have one person stand at the last blood/hair you find and another walk a circle 10 yards around. Then go to 20, 25 etc. Eventually you will find more sign, even if you miss something, you'll find the next spot.

    I'll second the notion that deer will seek water when hit. I've found quite a few deer, including one several weeks later that I wasn't allowed to track by another landowner, by simply looking along a creek bed. Whether that's due to the water itself, the fact that it was downhill or a combination of the two, I don't know, but whatever it is, it's been a constant in nearly all of my recoveries.

    My first bow kill was not a pass through shot, was during a steady rain and the deer literally got knocked over by the hit, then rolled over and writhed around on the ground trying to get the arrow out. Once it did, it ran off about 100 yards and stopped for 5-10 seconds before heading off in a different direction. The spot of the hit was the only blood this deer left on the ground. There wasn't a single drop between the hit and where he stopped, or where he stopped and where I found him (laying next to a creek, btw). I only found him because I watched him after the shot, saw the point he stopped and the direction he headed afterward. From that point, I walked the fence line at the edge of a field and found spots where deer regularly crossed between the woods and the field, and based on my estimate of the direction he was heading, I picked the trail closest to that direction and followed it down about 30 yards to find him expired. If nothing else, they know the area better than anyone, and will probably follow a familiar path through the woods, which also happens to be a path of little resistance due to regular use. If you are struggling locating sign, just figure out where they would've gone had they been uninjured, and chances are they will probably go that way while injured as well.

    Lastly, as many have said, when it doubt, wait. I don't generally conform to any set amounts of time. If it's a good hit and you wait a half an hour to an hour, the animal will bleed out. If it's a less than ideal shot, MOST of the time, 3-4 hours should be enough time to allow that animal to expire. There are instances where it takes longer, but with the yotes being as bad as they are, it's a delicate balancing act trying to decide what's enough and what's too long. I have made the mistake of pushing one, and that can be a major problem.
  11. blade1

    blade1 Spike

    Oct 30, 2012
    Without a doubt they will always head toward a creek or pond. I have had them pile up in an old dried up pond before so don't overlook those either. If the blood trial is light I will send somebody to walk the creek while im trying to track. They usually end up in the creek or on the bank if he is able to get there.
  12. Theophilus

    Theophilus Fawn

    Sep 28, 2008
    Meade Co
    Construction flags (on a tall stiff wire, fluorescent colors) are great for precisely marking tiny drops of blood. They dont disturb or cover up the spot. If you have a group helping you, everyone can see the vector from a distance and people can also avoid the trail. Chrome duck tape is good for marking up on trees in the dark. Of course nothjng beats a blood hound.
  13. Hoytman86

    Hoytman86 6 pointer

    Apr 19, 2013
    Burlington, KY
    I made the mistake of leaving my orange tape at home on opening day of gun season. I'll bet I spent twice as long confirming that it was a clean miss than I would have if I'd have had the tape. In this case, I was walking out and spotted one, took a shot off-hand and missed. If I'd have had my tape, I'd have put it up where I shot from and would've had a much easier time knowing exactly where I'd shot from and where she was standing. Instead, I had to try and guess, which lead to an additional 30 minutes of looking. I've also used it to mark blood and hair, similar to the flags you mentioned, which really helps to get an idea of the direction they're traveling as well as how well they're hit by using the distance in between sign to gauge just how much they're bleeding.
  14. Willie

    Willie 12 pointer

    May 10, 2003
    I wrote this magazine article and it was published in Crossbow Magazine the last issue..


    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, red or white..

    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. At least 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.


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