So now you found a great spot to put your tree stand and you spotted some deer and all of a sudden you see a big buck. You kept calm checked to see if he had nice antlers and took the shot. You waited at least a half hour before getting down from your stand. As you walked to the location you see the signs of the shot taken. There is a nice blood trail but it’s starting to get dark. What do you do now?
If you took my recommendation to remember the location of the last place you saw the buck then see if you can see where that location is from where the deer was shot. Now use some paper towel or whatever you brought to clean yourself after dressing the deer and place it on a branch. Follow the blood trail to were you last saw the deer.
Now that you are at the location where you last spotted the deer. Place another marker on a branch. Start to follow the blood trail making sure not to step on the blood. If the blood is starting to lessen than put a marker at each place you spot blood. What you are trying to do is make an exact path that the buck was running. Each time you stop to place a marker. Look toward the direction that you perceive the deer was heading and see if you can spot the downed animal. Look for anything white. When a deer is down you will usually see the white of their belly, ears or antlers.
If the blood starts to really thin out look for signs of the hoof tracks. Wounded deer are usually run very hard so there tracks are deeper and easier to find then ordinary tracks. But if the tracks are not obvious then the buck at this time was walking. Look for sign of disruption on the leaves, usually a wounded deer that is walking often staggers.
If the blood trail completely stops. Do not go rummaging around. Go to the last marker that you made and look down the trail of markers you created. This will usually determine where the deer was heading. Now look in the direction that the deer went and in your mind think were you would go if you were a wounded deer. You would not try to climb a hill or walk through thick brush. A deer will always take the easiest path when wounded. Is there a stream, bog or pond nearby? Deer will usually go to water, exec ally when they have a gut shot. Continue on slowly, making sure not to disrupt leaves or any sign of the trail. Frequently look in the direction the deer went and try to spot the deer.
If at any time you kick up the wounded deer (the deer was resting and bolts when approached) DO NOT try to shoot. Try to determine were the shot was made. If it was kicked up it probably was a gut shot or a badly placed shot. Stay still and look to were you last spotted the buck and see if you can see the deer. If you can, determine if another shot is needed. A good sign of when a shot is NOT needed is when the deer’s head starts to bobble. The buck will most likely be looking back toward you. If needed try to shoot at the upper neck area (it will make a quick kill and won’t damage the meat further). If you cannot see the deer wait at least another hour and approach the area last seen extremely slowly. You will probably find the decease deer close by.
When you do find the downed deer remember to approach from the back side, prod the deer before touching. And always be very careful. Congratulations, you have successfully taken a nice deer and will have tasty venison in your freezer. Now it’s time to do your duty and field dress the carcass.
My next article I will cover flied dressing the deer and extracting the carcass from the woods.
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