Blood trailing

Like most skills, blood trailing becomes easier with more experience. However, some blood trails are just plain difficult. The good news is that difficult blood trails are likely to be non-fatal. While no hunter likes wounding a deer, it is very likely that a deer that is hit and not found will heal and recover.

Below are several resources to assist teaching blood trailing. These resources should be reviewed in class or as part of the pre-hunt, field day, before the hunt to prepare the participants for this eventuality.

An important skill is to be able to “read” any hair lost to determine where on the body it came from. Likewise, different wounds bleed differently; the blood trail itself can be a good indicator of the location of the hit.

It is important to carry material to mark the blood trail, if it peters out or it is too dark to continue. Some people use plastic flagging, but toilet paper works very well and is biodegradable, so you may not have to retrieve every piece.  

In some situations, it is advisable to wait several hours, or overnight, before tracking a hit deer. This may be more common during bow season, or when there is no snow to assist the tracking. In addition, it may be advisable for a novice hunter to seek help in unraveling a blood trail. During the class sponsored hunt the mentor/guide would be expected to fulfill this role. Nonetheless, novice hunters should not hesitate to seek help during a hunt after the class if they are having difficulty. However, too many helpers may be more of a detriment than help. Ideally only two, or at the most three, should follow a trail at any one time to avoid destroying more evidence than you find.


Recovering A Deer After the Shot

You’ve just shot the deer that you’ve patiently waited hours to find. You’re excited and your anticipation is high, but you know that you have to exercise restraint and the proper course of action to track your deer. What you do in the crucial moments after you shoot the deer will determine whether or not you recover your game.

First Step: Wait

The first step you take after shooting a deer is to wait. Make a mental note of where the deer was from a nearby object (a notable tree, rock, bushes, or any landmark).

Tracking a wounded deer

No matter how hard we try to make responsible and ethical shots, there are times when blood trailing a deer is necessary. I have successfully tracked several deer. Some shot by me, some by friends. Unfortunately, I’ve also been a part of a few fruitless deer tracking expeditions. Some shot by me, some by friends.

Finding a deer at the end of a blood trail is one of the most exciting moments a hunter will experience. Ending the search without finding a deer is one of the most agonizing. No one is in the woods trying to wound a deer.

After the shot - Tips on locating Wounded Deer

You’ve made all the right preparations. You’re in the stand, just waiting for the opportunity to harvest the beautiful eight-point buck that you’ve scouted all summer. Suddenly, he appears at 50 yards. You find him in your scope, and put the crosshairs behind the shoulder. You squeeze the trigger and BOOM! You know that your aim was true. You climb down from the stand and rush over to where you thought he was standing only to find there is no sign of hitting him. What now?

You Shot a Deer. Here's How to Find It.

The buck you want is broadside, 20 yards away. You’re at full draw, trying to anchor and aim. I can count on Captain Hook’s left hand the number of things that excite me more than this moment. But nothing will turn that excitement into anxiety faster than releasing the arrow and not knowing exactly where it went. And that very thing happens to every bowhunter in the woods at some point in time.