As a continuation of last month’s deer tracking advice article, I felt it necessary to add the detective science needed to finish the job. The last piece of that puzzle is tracking the blood itself!
Reiterating what I wrote last month, keeping an eye on the arrow and the shot placement will save you a lot of headaches when it comes time to locate your deer. Of course, watching which way the deer travels after the hit is a vital clue not to be forgotten either. As simple as that may sound, it’s not always that easy when the area you hunt is filled with brush and your heart is still pumping at twice its normal rate! Nevertheless, it’s the beginning of what could, or could not be, a long road to recovery of the animal.
As mentioned last month, knowing where you hit the deer should give you an idea on how long to wait until your tracking efforts should be initiated. If every hunt were executed perfectly, a person wouldn’ t need to worry about tracking as the deer would simply lie where it was hit! A perfect shot in the perfect place at the perfect time! Life’s not that simple. Hunting wild animals requires a lot of quick thinking and solid decision making. Sometimes we just do the best we can and hope for the best outcome. In those cases, we track!
After the hit, and after the decision to track has been made, the REAL hunt begins! Picking up on the blood trail is the first clue needed to proceed. Once that blood trail is located, one should stop and analyze the blood itself! Once the arrow is found, the blood is easy to examine. Even if the arrow is lost, the blood on the ground will tell much of the story. Blood with air bubbles in it is a good sign of a lung hit.
Lung hits are good injuries that usually find the deer dead less than 100 yards. Green paste mixed with blood is a sign of a gut-shot deer and waiting 10-12 hours is usually recommended. Blood with tiny specks in it will most likely be a stomach shot. Without recapping the entire article from last month, I think you get the point here. Identify the blood you have to confirm the type of shot!
Now the blood itself tells another story once it hits the ground. A huge pool of blood in one location indicates a stationary deer. As the deer runs from being hit, notice the length between drops. As the drops become closer to each other, it’s evident the deer is slowing down. Confused about which direction the deer ran once the trail is found? Look closely at the drops. A solid drop of blood with specks of blood coming from one direction of the drop reveal the direction of travel! In other words, the deer is traveling in the direction of the splatter. If the blood has equal spray around the drop, it definitely stopped and could be laying down close by OR, you could be pushing it! Examine both possibilities. If the blood trail suddenly becomes weak or lost, several things could be happening. The deer could be laying down dead or the wound could have been a flesh hit which began to close up. If it’s the latter, you may never find it.
In the many decades I have tracked deer, the most trying types of blood trails I have found are the trails that dry up leaving you questioning which way to go. Those are also the most challenging for me. Sometimes I enjoy the tracking process as much as the hunt itself! To me, it’s like a whole new hunt. There definitely is an art to it, that’s for sure. When I do come across that scenario, I’ve learned one very important rule: Go back! I would say about 50% of the times I’ve back-tracked, I have found my (or a friends) deer. When deer run hard after they’ve been injured, they run out of steam and realize they can’t make it to their destination, so they turn to the nearest gully or creek bed. When your blood trail runs out, go backward and look 90 degrees in both directions from the main blood trail. Chances are you’ll a faint blood trail heading to one of these areas or you’ll find the deer itself! Never give up on a blood trail that goes light or you could be missing the opportunity of bringing home the bacon!
One note worthy of mentioning is to mark the trail of blood once you started trailing it. Many times you’ll go back and forth over the trail itself, damaging evidence along the way. If you need to come back and the light is different, those markers will be a welcome sign to you and the people that are with you to help. So when you shoot your deer, don’t drop the ball in relief! Take the necessary time needed before the tracking process and get your Sherlock Holmes hat, gloves and glasses on because the last phase of the hunt is just beginning!