The best blood trailing advice I could ever offer anyone was reaffirmed by my friend Lon yesterday when he was helping track a deer shot by his daughter-in-law. That advice is simple: Never, ever give up on a deer that you know you shot.
By Daniel E. Schmidt
Sounds simple enough, but I’ve seen too many guys give up on blood trails because a deer “wasn’t bleeding enough” or the blood trail “suddenly went dry.”
Lon first texted me after Holly shot her buck the previous evening. Both Lon and I were thinking liver shot based off of the buck’s reactions and the ensuing blood trail.
“Holly hit a buck tonight, arrow passed through, deer ran short distance, stood for several minutes looking around, walked off. I looked at arrow, completely covered in dark chocolate fluid, some red, no solids or manure, no smell. When I wiped arrow off on a paper towel the fluid took on a brownish appearance. Deer was at five yards and shot from a fifteen foot platform. I am making the assumption arrow passed in front of diaphragm. Thinking liver? At first I thought three hours but after thinking about it I decided we should wait until the AM, hope I made the right choice. What do you think, eh?”
Having tracked many liver-hit deer over the years, I thought Lon’s assumption was correct. I replied:
“Yes, I agree. Good call on waiting until the morning, too. I had an almost identical situation a few years back on a buck here in Wisconsin. Same brownish, opaque fluid on arrow. Liver-shot deer normally bed; then get up and move a few feet; bed; etc. The buck I shot like that bedded five times overnight within a 20 yards spot. Was stone dead when we found him in the morning.”
If only blood-trailing were that easy. Of course, we were both wrong, but Lon’s a seasoned hunter who knows that deer — especially big ones — die hard and never follow the script.
I didn’t hear back from him until way later in the afternoon the next day. His report:
“Hard days work, but well worth it. Turns out the shot was at slight angle, front to back, caught stomach, no liver, nothing else. Exit wound bottom of deer, entrails, fat etc hanging from wound, plugged hole. There were a few drops of blood where deer had stood, that’s it, nothing else. Started body sweeps at 9:15 a.m., found deer at 2:15 p.m.!
“We were trying everything, finally got down to checking ponds. Finally — at a pond 180 degrees in direction from direction deer headed after shot — we stumbled on the deer laying only inches from the pond, had just died. An hour earlier he would have been up and gone! She was pretty happy, but one tired camper after two sleepless nights, her first bow buck! Wow, what great fun, eh? PS: My butt is dragging!”
Lon, Lance and Holly all deserve a big shout-out for not giving up on that deer. Bowhunting is a serious lifestyle — the same should be said of each and every bloodtrail we encounter. Great example for other bowhunters, Team Sherman!
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