Need Your Thoughts Please

Describe the most puzzling blood trail you've ever been on.
HunterGirl
 
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Need Your Thoughts Please

Postby HunterGirl » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:01 pm

Hi everyone. I'm writing this to get it off my chest and also to hear your opinions and thoughts. This is my first season hunting with a crossbow, though I've been hunting for several years. Yesterday we went out for an evening hunt, jumped some does going in, then settled into a spot on the ground by a fallen tree. After a little while I saw a little tree about 65 yards out shaking, but it wasn't windy out. Then I recognized the form of a deer. He was walking slowly sort of toward us but from right to left. He stopped in a clear shooting lane and my husband ranged him - 48 yards. I know that sounds like a far shot, but we had the crossbow hitting perfectly out to 50 yards. The deer was stopped, broadside, looking our way but not spooked, there was no wind, and I had a comfortable rest. I put the 50 yard dot on the scope right behind the shoulder and shot. We heard a loud dull hollow thump, and the deer turned and ran off the way he came. I honestly can't remember if his tail was up or down. It was at the edge of a ridge so after a few yards he had dropped over the ridge and was out of sight. We listened and didn't hear him crash or fall down. The shot was about 30 mins before dark. We sat in our spot for 15 minutes (I feel like that wasn't long enough but it was getting dark and my husband wouldn't wait any longer) and then slowly and carefully walked over to where we thought he was standing. No sign right there, but my husband found blood about 10 yards away. It was a moderate amount of bright red blood, with a fairly easy to follow trail. Not buckets of blood, but easily visible, big drops consistently seen on a well used deer trail. We followed it carefully for about 80 yards, then I looked up and saw the arrow. The whole arrow was soaked in bright red blood. We looked a little past that point but by then it was dark, so we decided to just come back in the morning to look for the deer. So this morning we picked the blood trail back up and followed it some more. It started to become less blood, but still consistently visible. When you turned and looked back at the trail, the deer had arched around a little from where the shot took place, and was heading downhill through the woods. About 200 yards from the shot, the trail came out of the woods and hugged a fence line on the right, with a field full of dense cattails and brush to the left, with a small river just past that side. Probably 50 yards from where the trail came out of the woods was the last spot we could find blood. The last probably 100 yards of blood trail was thinning out some - smaller drops of blood, fine drops, and spaced farther apart. I was finding blood everywhere from on leaves, fallen branches, log crossings, and grass blades to about thigh to wait high smears transfered onto the cattail stems and leaves. Mostly in a pretty straight line, but some spots blood about 18 inches wide across the trail. All the blood was bright red, a spot or two seemed to have bubbles but overall mostly not. Definitely no green or stomach content or gut smell on any of the blood or the arrow, and no bone or tissue. No places where he had bedded down or large puddles of blood. Seemed like he was just walking. The last blood was about the halfway point of the field / clearing between patches of woods. I looked exhaustively for more blood but couldn't find any, though my husband had unknowingly walked through that area earlier - before we knew the blood trail went that way - and could possibly have messed up the blood, though the rest of it wasn't too hard to find. I don't know if the deer cut off to the left across the thick field, or kept going on that trail by the fence. I don't think he jumped the high fence to the right. We looked for hours through the field, up and down the river on that side, and the woods ahead. Most of the area is pretty thick and I felt like you wouldn't see the deer unless you nearly walked on top of it. So even if we missed a small area he could have been there somewhere. I'm so frustrated and upset because I felt like it was a good shot, the arrow showed us good sign, then everything fizzled out. If it was a high lung shot I guess he could have gone pretty far. Another possibility is if the shot was just high enough to miss the lungs, but right under the spine, so that wouldn't be any vitals. Not sure if a deer can recover from that or not. I can't decide if the small blood drops were from the nose or mouth indicating a lung shot. It was cold last night but got warm today, so at this point the meat isn't usuable, but I still wish I at least knew what happened. Seemed like a good, clean shot, with good sign, until the trail stopped, and no deer. Any thoughts?? Thanks for reading this long post.

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kellory
 
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Re: Need Your Thoughts Please

Postby kellory » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:11 pm

Any flocks of birds you can see? They will likely have found the body. Deer often head toward water when hurt, is the trail in line or near water? How about a neighbor with a dog on a leash? You are tracking by blood. Is the ground soft enough to take a print? follow the tracks? Transfer hair on brush or fences? Look for leaves that have been turned over by his dragging toes, and grass that has been pushed out of line. He knows he is hurt, he will either run or hide. The bubbles in the blood mean you most likely got the lung, but you might have only gotten one, in which case, he can go pretty far before falling over. I would suggest, at the point that you lost the blood trail, he may have changed direction. can you find his prints? Or mark the last point of blood with a pole in the ground and spiral out from it looking for prints or blood. You may even take a climber stand and go up and look with binos on that field, he may have dropped in a patch of grass. Let me know how it goes, alright? That feeling sucks, I know. :(
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

HunterGirl
 
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Re: Need Your Thoughts Please

Postby HunterGirl » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:31 pm

Thanks for the reply... no buzzards but did see a bunch of birds in a couple trees not too far from this whole area, I checked that area out thoroughly thinking they were on to something, but didn't find anything there. There is a river on one side and a smaller creek out in front, checked all along both of those. The ground is soft but it's a well used area and there are deer prints everywhere and lots of trails. I saw lots of tracks but never knew what deer they came from - none that looked different or unusual. In the woods the trail and leaves looked a little scuffed up, but once it came out of the woods the ground is different and I couldn't see that anymore. I agree that maybe he changed directions after we lost the blood, but can't figure out why it would all the sudden cut out into the field when he had been following the trail along that fence so tightly. Who knows though. That's a good idea to go up in a stand and look, most of the weeds and brush in there is up to my head and you can hardly see right in front of you. Maybe from above would give us a better look. Also I'm thinking about taking our dog, he is just a regular house dog, but it wouldn't hurt to try. Man I really thought when I found that blood soaked arrow that we would have the deer. We'll keep looking every time we go out there. Thanks again.

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kellory
 
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Re: Need Your Thoughts Please

Postby kellory » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:09 pm

Where you lost the blood, there is a set of prints that he was standing in at the time. Find HIS prints, and follow them like footprints in the sand. Do not focas on just one kind of tracking, but combine them. blood, and prints, and signs of movement together It often helps to have one person looking for blood, another for prints, working together at the same point in the trail. It is easy to develope tunnel vision when schearching, and you may overlook a print while looking for blood and vice versa. And if the brush is as high as you say, I would look from above if possible. Good luck.
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

Joel Spring
 
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Re: Need Your Thoughts Please

Postby Joel Spring » Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:18 am

Kellory has given some great advice here. He's right. TRACK that deer. Don't just blood trail it. Look at the GENERAL direction it was heading when last you had blood and walk slowly and carefully that way, watching the ground for broken grass, scuffed leaves, prints, hair, etc.

Unfortunately, if you bowhunt long enough, this will probably happen to you more than once. It never gets any easier, and it's a horrible feeling. I know what you're going through.

I've trailed a lot of deer, for friends and for myself, and I think I'm pretty good at it. Considering you were shooting at ground level, I don't think you single-lunged the deer. Based on what you've written, I think there's a dead deer out there. I'd almost bet money on it.

I helped a friend recover an 8 point buck that we each took vacation days to track. It was a liver hit and went over 600 yards. We found it a month later, and just stumbled on it. We passed within 10 yards of it several times while tracking, but never spotted it. And we're both very experienced trackers. Needless to say, all he got was the rack. But there is a great sense of satisfaction in knowing you've recovered the deer that you killed.

Keep at it, and best of luck to you.
Joel Spring
Longtime Deer & Deer Hunting Contributor
ruabirddog@aol.com

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kellory
 
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Re: Need Your Thoughts Please

Postby kellory » Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:02 pm

Joel Spring wrote:Kellory has given some great advice here. He's right. TRACK that deer. Don't just blood trail it. Look at the GENERAL direction it was heading when last you had blood and walk slowly and carefully that way, watching the ground for broken grass, scuffed leaves, prints, hair, etc.

Unfortunately, if you bowhunt long enough, this will probably happen to you more than once. It never gets any easier, and it's a horrible feeling. I know what you're going through.

I've trailed a lot of deer, for friends and for myself, and I think I'm pretty good at it. Considering you were shooting at ground level, I don't think you single-lunged the deer. Based on what you've written, I think there's a dead deer out there. I'd almost bet money on it.

I helped a friend recover an 8 point buck that we each took vacation days to track. It was a liver hit and went over 600 yards. We found it a month later, and just stumbled on it. We passed within 10 yards of it several times while tracking, but never spotted it. And we're both very experienced trackers. Needless to say, all he got was the rack. But there is a great sense of satisfaction in knowing you've recovered the deer that you killed.

Keep at it, and best of luck to you.

Thank you Joel, I tracked on for five miles once before losing it on property where I could not go. It changed me from a bow hunter to a crossbow hunter, for better penatration. A doe jumped the string, and intercepted the arrow with the back of her head, but the broadhead failed to finish the job. With a crossbow, the same shot will drop them in thier tracks. I still bow hunt, but I perfer the crossbow because I only have to track other peoples deer. :D
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

HunterGirl
 
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Re: Need Your Thoughts Please

Postby HunterGirl » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:17 pm

This is the first deer I have shot with a crossbow, with obviously not the best results, but I can't complain about the equipment. There was good penetration since the arrow had gone all the way through, though we found it maybe 80 yards from the shot location. I guess it went mostly through and was barely hanging in there then hit against a tree and came the rest of the way out? I was shooting a fixed blade broadhead that seemed to do what it's supposed to. I could analyze all the details for hours but just some bad luck I guess. My husband was back at the property for a couple hours this evening but didn't find anything new. He says if you bowhunt long enough, this kind of stuff will happen. Still no fun at all. Several years ago we spent two days looking for a doe he had shot with a rifle that was probably a brisket hit. We took our old dog over there and he ran off and wouldn't come for a long time... when he finally came back he stunk like death. We think he found the deer but we never caught up to him. I will never forget that trailing job and could still take you to the last spot of blood there even though it's been years since we've hunted there. I've shot a deer before that didn't bleed a drop until 5 yards from where it lay, and we tracked it by following the kicked up leaves (he only went 60 or 70 yards but it was thick and hard to see). Anyway, I still hope we find some answers on this one... thanks for all the advice and support!

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kellory
 
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Re: Need Your Thoughts Please

Postby kellory » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:36 pm

It has been my pleasure to assist you. I hope you find your deer. As to the crossbow bolt, if it is slightly bent, and there was much blood where you found it, the deer may have rolled to pull it out, or you might find teeth marks on the shaft from where the deer pulled it out. I have seen both. or the head catching as it runs could pull it through. I think you will find your deer. ;)
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.


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