Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Describe the most puzzling blood trail you've ever been on.
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Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby ILBowhunter » Mon Sep 01, 2008 8:39 am

Several years ago, in mid-October, I had a doe and two button bucks bed within 40 yards of my treestand location.  Shortly before dark, they got up and came within easy range and I put an arrow through the big doe at about 15 yards.  I watched her and the buttons run off directly south of my stand, but with the heavy foilage, I lost sight of them about 25 yards out.  I waited for about 20 minutes, by which time it had gotten completely dark, and I backed out in the opposite direction (i.e., north).  After retrieving my hunting partner who had been hunting about 600 yards away, we went into the location from the north to take up the blood trail.  We got on blood at the point of impact, found the arrow, and tracked in a straight line south for about 30-35 yards when we heard something get up about 15-20 yards out front of us.  We turned the lights toward the sound and caught a glimpse of a deer, which almost immediately was out of sight, heading due south.  We laid down some toilet tissue to mark the last blood sign and backed out.
It was suppose to rain late that night, so I didn't want to wait until the next morning to take up the trail, so we took a chance and went back about 90 minutes later.  By now the woods were pitch black; cloud cover and no moon at all.  We found the last blood sign and I went out to try and find where the deer had been bedded, expecting to find a pool of blood.  I scoured the area for over 20 minutes while my buddy directed me from the place we had been standing when the deer had jumped...  I found nothing.  I came back and slowly zigged-zagged in a general southerly direction trying to find the blood trail and/or where the doe had been bedded.... after another 15-20 minutes, nothing.  Then my partner went out to look while I stayed back and provided some direction... after another 15-20 minutes, nothing.  Eventually, I backed up about 15 yards on the original blood trail and followed it up to the point that it seeming ended, and I immediately realized that it turned directly east (i.e., a 90 degree left turn) at the exact point we had been standing when the deer jumped earlier in the evening.  I shined my light toward the east and we could see blood clear to a creek bank about 15-20 feet away, which was as far as the light went.  The trail dropped into the creek and within about 20 yards there was the doe; she had gone about 60 yards and surely was dead within seconds of the shot.  By the time we got the doe out of the woods it was after 10 PM.
I try to learn something every time I follow up a blood trail, but this one was particularly useful.  Of course, there was no question in our minds the deer that jumped shortly after we took up the blood trail was the doe I had shot.   But, most certainly it was one of the button bucks that had come back and bedded to wait for momma.  I had hunted enough, and killed does with young ones before, and new this was something that happens, but forwhatever reason I was unable to get out of my head that it was the doe we jumped.  First lesson, when the trail gets tough, question everything, don't make any assumptions.  In other words, when the trail seems to end, clear your mind, and suspend belief in what you "know to be true."
Second lesson, if the trail seems to end, retrace your steps, and then follow the trail while considering the possibility that the deer made a sharp turn left or right, or even stopped and backed-tracked before taking a different direction.
Third lesson, whenever possible, get someone to assist in trailing.  I can be honest and say that had I been looking for the deer by myself that night, I likely would have given up after spending 40 minutes, much of it on my hands and knees, trying to find where I believed the doe had bedded.  Of course, I would have gone back the next morning, but with the weather that came in, there is a good chance the search would have not been successful.

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RE: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby hunter480 » Mon Sep 01, 2008 9:50 am

Absolutely outstanding post.

I`ve known for as long as I`ve been deer hunting, I`m MUCH better off with someone with me when when attempting to blood trail a deer. They`re much more under contol than I am. Their heart isn`t pumping nearly thru their chest, they`re much better able to stay calm, think clearly, and NOT rush.

That`s the single best piece of advice I`ve ever heard, or found on my own.

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RE: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby Panman1949 » Mon Sep 01, 2008 2:23 pm

Awsome post!  Almost everyone would assume the same thing.  I did.  Goes back to never assume but rather find out.  And how better to do this than a buddy with a clear head.  Thanks for reminding us all of the "obvious",  especially since it is the easiest thing to overlook.  I will remember this post the next trail that perplexes me.  Thanks.

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RE: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby schlupis » Thu Sep 04, 2008 11:03 pm

agreed very nice post ILbowhunter. besides it always nice to have your buddies along for the tracking thats part of the hunt for me. I will drive 2 hours from my home to my buddies to help him track a deer.. and the more eyes looking the better..

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RE: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby oneshot 1 » Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:03 am

Truth I hate having anyone with me.They always seem to think it wasn't a killing shot and give up.Or they mess up too much sign.

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RE: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby ILBowhunter » Sun Sep 28, 2008 5:40 am

While I agree that there might be some people I'd rather leave behind, while I do the tracking by myself, I think maybe you chose the wrong people to help you oneshot 1. 
Those I enlist to help, and there are only a couple whom I trust, can really make a positive difference in motivating me to stay on the trail and helping make decisions if it gets tough.  And, besides, it's nice at the end of the trail to have someone to help with the field-dressing and drag out.

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RE: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby Squirrelhawker » Mon Sep 29, 2008 5:59 am

Great post. And a classic teaching tool for young bowhunters.
The key statment in this topic IMO is that things ar not always as they seem.
Not highjack your thread but speaking of "not as they seem" I recall a doe that came around in front of me some years back and I neglected to whistle to try and stop her. She was walking at around 20 yards and I wasn't completely sure I hit her at all. She bolted at the shot and actually turned and came right in to me, circling the stand and continuing on around returning the way she came in. By the time she had made the 75 yard circle, she had slowed to a walk as she disappeared into the cover.
I got down an went to the shot and couldn't see any sign. Following her trail back in towards me I had no blood. I got back up in the stand and though it over for a little while. Her path around back of me and into the cover was out in the open forest on a wide lane. I followed her trail up a small rise with no blood. As my heart was sinking on one hand, and relieved on the other for not hurting her, I saw the first tiny drop of blood.
there was more, but not much. As I picked my way slowly in to the thicket I hear her thrashing and saw her head flip back as she struggled to get up. Gore everywhere. Solid liver shot. No blood for about 85 yards. She died a minute or two later. I was just starting to convince myself I'd missed.

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Re: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby kellory » Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:52 pm

My uncle and I tracked a doe through a field of corn, brown stalks standing, light starting to fade, no flashlights but 1 little one, and I swear thr trail kept changing direction! If you looked at it from the air it might resemble a star of David or something close. Now my uncle is color blind and can not see a blood trail, but he reads prints just fine, and I do well with a blood trail, and when you combine the two you can track alot faster, each looking for a different kind of trail that compliment eachother. he will catch a half a print and I will catch a little transfer or drops, and the path is whole, It helps to look at it from another point of view. Your view is more focased and so is his,
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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Re: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby bobow » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:52 am

Great post ILBowhunter. Thanks for sharing!
Thomas Jefferson, 1774 July. "The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time."

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Re: RE: Making a difficult blood trail even more difficult

Postby jonny5buck » Wed Sep 28, 2011 8:53 am

oneshot 1 wrote:Truth I hate having anyone with me.They always seem to think it wasn't a killing shot and give up.Or they mess up too much sign.

Ditto -on that, i prefer to blood trail 98% of the time by me alone..i go super slow ,never walking on the trail[always on the side of it] and after yrs of it have the confidence in myself to not mess up the blood trail.I understand the 2% that i would enlist help ,but #1[ its not practical and sometimes not an option...and #2- i only trust 2people with helping me track.i have lost deer when i fisrt started hunting do to overanxious help,and a bullheaded tracker who passes the hunter whose deer it is....these are un written laws in my mind--never pass the hunter who took the shot/UNLESS/ they insist.or ask-period.! Thats great that the original posters help actually helped...but in my experience i prefer to walk it alone-98% of the time-JON~

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