email@example.com wrote: My question is then, if I can't pass through bones, but I know I hit him in the right line horizontally associated with vitals, if I was too high then how did it pass through without hitting vitals but low enough to miss backbone? Apparent by the lack of blood and a bunch of meat on the arrow?
The reality is that you are very unlikely to have passed through, high in the chest, without hitting vitals. I admit that the "meat" on the arrow is puzzling. I've seen arrows pull blood, stomach contents and tallow through a deer but I've never seen meat. In spite of that puzzling bit of info, I'd still lean toward a dead deer. Lung shots do not always bleed heavily or quickly. This is particularly true for high lung shots. You may have hit high, clipped one lung, pierced the diaphragm and exited just above the paunch. If you missed the kidneys and major arteries, your deer most likely went a very long way before bedding. I once shot straight down onto a doe, taking only one lung and exiting on the bottom of her chest. She zig-zaged over 500 yards, trickling blood, before entering a CRP field where I lost the trail. I have no doubt that she died. A few years later I hit a buck with a lung/liver shot. He covered a mere 50 yards and then bedded in a corn field. I watched him lay there and look around, getting up several times, for over an hour before he died. Can a deer survive on one lung and a pierced diaphragm? Yes, but it is very unlikely.
Again, it's good that this is eating you up. It proves that you are contentious and the thought of leaving a deer out there bothers you. But it is a part of the experience.
Now a few points of advice, all of which I've come by the hard way. #1) Buy a laser rangefinder. I bought mine after a bad season and now I will never bow hunt without it. #2) While it is good to give a deer some time after the hit, don't leave the area without at least quietly recovering your arrow and marking the spot. #3) Rather than returning with six buddies, try one (two max) at first. Six trackers make noise, walk on sign, and probably do more harm than good. Often a poorly hit deer (especially a gut shot) will go less than 200 yards before bedding. A big tracking party is likely to kick him up but not even know it. The six man party is a last resort, after all sign is washed away. #4) Do not leave a deer with rain on the way.
Seriously, everything I offer you came to me via painful mistakes. No judgement, just hoping somebody can learn from my mistakes.