Admit it. After you make the shot on a deer…you’re terrible at telling time.
It’s not that you can’t tell time, it’s just that you’re so excited to start tracking your trophy that you become impatient. That impatience leads to an overestimation of how much time has actually passed since you made the shot.
Rush a tracking job on a wounded deer, and you run the very real risk of bumping it right out of the county and out of your reach.
What can you do to stay in the stand long enough?
1. Check the Time
It might seem like a “Duh” step, but checking the time allows you to set a duration for when you’ll allow yourself to get down or out of hiding.
If you put a good hit on a deer at 7:30, you can get 8:00 in your head as a release time to get out of your stand and begin tracking.
2. Send a Text
You know you want to get the word out about your potential kill, so go right ahead. This does a couple of things. First, it puts your buddies on notice that they may be pressed in to service on a tracking job. Secondly, it adds a time stamp just after your shot.
As your mind swims and recovers from adrenaline, you may forget what time the shot occurred. You can go back through your text history as a reference.
3. Post On Social Media
Similar in concept to the texting idea, but with an added benefit. We all know how we go onto our social media accounts to check one thing, then an hour later we find ourselves on a rabbit trail reading an article about one arrow putting five holes in a single deer on some hunting and fishing website.
It’ll be time to go find your deer before you know it.
4. Start Tracking From the Stand
You can start collecting information about your deer from your stand or blind. Look for your arrow. Is it discolored with blood? Gut material? Can you see blood on the ground? Are there any discernible trails heading the way your deer ran off?
This information can help you put together a better scenario for how far and where your deer might have gone.
5. Call a Buddy
Another time stamped event, but talking out loud about the sequence of events leading up to and after the shot can help you clarify your memories. You think the deer bucked when you hit him, or did he hunch up? Talking about it with someone else can help you clear up the blurry parts.
Of course, if the deer is still within earshot, this one should be kept to a whisper, or avoided until a reasonable amount of time.
6. Have a Snack
Why not sit down and enjoy that summer sausage that’s been greasing up your backpack pouch all afternoon? You could probably use the nourishment for your upcoming tracking (and hopefully field dressing) work.
Eating gives your mind something else to focus on and can help lend some objectivity to recent events. Maybe your shot was a little far back. In the heat of the kill your mind can watercolor events, causing you to underestimate how much time to give your deer to expire. Relax and have a bite.
Of course, the more questionable the shot, the more time you should allow for these activities. That could even include coming home to try again the following day if there’s really that much doubt or the weather dictates it. Don’t sit around doing nothing waiting impatiently to recover your deer after the shot. Chances are you’ll only jump him in the process of expiring.
Instead, try these time fillers and recover more deer this season!
Images ia Tim Kjellesvik/The Thinking Woodsman