Here's all the info you need to follow a blood trail and track down that trophy this fall.
If you have been hunting deer for very long, then chances are you have been required to follow a blood trail when your shot didn't hit exactly where you were aiming.
From time to time, even great shots will require some tracking. Just walking to the spot where you think the deer ran can work sometimes, but to put the odds more in your favor of tracking down your deer, use these tips to find out how to really follow a blood trail.
The most obvious step in tracking down a blood trail is by paying attention to where the arrow actually hit the animal. Depending on how the deer reacts after contact will tell you several things that you will need to know.
If the deer kicks out its back legs and takes off like a bolt, then chances are good the arrow or bullet struck vitals and there will be a quick recovery. This is especially the case if the deer is stumbling while it is running away. Most likely this deer will only run about 150 to 200 yards max before crashing, or bedding down, regardless if it is stumbling or not.
If the deer arches its back after contact, chances are likely that it was a gut shot. This one is going to require a little more work. A gut shot deer will not run far and often times they will just sort of trot away. Typically this deer will bed down in less than 100 yards.
One sure sign to know if you at least just hit the deer is hidden in its tail. Most injured deer do not run with their tail up, especially immediately following a shot. If that tail is down, you know there was contact.
Check the Arrow
If you're bowhunting, your first step should be to find the arrow before starting your attempt to track your deer. The arrow itself will be the second biggest determination in what plans need to be made in attempting to recover your deer. The arrow should have blood covering parts of the shaft, and the color of that blood will tell you about how far the deer probably traveled. There should also be impact blood on the ground very close to the arrow. This blood indicates the point where the blood trail begins.
If the blood is bright, then most likely the heart was punctured or other vital area where blood is rich. This is the most ideal blood to find. Wait about 30 to 40 minutes before following the trail depending on any visual clues the deer gave before going out of site.
If the blood is dark red, then the shot was little farther back, most likely hitting the liver. This shot is also in the vitals but might take a little longer to be fatal. In this case, wait at least an hour.
If the blood is pink and frothy, then it was a lung shot. This is the second best blood to find. This is also vital blood and the deer won't travel far. Pink and frothy blood is the most common blood that hunters tend to find since the lungs are the biggest target on the deer. In most cases, this deer will be down in less than 200 yards. Waiting about an hour is probably best.
If there is little blood on the arrow but there are pieces of feces mixed with fat, then unfortunately this is probably a gut shot. This is worst case scenario. This deer is still recoverable but it can be tough. Wait at least four to five hours before giving pursuit.
While following the trail, the blood may seem erratic at first. That is just fine since this means the deer was still running. Continue to follow until the blood seems like it has been falling in drops. At this point, the deer is walking and close to bedding or crashing down.
Don't Just Look Down
The blood may not always be only on the ground. Be sure to check tall grass or weeds where you think the deer may have ran.
Look several feet high since that should be the area where the arrow or bullet passed through on the body of the deer. Pieces of body, lung, or a clot may be stopping the blood from falling to the ground, but it is still there if you know where to look.
Of course, the above tips are the case for the average deer. I have taken deer with my bow that have not reacted in the same manner as described above, but a majority have.
Like most things in the Great Outdoors, the more practice, the better one can become. With this in mind, help a buddy out. I always track a deer with at least one other hunter. Most people I hunt with follow this same rule.
Four eyes are better than two and the more chances you get following a blood trail, the better you will become at recovering your deer.
What tips do you have to follow a blood trail?