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I am relatively inexperienced as a hunter, and I could use as much advice as you folks can offer on the subject of tracking deer after they have been shot. The couple of times I have had to look for and follow a blood trail were more challenging than I would have expected.

Also, does anyone think those blood tracking flashlights are worth having? If so, which ones have worked well?
 

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I use marking tape to follow a blood trail. A wounded deer will often circle back, and it's easier to keep track of if the trail is well marked with tape. Last weekend a fellow hunter used the blood light to track his hit deer - fresh blood shows up pretty well, but not enough for him. I think a solid hit would make the light more useful. I plan to get one.
 

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I am relatively inexperienced as a hunter, and I could use as much advice as you folks can offer on the subject of tracking deer after they have been shot. The couple of times I have had to look for and follow a blood trail were more challenging than I would have expected.

Also, does anyone think those blood tracking flashlights are worth having? If so, which ones have worked well?
Unfortunately, tracking deer is something a lot of hunters don't spend much time on. Some deer don't fall down upon impact with the bullet, so it is important to know where your rifle is shooting and where you think you hit the deer. Even a heart/lung shot will give the deer up to 100 yards or so to run out of oxygen.
HAving grown up on bowhunting, tracking is a way of life. Look for hair on the ground where it was hit, from that point, I always get on my knees to look at that trail from the deer's point of view. If hurt, the animal takes the path he knows will get him to cover but also gives you insight into where he is headed. As he bounds away, you may only see a blood drop every 10 feet. As he runs out of steam, and more blood collects around the wound, more blood is exposed. You might find where he has laid down to rest (die) as the hunter pushes him further.
Many many times wounded animals will go toward water. One of my son's last wild shots on a good buck had us both looking well past dark on an evening hunt, and we covered about a 500-600 yard area when we both said "lets look over by the pond" Sure enough, the buck was lying on the dam with a heart/ lung shot over 350 yards away from impact.
If you are sure of your shot, give the deer time to die as close as possible and try to get another hunter to help in tracking. Sometimes the blood is up on the bushes, and not always on the ground. Think like the deer.
I have never seen deer tracking after the shot as due to a bad shot. It is just another part of hunting, and one the hunter as least owes the animal at which he's throwing lead.

I don't know if those blood light work that well or not. I spent the money and got one of the high intensity LED lights. They cost around $75.00-$100.00 but they are definitely worth every penny. The flourescent effect gives better light for tracking in my opinion.

Since we have hogs galore down here, if I hit one that needs tracking, I go about it very deliberately. Especially after dark. They have a nasty disposition on a good day. If your shot was a running, or a marginal shot, I would wait 30 minutes, and get some help. With hogs, this can be hazardous.
Since I hunt the same areas all the time, I've got a good idea of where the deer are going after the shot. Anyway, those are some tendancies that I have noticed.
I hope no one posts that if you use the right caliber, you won't need to track. That really doesn't have much to do with it.
Anyway good luck this season
 

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It's best to have a partner with you... one stays with the last blood found while the other looks for the next drops. Find more, the other moves up to it, repeat. You do this so in case you need to go back to re-evaluate the search from the last known blood sign. If you are by yourself, you can leave a hat or hankerchief or something near the last known blood sign.
 

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I am relatively inexperienced as a hunter, and I could use as much advice as you folks can offer on the subject of tracking deer after they have been shot. The couple of times I have had to look for and follow a blood trail were more challenging than I would have expected.

Also, does anyone think those blood tracking flashlights are worth having? If so, which ones have worked well?
UC,

I am a meat hunter. And will take the broadside double lung shot most of the time even if it means I must track the deer. However, about 1 hr before dusk I switch to a high shoulder shot to avoid having to track after dark. This shot usually means I'm going to loose whole or part of the off shoulder but its never bloodied the front part of the backstraps. All deer I've shot high shoulder have been DRT.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Some good advice on tracking. On a particularly tough job, putting a marker like survey tape, or a square of toilet paper, at each blood drop can help keep you on track. It also helps you go back to a known position if you lose the trail and start over.

Shoulder shot means less tracking, in my experience. Twice I've had deer go 200+ yards with blown up lungs. It happens.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Tom - Mike, check your PM's.
 

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Some good advice on here already. Things I look for besides blood (especially at first since some deer dont really open up and bleed hard for the first 10-15 yards) are clumps of hair that are usually at the point of impact, little bits of flesh or lung tissue can be mixed with blood or just on their own, and thin little bone shards you'll find from shoulder shot deer that run.
 

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something we do here in dense cover is bring in a blood dog.. worth his weight in gold if you got a good one..i don t own one but know a fella that does an all i have to do is callem .. he loves to work his dog ,,an his dog loves to work..:) slim
 

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I've done my share of blood trailing, about 40 years worth of it with the first 30 years as a hard core bowhunter.

It starts at the shot. The critters reaction says a lot about how it's needs to be handled. At one time I was a NBEF instructor and a lot of time spent certifying hunters was spent on blood trailing. There are some interactive training online, start here: http://bowsite.com/bowsite/features/practical_bowhunter/bloodtrailing/index.html

I favor toilet paper over any other type of marking material. It is easy to see, day or night, and it dissolves rapidly. Even the morning due will cause it to break down rapidly. There is nothing worse to be trailing something that crosses a previously marked trail. Fact is, after I find the animal I remove the markers. All of them.

A Coleman gas light with a reflector is better than a flashlight. I do use a Gerber Carnivore and it is a great aid. I feel the flashlight portion is too bright for normal work like walking to the stand. The flashlight portion of this light is more of a spotlight and that is what it is intended to be, a search light for general use on the blood trail.

The fewer people on the trail, the greater the recovery chances are. Good blood trail work is slow and most people move to rapidly and get ahead of the trailer. When than happens, count the critter lost.

Use birds and critters such as squirrels to help you keep aware of what a critter is doing. There are several tattle-tales out there. Jays and mockingbirds can't keep their mouths shut when they see a wounded/stressed critter.

Things happen, don't give up. If fact, I think I used that as the title of a thread I posted about a buck deer I killed this year in this forum.
 

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It's best to have a partner with you... one stays with the last blood found while the other looks for the next drops. Find more, the other moves up to it, repeat. You do this so in case you need to go back to re-evaluate the search from the last known blood sign. If you are by yourself, you can leave a hat or hankerchief or something near the last known blood sign.

An excellent way. Make the 'or something' that you leave at the last blood one sheet of bathroom tissue. THen when you get 'hung up' and cant find blood you can look back and see what gen direction the wounded was going. At night the best light is a Coleman lantern, with one of those reflector handles on it. They light up the area rather than a 1' flashlight beam.

Leaving your buddy standing at the last blood reduces your trackers by 50%. Leaving arrows etc is a waste of time, also. The bathroom tissue is easily digested by nature.
 

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Yeah, something brought up above by Ranch Dog... step lightly (don't shuffle your feet) and don't let people just walk all over the place, too. When someone walks across the blood trail and flips the leaves over, the trail gets lost.

And I agree about the bathroom tissue. The important thing is to leave *something* (even if you need to go back and pick it up before you leave). Your buddy might be all you have, other than shucking your clothes off as you go ;)
 

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Gee guys! I don't have trouble tracking, but I was taught by a Cherokee indian. I wear soft sole moccasins and read the leaves, twigs and what Ranch Dog says. The critters will talk you you.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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And, of course, Michael - you used to have a fine tracking dog named "Ranch Dog" to help in recovering critters. Still remember the picture of him with the Hero medal you made for him! May he be in doggy heaven and chewing on a big milk bone.
 

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First off, before i start tracking anything i evaluate how the animal was hit, I like to wait 10-15 minutes to start tracking in most cases, unless hard rain. If it is dark, you need good light, dont even try tracking using a weak light. When i begin tracking i locate where the animal was standing or running when the shot took place (or as close as i can) i will closely inspect the surrounding area very slowly, being carenot to step anywhere i havent carefully looked over. Sometimes i will find a good amount of blood where the shoot took place, other times i wont find blood untill 20 or so yards down the trail, so it is important to evaluate the surrounding trails, keep in mind a wounded deer is likely to travel down hill if it can, blood will usually be well above the ground (high grass, ferns, salmonberry etc) if it is really brushy. Just work very slowly.

Wehn blood is found, an evaluation must be done, Whats in the blood is important If you find foamy blood odds are your deer hasnt gone far (no reason to jump your trail) if the blood is real dark, it prolly wasnt just a flesh wound, you might find chunks or bone,hide, lung, liver in your blood all of which are good signs, if you find stomache contents, back off the trail and wait about an hour. Sometimes a good blood trail that is easily followed becomes skimpy, and spread out , do not let this discourage you, it may just be that the deer in question is getting low on blood, just make sure you dont ever walk past your blood thinking your deer will be dead a few feet up the trail, i am as carefull tracking a well hit deer as i am one badly wounded, cause in the end you just dont know for sure, anything can happen.

In my experiences toilet paper is far more effective than marking tape, in the dark even a dim light will make those little sqaures glow, while marking tape will not, also in many woods there is marking tape everywhere from timber sales and whatnot, fresh toilet paper is amazing, you can have a weak light shined on it and get a glowing effect, sort of like when you shine a flashlight on a vehicles lisence plate (it glows even if its well out of the lights effective range.
 

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All these guys gave some sound advice,and I have used most if not all of them at one time or another.But the best way I have found to remedy that is just as RaySendero does,I now always use the high shoulder shot. Dead On Impact when you shock the spine above the shoulders...........my 2 cents worth
 

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Good advice here so far. I have always marked the last spot, and looked for the next, if nothing is found go back to the last spot and look harder in the direction the deer was moving in a 0-10-15 foot area. Sometimes depending on where the animal is hit, there may be a murder scene or a pin drop every 10 feet.

The best way to find blood is look really hard scan back and forth as you are walking and go slow. If you are really lucky there is snow, and this makes tracking almost too easy. A drop of blood in snow usually sticks out like a fox in the hen house. Sometimes you need to get down on your knees and look. A friend can always make tracking a little easier as long as they know a little about tracking also. Inviting someone that has never done it may mess things up and make it impossible to track, by walking through blood drops and turning over leaves.

Another thing to look for is blood on the sides of weeds or blades of grass. Many times as they are running these weeds or grass brush up against them and there is a little smear of blood on about 1-3 feet off the ground.

Most important thing is look really close, and take your time.

If all else fails call in the chopper and do an aerial search!
 

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I've been lucky in my 30 years of deer hunting and have only lost 2 deer shot with a rifle. Most times, my deer don't go very far, but sometimes things get squirrely out there.

I once shot a deer that I knew I hit, but couldn't find any blood at the area the deer was standing. I did semi-circles in an ever increasing radius in the direction the deer went. 40 yds later, I found the 1st drop of blood. After finding the first drop, the deer started bleeding well enough for my to easily follow. 400+ yds later I found him dead. The bullet only caught 1 lung, so the deer took awhile to die.

On another occasion, I shot a doe at last light with my bow and she ran down hill thru 100 yds of berry bushes and tree tops. Following blood was impossible in that terraine in the dark, so I went out in semi-circles heading the direction she ran looking for white fur or shining eyes. I found her at the bottom of the ridge in a heap against an uprooted tree.


I've also found deer by reading the signs on the ground. When they leave in a hurry, they disturb leaves and dirt so you can often follow tracks as you look for faint blood sign.

The hardest place I've found to follow blood is in a field. It hard to determine where exactly the deer was, and upright grass doesn't show blood like flat leaves do.

Basically, pay attention to the deer's reactions, watch where it ran, keep calm and work slowly, follow the sign and mark the last drops found as you look for the next blood sign. Keep your cool and things will work out fine.
 

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Spending a lot of time at the kill sight, even making sure you have a good landmark and direction of travel, before leaving the tree, will be time well spent. I have gone back and got in the tree more times than I care to admit. The info you get from the observation of the shot placement, deer reaction, direction of travel and sounds during the deers exit, are crucial. If no evidence of the hit is found at the point you think it all happened, you are probably in the wrong place.
 
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