The Ultimate Guide on How to Track Wounded Deer Successfully

To track wounded deer, wait for at least 30 minutes, mark the spot where the deer was shot, look for blood sign, determine the direction, search thoroughly, consider using dogs, and seek help from other hunters or professionals if needed.

Don’t you think shooting a deer and losing it is the biggest guilt in hunting? If you never had such an experience then let me open the door for you. No matter how skilled and professional you are, someday your shot may not go as expected and you will lose track of your hunt.

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Being in such a situation will only bring you regret and guilt. You will start questioning your own abilities and face devastating feelings. Such feelings trigger your sense of ethics and they remind you that you have a sense of respect for the animal.

It gives you a kick that you have to track the deer at all costs. If you lack basic tracking knowledge you may never find the wounded whitetail. But if you stick with us till the end of this article you’ll know some of the tracking tips.

With these tips, there is a great chance that you will find the wounded deer and go home with a reward.

Understanding Deer Behaviuor After Being Wounded

In my experience, tracking a wounded deer can be challenging and time-consuming. I remember a time when I hit a deer in the hindquarters, and it took me several hours to track it down. The deer had bedded down in a dense thicket, and I had to approach it slowly and carefully to make the final shot without causing any further harm. It was a challenging experience that taught me the importance of understanding deer behaviour after being wounded.

Deer behaviour after being wounded can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. If the wound is not fatal, the deer may continue running for an extended period before bedding down. However, if the injury is severe, such as a hit to the heart or lungs, the deer may bed down quickly and not move again.

When tracking a wounded deer, hunters should look for signs such as blood trails, broken branches, or disturbed vegetation. They should also pay attention to the terrain and any obstacles the deer may have encountered. It’s crucial to approach the situation with compassion and responsibility to minimize the animal’s suffering.

5 Techniques for Tracking Wounded Deer

Step1: Deer Reaction

After you have taken a shot at deer, settle your nerves, and calm yourself. Wait for 20 to 30 minutes and now visualize your shot and how the deer reacted or responded to it. Based on how the deer reacts when hit, we can somewhat know where the deer was hit.

Deer Reaction

If a deer jumps high and kicks its hind legs followed by a run, it would mean that the deer got hit in its heart or lungs.

In this case, the deer will not make it beyond 100 yards and you will find it sooner or later. However, if a deer struggles away with a hanging head after some halts and runs, it would indicate a hit in the liver or gut.

Let the deer bed and die in peace. Don’t set out too early for the track, otherwise, the deer will push and bed somewhere else.

Step2: Examine the blood

In the art of tracking a wounded deer, the blood colour also tells you a lot about where the deer was hit. If you find the blood to be bright pink in colour with bubbles, it would indicate that your arrow pierced the lung of the whitetail. Such a wound will not allow the deer to make it far.

examine deer blood

Finding rich vivid red blood at the scene would specify a wound near the heart. Dark, crimson-coloured blood indicates taking a shot in the liver and kidney. A wound to these organs is deadly but takes time, therefore you should wait 2-3 hours before tracking the wound.

Sometimes you might even find blood with surprising symptoms of food or vegetation or a yellowish tint to it, what does this indicate? You guessed it right, it means the deer was shot in the stomach.

In this case, you wait for at least half a day, let the deer bed somewhere and then start tracking.

Step3: Hair Clue

Let’s assume in your trailing process, you found no blood nor you could see a clear reaction by the deer. Well, you still aren’t out of luck because you are likely to find deer hairs at the hunt site. Just like the blood, these hairs inform you about the location of your shot.

Dark rough, hollow hairs on the site tell that it is a high hit. Thinner brown, less coarse hair suggests that the deer took the shot on the side, thus it is a good hit. White hair is not a good sign as it indicates a low shot, but it could also mean an exit wound from a high-angle shot.

In case of finding silky white hair, the deer may or may not survive as it indicates a brisket shot.

Step4: Investigate the Scene

Hunters have a lot of luck tracking wounded deer because even if one clue doesn’t work out, the other may. Looking for broken branches, and overturned leaves are also considered some of the best tips for tracking deer.

When a deer runs after getting shot, it is likely to break branches and leaves. You should use these broken leaves or the debris at the sides of the track to your advantage.

When following the track mark these spots with something like flagging tape. It will help you get back to the scene, should you lose it. You might not find blood at times, therefore stick to these clues and follow the deeper deer tracks.

Step5: Proceed Slowly

When tracking a deer, you need to be very cautious and do it with utmost care. The deer might be bedded just ahead of you, and if it senses you coming towards it, it will run away and you might never find it again.

Therefore using binoculars from your gear try to scan the area ahead of you before moving forward.

Hunters often mistake a living deer for a dead one and unintentionally make it run away. So if you find your deer lying, don’t just walk up to it until you are sure it’s dead.

Consider looking at the deer’s eye; an open eye would mean it has probably passed away. But if you see a closed eye, chances are that it is still alive, therefore be cautious and be ready to take another shot if you see movement.

Why blood Ends

There could be many reasons why a blood trail ends, but the most common is blood coagulation. Wounds to superficial muscles of the leg, neck, or even shoulder result in extreme loss of blood. The blood dropping stops after some 200 yards because the blood coagulates.

In the case of a high wound, that is if a deer gets hit at the top of its back, very little blood reaches the ground.

Wounds to the intestine, stomach, or liver give you enough blood to start tracking but after some yards, the drops reduce and eventually end. It is because the entrance and departure holes become clogged with tissues.

As a result, the deer bleeds internally but due to the clogged holes, the blood doesn’t find a way out to the ground. The same phenomenon takes place if an arrow doesn’t make its exit, and no departure hole is produced for the blood.

How far can a wounded deer travel?

Finding the exact distance a wounded deer can travel is nearly impossible, however, a rough estimate could be made with the knowledge of some factors like how far the arrow goes or the size of the wound. Some average distances are mentioned below:

A deer shot to the heart and lung can travel up to 100-150 yards. But if its heart has stopped pumping, it may not even make it to 100 yards. Shot to the liver, a deer has 4-6 hours of movement left in them.

If you don’t want them to spend this time moving, then wait till they bed and pass out. A deer shot to the gut may or may not die, and can walk for miles with this injury.

Final Wording

With the information above, we can say that tracking a deer is completely possible. And this possibility comes with skills and knowledge. As a hunter, you need to have knowledge of what clues the colour of the blood or hairs of a deer gives.

You must know how to look for other tracks and draw conclusions from them. Still, if you are completely out of luck and don’t find the deer, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just go home and think about the mistakes you committed and make sure to avoid them next time. We hope the article was helpful and wish you luck on your next hunt.

Additional Common Questions

How do you track a wounded deer?

From my years of hunting and tracking, I’ve found that pinpointing the path a wounded deer took can be best achieved by starting with familiar deer trails in the general area the deer was last spotted. It’s been my experience that wounded deer almost invariably follow these paths. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find signs right away, sometimes all it takes is a tiny droplet of blood to steer you back on the path. I’d recommend staying on the trail for at least 50 yards before making determinations about the deer’s path. Follow these steps and you’ll be much closer to tracking down your deer.

How long should you wait to track a wounded deer?

There’s a lot of debate among hunters about the optimal waiting period to begin tracking a wounded deer. However, in my experience, the waiting time is mostly dependent on where the deer was hit. If you manage a clean heart shot, you can almost certainly begin the tracking process immediately. Conversely, a double lung shot requires a bit of patience. I would advise waiting around 30 to 90 minutes before tracking. If you happen to hit a single lung or liver, it’d be best to hold off for around 4 to 6 hours. The most caution should be exercised with a gut hit, here, I’d recommend a significant waiting period of about 8 to 12 hours, or even longer if possible. Patiently judging the waiting time based on where you hit the deer plays a crucial role in your tracking success.

How do you find a deer with no blood trail?

Even without a blood trail, a diligent and observant hunter can still track a wounded deer. A useful tactic I’ve employed in the past is to check known bedding areas in the vicinity of my hunting spot. Deer, like any other creatures, instinctively seek out the sanctuary of a familiar place when they are wounded, making their bedding areas an excellent starting point. There’s a high possibility that the deer you’re tracking has chosen to rest at its usual sleeping spot. Scouting out known bedding areas can help to compensate for the absence of a blood trail.

How far will a wounded deer run when spooked?

In many years of hunting, I’ve found the behaviour of a spooked wounded deer to be pretty diverse. Their running pattern and distance covered largely depends on the seriousness and location of the wound. Typically, upon getting hit by an arrow, a deer may jump or flinch and then lope away. They rarely run far or fast. The distance they cover can range from a mere few yards to around 100 yards at most. However, in instances where the deer has an abdomen wound, it would often stop within the 50-yard mark. The behaviour and distance covered by a wounded deer when spooked heavily depends on the location and extent of the wound.

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