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Whitetail Tips: How to Find Your Buck After a Questionable Shot

August 05, 2011
Whitetail Tips: How to Find Your Buck After a Questionable Shot - 3

We've all been there before: a buck steps out into a shooting lane at the last few minutes of legal shooting light. You take the shot, it looks good and the buck bounds off. Then an uneasiness starts to settle in when you can’t find the buck or ample blood.
 
South Dakotan Levi Duncan recently told me a story about that exact scenario. Duncan took a shot at a great buck right before dark. Although he couldn’t be sure, he thought the shot looked good. But he started to second guess himself when the buck escaped into a deep draw. With darkness closing fast, he decided to forgo a recovery attempt that night and to leave the deer until sunrise.
 
A flurry of questions and doubts might run through your mind on a night like this. Did I flub the shot? Is the buck wounded and limping into an unrecoverable location? Will coyotes get to him before I do?
 
Duncan hit the trail early the next morning and was immediately depressed. The buck wasn’t in the draw. He searched wider and wider until he finally found him. Amazingly, it was nearly three miles from the shot location and wasn’t dead or even limping. The buck was still in hot pursuit of a group of does and hoping to find a date.
 
Taking his time, Duncan slipped up on the group and took aim. He dropped the buck this time, avoiding another potential sleepless night. Duncan discovered, to his surprise, his first shot was indeed good, right behind the shoulder. Why a bullet from the .300 Winchester Short Mag. didn’t perform as advertised still remains a mystery. 
 
If you find yourself in this predicament follow these quick, easy steps:
#1 - If you question the shot and can’t find blood, don’t push the buck. Back off and leave it for up to seven hours to allow it to die.

#2 - Go and get a friend. A fresh perspective and fresh eyes can often find clues you may have missed in the excitement.

#3 - Go slow and mark all sign with photodegradable trail marking tape. Be ready for a follow-up shot.

#4 - Use a grid or pattern to cover every inch of your hunting area.

#5 - If at first you don’t succeed, come back the next day and look for scavenging birds circling in the area.
 
Good luck and let’s hope none of us have any sleepless nights this fall.

Comments (3)

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from pineywoods wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

It's an excercise in frustration trying to find a wounded deer without a blood trail. A few years ago, I had an experience similar to the one Mark described. The bullet failed to exit and I found only three splats of blood where the deer had been standing when I shot. That was it. In spite of an intensive search, I had to follow the buzzards two days later. Naturally, all I got was the antlers. The deer actually hadn't gone far, but it was so thick, you could barely push through it and couldn't see him from ten feet away. On the other hand, there have been times when I've found deer by searching for pinhead size drops of blood on my hands and knees and following the terrain. Good tips above. Just keep looking.

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from 6phunter wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

your best friend is usually a tracking dog,invalueable asset in finding lost game.

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from Catpool9 wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

Mark,
these are great tips you have, also a wounded animal (Buck) will run down hill eventually, and find a nearby water source to sooth the burning.

David H.

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from 6phunter wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

your best friend is usually a tracking dog,invalueable asset in finding lost game.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Catpool9 wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

Mark,
these are great tips you have, also a wounded animal (Buck) will run down hill eventually, and find a nearby water source to sooth the burning.

David H.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pineywoods wrote 2 years 49 weeks ago

It's an excercise in frustration trying to find a wounded deer without a blood trail. A few years ago, I had an experience similar to the one Mark described. The bullet failed to exit and I found only three splats of blood where the deer had been standing when I shot. That was it. In spite of an intensive search, I had to follow the buzzards two days later. Naturally, all I got was the antlers. The deer actually hadn't gone far, but it was so thick, you could barely push through it and couldn't see him from ten feet away. On the other hand, there have been times when I've found deer by searching for pinhead size drops of blood on my hands and knees and following the terrain. Good tips above. Just keep looking.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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