Tracking Wounded Deer
Inside the Outdoors, November 28
, 2014

No one likes to think about it, but it happens to many hunters. They think they have taken that perfect shot, when all of a sudden reality sets in. One’s bullet or arrow hit the animal, but not exactly where one intended to kill it instantly. What result is a scared animal on the run. The sportsman’s job is to track it down until it is found.

What are the correct steps one should take to approach this problem correctly?

According to David Draper in an article that was published on the website, titled, “What to Do after a Bad Shot,” he explained the step by step process one should take to properly pursue whitetail deer, in particular. Whether one uses a bow or a rifle, the same rules apply.

“Make mental notes, the second the deer runs off,” he stated. “Pull out a notepad and write down everything you remember, including which way the deer was facing when you shot, how it reacted and where it ran. Was the tail up or down? Did the deer hunch up or kick its rear legs? Every piece of information you record can add up to a successful recovery.”

In most cases it’s instinctive to hasten to the scene where the deer once stood. But Draper has a different point of view.

“Note the time of the shot, then give yourself at least 30 minutes before you start tracking. If you think the shot was far back into the stomach, wait at an hour. A wounded deer will not run far before bedding down,” he said, “but if you bump it after it has bedded, your odds of finding it dwindle greatly. The longer you can wait, the better. Use this time to go over the shot, take notes and call your friends to come help,” he suggested.

One can only hope the animal was injured in the morning or early to mid-afternoon. Darkness may create a problem. With that in mind, this points to the fact that hunting with others may prove to be worthwhile.

Draper advised that when one begins to track the animal, pursue it slowly. “Alternate between looking for blood and watching ahead of you,” he stated. “Use your binoculars to look into the brush for the glint of an antler or twitch of an ear. If you spot the deer bedded down alive, but do not have a shot, back out quietly and give it more time,” he said.

Observing the contours of the layout of the land around one can play into furthering success, he stated. “Assess your surroundings as you study the trail,” he recommended. “A gut-shot deer will often go to water. One that is mortally wounded will almost always go downhill. A hurt animal will often, but not always, take the path of least resistant,” he conveyed. “Always pay attention to any tracks. Torn up ground indicate a running deer. Tracks or a blood trail that starts to wander mean the deer is likely looking to lie down so slow your gait and get ready for a follow-up shot.”

He concludes with a suggestion that requires a follow-up procedure after the deer has been found. Go back and clean up that which was used for markings.

Draper stated, “Use trail marking tape or toilet paper to mark the blood trail. Do not move from the last spot of blood until you find the next one. By marking your trail you can look behind you and get a line on what direction the deer is moving, which can be helpful if you lose the blood trail,” he concluded.


A one-day 2014 Pennsylvania Cable Restraint Certification will be offered Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, at the Indian Creek Valley Sportsmen’s Association, 235 Keslar School Road, Acme.
It will be held from 9 am to1 pm. The class limit is 30.

One must be at least 11 years-old to register.

This class is offered for any person desiring to complete the mandatory program. Being certified allows for the use of cable restraint devices to trap certain furbearing animals. Certification is required by regulation for any trapper using cable restraint devices to capture foxes and coyotes in Pennsylvania.

One may register for these classes at For additional information, one may contact Greg Grimm at 724.455.2452.


In thumbing through the latest issue of Crappie World Magazine, Fall 2014, I chanced upon an ad promoting my favorite lure. Worden’s Rooster Tail has been redesigned. It now comes with a spinner blade attached. Called a Supper Rooster Tail, it now has two hooks. I was told it is the lure for bass, trout and walleye.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.