You’ve just shot the deer that you’ve patiently waited hours to find. You’re excited and your anticipation is high, but you know that you have to exercise restraint and the proper course of action to track your deer. What you do in the crucial moments after you shoot the deer will determine whether or not you recover your game.
First Step: Wait
The first step you take after shooting a deer is to wait. Make a mental note of where the deer was from a nearby object (a notable tree, rock, bushes, or any landmark).
Depending on the location of the shot, and whether you used a gun or a bow, it will take a varying amount of time for the deer to die. Learn the different types of blood, tallow, and fur patterns for each type of shot. The minimum recommended wait time is 30 minutes, but waiting longer is recommended in several cases.
Learning the minimum wait times depending on where you shot your deer is absolutely crucial for tracking success, and it requires a detailed explanation on its own. Attempting to pursue the deer too soon will cause it to go into hiding or to run.
You should wait in the same position that you were when you shot, and stay as absolutely quiet as possible. This is to avoid any noise that may be picked up by the deer.
How to Track Your Deer After Waiting
Once the recommended wait time has elapsed, it is time to make your pursuit. Here is how you should track your deer:
Head over to the spot where you shot the deer.
Patience is crucial. There is a good chance that you will have to wait for a longer period of time for the deer to die instead of a shorter period.
Look at the blood pattern to help you determine where you shot the deer.
Make notes of what you find along the trail (blood, hair, tallow). For instance if you find tallow, you may have to wait for 3 or more hours to track.
As you follow the trail, have something with you to mark the trail such as colored toilet paper. Drop pieces of the paper routinely to mark your trail as your track your deer.
Look for blood on trees, branches, or plants. Blood will often rub off on these as the deer flees.
If you live in a warmer client look for ants or other insects gathering on the trail floor that are feeding on blood drops.
If you can’t find blood spatters while standing, get down on your hands and knees to see the ground better.
If you suspect the deer is gut shot, it will often head for water. Look at nearby bodies of water in this case.
Stay off of the trail as much as possible. This is crucial so that you do not alter the blood pattern.
If nightfall approaches, wait until the next morning to track the deer for safety and visibility. It will make no major difference in your tracking ability to wait overnight, and the morning visibility will only help you.
Once you find the animal, approach it very carefully. Be sure that it is dead before attempting to prepare it for field dressing.
Always remember the importance of adjusting your wait time depending on where you shot the deer. And, take the above and other precautions to be as safe and humane as possible.
Tracking a deer can be quite exciting, and knowing how to properly track your deer will help ensure that you recover your game successfully.