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Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

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Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

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Old 08-25-2008, 05:01 PM
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Default Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

Thanks for the request again this year, I think this is the 8th or 9th annual and for the newbies and readers looking in but not joining, I wrote this thread more years ago than I can remember and every year our great members here add to it and also offer their own tips and experience. If only one animal is recovered every year because of this thread then it has done it's job. There are much more seasoned hunters and veterans of the woods here than myself with great knowledge of the whitetail. This thread serves as a guidline and not the final word on trailing whitetails. They are amazing animals and can survive against extreme odds.

If you have a suggestion or tip to add, by all means do so, I look forward to them every year and I certainly too try to learn from everyone as well.

One of the biggest reasons why many animals are not recovered after being shot is that all too often bow hunters take up the trail too soon, simply bumping the animal away, never to be found again. What you do following the shot can make or break a successful recovery.

When mortality wounded 90% of deer will bed within 250 yards of the shot. If an animal dies beyond this, most likely some outside factor pushed the animal. Think about all of the animals you've taken, found or lost. You've probably found at least one if not multiple beds within this distance.

Now I' m not proclaiming myself the ultimate tracker/hunter but I can testify that my hunting partners and I have not lost an animal that has died or that we not seen another day, in many, many years and several of these recoveries were because of waiting for the right moment to trail the animal,rather than the initial shot placement.

I'll give you an example of an animal that I made a poor shot on because I neglected to stop the animal and shot him on the move. At 25 yards I placed my arrow too far back on the buck. As soon as I saw the arrow hit further back than I wanted, I knew immediately not to take up the track until at least 6 hours later. I shot this animal at 7:30 am and got out of my tree at 11:00 and left the woods. At 3:30 I returned to the woods and found my buck not 50 yards inside a woods at the last point I saw him. Had I not waited, there is a very good chance thatI wouldn't have found him due to all the standing cornfields surrounding the woodlot he was bedded in.

In this particular case I also glassed the animal immediately following the shot to verify the hit. One important note or tip that I always like to make is, that binoculars are an invaluable tool for archers not only to glass an animal post shot, but also to watch for his movement once he moves off. Quite often we as hunters get caught up in the heat of the moment and become unsure of our arrow's point of impact. A good set of binoculars and some quick thinking can help you verify your shot placement and help you formulate the proper game plan for recovering your animal. Binoculars aslo allow you to see past foliage. A deer can move out of eye shot and bed but you may catch it's movement with binoculars.

The following is a list of several tips that I feel are invaluable for bow hunters to use when deciding what to do both before and after the shot. In the past, many members of the HuntingNet.com Message Boards have helped to tweak and add their own priceless tidbits of information as well. Hopefully one of the tips here or posted herein will aid you in a speedy recovery this hunting season.

1. Use bright fletch. You need to be able to see your arrow in flight, in the animal, and on the ground afterward. Dark arrows will not do you any good if you yourself can' t see them. If bright fletching isn’t enough, try using lighted arrow nocks for better visibility in low light conditions, if legal in your state or even white or bright arrow wraps. Find your arrow, your arrow is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle you may have.

2.Binoculars - use them post shot! They may be one of the most important tools you have after the shot.

3. Watch the animal after the shot. Quite often an animal's body movement will help indicate to you what type of shot you got. An animal that jumps straight in the air and bounds off out of sight is most likely mortally wounded and will not travel far. However, if the animal hunches up and walks off or moves off slowly there is a good chance the hit was too far back or forward and you may need to wait at least 6 hours before taking up the trail.

"I hit him, now what?"

Here are several sure fire steps towards recovering your animal safely and securely:

1. Unless you witness a double lung pass through, I firmly believe to let an animal go for a couple hours rather than the common misconception of a half hour wait. Too many times a half hour isn't enough. The only shots that put an animal down quickly are double lung hits and heart shots. If you don't see your animal fall within site, your best bet is to wait it out.

2. If you are not 100% sure of your hit, simply put.... wait!!! The animal isn't going to go anywhere, he's dead, why hurry? Sit back, collect your thoughts, and replay the shot, the hit, and where the animal went. Also, this gives you a chance to listen and relax. If your arrow was a pass thru, get down and get the arrow and study it and wait. Mark the direction but don' t pursue, if you wait, he'll be there or he'll live another day.

3. If you think it' s a single lung hit because of the angle, wait at least 4 hours. This includes shots that are just under the spine and because of the angle you might have caught the second lung but missed the first. Wait and let him expire. Many people believe in "the void" which they claim is an area between a deer's lungs and spine where no vital organs reside. This is a myth - if you place an arrow under the spine, you will catch the upper lobes of at least one lung.

4. If you think you caught the liver wait and the animal will bleed out. Wait at least 4 hours to take up the trail. Gun hunters can move on an animal quicker because of the damaged involved however with archery equipment it's recommended to wait at least 4 hours - the animal will not go anywhere if given the chance to expire. Jump him and he may go forever.

5. If you catch the guts only, you're in for at least a 6-hour minimum wait with 8 hours being more preferable and overnight being a worst case. It's recommended that an animal be recovered as quickly as possible but if they are not expired, your not going to recover them. Waiting overnight could be detrimental to the meat, tainted the flavor however not making them inedible. A quicker recovery means better tasting meat. If you hit an animal in the guts at 6 pm, you need to recover the animal around 2am to ensure the best meat. This should be considered when shooting late into the evening. We owe it to be conservative and ethical. In case of rain or snow you should get down, find your arrow, find the blood trail, and wait for the next morning. If you know your property, you'll find him close.

It's important to get the organs out and blood out as quickly as possible, that quickness is regulated by the type of hit.

6. Coyotes can and will give the location of your animal, if your worried about them, get down, listen for the them and move on them if you know they are on your animal. IF they are there, your animal won' t be so move on the coyotes and they may lead you to the animal.

7. Whether your shot hits lungs, liver, or guts the key to a successful recovery is towait. The animal is going to die just wait him out and your blood trail should be adequate a couple hours later.

8. There are few hits that force you to move on an animal quickly to bleed them out. These hits are the most difficult to determine and more times than not you will make the wrong decision and push an animal that might otherwise lay down and expire. Again, if your unsure of the hit, wait it out. A mature whitetail carries roughly 8 pints or 1 gallon of blood in their circulatory system. They need to loose roughly 2.4 pints of blood to go into shock and not recover. Think about this, we give a pint of blood when we donate, that does not affect us. One pint of blood is alot of blood on the ground when spread over a couple hundred yards. Something to think about.

9. Many states now allow the use of tracking dogs, leashed or unleashed. Utilize their availability in your state. Many organizations are available such as the United Blood Trackers.org and Deer Recovery that offer services for tracking wounded animals free of cost. Look into such an organization prior to going hunting this season as a worst-case or even best case scenario.

10. Many wounded animals seek water. If there is water on your property and you can't find a blood line, look toward your water sources. They may even circle and I've read or have been told that a deer will circle to the direction of the side he's hit hardest on. I don't know this to be gospel but it's worth mentioning.

11. Looking for blood doesn't necessarily mean just on the ground, many times a higher hit will leave blood 2' or 3' off the ground brush or overhanging vegitation as well as under plant leaves.


Let' s recover the animals’ bowhunters, we owe it to them, we owe it to each other, and we owe it to ourselves. Good luck out there....

Here's a link to a deers anatomy in case you wish to review what we already know. http://home.mn.rr.com/deerfever/Anatomy.html
http://forums.mathewsinc.com/viewtopic.php?t=21358

And a link to dog trackers, United Blood Trackers


A few anatomy guides. If you have serious questions on a hit, inquire with in or PM me or another.






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Old 08-25-2008, 05:53 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

Awesome...thanks for taking the time Rob!!!
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Old 08-25-2008, 06:20 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

Very well said Rob! I'm sure this will help a ton of people recover deer!
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Old 08-25-2008, 06:38 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

well said and nice avatar!
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:45 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

One of the best/most helpful threads of all time! Nice job Rob!
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:52 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

Thanks that will help me if I get something this year. First time bow hunter so thats great info. Thank you
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:54 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

ORIGINAL: rjdumas

Thanks that will help me if I get something this year. First time bow hunter so thats great info. Thank you
Read it a bunch then! Good luck this year!
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:54 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

All great stuff, I'll add just a couple of pics, because I think they do such a nice job of showing the difference between good "LUNG BLOOD," and "LIVER BLOOD."

These are of a doe I shot last year....

First LUNG

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Old 08-25-2008, 07:55 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

Second LIVER




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Old 08-25-2008, 07:58 PM
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Default RE: Recovery, What To Do After the Shot.

Thanks for posting this Rob.
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