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Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

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Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

Old 08-27-2003, 02:09 PM
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Default Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

In Ontario, you must encase guns, bows, crossbows, etc after 1/2 hours after sunset. This is obviously not the case in some/many of the States is it?

My question is this, what if you shoot a deer at last light and hear it crashing and and stopping some 80 - 100 yards away. After allowing the appropriate amount of time to let it expire, you begin to track the deer. You find it down, unable to move but still alive.

What should you do to put this animal down in a humane and ethical manner if you' re not allowed to shoot?
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Old 08-27-2003, 02:37 PM
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Default RE: Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

In that situation I prefer to wait until daylight the following morning to resume tracking. Here in Maine you can' t have a loaded gun after 1/2 hour after sunset either. Waiting through the night is hard on the nerves, but it gives you a better chance of recovering the animal in certain cases. If the shot was questionable, the extra time will allow the animal to expire, or it may at least bed down and stay put.

Two years ago I shot a nice 8-pointer on the last day of rifle season. I knew the shot was good, but after hours of searching we had found no blood at all, and we ran out of daylight. The muzzleloader season begins right after the rifle season ends, but in Maine you can' t hunt on Sundays, and I had shot the buck on Saturday! I called the local game warden and told him I had shot a nice buck but couldn' t find it, and I asked him what I should do. He informed me that we could go look for the deer, but couldn' t bring guns with us. He also said that if the deer was wounded but still alive, we would have to go back out of the woods and call the wardens, who would come finish it off. After doing a " grid" type search all day Sunday, we eventually found the deer right before dark, right when we had given up. It had not gone more than 50 yards from where I shot it, but it was piled up in a thicket, completely covered by a thick spruce tree. The bullet had hit a little high, blowing out his lungs and traveling diagonally through the animal before lodging in the hindquarter. A high entrance wound and no exit wound meant no blood trail at all.

I know people who have finished off deer with a well placed thrust of a knife (behind the ear, or cutting the throat). It isn' t exactly pretty, or very humane, but I can' t think of another option if you must track down a deer without a firearm. My advice would be to either wait until the next day, or contact your local wildlife officials and see what they tell you.
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Old 08-27-2003, 03:56 PM
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Default RE: Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

That is a hypothetical question, so naturally the answers are gonna vary somewhat.

For me, I try to uphold the " spirit" of the law, not necessarily the letter. If by some chance I am tracking an animal after dark and get to it and it' s still alive,,,Of course I' m gonna shoot it. Thats the only thing to do.

I' m relitively certain that any law enforcement officer who might have heard the shot and came to investigate would likely not say much, especialy after seeing two holes in it. But even if I did get a ticket, I have big shoulders, I would go to court, explain my actions, and pay a fine if necessary.

Thats just my nature.
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Old 08-28-2003, 04:52 PM
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Default RE: Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

finishing the job humainly is the question. i was always taught to put the animal down as quickly as possible and as such would shoot it again in the dark without hesitation. the last think i want to do is let the animal suffer needlessly while i go looking for a GW and they should understand that.



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Old 08-28-2003, 05:02 PM
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Default RE: Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

I agree with Dave.. I have been faced with that situation 2 times myself and had a few friends who at oen point or another ran into the same thing. Each time only one of us(if more that one) tracking would carry a firearm, usually a pistol and quickly put an end to the animals' suffering. Knowing the chances of being heard and a possible ticket were thought about but not given a second thought since we owe it to the animal to not let it suffer, so if given a fine I would go to court and what explain and either have a understanding judge or pay my fine!
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Old 08-29-2003, 09:09 AM
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Default RE: Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

Dave,

It' s not as hypothetical as you think. Two years ago, we shot a deer at last light. I tracked it after about a half hour' s wait and went a few hundred metres before the light ran out on my. I wasn' t sure exactly when the sunset was, so didn' t know exactly when shooting hours ended. I wasn' t sure what I would do if I came across it and still don' t know for sure to this day. We waited until morning and looked all day, but didn' t find the deer.

Our fines are steep up here and the GW' s are just looking for examples to be set. I' d hate to run into one if I buried that final shot, but I think watching an animal suffer unnecessarily is the greatest crime of all.

Sorry about the double posting guys. My computer crashed when I posted the first time and I didn' t know that it made it.
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Old 08-29-2003, 07:38 PM
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Old 08-31-2003, 12:26 PM
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Default RE: Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

My feeling is that although letting an animal needlessly suffer is wrong, the risk involved with being caught shooting after dark is too great. Most importantly, the hunter has a responsibility to make a clean, well-placed shot. As we all know though, things can go wrong on occasion.

Where I hunt, the wardens are always out to catch anyone for anything, so hunters have to be especially careful. If they catch you with a gun after dark, they will take your hunting license, give you a summons to court (which means a steep fine), and they actually could take your gun(s) and your vehicle if they wanted to.
Some wardens may be understanding and let you go, but these respectable ones are getting fewer and fewer.

If the law was not so strict, I wouldn' t hesitate to track down a wounded deer at night if I thought it was suffering, but as things are I feel the risk is too great. I make sure I do everything possible to make a clean, quick kill. There are no guarantees of course, but making a good shot helps to lessen the chances of the animal suffering.
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Old 08-31-2003, 05:27 PM
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Default RE: Tracking Wounded Deer After Dark

I' ve only shot one that late in the day and instead of taking a chance pushing him. I came back the next day. He only went 50 yds but better to be safe than sorry.
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