Whitetail Blood Tracking Guide

Video blood trailing deer

*My latest book, All Weather Whitetailsis now available!

Backing Out For Wounded Whitetails

Trust me I have heard them all, including: “It’s going to rain”, “the yotes will find him first” and “snow is coming”. Although some hunters may not admit it, I think you can even add, “I have to get home” and “I have to work tomorrow”, to the list of reasons not to back out. However, the hunters I personally know who experience nearly a 100% success rate for recovering mortally wounded whitetails, all have one thing in common: Patience. If “when in doubt, back out” is the king of whitetail recovery phrases, “Patience” it’s single root word of success.

Exercising patience with anything in life is difficult and the art of tracking a wounded whitetail is absolutely no exception. But, if you want to consistently find a deer that you just shot, you have to apply a whole lot of patience. The decisions that you make within the first few minutes after you shoot a deer, will directly dictate the rollercoaster of emotions that you experience for hours or even days to come. The reliable level of predictable tracking success is based on the behavior patterns of wounded whitetails.

Top Whitetail Blood Tracking Tips

*A mortally wounded deer will lie down within 200-300 yards (or first thick cover) and will expire in the time-frame of the specific hit. Unless pushed, this will be the final resting place for your deer. If pushed from this location, the deer will usually go in excess of mile or more, depending upon cover, with little to no blood trail. Unless you are extremely lucky the odds that you find your whitetail are extremely low, even if you only jump him 1 time.

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*If raining or snowing, you dont have much to lose by waiting. If you have a good hit, the deer will only go a short ways, making recovery relatively easy, even with no blood trail! If the deer had a marginal hit, hurrying to track because of an approaching rain or snow will only push the deer and you have a great chance of losing the deer anyways. Do you have lots of coyotes or other predators in the area? Same thing…jumping a bedded deer will only lead to the same results of jumping him in the rain or snow. 1 jump and he is typically gone for good, so taking a chance that a predator finds him is better than the certainty that he will be lost if he is pushed to early.

*Just because you see a double-lung hit, doesnt mean thats what hit it was. Our mind has a way of tricking us into thinking we did a better job than we did (we practiced, aimed hard, took a careful shot-had to be good!). Believe it or not, a deers reaction is quick enough to completely avoid an arrow, even within 10 yards. If a deer reacts just slightly to the sound of the shot, your arrow can be no where near where you aimed. Also, do we always make a perfect shot?I know that I don’t, which is why I thought is was important to relay this informationt to you.

*Unless you see your deer fall, it is always best to wait until morning, or later in the day, even if you think you made a good shot. This practice has resulted in dozens of 100 yard tracking jobs that ended with a deer that had expired hours earlier. But I can also say that this practice has ended with at least 2 deer that were still warm to the touch.

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*If you know you made a double-lung shot, with a heavy blood trail and plenty of bubbles, and are also confident you made a perfect shot; wait an hour and go get your deer. The problem with this is that it takes many years of experience and tons of confidence to determine exactly what situation and hit is yours. Each year there are many lost liver shot deer that fell victims to I know I shot a double lung, when in fact it was not. I consider all my deer trophies, and even if I know I shot a great shot, I still give the animal the time and respect it deserves to expire. If you shoot a buck early in the morning, go have breakfast, go shopping, call some friends or even take a nap (if possible!). An evening tracting job is the same-walk straight home, have a sleepless night, and go get your deer in the morning with no harm done.

*A wounded deer may only be 100 yards away when you exit your stand, dying, so it is critical to sneak out of your stand and away from the deer. Walking towards the deer only 10 feet could result in a fleeing deer that often will cover a 1/2 mile or more prior to settling down again. Remember, that deer really doesnt know what happened, he probably feels sick, and is doing his best to feel hidden, safe and comfortable. The moment a whitetail knows a human is after him, he is gone! It only takes a jacket being un-zipped, an arrow hitting a stick, or even an innocent cough or sniffle.

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*Always look for the last place you saw the deer and mark with a tissue, tree, or other natural feature. Still follow the blood trail at the place of the hit to more accurately determine the type of hit, but marking the last place of deer sighting is a great reference. Over the years I have had to climb back into a stand after searching a bit becasue I did not mark the location I last spotted the deer I had just shot only hours earlier. Remembering a fallen log, odd tilt to a tree trunk or even an unusual opening in the woods are all great references for when you return to .

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>