Blood Trailing Tip 1: Use a compass.


Much has been written about tracking and trailing white-tailed deer over the years, but a few points are often overlooked. Successful blood trailing doesnxe2x80x99t require complicated strategies, but it does require that hunters pay close attention to simple details.

Incorporate the following five rules into your game plan, and youxe2x80x99ll drastically improve your trailing success rate.

A simple compass reading just after the shot can point you in a straight line toward your dead deer. A lot of guys merely use the sunxe2x80x99s position in the sky for direction. That can provide a ballpark estimate, but itxe2x80x99s not as reliable as a compass reading. Most smartphones have a built-in compass. Use it. It is extremely helpful when standing in the woods, because our best guesses on direction are usually a little bit off.

Blood Trailing Tip 2: Never, ever assume.

Trying to think like a deer is a good strategy for finding stand sites, but itxe2x80x99s highly inaccurate when following a blood trail. Some hunters claim wounded deer wonxe2x80x99t climb hills, cross open fields or wade streams. Nonsense. Deer do not possess rational thought. Rule out nothing, and literally leave no stone unturned when searching for blood.

Blood Trailing Tip 3: Donxe2x80x99t obsess.

Never give up on a blood trail just because itxe2x80x99s sparse. Thatxe2x80x99s a huge mistake. Many hunters assume a deer isnxe2x80x99t fatally wounded when theyxe2x80x99ve trailed it a few hundred yards and only found sporadic droplets. Deer have thick layers of tallow along their backstraps, as well as around their organs. Fat can easily plug a wound, making the resulting blood trail seem like it came from a superficial wound.

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While bowhunting a few years ago, I shot a mature buck high through one lung and low through the other. The deer wheeled and sprinted about 200 yards into a thick clearcut. He died within a minute, but it took us three hours to unravel his blood trail. The arrow was coated with tallow, and the blood trail was nothing more than a few drops every 10 yards or so. The exit wound, near his armpit, was completely plugged with fat.


Legendary outdoor writer Jim Casada told me of a similar blood trail he experienced while gun-hunting at Alabamaxe2x80x99s White Oak Hunting Plantation. Casada said the shot felt good, but there was little visual evidence that he actually hit the deer, even though his hunt was caught on film. After searching for 30 minutes, Casada and expert guide Bo Pitman found some hair. xe2x80x9cStill, there was no blood at the site of the shot, and for 50 yards nothing,xe2x80x9d Casada said. xe2x80x9cThen, Bo found single drops at six or eight places, none of them closer than 10 yards to the previous one. A couple of broken sticks and one stagger spot helped, and finally, 150 yards later, he found where the deer had stood and bled maybe 15 drops. Ten yards later, almost all of this was in a dense thicket, he found the deer. My shot had been near perfect, but something, probably some bone or cartilage, had stopped up the holes.xe2x80x9d

Blood Trailing Tip 4: Put your pride aside.

Under the xe2x80x9citxe2x80x99s not sexist if itxe2x80x99s truexe2x80x9d department: Overall, women are better than men at seeing blood on the ground. If you donxe2x80x99t believe me, take your wife, daughter or girlfriend on your next blood trail and test this hypothesis for yourself. I was absolutely amazed when I taken women on their first blood-trailing excursion. Their keen eyes helped me find deer I might have very easily given up on. Since then, I have seen women unravel many puzzling trails. Their ability to find pin-sized blood droplets in pine needles is flat-out amazing.

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In fact, an Arizona State University study concludes that women possess a gene that allows them to see varying shades of red much better than men. According to the researchers, the gene is linked to the X chromosome. Because women have two X chromosomes (men have just one), their ability to see into the red/orange spectrum is believed to be twice as good as men.

According to a report in the American Journal of Human Genetics, Dr. Brian Verrelli and Dr. Sarah Tishkoff made the conclusions after studying DNA samples from nearly 250 men from various countries. The report also noted that while 8 percent of all men are colorblind, few women suffer from the malady because their twin X chromosomes all but prevent it.

Blood Trailing Tip 5: Take some measurements.

Depending on region and age, white-tailed deer stand about 36 inches high at the shoulder. Some Southern deer are a few inches shorter, while some Northern deer are a tad taller. This information helps the hunter gauge a woundxe2x80x99s location when hexe2x80x99s following a blood trail through high vegetation.

If youxe2x80x99re finding consistent blood smears 30 inches high or higher on saplings and such, chances are the arrow or bullet entered high through the lungs or possibly missed them altogether. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as an empty space between the spine and the lungs.

According to respected deer researcher Jay McAninch, formerly of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, a deerxe2x80x99s chest cavity is pressurized, and any disruption of these sensitive membranes will cause death in a whitetail, but it might take longer than usual. However, thatxe2x80x99s the topic of another section. In short, if the blood trail indicates a high hit, be prepared for the possibility of a longer tracking effort.

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