You draw back your bow, anchor, settle the sight pin and squeeze off the shot.
The shot felt good, but the impact was just OK. The arrow zipped through the deer a little farther back than you wanted, but it didn’t look like a gut shot.
But then again, you know it wasn’t a 10-ring lung or heart shot, either.
You wait a while and assess the situation. Was it a liver shot?
Here’s some information that should give you some clues:
The liver is located in the middle of a deer’s body, between the lungs and paunch. How can you tell that you might have hit the liver? If you imagine a buck standing broadside, then the angle of your bullet’s entry should give you a clue.
The presence of dark, red blood, however, is a dead giveaway. It usually indicates that you missed the lungs and caught the liver instead. The most common mistake deer hunters make when trailing a liver-shot deer is to immediately begin tracking after the shot. However, unless the shot severs a main blood vessel, which will cause the deer to expire quickly, the deer will jump up from its bed when you get too close. This will lead to a scant blood trail for you to follow.
A liver-shot deer that is jumped from its bed will then travel for up to several hundred yards before bedding again. Unless there is ample snow on the ground, you probably will not find this deer, because the “second” blood trail will be sparse. Wait at least one or two hours before picking up the trail of a liver-shot deer. A four-hour wait is even better. Unless the deer is disturbed, you should find it dead in its first bed, and that bed will usually be within 150 yards of where you shot the deer.
If you suspect you have a gut-shot deer, the wise course is to quietly remove yourself from the scene, then wait at least six to eight hours before blood trailing. The longer you wait, the better your chances of recovery. In fact, waiting overnight is never a bad idea.
Your deer won’t be “any more dead” the next morning than it will be within six to eight hours after the shot.