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How to track a whitetail deer after the shot

Updated on September 4, 2012

Even the best shots have to track deer sometimes

Every hunters sooner or later will have to track game. The more you hunt the more chances increase that some deer is going to make you track it. Some animals can seem to run quite a distance even though you've made a good clean shot. Don't get in too big a hurry, allow the animal to die quietly without being pursued. It'll keep your meat from getting that strong gamey taste and give you a chance to gather your thoughts.

Tracking your deer

What do you need to do after making a shot on a whitetail deer. First CALM DOWN and watch where you last spotted the deer. Mark the tree stand up high with flagging tape and watch which direction the deer went, use trees and brush for landmarks. Stay in your stand 30-45 minutes, this gives you and the deer a chance to calm down. You will need to wait even longer if you didn't make a good shot.

Then go to where you shot the deer and mark it with flagging tape as high as possible use a stick to get it up in the air, this allows you to see it further. Next go to where you last saw the deer and mark with flagging tape. Now, look for a blood trail between the two. Look for signs don't try to guess where the deer went, use visible evidence only. As you begin to follow the blood trail, keep marking with flagging tape.

Watch the side of trees, bushes, weeds, etc., the trail may not just be on the ground. When you can no longer find the trail, mark the last spot as high as possible with flag tape and begin to walk in a circle. Keep making bigger circles til you find the deer. Remember deer will often dive into a thicket or creek and may even circle back to where you first saw the deer. If you do these things you have greatly increased your chances of finding your game. If at all possible, you should try to retrieve the game, it's the noble thing to do. Most states require that you make an honest effort to track and recover your deer if possible. There are chemical products that can aid in your attempt, also blood lights are now on the market. I don't know how well they work, or if they are affordable. Dogs such as beagles or labs also work if you happen to have them available.

It took a hunter 2days to find this buck

A hunter looked for this buck for 2 days before finding that it had double back and was only 20yds from where he shot it
A hunter looked for this buck for 2 days before finding that it had double back and was only 20yds from where he shot it

There's always modern technology

You can always look to modern technology to help locate your game. With GPS, blood trail lights, night vision and cell phones you can probably locate almost anything you want in the woods. They have come out with a LED blood tracking light, it's low cost and works good. All these have cost involved and most hunters are on tight budgets these days but, they can be very effective tools. Deer hunters would probably be better off spending these dollars elsewhere and taking the time to locate that downed game the old fashion way.

As a hunter you owe it to the sport and other hunters to try to harvest your game. Take the time and make the effort to locate your deer after it's been shot. Even with everything at your disposal and making the maximum effort, eventually you'll have one that you just can't find but, at least you'll know that you've done what you could.


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