How to Track a Wounded Deer

Tips on Tracking a Deer that has been Wounded

You’ve taken a shot at a deer and it survived. Now, you have to track it. This is going to happen at some point. If you hunt enough deer, you’ll eventually need to track wounded deer.

Here is how you can do just that.

Where Did You Hit the Deer?

The first thing you should figure out is where you hit it. This will determine a number of things. For example, if you hit it in the side or somewhere vital, you can start tracking in under an hour. If you hit it in the leg, it means that you only start tracking it after it least three hours. This matters as you want to find it dead. You don’t want to chase it all over the forest.

You can generally tell how well you hit it depending on how it ran off. If it appeared to be stumbling, you probably hit a vital area. A limping deer indicates a leg shot. A hunched up deer indicates a shot to the gut.

Once you hit the deer, make sure to pay attention to where it runs off. Listen to any crashing sounds that may indicate a collapsing deer.

Examine the Blood

To determine the extent of the injury to the deer, you’ll need to take a look at whatever blood it left behind.

For example, dark colored blood may indicate a liver or kidney shot. This is a lethal shot, though it may take some time. You should begin tracking after at least three hours.

Mature Whitetail Buck

Mature Whitetail Buck

If the blood is frothy and pinkish, you probably hit it in the lungs. You won’t have to wait long – the deer will die soon enough.

If you see green-tinted blood or blood with bits of plant, you probably hit it in the stomach. It will prove lethal, but you’ll need to wait at least five hours as it will take time.

If the blood is bright red, you may have hit it in the heart. Whether it is a fatal shot or not can be determined by the amount of blood – the more blood there is, the likelier it is that the shot was fatal. On the other hand, if the blood is bright or there isn’t a lot of it, you may have hit it in the leg or a non-vital area.

Once you begin tracking, take note of the blood droplets. An erratic trail indicates that the deer is close to collapse. On the other hand, uniform splatter size indicates that it is still walking.

If you can’t find any blood, try sweeping the area in the direction of the deer’s escape. You should also look on trees, limbs, and tree trunks. Not only will this help you track the deer, but it will also give you an idea of where you hit it.

Other Things to Consider

You should consider the weather when deciding how much time to give the deer. If rain is approaching, strongly consider going with a more aggressive approach. You should also limit your search party to two people. While more people means more eyes, it also means that more people can end up running roughshod over a potential trail.

Consider leaving metaphorical breadcrumbs, such as toilet paper, as you track the deer. This can help you figure out how the deer is moving. It will also give you a starting point should you need to leave the search for another day.

Getting that trophy is sometimes difficult, but it almost always rewarding. Just stay patient and pay attention to your surroundings and you will do fine more often than not.


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