The Best Way to Track a Deer while Tracking a Blood Trail

No matter how hard we might try to be good hunters and make the most ethical of shots possible, there are times when blood trailing a deer after shooting it becomes necessary. Finding and tracking a deer at the end of a blood trail is easily one of the most exciting moments a hunter can experience, and ending a search without finding a deer can be one of the most painful. 

There are too many variables that go into shooting a deer and having it die within sight, so tracking a deer is very common. Luckily there are a few things that you can do in order to increase your success of tracking and finding a deer after you have shot it!

dead deer at the end of a blood trail

Tracking a deer 101

After the shot, the recovery process of the deer will begin. The very first step actually takes place immediately after the shot, as you should watch the deer. Where did you hit it? What direction did it run after it was hit? Mark where the deer was when you shot it and the direction it went. 

The second step is to actually do nothing! Sit back, take a deep breath, and try to relax for a little bit. Adrenaline is usually high after shooting a deer. You can quietly gather your gear and your favorite hunting rifle, but the focus here is to give your deer some time to die. Even if a deer is hit perfectly, you should still give it around 30 minutes to fully expire. Sometimes deer will only travel within 100 yards after being shot, so you still want to try and be as quiet as possible. 

blood trail from a dead deer

If you know the shot was poor, you should wait a lot longer. Many hunters would suggest waiting anywhere from 4 to 6 hours before starting to track. The amount of pressure that you put on a deer before it fully expires can make or break the success you have of recovering it, as you don’t want to push a deer further away before it has died. 

Archery hunters will have an easier time telling if there shot was a good one or not depending on their arrow. An arrow covered in bright red blood is a good indication of a lethal lung shot, while brown, smelly blood is usually a deer that is hit in the guts. The blood on the ground can also tell you the same thing, whether you are an archery hunter or a gun hunter. 

After giving the deer plenty of time, you can start to trail the deer by following tracks and blood spots on the ground. Stay on the trail of the deer but also keep an eye on your surroundings and move quietly. You may need to use a follow-up shot to finish off your animal, so act as if you are still hunting. Look for the deer as you track, and if a deer gets up, be ready to shoot again. 

What to Look for While Tracking a deer

When you first start to track your deer, pay close attention to where the blood is that you find. This can sometimes tell you how good your shot was as well. If there is blood high on the trees or tops of the weeds, this can indicate a higher hit on the body. But blood in a track of where the animal stood or walked could indicate a forward shoulder hit or even a dragging leg or hindquarter hit. If there is blood on both sides of the deer’s obvious path, this could indicate a complete pass through which is always a good thing!

Keep an eye on the surroundings while tracking, as this can help you follow a bad blood trail. You may be able to see things like a faint line in the leaves or the dew in the grass that has been disturbed, indicating that the deer has passed through in that direction. Always mark your last blood so that you don’t lose it, but don’t be afraid of venturing away and checking out other spots that you suspect the deer might have passed through. 

More important than anything, when you find a blood trail, always walk beside it, not on it, and do not destroy any part of it! These are clues that will help you with your search. If you lose a blood trail, go to the spot where you found the last blood and mark it, and start your search over from that point. You do not want to make your search harder by ruining your existing blood trail. 

tracking a deer at the end of a blood trail

Look for any other sign that may indicate a direction change at the last blood, such as overturned leaves, broken vegetation, or even trails and choke points that would force a deer to make a direction change. If you are still having trouble picking back up the trail, search in a circular pattern around the last blood. It is always nice to have help as well and the more people you can get to help you, the better. 

Be patient on the tracking process and do not give up too easily. Expend every possible effort to find your wounded deer, and do not give up hope too quickly. Only after you have tried everything, looked everywhere, and given it your absolute best effort should you consider giving up on a wounded animal. As responsible hunters, we owe this to the animals to try our absolute hardest to find them after a bad shot. 

Final Thoughts on how to track a Deer with a blood trail

The next time you find yourself having to track a deer or any other animal, keep a few of these things in mind. The tracking process starts as soon as you shoot, and every little detail that you can remember and gather will aid in the process of recovering that animal. The more deer that you can track or help others track, the better your skills will be as well. Make every effort to find a shot animal and good luck!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. 7 kogus

    I like the valuable info you provide on your articles. Janelle Thibaut Orabel

Leave a Reply