How do you track an animal when you do not get a killing shot?
How do you track an animal when you do not get a killing shot?
as soon as you shoot, dont say a word. look for a landmark where you know you saw the animal standing. stop, listen for the animal. you can hear the direction its running, and sometimes hear it fall.
wait 30 minutes. go to the landmark that you saw the animal standing at. look for blood. sometimes the first drop is the hardest to spot. dont just look on the ground. look on twigs and trees, blades of grass.
once you find blood, look for the next spot of blood. go cautiously, keeping an eye on the trail ahead. follow the pattern of the blood. if your trail is going slightly left, look slightly left. it may sound funny, but people get focused on straight lines.
blood can tell you a lot about the shot you took. if it is bright red or pink, you got lungs. this is good. if it is dark red, you probably got the liver or guts. not so good. give the animal some time if you cant make a follow up shot. look for little bits of bone at the shot location. that can tell you where you hit also.
go slow. keep an eye out ahead. dont get to focused. if you cant find blood. make circles around the area. go back to your last spot. think about where the animal would go.
hope this helps. adam
Like you said, the blood trail. Plus tracks, broken branches, disturbed grass, etc.
I always carry a roll of bright orange reflective flagging tape in my backpack. I mark the blood trail with the flagging tape so that if I have gone a considerable distance without seeing blood or any other sign (lost the trail) I can easily return to the my last marked point so that I don't have to start over.
Also, the flagging tape serves to mark the trail for return trips, other hunters helping you, etc. Just remember to remove all the tape when your're done.
A GPS is handy as well in some instances.
Of course we all should strive to only take the most ethical shots possible, but needing to track a wounded animal will eventually become a reality at some point. Patience is key when tracking. Try to keep from getting over excited, or frustrated. It can be amazing how little a mortally wounded animal will bleed. I tracked a Utah mule deer about 1/4 mile and found less than 5cc of blood along the way. It is a hunters responsibility to find any animal that he/ she has shot.
Try not to push the animal. A lot of times a wounded animal will circle its trail and bed down thus giving it the opportunity to watch its back trail while trying to figure out what in the world just happened. If you push that animal it may very well run to the point you can't track it any more.
Let the wound channel do its work so to speak and let that animal pass so you can harvest it. I have somewhat of a hard time agreeing with this because in the back of my mind I know that animal is suffering.
You can't change the past, the shot is done with. Now you are starting a new game...and that is harvest this animal first, if possible to do it quickly is second.
I witnessed a moose get shot at close range and when the critter took off the entry/exit wounds were spraying blood everywhere. The shot itself was not a lethal wound, thus the animal did a quick jaunt then laid down. The moose bedding down actually stopped the bleeding, the bed only had a few drops in it. After 30 minutes of waiting and now on the original heavy blood trail the moose jumped from the bed and took off before a second shot could be taken.
We waited 5 hrs before we resumed. The next 2 hrs was spent doing exactly what Zeb and Adam have said with the tape and patience. All we had to follow was disturbed ground/dirt/leaves and trees with blood rubbed on them. Nothing on the ground as far as blood. We eventually walked up to the animal as it was finally passing.
Yes this animal suffered, but it was not wasted.
When all else fails...ask your old-man.
Hope it never happens to me. I have gone out to try to find bear that have been wounded and it was always tracks and some luck if we found them.Pinkish foamy blood ussally means lungs which means the game will probably die soon.Black blood means its been laying there awhile. A critters hair can hold alot of blood before it starts dripping and fat can plug holes.Give a honnest couple of days looking then go pratice shooting.
It is illegal to use a dog for hunting. Page 19 of the regs.
That said, it is not illegal to use a dog to assist you in locating/tracking a downed animal. Had a friend that made a bad shot on a young bull, as it turned. Hit too far back. Didn't push the bull and with the impending darkness, waited until first light the next morning.
I got a call, and the three of us searched for over 3 hours. With an overnight drizzle, we didn't have a blood trail to follow. Ran a grid and tried everything without success. Brought my lab there, on a leash and in less than 5 min. she was on top of the very dead bull. It travelled much further than we thought. Overall a good ending with no wasted meat.
Last fall I shot a cow elk broad side standing about 30 yards away using a 325wsm with 200gr accubond, she bounded off through the brush. Waited 30 min then went to the spot where I hit her, no blood! Did I mis? No way. So I searched for any traces of blood, then on a oak leaf I found a small patch of fur. Found her tracks, followed them for about ten/fifteen yards looking for any sign of blood then I spotted a pin sized spot of blood on a leaf. Took another step and WOWZERS! There she was, I almost stepped on her! Wew that scared the crap out of me! After the shot she ran about 20 yards found a low spot on the ground crawled into it then passed. The bullet entered between the ribs and past between the ribs on the other side dissolving the liver and causing her to bleed out internally. No blood trail at all just one tiny spot.
A few points I will throw in.
1. After proper wait depending on where you think you hit the animal, from a couple hours to overnight, go slow - look up often in case animal jumps in front of you. Many times if they are hit hard they will get up a bit slow and just maybe give you one quick opportunity.
2. If its going to be a lethal hit the animal will likely travel only somewhere between 250 yards and 500 - so your search area is probably not as vast as you may think - if they go much farter than this you are probably not going to find a dead animal from my experience.
3. Toilet Paper works good to hang if you do not have tape - it also degrades quickly if you cannot go back to retrieve it - shows up at greater distances usually.
4. Sometimes birds will tip you off the next day if they are circleing a kill.
Found a black bear another hunter shot this way - crows were raising hell fighting over the trophy and got my attention to check it out...
Ditto on the birds. I was deer hunting at hasselborg lake last year and My buddy and I had split up for a couple hours. I heard 3 shots over the hill form me. I went looking for him just in case he needed a hand with multiple deer. Afer a minute I fired a locator round and he fired one back. But with the hills I just couldnt tell what way the shot came from. After an hour of Hiking around in circles on the knob looking for him I spied several ravens thru the trees doing circles about a half mile down the lake. I went straight for them and found my buddy just as he was finished dressing them out.
It's hard not to push an animal. After the shot everyone wants to go put there hands on the fruits of their labor. That is probably the most important thing. If they are hit good many times they won't go far and will just go find a place to die and lay down. I also use the orange flagging tape or reflective push pins, very helpful at night. I've heard people say they just shoot animals in the head or neck so they drop where shot. I think that's a bad idea. I've watched as someone tried to shoot a whitetail in the head and the shot went low, deer moved whatever. End result was a deer shot in the lower jaw running away and i'm sure in terrible pain.
"...arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe...Horrid mischief would ensue were the good deprived of the use of them." -Thomas Paine
I Agree AK - unless someone is a very good shot and range is very short it can lead to a terrble death for the animal. I took an employee to S Dakota some years back to hunt deer and birds. He shot a doe in the head - took her lower jaw off and dropped her on the spot. He left his gun at the kill site and found me - I told him I would circle an area and meet back to help him - on my walk I ran across a heavy blood trail in the snow and followed it to a deep river. Confused I finally met up with my friend. He had walked back to his deer, took out his knife to begin dressing deer and it jumped up and ran off! Sadly we couild not find a way to pursue it and she must have died a terrible death.
Patients, patients, patients, to many people put in a little effort and assume they missed or it was not a lethal shot. Always pick a landmark where the animal was shot and listen to hear the direction it went.
I shot a nice black bear once (and knew it was hit hard) and because dark was minutes away, I decided to go right after the bear, wrong decision as the bear bolted upon hearing me get out of the tree stand and traveled another 200 yds, literary dead on his feet (ainít adrenalin grand).
We left it for the night as it was cold and the next morning two people on hands an knees (+one watching ahead with a rifle) worked every blade of grass, over and over, in the area of the shot, for an hour until we found one tiny spot of blood and then another 20 minutes for a second drop barely bigger than the head of a pencil. Once we got three drops, the direction became evident and we quickly found the animal.
The joy of finding the bear, given the refuse to give up attitude, made the tracking experience one of the one that gets brought up in camp often as "do you remember when we tracked that animal on our hands and knees".
Don't take bad shots, that simple. This that, shoot it wherever you want but make it a good one. I just shoot them below the ear, hit it and down instantly and barely a twitch.
The emphasis is on accuracy, not power!
Some more things to think about
1) Calm down and think before moving
2) Mark the spot you shot from too
3) If you lose the trail go back to your last known spot and begin "casting" i.e. everwidening circles until you find more
4) On toilet paper: Carry extra and use it to blot the ground. It will pick up the teensiest specks of blood
5) Remember the terrain: Wounded animals tend to go downhill, towards water and thick cover
6) Gas lanterns: Blood is phosphorescent. Under the bright white light of a Coleman lantern it really stands out. It doesn't have to be full dark either. It's dark enough in the woods at before sunset (in most places) for this to work. Recovering game is not jacklighting.
7) Birds: If you must resume your search the next day look/listen for congregations of ravens, magpies and even seagulls. The birds WILL find your kill
Most important thing, I think, is to wait long enough. I didn't on a bear two years ago, and ended up chasing it by sound for nearly an hour before it was finally too weak to continue. I had hit one lung with an arrow- when I first jumped it it was laying down about 30 yards from the hit- had I waited an hour it would have been a simple recovery.
I arrowed a moose this season. I knew it was too far back, so I marked the spot, then went home for 6 hours. When we found the moose, it was still alive, looking back the way it came, about 40-50 yards from the shot. It was too weak to stand, though, so it was easy to dispatch and care for it. Had I started tracking it sooner, he may have been able to stand and take off again, making things ugly.
Most of the tips have already been covered, but I haven't seen this one yet....Don't look for just blood, but look for disturbances in the soil, etc on animals. I've shot more than one blacktail deer right in the boiler room that didn't bleed a single drop before piling up dead. Sometimes it will take 50 yards or so before you see blood, so it can pay to look for overturned leaves, branches soil, etc.
Also, if you shoot and don't see blood, keep following the trail until you can be sure the animal wasn't hit.
MY RULES FOR TRACKING GAME:
1) After EVERY shot on an animal. Wait 30 minutes, completely silent. Mark the spot you shot from, then mark the spot the animal was hit at.
2) If you think you've double lunged an animal, but did not see it fall, back out and wait AT LEAST 2 hrs. then resume the search at the point of the shot.
3) If you "hit it back", or took an ill advised slighty quartering to you shot, indicating a liver hit, or lung/liver then back out and wait AT LEAST 4 hrs.
4) If you hit WAY back, into the guts, back quarter, or the animal moved on the shot and you're not sure where you hit it, back out and wait AT LEAST 6 hrs. If you saw your arrow go into the stomach, wait 8 hrs.
Most animals won't make it 100 yards with a double lung, 300 yards with a liver and 500 yards with a gut shot before bedding down and dying. Too many hunters panic, and try to track game to early, consequently they "bump" them, and once that happens, all "rules" are out the window. The animal may go on the "death march", or it may bed down again. As a hunter, you want them to bed down, which is much more likely to happen if you've given the animal some time to get sick, prior to bumping them.
I was told once, "If the bull died 2 minutes after the shot, he'll still be dead in 2 hours."
Last year I "thought" I double lunged a 6x6 bull elk in Oregon. Slight quartered AWAY shot. We backed out and waited 2 hrs. When we came back, we started tracking a great blood trail (i love shuttle t's) which eventually ended up in us bumping the bull. After backing out AGAIN, for 5 more hours, we came back to recover the bull only 100 yards from where he was bumped. The arrow shot true, and I hit the near side lung just as planned. Unfortunately, as the arrow entered it deflected off a rib, resulting in an improbable lung/liver hit. Had we not waited 2 hrs, this bull would not have had time to "get sick". Fortunately, we did wait, and by the time we bumped the bull, he was too weak to travel any farther than 100 yards.
so how did the blood trailing go? I'm assuming no photo it means not good?
Lots of good ideas thoughts and tracking process's. Something that will only come with time in the woods, the knowledge of being a good tracker. The real art of a hunter!
It's easy to say they shouldnt go, or just take a great shot...the reality is, every one of us in here will or has been on a blood trail, bow or gun! Take your time and you'll do just fine!
use of dogs is overlooked. By the regs. it must be just a single dog and it must be on a leash.
i use 30 foot piece of small diameter climbing rope. , let the rope string out behind you. if the dog goes through brush pile or tangle, you can go around.
there is a group in Anchorge that provides the service. they have web site http://www.akgamesearch.org/
from their web site - "Your request for these services should be made through a Game Management Official or law enforcement officer. Only in rare cases will a blood tracking handler accept a direct request for tracking services."
if i am around i would be happy the try and assist i'm still training my dog so not sure if i would be of help but willing to try. 394-1996
RETIRED U.S.A.F. CAPT.; LIFETIME MEMBER NRA; LIFETIME MEMBER ALASKA BOWHUNTER ASSOC.
MASTER BOWHUNTER EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR; MEMBER UNITED BLOOD TRACKERS; POPE & YOUNG MEASURER
One thing that has saved me over the years was looking 'UNDER' the leaves, especially in rain or drizzle. Generally the underside of the leaves and even grass will rub the animal and get blood on them, so reach down and turn them over. If you have a decent rain going, your not going to find much blood on the top of the leaves.
And of course, go slow. Don't leave the last spot of blood unmarked before starting to circle.
Even a good lung shot animal can go 200 300 yards, and in thick cover, you better have some experience in this or knowledge. If you ever need help, give me a call. I've helped a lot of people find thier animal. (if it's a griz, call someone else.... I hate tracking them things into thick cover..)
Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com