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Blood trailing

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  • Blood trailing

    Blood trailing ended up being a thing this weekend, figured I’d throw one more spin off out for the sake of serious discussion.

    One of the things I try to do is to go to the spot of impact even if I have a good idea of where the critter actually dropped. It’s a way for me to build a memory bank for future reference on more difficult tracking jobs. We did this with the Kid’s coyote Monday evening as well. He had an idea where it was but it was actually easier trailing it than it would have been just randomly looking in that area. Funny thing was my daughter spotted it the same as his buck last year. We were looking down and it was about five yards away.

    Even living in update NY I don’t have much experience with blood trails in snow. The few that I’ve shot in those conditions were usual DRT. I have run across blood trails from other hunters and always try to follow them, especially if it looks like no one else has. It’s never amounted to me filling a tag but I do it just the same.

    About the only take away I’ve come up with is that I’d much, much rather have a track that starts out sparse and gets heavier than one that looks to be hit hard at the start but peters out. I hate grid searches at the end.

    I also haven’t ever quite gotten how some people determine where the hit was just from looking at drops of blood. Sure, if there’s gack mixed in that’s a bad sign of a gut shot but I’ve never really seen “dark” or “pink” blood. Typically it’s just red. I remember reading once that the only true dark blood was still in veins returning to the lungs, once it’s exposed to oxygen the hemoglobin will immediately red. Foamy blood I get, but it’s always been so obvious that there’s no doubt. Often there’s hunks of lung mixed in anyway. When it’s obvious that it’s being exhaled that’s always a good indication as well.

    I’ve also seen heart shot deer cover a lot of ground without bleeding much. A direct hit on the pump often stops the flow but where they go down it’s usually messy.

    Saturday night was almost too much help. We did ok not stomping the trail once we got going but I was glad we had everyone helping to find that initial line. We were definitely spread out at the start. Otherwise on a tricky job I prefer three people, one to stay at the last spot and two sets of eyes looking ahead.

    Not really looking for specific tracking stories, unless one has something that stands out about something you learned from it, but more interested in what you like to see or not see when you have to go looking and how you go about it.

  • #2
    I don't have any epic trailing stories I can recall. Been in on helping others but even then I've always been surrounded by very good hunter/trackers. There were times when one of us would get down on our knees to get a deers eye view, which was always followed by, "Believe he went that way boys." Lucky I guess. Had a couple go in a creek back in my Michigan days but the water was never more than waist deep and we would find them down stream. Never was overly concerned with blood type, only quantity.
    Ooh! Cool story. When I was a teenager my brother hit one that ran into some heavy cover so he gathered my grandad, uncle, and 2 of us brothers. Showed us where he hit the deer. Pretty good blood as the buck went down & thrashed some before getting up and jogging off. First thing my uncle said was "Why didn't you shoot him again, you got 4 or 5 more in that 30-30 don't you?" My brother trying to look like an old hand pointed to the ground and said,"Gramps what kind of blood do you think it is?" Grandad reached down and swiped some with his palm, looked at it carefully, smelled it, rubbed it between his thumb and fingers, licked it, then looked at my brother and said,"Believe it's B+, but answer your uncle. Why didn't you shoot again?" Good memory.
    Last edited by dewman; 10-14-2021, 07:16 AM.


    • #3
      dewman, those old timers always had a line and a way with words! LOL!

      I couldn't track a tortoise across a barren sand dunes!...and another LOL!

      I'm VERY fortunate that I've never had to trail a wounded deer very far.
      The one I did have to track, my "new" wife was a blood trailing genius! 🙂
      Unfortunately, we were never able to recover the deer and we trailed him until time and space ran out.
      I've known people who could track a flea across a polished, granite floor for miles!
      I admire you gents who have the chutzpah to chase blood trails. Should I ever need your services, I'll need you to post your names, phones numbers and photos on this site for future reference and questions! 😉!
      I do love you guys! LOL!


      • #4
        Looking at my log book for 12/28/2001, I shot a small buck with a 150 grain CoreLokt from a Remington 700 .30-06 at a 90 degree angle around 32 paces, right through both lungs. The 4pt (2x2) buck took off as fast as possible and I walked over to the point of impact to start tracking.

        There I found lung material blown all over the undergrowth and small pines. To my surprise, the blood trail went downhill, across a small stream and up another small hill, perhaps a 90 ft elevation change. The blood trail stopped but I continued on in the direction of travel and found the dead deer at the top of the rise. It was the white belly hair that stood out.

        I've used Google Maps to measure the distance and it was about 150 yards straight line, so about 200 by trail. One of the strangest things I've seen a wounded deer do. The game warden at the check-in station estimated the deer to be 3.5 years old according to the shape of his teeth.

        The point is that I didn't stop looking even though the blood trail gave out. It was obviously a fatal wound so I figured he couldn't have gone far.


        • #5
          I've tracked several pigs and lost a few when the blood trail disappeared. Their blood must quickly clot.


          • #6
            "... The point is that I didn't stop looking even though the blood trail gave out. It was obviously a fatal wound so I figured he couldn't have gone far. ..."

            I have however, on a couple of occasions, had this occur.
            I didn't consider it a "tracking" job per si. More of a "seek & find" affair! LOL!


            • #7
              December 26, 1997 - I was hunting on public land using my open-sighted M1 Garand loaded with 180gr Nosler Ballistic Tips. Shortly after sunrise found me looking downhill into a small valley with chest high canes. I heard a sounder of pigs trotting my way and could just see them at the undergrowth edge. Quickly I shouldered the Garand and shot at a large one, maybe a 35 yard shot.

              The pig squealed and went toward the stream, quickly disappearing. Of course all the others ran off too. I moved to the impact spot and saw blood, so I began to trail the pig, rifle ready for a second shot.

              The shallow stream bed was a narrow cut about 15 feet wide and 6 feet down. The pig had entered that channel and turned downstream. Hmmm, pretty confined if the wounded animal decided to charge. Those days I carried a Korean-styled M1 bayonet for finishing wounded deer so I decided to affix it to the rifle just in case and climbed down into the stream cut.

              After a few turns, the streambed opened up and the pig exited moving up a small rise through the canes towards hardwood forest. The blood trail was still obvious but drops were getting further apart. I could tell by blood on the canes the wound was high on the right shoulder. There was also blood mixed with mucus on the center of the trail, probably dripping from the pig's nose as it traveled over downed logs.

              I followed that trail over another small rise before the blood drops completely disappeared. Roughly about 400 yards. After another 30 minutes of casting about for more sign, I finally gave up. My best guess is that B-tip hit one of those canes on the way and started expanding early. That would have caused a shallow wound not immediately fatal.


              • #8
                October 1999, my first bow kill was likely a four point but he’d broke one antler completely off. It was overcast and in the fifties just before sunset when he came quartering in at around 15 yards. I came to full draw, settled my pin on the front edge of his shoulder and let loose. The buck took off to about forty yards out facing straight away. His back end started to wobble then his legs buckled and he laid down. For about 10 minutes I watched his head move as he looked around. All at once he tried to get back up but when his legs straightened out he promptly fell over on his right side and rolled downhill behind some bushes. I waited another 10 minutes or so before getting down, by then it was getting dark fast. The arrow was stuck in the ground right behind where he’d been standing, I picked it up and then walked over to where last saw him thinking he’d be laying right there. He wasn’t.

                I had a flashlight in my truck not far away so I headed to get it and leave the bow. When I got back to where the deer fell over the second time I found blood. Not a lot but enough to follow. I tracked it for maybe 125 yards where it crossed a two foot wide creek then went up a small bank into an overgrown meadow where I lost the trail. It was now about 8:00 and it began raining steady. I started making circles thinking I’d stumble on him since I’d watched him go down twice. Didn’t happen. I quit looking about 10:00. I woke up early the next morning to be back where I lost the trail at daybreak. Overnight the temperature had dropped and there was now 4”-5” of snow on the ground. I looked until I had to get going for work, which happened to be for my old boss who had the sideline archery shop. He said when I finished up what I had to do that afternoon we’d head out early and give it another look. When I got in later there was one of our regular costumers hanging out who volunteered to go along and help.

                We got to my spot and started grid searching to no avail. Eventually my boss decided he’d go try out my stand and left me and the other guy to look ourselves. Good to be the boss, lol. The other fella and I kept working our way downhill but it was looking pretty bleak. I was sure the deer was dead and the other guy wasn’t saying much. He wasn’t convinced I actually saw what I’d claimed but was keeping it to himself. We stood looking down toward the road below us when something looked out of place to him. There was a small circle of dark color in the snow. We headed toward it and sure enough there laid the buck. Gutting him showed the arrow had only passed through one lung and clipped the liver. He’d made it about 400 yards from where I had shot him. I don’t know how long he’d lived but his body stayed warm enough to melt the snow around him, if it wasn’t for that the other guy probably wouldn’t have noticed him.

                Looking back there was a little Devine intervention. I really didn’t know the guy all that well at the time, just that he was a pastor that liked to bow hunt. Turns out three years later he’d become my Father-in-Law.




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