Sunday, December 5, 2010

After the Shot, Tracking and Trailing

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Even with every preparation, proper equipment choice, and skill, there are always times when game is not killed outright. A moments inattention, or perhaps premature congratulation may allow an animal to run off when the hunter should have been preparing for a follow-up shot.

It's that time of year again, and folks are out there filling there tags. Recovering game that doesn't drop immediately after the first shot, requires a moment of thought, and the acknowledgment that the work is just beginning.

The first thing you need to do, even before taking the first shot, is to be aware of the surroundings. You have to know where you are, and where your quarry is. When you have the shot, and take it, know where the quarry is exactly. As the range increases the difficulty of finding the exact spot becomes more difficult.

Also watch the reaction of your game. Deer will take off at a dead run, or jump straight up and kick when hit in the ticker. Hogs turn on the afterburners when shot and then either pile up or get into cover. Watch where the animal goes and try to remember where you lost sight of it.

After taking the shot, crank your scope down as low as it goes. You'll thank me for it later if you need to get an animal in your sights quickly.

When you make your way to the spot where the animal was, carefully note any sign such as hair or blood. Also sight along the path it took on its way out. The blood left at the initial site may provide clues to determine where you hit. Bright red, frothy blood indicates a lung shot. Dark colored blood could mean the liver was struck. A heart shot will be bright red blood. Look for signs that may indicate a poor shoot. If there is digested vegetation mixed in with the blood it could very well indicate a paunch hit.

When an animal takes off, the direction it went will frequently be marked by blood spatters. At times it may diminish to drops. This is all too common with hogs, where the fat and hide will frequently stop the external bleeding. It is important to follow up slowly and carefully, noting every drop of blood and every disturbed leaf. Blood can be anywhere from the sides of the trail to the ground. Wild Ed of Wild Ed's Outdoors, reminds us also to keep an eye on the brush or grass on either side of the track, not just at ground level but higher. The height can indicate where an animal has been hit. Mark your observations with tissue paper or surveyors tape, (Make sure you pick it up when you are done!) so that if need be, you can retrace your steps.

If you lose the track, go back to the last sign you found and carefully start again. Remember look at it from the animal's perspective. This means get down on your hands and knees. You will be surprised what it looks like from down there! Follow the path of least resistance.

Always be on the lookout for your game. It could be that dark spot there, or the light line there. Always be ready.

Tracking a wounded animal is hard work and a grave responsibility. Every effort should be made to recover a lost animal. In many states there are tracking services available that use blood tracking dogs to find lost game.

Born-To-Track News and Views
covers the Blood Tracking dog world, and in particular the Wire Haired Dachshunds. Look through the archives and you will find several posts on deer that have been found by these amazing dogs. And golly, they are cute as can be!

In those states where dogs cannot be used, then you must use every sense and every clue to find your animal. Perseverance and patience are the keys to recovery.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.


Nebraska Hunting Company said...


You need to get up here for Snow Goose season! You getting a break this year or what??? Keep ypur head down, and as they watch your six!

I thought I wuld link to your post here on tracking; it's an important part of what we do.

Your friend,
Scott Croner and
Nebraska Hunting Company™

Ian Nance said...

This is one of the best pieces of advice I've read. It is something I try to tell new hunters. Pay attention to what happens after the shot. Not everything drops at the shot. Pay attention to where it runs. How did it react? Many novices I've hunted with can't give an answer to those questions - many of them expect for their game to drop on the spot. Great read. Hope others read it!

Jamie Cameron said...

Hi Albert.
Great post as always and especially pertinent to my experiences this year in the North Carolina deer woods. Hope your other readers will take your advise to heart.

Albert A Rasch said...

Right you are! I have heard it and seen it time and again, where folks just about jump out of their stand and motivate to the spot they think their deer is, only to be surprised by a bounding whitetail, or confusion as to where exactly it was to begin with.

Glad you could join us! looking forward to hearing from you often! Stopped by your site, and rest assured, you will be on the Rodeo too!

Best regards,