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Author Topic: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries  (Read 1069 times)

Offline Jonathan_S

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Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« on: December 20, 2017, 04:57:13 PM »
Blood Trailing... some love it, some hate it. I personally enjoy it and wish they would show it on tv more often, instead of just the “there he is!” Moment. In reality there can be minutes and hours of gut wrenching anticipation and despair.

This is not an art specifically performed by bowhunters so I guess a mod might find it better suited elsewhere. This thread is intended for some to reminisce, some to teach, some to learn. Please don’t argue over what you didn’t see with your own eyes because every case is different.

Hopefully we can compile some tips and tricks for a less than confident hunter after the shot. My name is Jon and I’ll go first...

2014: arrow disappeared about mid body and low of a 3-4 year old whitetail buck and he wheeled and quickly disappeared running straight uphill. There wasn’t a thunk or a whack. He hunched and kicked at the shot. My heart sank believing it was a gut shot. This is one of those hunts where if I hadn’t found the arrow, I may not have had confidence to look long enough to find the buck. Zero blood, hot dusty September weather in pine and underbrush. I found the arrow after 45 minutes of looking. Surprisingly lots of dark blood on the arrow. I found first blood about 200 yards uphill, three hours later. It was dry and brown but blood. I looked for another two hours before having a tantrum and deciding to notch the tag and be done. Still, I couldn’t stop myself from trying one more time. This time I picked the silliest route I could from last blood. The route was like the deer turned 180 and headed straight back downhill. Well...you guessed it, I started finding blood immediately, and the deer about another 100 yards away. He was laying in the sun all afternoon and was bloated enormous but I didn’t lose any meat besides the tenderloins. Turns out that arrow took out the liver completely and while he made it quite far, this was an extremely lethal hit. Lessons: dying deer make strange choices like doubling back and a long track with little blood doesn’t give me an excuse to stop looking.

2016: late archery whitetail. 33 yard broadside shot, lost the arrow in the fading light and the young buck ran up a steep hill back where he came from. Watched him run 100 yards and not even slow down. Did I miss? Arrow showed very light blood all over it. Hmm? Waited an hour and followed his trail. No blood but fairly easy tracks. Then nothing. Tracks disappear in the hard frozen ground and there are a dozen routes he could have taken. Grid search turns up first blood, that buck turned hard right after going out of sight. Funny thing was, it was lung blood. Big slimy patch of it. There was one of those, out both sides every ten yards or so until...nothing. He’d now gone about 175 and no clear direction. Grid search again and now it’s dark. I found him quickly thereafter and was amazed at how little blood was in his cavity after finding so little outside of him. Turns out that shot took out the top of both lungs but was dead center mid body. Lessons: lung hit deer can go a long ways and bleed very little but they will still die quickly.

2017: late archery whitetail. 20 yard shot, slight quartering to shot. Dang! I am 99.99999% sure I saw the arrow go under his body. Plus he ran straight uphill and out of sight. But wait, that arrow is off to the side of where he was and it’s only halfway in the snow so I move up to check it, making certain my headlamp is on... there was a fine mist of blood all over the ground and heavy blood on the arrow! Oh yeah! Then zero blood for about 10 yards. Then gut blood, stomach contents, and yellow fluid.  :bash: another ten feet and The blood is everywhere, thick dark blood, then frothy blood in huge spraying swathes. Gut blood, lung blood, bright red blood, pink blood. I literally followed it without a headlamp. Then...it was gone! At this point, I looked up and there he was piled up on some logs. That shot was the most lethal I’ve seen, both lungs and heart, then deflected further backward, Opening the liver from end to end and laying open the front of the stomach too. And still that buck ran straight uphill to his bedding area, right until he tipped over from massive blood loss. Lessons: gut blood doesn’t always mean long recovery depending on shot angle, and double and triple check everything even when you think you missed

There are more but I’d first like to hear from some others, this could be a very valuable asset if done right
“Kindly do not attempt to cloud the issue with too many facts.”

Offline Magnum_Willys

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2017, 05:13:13 PM »
1989 ( ya not a misprint ) these blood trail memories are the most memorable hunts ( ino sounds macabre but not) .
Yelled at buddy above that a bull was headed his way ( pre-walkie talkie).  He gut shoots it through the brush and starts following blood trail in the snow.  It and another bull pass through same bush and buddy gets on wrong bull outa the bush and follows it for hours down the canyon.   I catchup to blood trail at bush and get on the right trail.  Play cat and mouse with bull and blood trail next two hours and over a mile through the 2" of snow giving up on trail a number of times as tracks merge with herd of others only to gleefully find a drop on tracks that happen to be going where I'm headed.  This keeps up for hundred yards after hundred yards with just a drop under branch here and there.   Finally bull crossed road coming nearly full circle and blood trail gets heavier.  Right on breaks of the salmon river I catch up to the 6x6 and anchor it before it goes over the edge.  We get it quartered and hungup just as my buddy comes back to congratulate us on our success and tell us how he lost the big one.  " Nope, there's your bull we said as his jaw dropped into a grin".   good times ! 

Offline Jonathan_S

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2017, 05:18:46 PM »
That’s great! Sometimes snow can be the best thing possible.
“Kindly do not attempt to cloud the issue with too many facts.”

Offline vandeman17

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2017, 06:26:40 PM »
We had a fun one a few years back. Tracked a cow for a few hours, three of us down on hands and knees finding pin drops of blood here and there. We have up multiple times only to give it one more go. Finally full on gave up. Guy who had shot her walks away like 15 yards to take a leak and happens to find more blood. Back on it we go and finally found her piled up.
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Offline vandeman17

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2017, 06:28:10 PM »
On the flip side, this was an easy one to follow.
" I have hunted almost every day of my life, the rest have been wasted"

Offline brew

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2017, 06:40:08 PM »
manastash unit 2005--there were 8 of us over there bowhunting and a couple cow called a group of cows into them.  buddy liver shot a cow and it went about 50 yards and laid down within sight.  instead of leaving her there undisturbed they tried to sneak in and put another arrow into her....she took off and they met us back at camp at lunch to tell us what happened.   we all met up where the cow laid and saw very little blood.  found very sparse drops of blood for about 200 yards then nothing.  everyone took off in different directions looking for it but couldn't find any trace of it.  after about an hour of circling the area i told the wife to come with me and took off down the ridge hoping to find some sign.  was going down the ridge about 150 yards from where we saw the last spot of blood and found a tiny spot on a downed log.  i stood at the spot trying to find more blood and wife went up the ridge 40 yards ahead of me.  she hollered that she found her laying under a tree.  cow went about 400 yards from where she first bedded down---

manastash unit 2006---i drew an any elk archery tag.  after hunting for 7 days we jumped in the truck during a horrendous rain storm and went out to find the wife a doe to shoot.  coming around a bend saw 3 cow elk and a 6 pt bull just off the road.  I jumped out to shoot the bull but the cows kept surrounding him not giving me a shot.  i was within 35 yards and the cows wouldn't leave and he wouldn't leave the cows.  finally after jabbing the cows in the butt with his horns he got them headed off away from me.  they trotted off and i took off on a run trying to parrallel them.   they came out into an opening and the bull stopped at what i guessed was 70 yards.  i released an arrow and it hit him low in the chest.  i followed the sparse blood for about 300 yards then went back to where my hunting partners were.  i took a GPS reading from where i shot him and we went in the woods after him. we sent the wives back to camp with a radio and pick up the packs and 3 of us continued tracking him.  horrible rain and after about 300 yards the blood trail got really thin---torrential rain and not a great shot not a good combination.  fortunatally the bull was parralleling the road and as we were trying to work out the blood trail we heard a truck on the gravel road about 200 yards from us.  the vehicle suddenly locked up the brakes and i took off on a dead run towards the road.  as i hit the road a guy was coming out of the woods on the opposite side of the road...told him i arrowed a bull and he said that it walked across the road in front of them.  he was walking me into the woods where he saw the bull go when we heard a big crash and when we got up there saw where the bull finally died.  that bull actually died on a quad trail 100 yards above a main road.  Six of us dragged that bull down to the road and loaded him whole into my buddies 1/2 ton truck.  looking back at the original GPS spot from where i shot him to where he died was almost a mile away

september of this year....wife had a major surgery so i took some time off work to be with her.  son had a archery tag and came out to the house and wife said she was good for a couple hours so we hit the woods looking for a deer.  Raining real hard and the second road we drove up there was a doe standing behing a big brush pile.  he took the shot (not a good one as she was quartering towards us)--told him to aim for the near shoulder but he hit it back (i was watching with my binos)...the deer took off through the cut.  lost sight of the deer and we headed up into the cut looking for the deer.  both my son and i are well over 6' tall and the brush in the cut was chest high.  we got up into the cut and saw tracks where the doe took off-no blood.  kinda went the direction that i thought she took but didn't have a good idea where she was.  didn't see any blood but saw some fresh tracks that we kinda followed for a ways---every once in a while saw a tiny drop of blood but the rain was washing it out quickly.  went about 70 yards and i was standing there trying to figure out what was going on and my son was behind me.   all of the sudden i hear some raspy breathing and saw a piece of fireweed moving about 30 yards away.  there she was...blood trail was gone/had washed out but we found her because he had hit the top of the near lung and the liver and she bled out internally but she bedded down and died there. she went over 100 yards without really bleeding externally---
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Offline Okanagan

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2017, 07:19:05 PM »
A cougar trailed and located a deer for me. 

I shot a whitetail buck near sundown that ran off in brushy timber. Late in the day, I didn't give him enough time and spooked him from where he lay down within 70 yards.  By then it was near dark, no tracking snow.  Temps were cold and I decided to wait till morning to track him further.  It snowed over an inch deep that night, and quit snowing just before daylight.

It seemed hopeless to find a blood trail under snow.  By luck and by trial and error heading the same direction the buck had headed, I discovered by accident that if I pressed down on the snow where there was a spot of blood, it would seep/blot up and show red.  Lotta mashing snow.

100 yards along this trail (took me an hour) a mountain lion's tracks came in from the side and turned to follow the buck's trail, still under snow.  I kept checking by pressing snow, but the cougar was a reliable guide and he followed the hidden blood trail to the buck.  The deer was stretched out in mid stride where he had died the night before, nearly 400 yards from where he was shot.  Small bodied buck, very cold, meat was good. 

The cougar approached the buck from its tail end and a slight change of its tracks showed where it had paused by the buck's head, leaned over and sniffed the head, then walked on without touching it. 
« Last Edit: December 20, 2017, 09:34:13 PM by Okanagan »

Offline Magnum_Willys

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2017, 07:25:29 PM »
3 Years back son shot a 50"+ bull in Northern BC at 380 yards and it disappeared into the thick heather.  We  got to where guide thought the bull had been standing and looked for 20 minutes and found nothing but one set of tracks headed down but no blood. Were we in wrong spot?  Son headed back to find his shooting spot to wave us in right direction. We didn’t see him from where we were so after 20 minutes we headed back to find him. He had found guide coming back and with his help we found and flagged the shooting spot.  We looked back down to about where bull had been - whew - we had been searching the wrong area - too low.   We made a beeline 350 yards to where bull should be.  Nothing. We looked around for 30 mins.   Fresh tracks lead from where bull was and ran straight down hill and were same tracks we spotted earlier 400 yards below - was it a miss or was there a second unseen animal?   No blood.   Very Discouraging.  The Guides went to follow the tracks and we searched more around the area.   We started to lose all hope.  With the strong wind and poor rests maybe son missed? He didn’t think so.  We now had been looking for three hours. The guides returned after following tracks for nearly a mile. Nothing. We were out of ideas and got our stuff together to head back to tents to make plan B with gut wrenching thoughts of monster that got away.  The Guide wandered off 60 yards away to fill up his water jug.  “Hey! Look what i found”,  he yelled.  The bull! We scrambled down and there it was feet up head in the ground. I had walked within 30 yards of it and somehow missed seeing it and Guide had done the same.  We had been looking for antlers but it was feet up in four foot high alpine heather ground cover.   It hadn’t gone 60 yards downhill .  Wow!!!  Son had hit it perfect at 380 yards.  A heavy palmed 50 inch trophy Bull !  Whew !!!!!!!   We had gone from euphoria to gut wrenching disappointment to elation .  Finding the Bull made the entire adventure a success regardless from that point on. 

Offline Bullkllr

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2017, 07:50:15 PM »
I blood trailed a doe before I shot it during late muzzle loader a while back.

Walked up a road and saw tracks and light blood in the snow. No one else was around and it looked fresh, so I followed. Got to a brush patch and was looking for a way through when the doe stood up at about 15'. Neck shot. Wound was from a muzzle loader bullet in the butt cheek.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2017, 07:58:25 PM by Bullkllr »
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Offline Boss .300 winmag

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2017, 07:48:17 AM »
That’s crazy. :yike:
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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2017, 09:03:21 AM »
I've only had one real blood tracking scenario, on a small buck I killed in Idaho last year. On the shot he dropped, and then struggled back to his feet. He was staggering around, and I thought he was going down any second, but managed to get over the crest of the hill. Confident that I would find him when I got there I walked right up to the edge, only to see him bail into the timber below me about 50 yards. Crap. I found the blood trail, mix of thick red blood and very dark blood with some gut material in it. I'd hit him in the liver and split his stomach slightly. The trail was sparse, but there was a few drops every where he hit the ground while running. I stepped into the timber and he was bedded about 30 yards away and leapt up and bolted into some young firs before I could make a follow up shot. When I got into the firs I had blood for about 25 yards and then it disappeared. I was on a very steep side hill and I walked back and forth and gridded out in front for nearly an hour trying to find the next spot of blood. I finally got really frustrated and sat down to give my brain a break and I noticed a rotten log that had been broken and moved, straight down hill of me. I went down and was able to ID a trail of disrupted branches and rocks. As I was checking it out, I found where he fell down and started cartwheeling downhill leaving some smears of blood here and there. I finally poked my head over an embankment of an old road and there was laying dead in the middle of it.

I lost the blood where he stopped bounding and then he staggered downhill knocking sticks and rocks out of the way until he tipped over and slid down onto that road bed. The sudden change in direction challenged me, but it taught me a lot when I figured it out.

My favorite story is probably my Dad's. He shot a big 2 point above Winthrop and hit it high in the lungs. As he tells the story, he crawled on hands and knees finding pin head size drops of blood here and there before finally losing it all together a hundred yards from the shot. It had been a couple of hours at this point, and was about to give up when he heard ravens circling nearby. He followed the sound and found his deer 50 yards later. The birds had found it already and had pecked its eyes out. The deer had changed direction and gone 90 degrees to the right. He backtracked it to the last blood he found and said there wasn't a drop anywhere.

Ok one more. I killed a nice buck above Winthrop a few years back. He and another buck were jumped by another hunter and ran straight downhill to me. My scope was on high power because I had just been looking at a small buck across the canyon when these 2 came running down. I shot the lead buck at about 30 feet and initially thought I'd missed, but watched him continue on through the timber and disappear across a small opening. He was hunched and moving slow, so I figured I'd hit him back a bit. I found their tracks and started following them and wasn't seeing any blood. I finally noticed a dark spot in the dust and checked it. Sure enough, it was blood. It was so dusty that the blood was getting completely encapsulated in fine dust as soon as it hit the ground. I was able to find some by smearing it with my boot. I could not tell if it was good or bad blood because it was so contaminated with dust. I followed the tracks to where I had last seen the deer go into the timber and finally found a good spot of dark red liver blood on a leaf. As I stepped into the timber, probably 200 yards from the initial shot, my eyes adjusted and I spotted an antler ahead about 40 yards. I was able to ID the buck and he was still very much alive. I couldn't get a shot where I was so I slowly circled above him. When he saw me he laid his head down flat on the ground, trying to hide, and hoping I'd walk by I guess. I was able to get a clear angle and shoot him in the neck.

I was relieved to find and finish the deer, but I felt terrible. It was the first time I'd shot a deer that didn't die immediately. A nice guy came up and found me a couple minutes later, and couldn't understand why I was so upset, because it was a REALLY nice deer. I explained the situation, but its one of those things that effects everyone a little different.
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Online WapitiTalk1

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2017, 09:52:13 AM »
I'll stay with the deer theme for my first post on this thread.  This year’s WA BT rifle buck:  The rain had settled in “well” by the time the following occurred.  Scope covers off, take a bead and yep… it was a buck, with his nose down on the trail above the road. Would not certainly be my best buck ever but I had decided before I stared that on this day, I would take any legal branched buck (geez, a guy has to eat, right?). Barney Blacktail was around 150 yards away…. Sniffing, sniffing, stopping…”safety off” broadside quartering slightly towards me… BOOM! Slam dunk, yep… pretty glad with myself, yep…. The buck dropped out of site immediately and I chambered another round and slowly moved to where he had stood. Umm, no buck. I spent the next 30 minutes, in afore mentioned Washington sunshine (it had settled in "really" well) looking for the buck I knew I had to have hit…………. No buck, no blood, nothing, nadda. I was pretty disappointed as I knew the Vanguard .308 was dialled in solid at 200 yards and there was no way I could have missed…. But, perhaps I hit something that deflected the round… it’s happened before. The buck was coming down from a flat ridge so I started doing half circles up in that direction to see what I could see thinking he may have retreated to whence he came. No blood, no significant tracks, nothing….. I guess I may have missed for some reason… Huge bummer…
OK, one last thought (I'm so glad that I decided to go on this last thought) is that the buck bolted straight down, across the old overgrown road (somewhat unlikely considering the shot I had and confidence in my weapon’s proficiency) maybe when I jacked another shell into the Weatherby and diverted my eyes. I started doing some sweeps below the walk-in road and after 10 minutes or so saw what looked like very, very minimal “goop” mixed with blood on some ferns. A quick touch with my fingers seemed to signify blood. Off came the pack and the flagging ribbon and peroxide came out. A quick “pfsst” with the peroxide answered my question, it was blood. I started there…… tracking down over the bank and within 30 yards, there lies the buck. I almost (almost) walked away thinking I had missed or my round had been deflected.  I started carrying a little spray bottle of peroxide 5 or 6 years ago and it will “always” have a place in my hunting pack. 

 
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Offline Jonathan_S

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2017, 10:04:32 AM »
Peroxide would come in handy for gut blood that really just looks like brown markings after a while.  :tup:

this year at last light, my old man shot a buck across about 200 yards of blowdown and near the edge of some timber. He couldn’t see the deer after the shot and hoped he just dropped. Took him a long while to make his way over to the deer. When he found the blood trail, he followed it leading away further toward the timber. It was good blood, spraying out the offside.

Blood went about 60 feet and just stopped. Then he found some hair and no more blood.

Walking back to the truck for a better light, he followed the trail backwards to refamiliarize with it. This time he found his buck... turns out the deer ran straight toward the shot and my dad had been going the wrong way
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Offline Jonathan_S

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2017, 10:07:31 AM »
Who’s ever been on a trail with excellent blood that dries up and is gone? I have  :hello:

A few times searches have turned up the game but other times it hasn’t. I have heard of a few of these. I think a lot of these sad endings are brisket hits that bleed heavy until the animal lays up and clots and then gets up and walks off
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Offline Jpmiller

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Re: Blood Trailing: Stories, Mistakes, Unsolved Mysteries
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2017, 06:15:16 PM »
Double lunged a doe whitetail with my bow from fifteen yards. I could see where she went to from my shot point. Not  more than one dime sized drop of blood before I lost her tracks in a well used deer trail. Couldn't find her before it got dark and ran through the batteries looking for her that night. Spent the entire next day looking for her with no more blood. I saw the arrow hit her well and I knew she was dead somewhere but just couldn't find her. Looked the following morning as well with no more success.

My old man convinced me I didn't see the hit I though I saw so I decided to hunt that evening in hopes she would be back and I could finish the job. About twenty minutes into the hunt a coyote jogs by in the general direction  she had gone two days before. Ten minutes later a small black bear does the same. Seems too coincidental to me so I follow. I bumped the bear out of a really thick spot where a seasonal creek runs but I can hear a ton of yellow jacket activity. After beating through the brush for ten minutes I figure it must just be a nest and the bear was eating something else. On my way out I follow the creek bed and there she was piled up under an undercut bank. I had been almost standing on her when I decided the yellow jackets and bear were onto something else. Two days of 80 degree temps and a bear and yellow jackets had pretty well destroyed the animal about 150 yards from the shot :-[

I had a poor experience trailing a deer the year before and won't be using those broadheads again (G5 montecs). It was a great hit right where I was aiming, just a poor blood trail and poor woodsmanship leading to a lost animal.

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