By Andy Bensing
I headed out Friday night to take what sounded like a liver/gut shot so the odds were real good of recovering it. Normally I would let it sit until morning but with the temperature almost 80 overnight, a high fox population and the deer being gut shot, the meat would likely be gone by morning. I gave it 5 hours after the shot before tracking it with the dog. The hunter could find no blood trail at all. He saw deer run up over a hill 70 meters in a field but when he went to the crest, the deer was not visible down the other side. Hopefully I'd find him just inside the woods on the other side of the field.
It turned out that the buck was shot too far back just in front of the back leg. Eibe jumped him from his initial wound bed about 285 meters from the hit site having found only a few drops of blood along the way. After we put him out of his wound bed, we slowly tracked him for another 165 meters getting within a few feet of him 3 times until the fourth time when he did not get up and I was able to dispatch him.
An interesting note when you look at the map. Notice how he goes basically in a straight line. When we track we see this all the time. Severely wounded deer most of the time head as directly as they can for a place they feel safe, typically their bedding area, usually regardless of the difficulty of the terrain. Also notice how each time we jumped the deer he kind of cut back on us but then re-oriented himself to the original line of travel.
I had some interesting dog work from my Eibe on this line after we jumped the deer. I wanted to track slowly and carefully so as not to push the deer and keep him as calm as possible to make it easy to slip up to him and finish him off. Of course at the first jump my Eibe went crazy but I was able to calm her down with an "easy" command. After about 50 yards and for the rest of the hot track she stayed almost completely quiet and did not pull crazily but just tracked very slowly and matched MY slow careful pace. This enabled the hunter and me to walk very quietly and scan the darkness ahead with our lights and get close to the deer several times.
Another interesting point. Neither the hunter nor the landowner could reach the neighbor on the one side before we set out to track. I always try to get that done before I ever leave the house to meet the hunter. I knew that property lines might end up stopping this track but with the deer being gut shot there was a good chance it would not travel too far. It ended up being real close but the deer stayed on the landowner's property and died just a few feet short of the property line. It's frustrating but several times a year I end up having to give up on deer when we either can't locate the landowner or sometimes they won't grant permission. Check out in this photo I snapped with my iphone how close we almost were to loosing this one! Of course we could have waited until morning if it had crossed the line and went up to the neighbor's house but the deer would have been rotten and eaten by foxes. Just glad the deer died on the correct side of the line.
Spike Buck in Velvet Recovery https://vimeo.com/49090672