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Friday, June 28, 2013

Hit Site Evaluation Seminars for Deer Hunters

By John Jeanneney and Andy Bensing

The Hit Site Evaluation Seminar is a new idea for the United States.  The goal of the Seminar is to educate hunters to better interpret sign at the point of impact and along the ensuing wounded deer trail. It’s important as an effective means of showing hunters how to interpret and deal with deer that have been shot outside of the quick kill target zone. Traditional hunter training programs don’t dwell on this subject, but in the real world deer do move just as the shot is taken. And bullets and arrows have been known to deviate from their intended course.

The center piece of the hit site seminar is a hanging road-killed deer. The idea originally came  to North America from France, and John Jeanneney first witnessed it in Quebec, Canada, where two of his French friends led a seminar on finding wounded deer. In June of 2013 Andy Bensing and John tried out an expanded version of this hit site evaluation at the annual United Blood Trackers Trackfest  at Arena, Wisconsin and then two weeks later at a North American Teckel Club event in Pennsylvania to which non-member deer hunters were invited. In both states the reception was enthusiastic. The seminar was certainly a departure from the usual presentation on the subject, and the practical applications of the new information were easy to understand.. Those who attended actively participated in the evaluations, and of course this is the best way to learn.

In both seminars a road-killed deer in good condition was used. Acquiring a road-killed deer is not difficult, but local game laws regulations should be consulted, and it must be kept in a suitable cooler or freezer before the event. The deer was  hooked up, in a standing position, suspended by a rope stretched between two trees. A plastic sheet was hung up about five yards behind the deer and extended forward  under the suspended deer. Its purpose was to catch hair, flesh and bone fragments  blown out of the deer by strategically placed  shots. Shots were taken with  bow and arrow, shotgun slugs and high caliber rifle bullets.

The hanging deer carcass was the centerpiece of the seminar.
After each shot the instructor and hunters together inspected the hit site and the hanging plastic sheet behind it to evaluate the results. The first thing that most of us have learned from the hit site evaluation is that we hunters miss a great deal if we inspect only the ground right where the deer was standing.

After the shots we found “sign” on the plastic sheet well behind the deer that  probably would have been missed by most hunters in a real deer hunting situation. It seems likely that many American hunters are not inspecting a broad enough area behind the hit sites as they look for the sign that will tell them where they have hit the deer and how they should deal with the situation.

One of the many things  hunters learn at the hit site is that flat sections of bone usually come from the legs; they are not “pieces of rib” as is often reported. They learn the difference in the amount of hair that comes from a grazing hit as compared to a solid, more straight-on shot. The physical results of high back shots can be shown and the identification of types of hair can reveal where the animal was hit.

Additionally bowhunters learn how the sloping surfaces of the rib cage can deflect broadheads so  that there is no effective penetration into the chest cavity and vital organs. They also  realize that the real kill zone is considerably smaller than what is presented  on 3-D Tournament targets.

The bowhunter demonstrates the risks of a head-on shot
The shot analysis outdoors on the hanging deer was even more effective because it was preceded by an indoor PowerPoint  presentation priming the attendees’ consciousness for what they were about to see outside.  Photos were shown revealing such “unexpected” information as the location of part of the stomach and liver within the rib cage. Other anatomical photos, showed the  kidneys lying quite far forward, just back of the ribs.  The indoor segment also discussed recovery strategies for deer wounded in different ways and under different environmental circumstances such as bad weather and predator competition.

The PowerPoint introduction to the seminar
The hit site program is effective because it is simple, graphic and deals with a real deer. It was so realistic in Pennsylvania that a young turkey vulture landed to check things out during  the introductory PowerPoint session.

Andy demonstrates shot placement
 The hit site evaluation seminar concluded with a “Walk in the Woods”.   Nine stations were set up to simulate wounded deer sign both at a hit site and along the trail. Seminar participants were asked to identify and interpret wounded deer sign such as splayed hoof prints, blood smears, bone fragments, and arrows covered with different types of body fluids and tissue.

The Hit Site Evaluation Seminars have great potential as an interesting half day event. No doubt the seminars would improve hunter effectiveness in recovering the deer that they shoot. For more information about the seminar contact Andy Bensing,
 Hunters who attended the seminar sponsored by the NATC.

Many thanks to the NATC, Kirk Vaughan and Joe Kopcok for the pictures!


Claire Mancha said...

Wow!!! That is fantastic! I am thinking we need that on this coast.

Cliff Shrader said...

That would be a great seminar to attend as well as to host. Do you know of any of these that are going to be held in the future?

Stephen Pouncey said...

This would be a very useful exercise to do here in England with the various sizes of deer we have. They vary from roe deer at 40 pounds to red deer at 200 pounds plus.
One question please: How do you attach the lines to the deer to get them to hang so naturally?