By Bob Yax, Deer Search of Finger Lakes
owner of Thor (Thor von Moosbach-Zuzelek, born April 6, 2012)
Thor and I took a call on Sunday 10/13/13. The hunter, Bob, called in around 11 AM for a Buck he had hit at 8:45 that morning. He said the deer was totally broadside and the arrow hit about 5 or 6 inches behind the left front leg and about 5 inches up from the bottom of the deer. The shot was at a slightly downward angle so the exit hole would be slightly lower. Bob had found his arrow at the hit site and said that it had dark blood on it with no sign of lung blood or stomach contents. His description of the hit location had me hoping that he may have caught the bottom of the liver while exiting the deer. It would be close. His description of the deer’s reaction to the hit also had me believing it was a liver hit. When hit, the Buck jumped a bit but then slowly walked away. After only 50 yards or so, the deer bedded down. Bob got out of his stand and headed home to wait. After about 2 hours he went back, only to see the Buck slowly walking about 70yds ahead of where he had originally bedded. Bob said the Buck looked like he was looking for another place to bed. It was at this time that he called into Deer Search. After discussing the hit with Bob, I told him that it sounded like a Liver hit and we had to give the Buck 6 hours before tracking. I believe that 95% of Liver hit deer will be dead within 6 hours.
At 3:00 that afternoon, my son Nate and I met up with Bob. When he showed me the arrow I immediately saw dark dried blood on it along with the sand like particles that indicate stomach contents. This had me worried. If it was only a stomach hit, then 6 hours would not be nearly long enough to wait. After a 10 minute walk back to the hit site, we got on the start of the blood trail. The blood was dark, definitely not lung blood. Thor got on the trail quickly in the open hardwoods and after a little of his usual initial excitement wandering took us past the 1st bed. In the bed, I was able to show Bob a small pile of stomach contents that confirmed at least a stomach hit. Thor continued on the trail showing us blood sign periodically along the way. After a few hundred yards, we passed through a jumble of downed trees. When we came out of it, Thor seemed to be at a new level of excitement. I think the deer may have been bedded there and we were now on a very fresh trail. From this point on, the blood sign we were seeing looked fresh. For the next half hour or so we followed Thor on a path that skirted around a relatively dry swamp in the middle of the woods. Along the way we were constantly seeing small signs of fresh blood – the Buck was definitely on the move ahead of us. At about 4:00 PM, over 7 hours after the hit, the blood trail crossed a clearing and headed into the open hardwoods again.
At this point we stopped to re-evaluate our strategy. The Buck was definitely on the move ahead of us. Thor was hot on the trail and would have no problem following this deer for as long as it took. We had yet to get close enough to catch a glimpse of the Buck. We knew the deer was at least gut hit and it seemed that he still had too much energy to be Liver hit. With a stomach only hit, it was possible for the deer to live another 15 hours or more. We could push him into the next county by then. After talking with another experienced Deer Search Tracker, we all decided it was best to back out now and allow the deer to bed again, hopefully for the last time. We would come back first thing in the morning to pick up the trail. The entire time that we were stopped, deciding our next move, Thor was straining at the end of the lead barking wildly, wanting to continue on the trail in the hardwoods. We marked our location and backed quietly out of the woods. On our drive back home it started to rain and then rained harder overnight. Even with the rain, I had a lot of confidence that Thor would continue hot on the trail in the morning, although visible blood sign would probably be gone, making it more anxious for us human trackers.
Thor and I met up with Bob at 7:45 on Monday morning. It was very damp and calm and the rain had stopped. It seemed like a perfect morning to find a Buck. On the walk back to where we had left off, Thor stopped and stuck his nose high into the air, looking into the hardwoods. Bob said that Thor might be smelling a dead Coyote that was off in that direction. After a few seconds, Thor was back to walking down the path towards our deer trail. A short time later, Bob and I both picked up the smell of the rotting Coyote. Thor didn’t even pick his head up into the smelly breeze. Once we got within sight of our marker from the previous night, Thor's excitement grew. When got within 20 yards of the trail marker, Thor was pulling hard on the lead. At the marker, he was off in a flash into the hardwoods. After the first 20 yards, it was obvious that the blood we were seeing before the rain was no longer visible, but Thor seemed to be hot on the trail anyway. Just about as fast as the tracking started, it ended when I looked up and saw the white belly of a deer in the open hardwoods 50 yds ahead. It was our Buck, only 75yds from where we had stop tracking on Sunday. Whether he had crashed there before we stopped, or laid down after we backed out, we’ll never know.
The entrance wound on the Buck was about 5 to 6 inches back from the front leg and just a few inches higher than the hunter thought, about 7 inches up from the bottom (you can see the big entrance wound in the photo). The exit wound was about 2 inches lower. During the autopsy, it was obvious that the Rage broad head had indeed passed through the liver about 2 inches up from the bottom. I’ve always thought that for a big buck, 6 hours may not be enough time to wait on a Liver hit. This Buck proved it, since we know he was on his feet 7 hours after the hit. Another lesson learned.