Tuesday morning around 10 AM I got a call from a hunter stating that he had shot a big buck around 8:30 with his crossbow but backed out when he realized he had gut shot the deer. I advised him that we needed to wait 6-8 hrs after the shot before we took up the track. I was going to try to get off around 2:30 to head his way.
Well around lunch I got a second call of a deer down that could not be found. The hunter could not find any more blood after a few hundred yards and he had spent the morning walking the woods looking for his deer. We talked some and I told him that I should be able to get to him between 9 and 10 that night. He said that he had someone coming in a few hours and they were going to be looking some more.
I was not able to get off until 3:30 so that would put me getting to the first track around 5. We were able to get in and get started quickly. Mirko, my male BGS, was the one who was up for this track. He quickly worked the line out to the hunter's stopping point and out into an old grown up field. The wind was swirling some and he kept putting his head up like he was winding the deer. He finally picked a line and off we went down into a swamp. There was so much deer sign it was hard to to tell if he was on the right deer or not.
I decided to pull him off the track and restart him to see if he brought us back to the same spot. In the meantime I also got a call from the second hunter stating that they had found a wound bed and were going to bring in a bloodhound. If they did, would it be an issue for my dogs if I was till needed? I said no problem, go for it.
Returning to the hit site I restarted Mirko and he took us right down to the same opening and started working with his head up again. Off we went down the same trail again for about 50 yards, then we turn left, OK, new spot, lets go. Mirko took me across the old field and over near the road and power line. Here he turned up toward an industrial building. At this point I was just letting him drag the lead around as I did not want to crawl into the thicket he was in. That is when the world came alive.
A big deer came barreling by me and I knew right away we had the hunter's deer up and moving. It was now 6:30 and it had been 10 hrs since the shot. We decided to give the deer some time and went to move the trucks around to where we were now. Boy I did not know it was going to take us so long to get started again. As I was getting ready to go back in the woods I realized I did not have my GPS tracker for the dogs. I must have dropped it when we were getting back in the trucks. So off we went back to the other side but no gps. Now I was mad as that was a lot of money, then it hit me. The controller beeps when the dog trees so we could check if we heard it.
I started to think when the last time was when we had it. So we went back to the spot where the deer about ran me over and started our search. Sure enough, we heard the beep so it was close but where? We spent the next 30-45 minutes walking in a 20 yard circle hearing the beep but not finding the unit. Finally, we all agreed that we were within 10 ft but still could not find it because of very tall briars. Then Derek looked down and low and behold we had been standing on it in the trail.
Back to work - did the deer go to the swamp or cross the road. Mirko was so ready that when I hooked him back up and told him to "find it" that he about pulled my arm out of the socket going after the fresh track that was now a little over 1 1/2 hrs old. Well this is the lucky hunter as we came up on the deer in about 150 yards as it was taking its last breath. When it got up and ran that was the last bit of energy it had.
So back to what we all knew would be the unlucky hunter. I gave him a call and told him that I could be there at 9 PM if they had not found the deer. They did not find it and wanted us to come. I got there at 9 and we got down to the hit sight. As it turned out the hunter had waited only 20 minutes before he started to look for his deer. That is when we heard a large pack of coyotes off in the direction I was told the deer had gone. I wanted to start at the beginning of the track since they had spent the better part of the day looking near the point of loss and later another dog had been on the track.
This time it was Baby's turn to track. She is getting old and is easy to follow so I just let her drag the lead instead of holding onto it. We quickly worked the line out to the point of loss and then out to were the hunter's friend had found a wound bed. Baby was slow and steady and not only showed us the wound bed but the other two wound beds also. So we kept going and the deer turned and went under a fence. I was told that the bloodhound did that too but he turned and went back down the fence the way we came. Baby ignored this and went straight across the open area into the next wood lot. Here things got a little weird and we lost the track. I decided to work her around the field to see if we cut the track or could wind the deer in the field.
We worked all the way around the field and came back to the track at the wound beds. But this time I spotted the fourth wound bed. There were 4 in 50 yards. This deer was hit hard to keep getting up and moving like that. So again under the fence and into the woods but this time we took an immediate right just inside the woods. It was now getting close to 11 and the hunter's was about to drop from being so tired and worn out from looking all day. I was also getting tired. But that is when we noticed, more blood. So here we were with new sign to guide us. Baby continued finding a few more spots and then took me out across this wood lot into another field across it and into the next section of woods that holds two house and the road. Well this was where the track ended for us. The deer crossed the road and went where we could not go at that time.
The difference in recovering and not was pretty straight forward.
- The first hunter recognized he gut shot and backed out following my instructions not to go back in there as he might push the deer. Second hunter only waited 20 minutes and searched all day walking and disturbing the woods.
- If the deer runs out of sight wait at least 2 hrs. If you even think there is a chance of gut or liver wait 6 hours or more if you can. I know weather plays a big factor in how long you can wait.
- If you go more than a few hundred yards and have not found the deer, back out and wait a while.
- If you do jump the deer wait another 4 hrs.
- None of this will guarantee a recovery but it will increase your odds. It will also be less likely that you have to call in a tracking dog. But if you do and have done everything right, then hopefully your deer will be found within a few hundred yards instead of a mile or more because you were in to big a rush and pushed the deer.
Here is Derek Snyder and his boy with Derek's perfect 10. This was a very tall and heavy racked 10. Not a lot of spread on him but a very symmetrical rack.