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Friday, November 20, 2015

Deer Search tracking team finds a heart-shot deer still alive 23 hours after the shot

Today we got two tracking stories from Bob Yax, a member of Deer Search of Finger Lakes. He tracks with Thor von Moosbach-Zuzelek, who is now 3.5 years old. So far in 2015 this tracking team has recovered 18 deer for local hunters.

The first story was labelled by Bob as "interesting", the second one "incredible", so tonight we'll post the latter one. Bob writes:

The evening of November 9, I got a call from Shawn.  I had tracked a deer for him a few years back and he remembered how Thor had stayed with that buck for multiple hours and multiple miles until we had to turn back due to posted property, we jumped that buck 6 times.
      Shawn had hit a 6pt buck at 9:30 that Sunday morning, Nov 8th.    He explained that he had shot the buck with a  crossbow while standing on the ground.  The buck was facing him with just a slight quartering angle.  His bolt hit the buck low in the front of the chest.  After hitting the buck, it turned and ran, leaving the entire bolt shaft, with the broad head and insert missing,  just a few feet down the trail. (Note, this is always a bad shot to take.  The front of a deer’s chest is like armor, and even if you get through it,  you’ll very likely end up with a marginal / unrecoverable 1 lung hit). 
      The bolt only had about 6 to 8 inches of blood on it.  The initial blood trail was really good with pretty heavy rich, but not dark, blood.  Shawn waited 2 hours to take up the track with a friend and was then able to easily follow it till he reached an empty bed in a mowed trail about 100 yards from the hit.  They then continued to follow a dwindling blood trail till finding a 2nd empty bed about 250 yards from the hit site.  After leaving this 2nd bed, the light blood trail led up the side of a pretty steep ravine.   Shawn and his friend continued to track till they got to the top edge of the ravine, but after not seeing any sign of the buck ahead in the open woods, they decided to turn back and to call Deer Search.

After hearing Shawn’s story,  the fact that the buck had bedded twice had me very interested.  To me, the only explanations for the buck's behavior would be a nicked liver (if the arrow got back that far) or a nicked heart.  If only the lungs were hit, it’s very unlikely that the buck would have bedded like it did.  Since the arrow hadn’t penetrated very much,  my best guess was a nicked heart.  We’d already found 2 this year with a shallow slice across the outside of the heart. One of them we jumped twice after 8 hours before I was able to shoot it in its 6th bed, about 500 yards from the hit site.
        I arranged to meet Shawn and his friend the next morning at 8:30 – 23 hrs after the hit.  We started down the blood trail and Thor was hot on it the whole way.  The blood looked pretty dark,  but not like liver blood.   We easily got through the 1st and 2nd beds and then headed up the pretty steep side of the ravine.  At the top, where Shawn had backed out, Thor was still showing me small spots of blood.   For the next half mile or so Thor was still hot on the untouched trail.  We were seeing periodic, widely spaced, spots of blood.  Finally after about 20 minutes of tracking at a fast pace, Thor began jumping and looking wildly ahead – a sure sign that the dead buck was close by.  A few seconds later, Thor circled a brush pile about 5 yards ahead of me, that’s when I saw it, 3 feet in front of him – The Buck was looking at me!   A second later the buck was on its feet with Thor jumping at its tail.  The buck fell down then got up and fell again.  Shawn was yelling “Shoot it”.   After clearing the brush pile a little,  I was able to put a 20 ga slug in its back & liver.   I couldn’t believe that buck was still alive 23 and a half hours after the hit.  But it was about to get even more unbelievable….
      Being totally into deer anatomy/CSI, I couldn’t wait for Shawn to gut the deer and see what he had hit.   The bolt had definitely entered low in the front of the chest.   The lungs were untouched, so the broad head never made it back to the liver. The only sign of arrow damage to the internal organs,  was to the heart – major damage!  

The hole in the heart was massive and deep and showed the 4 blade pattern of the Muzzy broad head.  It entered, but did not exit out the other side of the heart.  There is no doubt that it penetrated into the chambers of the heart.  I could put my finger into the hole and out the main artery (aorta?) at the top.  Three of us were there to witness these events. Three other neighbors saw the heart shortly after.  I’m still trying to get the ribcage to examine the entrance hole.  I’m really hoping to someday talk to a cardiologist about this. It seems that the broad head only penetrated about 2 inches into the chest cavity – those 2 inches were into the heart.  My only guess as to how this buck had survived so long, is that the front wall of the chest acted as a backup wall for the heart and held in enough blood to keep the deer alive that long.


John Sturgess said...

Really Nice to see your Blog back up and running, The pictures are better and detailed information is so much better than when it was on FB. Thanks again for bringing it back to life.

Andy Bensing said...

I agree, blogging is much better than FB! Thanks Jolanta. And oh yea, incredible story!!

Brady Hesington said...

Jolanta, it's like Christmas morning to discover your blog up and running! I am a non-Facebooker, so the blog is one of my best connections to other's tracking stories. Incredible story! My suspicion is that the pericardium (sac around the heart) had somehow not been entirely penetrated and had maintained some heart pressure. Perhaps the blades were dull and the heart trauma was "blunt trauma" so to speak. Otherwise that wound should have led to rapid blood loss.

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

Thank you John, Andy and Brady. It's nice to know that we were missed! And sorry for such a long silence.