By Bob Yax
On Nov. 8th, Thor and I took a track in Geneseo. The hunter, Josh, hit the buck about 4 pm the previous day. While interviewing Josh about the hit, not long after he shot it, he said that the buck was broadside when he hit it and the arrow passed thru near the center of the deer. Surprisingly, the buck bedded within 20 yards of the hit, then got up shortly after and bedded 2 more times in the next 50 yards before getting up and walking off.
Josh waited awhile and then inspected the hit site and arrow along with a few yards of the early trail. He saw a reasonable blood trail and then backed out and called Deer Search. The quick, frequent bedding, signaled a liver hit, but then Josh described the arrow as having heavy intestinal matter on it. With a broadside shot it’s hard to hit both liver and intestine. I told Josh that the options were to go after it late that evening, like 11 pm (assuming it was liver), or to wait to later in the morning assuming it was intestine only. It was a tough decision. A liver-hit deer could be dead in less than an hour (typically 7 hrs covers 95% of liver hits), but an intestine-hit deer can go for over 24 hrs. We had to worry that it might spoil if it died early or we might jump it if we go too early. We decided that we’d wait till late morning to start the track.
We started at about 11 am, 19 hrs after the hit. I inspected Josh’s arrow and confirmed it was covered with intestinal matter and a little blood. We started the track and quickly got through the first 100 yards where blood sign was still visible along the way. Soon we came out to a standing cornfield, where Thor spent about 10 minutes circling around in about 20 rows of corn. I was happy to find 1 spec of blood on a corn stalk, while he was circling. Finally, Thor came out of the corn and headed off pretty hard across a clover field for about 125 yards, until he entered the woods that surrounded a 1 acre pond. Soon, he was walking through the shallow water at the corner of the pond. He came out of the pond and climbed up a short bank. There I found a single drop of blood. Thor then took a path through the brush along the edge of the pond, and again ended up along the water’s edge. He was really interested in the water.
I scanned the pond hoping to see a floating deer. Finally, he walked off the bank and started swimming into the pond. I let him go out a few yards, and then pulled him back to shore. He jumped up the bank and then I spotted a bloody leaf on the shore. I let the leash go and told Josh to grab it as I climbed through the heavy brush. He grabbed the leash but had a hard time holding Thor back as he dug in and pulled hard into the brush. A few seconds later the reason was obvious. The dead buck was lying about 40 yards from the pond. So far the track wasn’t that interesting, but the deer and the hit changed that. Looking at the 8 pointer, it was obvious that the deer had passed just a short time before we arrived. There was no rigor, and the internal organs were freshly warm. The other observation was that the lower half of the deer was soaking wet and his legs were brown with pond muck. It had obviously been laying in the pond. The autopsy revealed the biggest surprise, the 3 blade broad head clearly passed thru the liver, before exiting out the intestines. This buck, with a solid liver hit, likely lived for 17 or 18 hours! Not sure if laying in the pond had any influence, but most liver hit deer are dead at 6 or 7 hours. I did have one buck years ago, that we jumped after 20 hrs with a liver hit. The general rules usually apply, but not always! Photo of hunter and buck, below.