Tracking Deer

When to Start Tracking Wounded Deer

Tracking deer can either be exhilarating or heartbreaking, depending on whether or not you are able to find your buck!


The following tips and techniques should make tracking your whitetail go a bit more smoothly.

When you first shoot your buck, watch it for as far as you can, noting where the last landmark you saw it is located.

Though pro's will tell you to wait 30-45 minutes before getting out of your stand, we know that this is extremely hard to do!

tracking deer, a dead deer decomposing

So, wait for at least 10 minutes to calm down from the excitement, before leaving your stand.

We don't need your bow or you falling out of a tree stand!

First see if you can retrieve your arrow. Finding and checking your arrow can give you a good idea of what type of shot you made.

Is it covered with lots of deep red blood? Then it was probably a good hit.

Is it covered with a lighter, more pinkish blood? Then the hit may not been as accurate as you would have liked.

Is there greenish type slime or food particles on it? You may have hit it further back than you thought and made a gut shot.

Walk over to the landmark where you last saw him and check to see how much blood there is.

All of these signs can help you decide when to start tracking your deer.

If you saw or heard him fall, then wait 20 minutes before you begin tracking him.

If there is deep red blood, then wait 30 to 45 minutes.

If the blood is not abundant and is a lighter color, wait 45 minutes to 1 hour.

If you believe or know that you made a gut shot, wait 12 hours or overnight.

Deer need to lay down to die. Even though they are wounded, if they sense that someone is around, they will keep running.

Though it's hard to wait to actually get your hands on him, not waiting may cause you to completely lose the trail, and your prize.

If you believe that you had a marginal hit, make sure you take your crossbow with you and have it cocked and ready.

Go quietly and slowly as your buck may be laying down and you can get another shot on him.

When tracking, take tissue or toilet paper with you and every 10 to 15 yards, tie ½ square of it to vegetation and brush, that is about 2 to 3 feet off of the ground.

If you lose the blood trail completely, you can look backwards at your paper trail, to get a general idea of which direction he is going.

tracking deer, a harvested buck laying on ground

While tracking wounded deer, notice the path he is taking.

If he went across a fence, did he jump it or go through an opening?

Seriously wounded deer will take the easier paths, such as avoiding steep hills and jumping fences.

Sometimes gut shot deer will lay down in creeks to cool their stomachs.

When tracking, sometimes it can be difficult to determine if you are looking at actual blood, or just blood colored plants.

Rather than buying the expensive products on the market for determining the difference, take a spray bottle filled with peroxide.

When sprayed with peroxide, blood drops will bubble. We use this all the time. It works great and is extremely inexpensive as it costs about $2.00 per quart bottle.


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big whitetail buck in velvet


european skull mount whitetail buck



whitetail buck coming out of thicket