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How long to wait before tracking?



By: Green Arrow
Posted: 20-Oct-09

This will be my first year hunting with a bow. I'm used to an instant kill with a rifle, so the idea of waiting for a deer to die is new to me. So if the deer does not die on the spot... how long should I wait before tracking?


By: BigTex
Posted: 20-Oct-09

Really depends on the shot.......at LEAST 30 minutes with a perfect shot is my rule.


By: Solocam1
Posted: 20-Oct-09

30 minutes on heart/lung. 4+ hours on a liver hit and at least 12 hours on a paunch hit. If you shoot one in the spine and can get a shot into the vitals, do so asap. Good luck!


By: Matt
Posted: 20-Oct-09

Wiht your handle 6 hours. ;-)

It really depends. If they drop within sight and are obviously dead, 5 minutes. If you hear them go down quickly but cannot tell whether they are dead, 30 minutes. If you are unsure of the shot and cannot locate your arrow to validate the hit, 6 hours.


By: Will
Posted: 20-Oct-09

I agree:

See em fall, 5-10'

Feel good about the shot, arrow looks good (bright bubbly blood all over it) but dont see the deer fall, and think you hear it fall: 20-60'

Feel ok about the shot, didnt hear or see it fall, arrow has darkish blood on it 4-6hrs.

Pretty sure it was shot in the paunch, arrow may have some blood, some greenish goo or "food chunks" on it... 12 hrs.

Spine hit and it drops - if you can put another in the vitals ASAP - then follow the see em fall guidelines.

Some times body language tells a lot as well. If the deer looks really stiff and hunched up, head kind of low as it walks/runs off, you likely gut shot it (12hr rule). If it mule kicks or just runs like a bat out of H that can be a good sign for 20' to 4hrs... but I find they are less predictable in body language after less than ideal shots then they are after bad shots.

The happiest body language at all, a deer that is walking and looks drunk OR who's tail is spastically moving. Both typically happen just before the deer expires.

Hopefully woody posts on here - he always posts good stuff on this subject!


By: Storm
Posted: 20-Oct-09

Unless you see him drop right in front of you I would give them at least 30-60 minutes. If they drop out of sight, and are not dead, you may jump him and then you are in trouble.

Get down and look for your arrow. Chech what you see on the arrow. Above comments on the arrow are good and will tell you a bunch about your shot placement.

Then look for blood around the area to see and confirm which way he took off.

Before you climb out of the stand, make sure you confirm the direction he took off. Connect the direction with some land amrks. Once on the ground things will look different.

Also, as it is you first time bow hunting, be safe. Give yourself some time to settle down before climbing down. The adrenaline rush is fantastic and you just want to be careful climbing down.

Good luck and have fun!


By: Stekewood
Posted: 20-Oct-09

"Wiht your handle 6 hours. ;-)"

HAAAAAAA!!!!! Great one!


By: Solocam1
Posted: 20-Oct-09

Agree with Storm 100% about climbing down,especially if you're using a climber! Lots of bad things can happen if you try to go too fast. Use the waiting time to relax and relive the shot. It is truely the best high you'll ever feel!


By: blazelefty7
Posted: 20-Oct-09

That was good Matt...haha


By: RacHunter
Posted: 20-Oct-09

I would highly reccommend this book, its a good read and very helpful. You can also do a review before every season starts.

Finding Wounded Deer By: John Trout Jr.

http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Wounded-Deer-John-Trout/dp/0970749309


By: Hawkeye
Posted: 20-Oct-09

The advice above is sound but always listen to your arrow and the sign it provides. If you thought you made a GREAT shot but it smells like gut etc...then it probably is. Experience will be your best teacher and the HARDEST thing to do after the shot is wait... but wait you must until you put the pieces together. Nothing worse that hearing a deer get up during a track job.


By: kellyharris
Posted: 20-Oct-09

My thought is one hour unless you see it fall!!!

If it dies in 15 minutes waiting 1 hour will not hurt anything.

If you know you gut shot it wat 10-12 hours.

If you kick it up and it takes off back out very slowly and quetly and wait 6-8 hrs.

No matter what when you do track do it as quietly as possible...

I know so many guys who start tracking in 10-15 minutes everytime they hit a deer. I also see them having the hardest recovery as well.


By: Sage of the Sage1
Posted: 21-Oct-09

Like many have already said.

If you see them go down (GO down, not BED down), watch closely for a few minutes and go to it.

If I made a good shot I sit quietly for 30 minutes (that includes NOT even getting out of the stand or blind for 30 minutes). Then look for the arrow and initial blood sign. Then start blood trailing acording to what that tells me. If I find sign of a liver hit, I back off and wait another full hour.

For a gut shot (did this once) come back the next morning. A gut shot is fatal, but the deer will need some time. In most cases, a gut-shot deer still won't go much farther than the nearest bedding area unless it's pushed. Resist the temptation to go after it early. If you want to recover a gut-shot animal, you will need to wait, 12 to 24 hours.


By: archer
Posted: 21-Oct-09

I can't disagree more with most of you. A double lung hit will kill a deer in about 20 seconds. A single lung/heart porobably in about 1 minute. A single lung/liver in about 5 minutes. The ONLY reason to wait more than 5 minutes is if you only caught one lung. A deer can go a long ways with one good lung. A paunch shot would require at least 4 hours. The trick to this is knowing where you hit the deer. This is done a couple of different ways. Analyzing the arrow for type of blood or evidence of a paunch hit. The last dozen deer I killed with an arrow expired in less than 75 yds., and thats running. The last two died within 40 yds. Limit yourself to close, high percentage shots and you will take alot of guesswork out of recovering your deer.


By: Hawkeye
Posted: 21-Oct-09

I have had some liver shots dead fast, others I had 2 finish hours later. Depends what 'area' of the liver you hit.

NO WAY I'm tracking a gut shot in 4 hours and even with 'perfect' close shots things happen. Unless you see them drop u don't know until you see the arrow. Even then being a bit more conservative than 5 minutes will lead to a lot more filled tags ans less 'bounding' sounds during a track job IMO.


By: HunterJoe
Posted: 21-Oct-09

Waiting is always better. Over that last few years I have been finding ways to make time pass prior to tracking. Especially with my kids and others I help track.

One thing nice about deer that die one minute after they are shot. They travel no further and are still dead hours later!

Not so true if they are still even a little bit alive.


By: Extreme
Posted: 21-Oct-09

if you dont see them fall but are positive it is a perfect shot 1 hr if you are not sure and the weather forcast is good 12 hrs. If the deer is dead in 1 hr it will be still dead in 12 if you push it you will most likely never see it again. Most deer are lost on this part of the hunt people tend to get excited and start looking to early. However on a good shot most deer will live less than 2 min


By: Sage of the Sage1
Posted: 22-Oct-09

I can think of twice when I could specifically see where the fur swallowed my arrow. The other times, I had to rely on how the shot "felt" and what the initial blood sign and arrow showed me. Yes, most deer I've shot have been double-lung hits and were dead in like 15 seconds, but I generally wasn't SURE they were double lung hits until I found them. All things being equal, you're better off to be careful and wait. Nothing good can come from pressuring a fatally wounded deer that otherwise would just bed down and bleed out.


By: paddl-in
Posted: 22-Oct-09

Oh and by the way don't assume it takes them longer to expire via a broadhead as opposed to a bullet.

A well hit archry deer often times will go down within sight if not within steps of being struck by the broadhead

I always wait before tracking a critter that has went out of sight after the hit. As you stated you were making the switch from rifle I just wanted to point out a deer still can die quick from an arrow. I had a cow elk go down this year within 20 seconds of a arrow going thru her lungs. A hop a couple steps then her head started bobbing and she piled. 15-20 seconds less than 30 yards total.


By: Genesis
Posted: 23-Oct-09

PATIENCE on tracking is just as important as shot location.

PATIENCE is the life jacket on EVERY SINGLE arrow hit animal....except leg hits

Taking the trail too soon is STILL the number one mistake for novice and seasoned bowhunters alike.

This weekend I put a buddy on a really nice buck and I was sick at learning that he had gotten down and jumped the buck out of his first bed......I've harped and harped and anyone who has ever been around me has heard my mantra.

Patience also supercedes any diagnostic ability to recreate what the arrow traversed on the shot......

Her are some SAFE numbers.

Drop in tracks,start slinging arrows

See them go down 1/2 to 1 hr.

Hear them go down.....you heard nothing....4 hrs

Deer walks off....humped up 12 hrs......gonna rain....still 12 hrs and then very slowly,glassing ahead of yourself.

As time rolls on you will be a better diagnostician but at the present use father time to your advantage and resist the tight leash need to get to your prize "early".

Don't let coyotes factor either


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