Contributors to this thread:
One post about looking for a wounded deer recommended a grid search. They are a good idea, but are seldom done right.
In order to do a grid search, you need a way to keep track of each other and the line of search. Most areas can be very thick and it's nearly impossible to keep track of what's been searched.
We use toilet paper. If you have some kind of edge, one searcher keeps track of the edge while the others keep track of each other and as the line moves forward, must never bypass any area without inspection. The member farther in places a square or two of paper periodically as they progress.
When they reach the end of the area, they move further into the area and the "edge" member follow the paper back while the furthest in member does the paper routine.
It's pretty foolproof, much quicker than a random search, and gives you a high degree of confidence that the target is not there. A bonus is that you don't have to go back and collect flagging tape.
I use a compass and try to stay withing sight of the last line.
I'm on a Search and Rescue team and that's exactly how we train and search. What we often do on mock searches where we don't want to go back for flagging tape is have the inside guy track himself with his GPS and then follow his track back on the next pass. With our mapping software we can also draw grids on the computer and put them on the GPS's so you know the exact border of the search. Pretty amazing how you can effectively search an area of rugged woodlands that you've never seen before in the dark with GPS to back you up.
Let's not overthink this too much. Even an "incorrectly" performed grid search is far superior to packing it up and mailing it in. With the proper resources you can certainly maximize your search efficiency, but if you don't have a bunch of people, gps, etc, etc, it's still better to search in a reasonable grid than to throw your hands in the air.
+1 Franzen, GPS sure is nice though.
Plus absolutely check well near any water as most of the time you are after either a gut shot deer or trying to rule out a gut shot.
I use the "Sarge" search method !
I'm sure Sarge is awesome but here in PA we'd be prosecuted as wildlife assassins for letting a K-9 assist in a deer search. Unbelievably stupid but its the law.
Jacob, I agree, completely asinine ! Why any game department wouldn't want to use any method to recover animals is beyond me, but we have some counties in Texas that don't allow it either. After my first post my son texted me that he shot a hog behind the house. I loaded Sarge up in the Ranger and put him on the track. It was dark by then and there were a bunch of hogs in the group, but he singled that hog out and followed him in some thick stuff. The Old Man had to drop the lead rope and go around some of the crap that he went through. We jumped the hog and I pulled Sarge off the track. I don't deal with wounded hogs in the dark. My dog is too important to me to risk it. Wasn't a very big hog, but he ain't a very big dog either.
When a bear is hit and it starts raining before the tracking starts. We will do a grid search. We will leave someone in the treestand, who has good hearing and a loud voice. We go through with as many guys as possible, not too far apart. The guy in the stand tells us what grounds we did or did not search. Works great!!
Not sure how walking a dog in the woods is "using a dog to recover".....sometimes you got to do what you got to do.
I will throw in a gem. When looking at night for blood not only should you leave a trail of toilet paper to mark blood, but having some small led pocket lights will come in very handy for keeping your bearing. Hang them in the tree at the start point facing the direction you saw the animal run. You can space them out most of the time about a 100 yards or more apart if need be and you can easily see where you came from without a GPS. (Or should the batteries in your GPS go out.) Just old school but works great.
I agree Franklin, it just sucks that it has to be "walking the dog" instead of simply, openly, and legally using a trained tracker.
I used my GPS on compass mode to find my deer this year. I took note of landmarks when I saw it run. Got my GPS out and took a bearing. Got down out of the tree, recovered my arrow and then began tracking just before dark. Had a very poor bloodtrail but staying on that bearing, it lead me right to my deer. Was a thick area and no way to see it from my stand.
We planted our farm in trees. We grid search by riding the tree rows on atv’s. It works real well.