What are some of "your secrets" you employ to insure you find your bull, and what are some of the surprises you have witnessed?
What are the main ingredients one should use to insure he finds the bull he arrows?
If you have a picture of two of the critter your talking about, please post. Or if you have a picture of the blood trail or some other important phase of the trail, please post that too. Many of us have come upon some pretty strange situations while blood trailing elk.
Have a great bowhunt. BB
Sometimes the dry arid soils of the west will actually soak up blood like a sponge. But the peroxide will still make it show up.
The Old Sarge
Know where you hit the animal. This will determine the pace to follow. If it was a heart or lung shot, chances are, by the time you compose yourself after the shot and ease to where the animal was standing, he is already dead. Shot too far back? Take your time before following. My experience shows that a liver or gut shot animal will only go less than 100 yards before stopping and/or laying down. If you don't push him, that is where you will find him several hours (wait at least 4 before trailing) later. If you get on it too soon, you will see butt, tracks and little or no blood. Leg shots?? Get on him and push. Don't ***** foot around, walk and try to keep him moving. A leg wound can be fatal. If you let them lay, the bleeding will stop and the animal will recover. By pushing him, the wound may stay open and continue to bleed until he goes down. My partner's bull this year took one through the "armpit" and went about a mile, but we stayed on him and watched him expire. If we had sat to wait him out, that bull would not have been in our freezer!
Watch for clues about how sick/weak/well he is by what he does. Downhill, straight line. Really good sign. Traverse the hill, maybe not as good a shot as you thought, but don't dispair. It might just be the path of least resistance. Across, up, over, down, around.......In a marginally hit animal, watch for signs that he has laid down or at least stopped to watch his backtrail (This is where the binos come in). Don't be too mesmerized by a trail going in a straight line. Look to the side, uphill and downhill because he may have zigged when you thought he should have zagged. I walked right by the only cow I have taken with a bow because I was too intent on looking down the straight line and massive blood trail she was leaving on the trail she had been taking. We were above timberline with only knee high willows around. I figured that I should be able to see her wherever she went, WRONG! She had stepped two steps to the side of the trail, probably wobbled when she ran out of gas and fell four feet off the trail we were on and in plain sight, but I was only looking ahead!
I then turn my face in the direction I believe the animal went, but can't find, and look for a similar path. You'll be amazed how that can lead you in the right direction and hopefully pick up a spot of blood for verification so you can continue on!!
Too, if you're hunting with newer ones or the youth, make sure you drill in them that when the take a shot at an elk, and they think they hit it or missed it, to pull out another arrow and stab it in the ground where they took the shot.
So many newer ones after the shot leave the scene to go tell whoever is with them that they had just shot. In doing so it can be very difficult to locate that exact spot so you can see where the animal stood for the shot. This is very important, and can save time & frustration! ElkNut-1
Used this with whitetail, but it is equally applicable to elk.
When one of my blood trails petered out, I climbed the nearest tree (leaving bow well away from under tree, of course). From that vantage point I found my deer immediately, behind a fallen tree in some waist high brush.
Good trailing, all! Lon
I like to put little peices (2"x2") of TP (biodegradable) on twigs I stick in the ground to mark blood on tough blood trails. This can help crystalize the direction of the animal and leaves a good marker if you lose blood and have to go back to last blood and regroup.
He marked where he was standing, walked to where the bull was standing, and found traces of blood. Not far from there (and in the line of the arrow’s path) he found his arrow which had passed through the bull. It was drenched with blood from nock to the tip of his snuffer. In fact when he showed it to me the arrow was still dripping blood.
That morning a decent sized herd of elk milled and rutted in the general area, so there were fresh tracks everywhere. It was just a raghorn bull, so a decent sized cow had about the same size print.
We spent over and hour trailing him the first 20 yards of his run, finding almost less than trace blood. After 20 yards we could not find one drop of blood.
What would you have done taking all things into consideration.
Keep in mind, in most situations, there are more than one way to skin a cat.
Here's a picture of that bull, taken not long after we found him.
Have a great bowhunt. BB
If there are only two guys and i would spread out 50 yards apart (sounds like open enough terrain to see a dead 4 point at 25 yards)....and make half circles in the direction the bull exited looking for blood or an antler sticking up...If that didn't turn up a bull i would go to pla D:
Watch/listen for birds and find the nearest creek and walk it out.... often times sick bulls will lay in water and die or cool off and start bleeding externally again....
Alot of guys will give up the search after a couple days knowing the meat will be ruined due to warm weather....i usually will continue the search knowing birds/predators will help locate the carcass...just finding a pile bones and being able to see how far and what kind of line the bull took might help in future tracking jobs..
OK BB the suspense is killing me How'd ya find him?????????
Listen close to the sounds of the animal running away. I've had blood sprayed out both sides at the impact point and then nothing between there and the animal. All internal bleeding, But I heard him go down. Actually he went quiet after running full tilt straight down hill from a heart shot. I found him in the dark because I was sure he was dead and not far away. Due to the terrain there was no shot at tracking by sight.
Sound reverberates and sometimes you can't be sure where it's coming from. I didn’t find him where it sounded like he was, so I went back to the beginning and took another angle until I found him. It took me about two hours to locate him and he wound up only about forty yards form the point of impact.
If you haven't done a lot of this it can be very elating and very stressful. Take a big drink of whatever, if you’re pretty excited, so you don’t start dehydrating. I make a rule not to party or high five until I’m sitting on the critter. Keep your wits about you. Check your watch. Note the time.
I don't have a rule for how long to wait before starting to track. It just depends on what I see and what I hear. I’ll get on em pretty quick unless it’s a bad hit far back. Then I go by the weather. If it’s cool I’ll wait as long as I can.
Most of the time if you've made a good hit you'll hear him go down even if you don't see him, so be quiet and pay attention to the sounds immediately after the shot. They don’t go far if the broadhead is sharp and you’ve poked him through the boiler room. Mark the spot where you shot from. Mark where the animal was.
Go slow. Don’t mark up the trail. Mark all blood and sign. Don’t give up. Backtrack when you run out of sign. Stay positive. Don’t waste your energy kicking yourself or getting discouraged. Drag your hands through the ferns and low brush. Check your clothing for blood. Have peroxide with you in a spray bottle and quarts more handy cause you might need it. If you’re in a big dry sage flat, set fire to it so you can see better (just kidding) LOL, or, sell the Mathews and switch to hunting with a .338 WIN MAG, then you don’t have to track em 8^).
BB---There's a couple things I'd do in approaching a situation on a hit animal first off. In this case I'd examine the arrow right off since it was there and dripping with blood. What kind?? I'd want to know where he was it, not where I hoped or though he was hit, the blood will give me a good indication, on what to do next, and how far he might have gone and where.
2ndly-Since this bull was alone when shot and not with this milling-rutting herd I'd defenitely be concentrating on the tracks that were on top of the previous elk that had been there, at least they didn't all blow out of there together, that's when you've got a real mess without the presence of blood.
Too, even if the elk tracks were a bit muffed up, I'd look for his running & stumbling type track, possibly kicking or spraying dirt from his quick escape. You're not going to find to many good solid identifiable tracks until he slows down some. Too, with a passthrough, blood has to be spraying out to the sides, even if minimal.
I say these things as I too tracked my sons bull to 150 yds away a couple years back with not enough blood on the ground to paint your thumbnail at anytime. There were elk tracks everywhere, I stayed with the ones that were on top of others & walked right to him in about 45min after we started looking. Thanks for the Homework assignment!! ElkNut-1
I've tracked lung hit elk that never left more than a copple drops of blood on the ground, where all the blood came out the nose and was sprayed on vegitation.
Also as mentioned earlier, use the light to cast shadows on the trail. looked backwards or sideways to get the light right, as often it will shade the track and make it easier to see.
The next thing I do is mark the exact place I am standing with my g.p.s. and mark it with trail ribbon.
The next thing I do is wait at least thirty minutes and try to get help if I think that it may have been a bad hit, it I think the hit is good, I will follow by myself, if not I will leave and get help.
One of the next most important things in my opinion is to mark the trail with toilet paper, several times I have tracked deer that have circled and crossed thier trail, if the trail is not marked this can really throw you for a loop.
While tracking elk, I have noticed that yellow jackets tend to really flock around the blood, several times I have found blood simplyby checking out where they were on the ground.
take your time, look ahead, don`t disturb the leaves anymore than necessary.
I alwaays carry and orange hunter vest to mark last blood on a hard to track trail, that way it is easy to come back to last blood, if it is dark I replace the vest with a flashlight, that way you can find it in the dark.
don`t let darkness get in your way, we use coleman lanterns with reflecters on them, the reflecters keep thelight on the ground and not in your eyes.
If the track is lost we go back to that bearing I mentioned at first, We walk that bearing and fan out looking in that direction.
I think the key , is giving the animal a little time, marking the trail and not getiing into a hurry.
good huntin Mike in Mo.
That's a real good tip about the yellow jackets! I can use that one.
Areas we hunt have thick undergrowth so a lot of the times to track were the animal has moved through the hazzle brush, willows and undergrowth (which bends over then springs back as the animal moves through), I like to look up high(3 to 6 feet sometimes)for a lot of the sign.
When the blood trail gets weak or we're stuck, one guy will stay on the trail while the other leap frogs ahead to check out possible directions. At this time we’ll often switch exclusively to tracks for our clues. It's not unusual for the blood trail not to travel right up to the animal. Often your quarry will be found a short distance beyond the last blood sign, so don’t give up here.
We always mark the blood trail (last spot and such) as we go, this also gives you the benefit of looking back to get a good indication to your prey’s direction of travel.
I like to use most of them: mark the spot you were standing, mark the spot the deer was standing, mark every blood speck with a piece of TP to keep track of it.
I also like to carefully watch the animal as it runs away. Focus hard on the last landmark it passes. Wait 15-30 minutes and go mark that spot too if you can get to it quietly.
Best of Luck, Jeff (Bowsite Sponsor)
Lots of familiar names we don't see much anymore.
Wapiti Willy- guess old WW just couldn't spell it anymore...
I always double the direction of the splatter too....once or twice it has signaled a slight change in the animals direction of travel.
Many times there may be little to no blood where the animal was standing when it was hit and depending on the hit there may be little blood to trail. Even a lethal hit may produce very little blood, as the body cavity fills but doesn't flow out the entrance/exit hole. But if you mentally marked the last know location of the animal you may be able to easily pick up the trail there.
I also keep an eye out for hair and the place of impact, that with the arrow may help in your detective work.
And I never leave after taking a shot without either a recovered arrow (blood or no blood) or a blood trail.
And somebody mentioned a dominant side.... I don’t know about that, but if you hit them through the meat of the shoulder, they’re going to be short of power on that side. Especially if the head is still stuck in there. I got a whitetail through both shoulders and the heart one time. Not a DROP of blood, and the head lodged against the off humerus. I saw his entire run, and as the broadhead cut up the far shoulder, the arc got tighter all the way to where he crashed.
I like to flag the trail with sticks or TP or something as I go. That will make it clearer if the animal is on a straight line course or an arc or something more complicated.
Seems to me that a straight line or an arc is an animal just gettin’ the heck outta Dodge, and probably greying out already. Zigging or zagging is a very bad sign, IMO... either looking for a hidey-hole or going back into normal travel mode.
Main thing, though, is patience; you bump ‘em from that first bed, and your job just got a whole lot harder. If you find blood on the wrong side of the trail, it probably means that they turned around to watch the back-trail and you’ve really screwed up. In that case, it’s time to take a LONG break and let the critter expire... weather permitting.
I've found more dead elk with my nose than my eyes.. I circle down wind of the bulls travel path... Bull elk stink.. a 100 yards away you can smell them... Follow your nose .
Ants and YellowJackets are probably the two best tips I’ve picked up in years....
Also: if you are not sure if a brown spot on vegetation is a dried drop of blood, or is just a spot of rust on the plant leaf, lick a square of TP and then wipe the spot. If it's plant rust, nothing will happen. If it's dried blood, it will wipe off the leaf, and leave a red blood-colored stain on the TP.
One more: If hit in a front leg, an elk may prefer to go uphill because it hurts less than going downhill; going downhill puts more weight on the front legs.