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dead deer walking
Here in Iowa we can legally shoot 1/2 hour after sunset, with that said I took a shot on a really nice 8 pointer tonight with about 3 minutes left of legal shooting light. So it was legal although probably an unethical shot with the diminished light, but hindsight is 20/20. I had a ton of activity all afternoon when I switched locations and hit up a stand I hadn't been to in a while. Atleast 15 does and 5 bucks moving pretty steadily from 1:30 on. About 15 minutes left of shooting light, 2 does walked in followed by a little spike buck. I was watching them and waiting for them to move on so I could get down without blowing my spot. A few minutes later I spotted another deer, the nice 8. He moved into the thicket next to me and harassed the does before chasing that little buck out of there. He came out with it and stood about 25 yards away quartering away hard. I was drawn back but having a hard time picking my spot. I should have let down but ego got the best of me. "I can make this shot!" I said and let her fly. I heard the solid thump of the arrow driving home and the buck took off. He's not going far I thought. As soon as I shot, I could still hear the deer running, it started to rain. Great. I climbed down and packed up my climber. By now it's dark. My flashlight is at the house, of course. (See thread from earlier about all of us forgetting crap.) So I pull out my phone and use the flashlight on it which was surprisingly halfway adequate. After pacing back and forth and trying to realign the shot I found a patch of hair, and quite a lot of blood. No arrow. My wife is sitting down the hill where the buck ran so I track it down to her and ask if she saw it. She saw them both and the one that went in front of her acted like he was hit she said. He kept stopping all the time. I move back to where I last saw blood and keep going. I know I should pull out and wait but it's starting to rain hard enough I don't want to risk losing the blood trail. The amount of blood I was seeing kept telling me, "he can't be far." It appears I only have blood on one side, ruling out a complete pass through and I've gone 100 yards and no sign of my arrow yet so it must be in deep enough to not snap off. The other side of where my wife was sitting she said she saw it acting like it was dizzy and going in circles. A TON of blood, and it's all as bright red as possible which tells me artery. Veins or liver should be darker. So now I'm in my head thinking, overthinking, recalculating, getting nervous. It's bright, it's not dark. but it's not pinkish with bubbles telling me lungs. hmm. I've gone about 200 yards in the pitch black now with a cell phone flashlight. The blood is slowing up to just drops, then it has a big pile, then more drops, big pile, crap which way now? There's a speck, oh there's a lot of blood, on and on. Rain is starting to be a factor now on the blood on the leaves. I finally had to call it quits at a spot with a ton of blood (he was standing there I'm guessing). I marked the spot the best I could but I can't figure out which way he went. I think I know judging by a few turned up leaves. I tracked him roughly a half mile, I'm sure I had to be bumping him although he never laid down. It's still raining. I'll head back out in the morning but I feel like crap. 6 years of bowhunting and the longest I've had one run off is about 75 yards. It's 33 degrees out and supposed to drop just below freezing over night so it should be fine if I can recover it tomorrow before it warms up. I know it's a dead deer walking but Lesson learned. Off to try and get some sleep. Straight shooting to the rest of you!
I'll bet you find him not far from where you stopped tonight. Sounds like it was a good hit, best of luck to you in the morning.
Well sounds like you will be grid searching as the rain will have washed anything away. Keep an eye out for anywhere you know what deer might bed down. If grid searching the area fails check any and all water sources and the bedding area surrounding them. Best of luck!
Only you can determine the ethics within a particular situation. All are different I hunt in areas that I have to quit 30 minutes prior quitting time and others that support hunting to last light.
Good luck and hopefully you will find him in the morning.
Without more details he sounds dead to me. You will find him. Probably one lung and liver from the angle. It's amazing how much easier it is when it's light outside :).
JMO - If the OP here has already said that he thinks it was probably an “unethical” shot, he’s probably done a better job of beating himself up for it than is probably strictly necessary, so I’m not going to jump on that bandwagon…
But in the way of lessons learned.. a Smart shot takes recovery conditions into account. Last few minutes of legal light is always a yellow flag... impending rain or snow is one... less than perfect broadside is a big one, especially because that gets harder to read in low light... range.... too long is a more obvious problem, but too close and too steep an angle gets tricky in low light; especially because (unlike basketball players) we don’t spend a lot of time on lay-ups and slam-dunks... most Bowhunters are really free-throw specialists who daydream about making the half- court buzzer-beater....
So there are always multiple factors to consider; what the clock says really has nothing to do with it because those limits (1/2 hour before/after in most states) are there just to make it easy for a game warden to prosecute poachers for jack-lighting; the assumption is that no reasonable person would consider it Fair Chase/Sporting/Ethical/Safe to shoot when it’s that dark out, and the benefit of the doubt is kind of baked in.
I’ve taken to thinking of the minutes from sunset to 1/2 past as Coyote Hours, because legally we can hunt coyotes in that time slot, but not deer.... lots of times it’s too dark here to shoot during that last half hour, especially depending on cloud cover and leaf retention.
Anyway.... from the OP.... 25 yards, hard angle, trouble picking a spot, and if it was cloudy enough to rain, you know that it was darker than just “half-past” would normally be and that blood sign was going to be liable to getting washed away.
Betcha don’t need to do THAT again!
I have at least two or three lights in my pack at all times and one is a high power tracking light. Good luck finding him this am.
Even with a lot of blood they go that far and it tells you something that is not so great. He may very well not be dead. Ham hit.
I don't think a beating is in order either, but as for me, I just don't take those nearly dark shots since I lost a doe about five years ago. I found her the next morning in like five minutes. She died so close she never had time to leave any blood trail. I was in a pop up and couldn't see where she went and since I'm pretty deaf I couldn't hear her running or what direction she took after she left my sight. I try to get out now before it gets too dark. Does that mean I'm limiting myself ? Maybe, but I'll live with it better than I will live with losing a deer. Hope you found him and the coyotes didn't !
No "dead deer laying" yet???
What happened you did your best Lewis
Femeral artery you describe a blood trail I recently had it aint far.
Sorry I had my nephews 2nd birthday this afternoon and no time to update after going out this morning. But no dice on finding him. With the rain washing out the entire blood trail I didn't have much to go off of except the direction I believe he turned. I completed a grid search in roughly 3 hours of the area in the woods. I'm 99% sure he went out into the CRP grass which is about 6 feet tall and thick with no real way of searching it. I wandered along the edge of it where it meets the timber and made a few passes hoping he'd stop when he got there but no luck. I then wandered around in it for a half hour hoping for dumb luck. I obviously can't know for sure since I didn't find him but I know he's dead. The blood trail, the amount of blood, the way he was acting all tells me of a fatal shot. I just pushed him to hard to the grass. If I would have backed out right away he would have been dead in the woods for an easy recovery I'm positive. SO yes, chalk that up as a lesson learned on what NOT to do. I think the 6 hours of looking is enough. As GF stated, I won't be doing that again.
I'd keep looking. If he's dead, you'll find him. Crows, buzzards, etc. will let you know. The meat is no good but if it were me I'd want to know. We spent 2 days on a trail once and we had to quit on the second day because he went where we could not go. The next day we had to leave for home. The buck was found a week later not too far from where I shot him by another hunter. It was a single lung hit.
I stopped in at the farmer's house that lives nearby and told him to keep an eye out for buzzards. Also there are a few other guys that hunt a section further back from mine that will be there several days this week. I won't be able to make the drive up there until next weekend. They're keeping an eye out for me.
Good! At least you may find out what happened. When something like this happens to me I try to learn as much from it as I possibly can so I can avoid it the next time around.
Good luck. Keep us posted if you do hear anything.