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This year I had 2 friends that gut shot deer. the first one was the buck with a doe. pass thru and he said there wasn't any reaction from the deer but he could see guts hanging out. He backed out and went in the next day with friends and never found it. The second one he shot the buck and it went around 80 yds. and laid down. He waited a few hrs. and said the buck was still lifting its head and looking around. He got up close and shot again but no penetration, shoulder blade. the deer jumped up and he tracked it till he lost blood. Went back the next day but never found it. He told me he thought it was a liver shot, but to me living that long means gut shot. What is the percentage for finding the deer dead the next day if you back out instead of pushing them.
2 for 2 for me on recoveries, but the second one was completely devoured by coyotes in 12 hours. I mean all that was left was the head, spinal column and leg bones.
I have had 2 experiences with gut shot bucks and I recovered them both. Both of them were left alone and I took up the trail around 12 hours after the shot. Mind you, one of the bucks was still alive and I found him 16 hours after the hit. Both were recovered within 200yds of location of shot. Guys need to realize the deer is going to die and there is absolutely no rush to looking for it early and taking a chance of bumping the deer. It would be an interesting statistic to know the recovery rate of gut shot deer that were not pressured compared to gut shot deer that were bumped out of their beds. I bet the recovery rate would be an 80-90% swing in the wrong direction.
1 for 1 on my end. 2013 i shot a buck in the guts and knew it immediately. He put his head down and wakled straight away from me. I waited an hour, then quietly left. Found him at daylight the next am 150 yds from the shot.
If he could not recover a deer with visible entrails dangling he should quit the sport. A punctured gut is one thing. One being opened up like a zipper is another. Gotta find that deer man. You know it’s there leaving sign and it won’t go far. It can’t
2 for 2 waiting 24 hours on both
2 for 3 on deer my wife and I have had to back out on. 2 were gut shot and one was found the following morning with in 200 yards (first bed). The second one was never found even with a dog the following morning, but we believe that the buck was jumped by 2 coyotes. There was a light snow and we cut the tracks 125 yards from the shot.
My wife hit the other buck perfectly. She saw the buck bed 50 yards from the shot and then stand up right at dark and walk away. She looped around the woods to leave it alone and we found it 16 hours later still alive. At the time she was shooting the low kinetic energy Rage and cut a hole and busted a rib but the arrow only went in 1-2" The deer was found 120 yards away but very sick.
I've taken the trail up on one other too early and never found it. My new rule is that if I know it is a poor shot, I will back out and wait until the following day.
Sadly,I do remember a doe I had gut shot... went to the hit site and confirmed so I backed out. What really hurt me she had that yrs. twins that were good sized deer at that time, and one of them kept coming right to the area looking for mom, that deer could not locate the doe that bedded 100 yards and expired... I found the skeleton while turkey hunting in spring. The skeleton was in a bedded position on a high spot in bog.
I've been in on at least a 15 gut shots throughout the years. Only one buck was never recovered. Looked for almost two full days and never did turn him up. Still to this day I wonder where he went.
Between my dad, uncles, cousins, brother, nephews, and friends I'd guess I've been involved in at least 20 of them. When we've backed out and come back the next day, at least 90%. When we've followed them and bumped them because "the shot looked really good", recovery rates have not been good. It's remarkable how often people are far off on where they hit a deer.
Unfortunately imo, longer shots aimed at center mass hoping to get a "blood trail" are all too often the result of gut shot animals... just my own opinion from what I hear fellow hunters describe their shot.
1 for 1. Last year's 6x6 shot over a decoy. Thank goodness was shooting a large 2 blade expandable. Came back 4 hours later because I was worried about coyotes and he looked hard hit. Bumped him. Came back 16 hours after shot and found him. Couldn't lift head but still breathing.
The 2 that I do remember, I found them both. Waited a few hours and quietly took up the trail on both. One was dead and one needed a second shot. These were smaller does though and they got sick pretty quick.
Scentman if you hear "aimed at center mass hoping to get a "blood trail"" a lot from fellow hunters, I'd try and find new circle.
I have recovered all my gut shot deer. JakHammer broad heads kill them pretty quickly, even gut shot. I trailed one into the thick briars and found guts hanging on the briars. It was real thick and then the deer went back onto the trail and I found the deer within feet of where I shot it. It was a doe.
Better off waiting and have better chance. If liver shot, I don't think they bed as often and then you may never find them, but still better off waiting. I hit a small buck a few years ago quartering away and was convinced I got more than gut. Arrow still in him and I don't know how it wasn't multiple organs at 5 yard shot. Anyway, watched him hunched up and slowly with head down go into thicker stuff and not come out the other side. Low teens weather and in a high coyote area. After an hour or so before last light I decided he must be dead and would rather not take my chances with the yotes. I snuck down and walked over only to find I had jumped him! The next morning I tracked that deer and never recovered. He crossed a good size river. Found blood on other side of river and then on a trail. Lost blood on trail and never found deer. I can't believe how far that deer went! If you would have seen the shape he was in as I watched him after the shot, you would be shocked he was able to swim across a river let alone make it to the river in the first place. That deer would have been dead in his bed the following morning had I just waited. Granted coyote activity in the area played a role in my decision, but should have at least waited 4 hours. I won't make that mistake again.
Coyotes are a major threat in our locale but waiting is the right move in dealing with a gut shot
Mtmn, lets just say they no longer accept me in their circle, and I am fine with that. scentman
2 for 2 waiting 24 hours on both
I've had two experiences with having gut shot deer. One at first light and one at last light. The last light deer I found my arrow confirmed the gut hit and backed out. I went back in in the morning and followed the blood trail my 100 yds and found him lying dead. The first light buck I watched until he went out of sight, got down found the arrow again confirmed the hit and backed out. The wife and I went back maybe 8 hrs later found blood and found him piled up dead. Both were shot with Ram Cat heads and both had guts outside of the exit wounds.
Don’t think you’re realizing how long a liver shot can live. We’ve waited 12-13 hours and they were still warm, but dead.
Thankfully, I've only had one that was at low light in the evening and located it the next morning about 80 yards away at the end of a corn row. I knew it was a bad shot and backed out.
Always better to wait. I have gut shot two deer. My first as a 14 year old. I shot a 3 pt and was really excited...I left the stand to tell my father who was about about 70 yards away. I'll never forget what he told this over energetic, excited, impatient kid...."If he is dead now he will be dead in 8 hours. We are not gonna push him" He was right...we got him the next morning. The last one was 2019...a 160" 12 pt. It was a close shot at first light...Deer walked right under my stand after being hit and I could see the entry wound and tell that he wasn't feeling too hot. Anyway I sat in the stand for about 2 hours, slowly climbed out leaving all my gear up there and , quietly left the area. I returned about 9 hours later and found him dead (stiff as a board)...he bedded in the first heavy stuff he could find...still insight of the stand...maybe 50 yards.
I believe the recovery percentage is very high for those that wait. Once after a 6 or 7 hour wait a nice 4x4 mule deer almost hooked and gored me when I encountered him in thick brush. Had to shoot him more than once at that point. The tradeoff for me on this one was "wait longer for a more sure recovery or try to get a quicker resolution to the situation that I know we all hate."
Fortunately ,liver shots will die within 2-12 hours,gut shots can take longer.Unfortunately,liver shots run further and take bed further if at all,where gutshots,usually bed much sooner and usually gives you a walking blood trail if you did not push the deer.
Hmm, I’ve never gut shot an animal, but I have liver shot a bull and a buck. Both of those bedded within 50 yards of the shot, before getting up and moving.
I’ve seen too many different reactions from animals that were hit in the same spots to make generalizations. My buck this year was a classic example. Double lung hit, deer went 7 yards and bedded down, and took an hour to die. I’ve had similar hits in which the animal was dead in seconds.
Threads like this one really take the fun out of those “marginal” hits around the 3D course, when you realize that you just got yourself into about a 6-hour wait…. During which there’s nothing you can do but beat yourself up over it….
I'm glad I let this one go overnight. It was a quartering away shot, and the deer ran off broadside, with the entry side not visible. No obvious exit wound. Heard bone crack. Buck trotted about 50 yards and entered the timber, didn't look seriously hurt.
My Dad came to pick me up at dark (I stayed on the stand for at least 1 1/2 hours after the shot, until he arrived). We walked quietly to where I hit the buck, found blood sprayed all over the low brush. Told Dad, "I don't know exactly where I hit him"...and we both decided it would best to come back and track him at first light.
Found him about 75 yards away from where he was hit, just inside the Timberline. Arrow had entered at the front of the pelvis, and ultimately buried up in his liver. He bled well (despite no exit wound), and had laid down in 2 different spots overnight, within a short distance.
Often a gut shot deer will go into water. They lay in the water and die there.
Recovered every one that it ever happened to.
"I’ve seen too many different reactions from animals that were hit in the same spots to make generalizations." Generalizations point us to the most probable outcomes when one is deciding on what protocol of time to allow.Jumping deer out of first bed is not conducive to high recovery rates with archery tackle.
With only two livershots and no gut shots under your belt that is fantastic arrow placement.
"With only two livershots and no gut shots under your belt that is fantastic arrow placement."
Don't get me wrong, I've had my share of clean misses and poor hits, too, I've just never hit anything in the guts. One of my worst hits was on a bull that wheeled to run away at the exact moment I released the arrow, resulting in a Texas heart shot. The blood trail looked like it had been sprayed from a garden hose. Terrible hit, but a great outcome.
This topic is why I did my "How Far How Long Challenge" thread. After seeing my shot placement on the buck I killed, the vast majority of guys guessed that he died in seconds. In reality, he lived for an hour after the shot with 2 punctured lungs. Generalizations didn't prove too accurate in that case.
That said, I do understand what you are saying. We have to make our best decisions by drawing on past experiences. Your comment about liver shot animals running further and rarely bedding down was contrary to my experiences. That's all.
"Your comment about liver shot animals running further and rarely bedding down was contrary to my experiences. That's all".
Contrary to mine as well. Here' a liver hit bull, that I quietly backed out on, and left alone for 4 hours. He bedded down and died 50 yards from where he was hit.
I've seen liver hit bulls over the years, that were bumped, that were never recovered, or recovered after the meat had spoiled. A couple of them were tracked for nearly a mile, before the blood trail was lost.
"I've seen liver hit bulls over the years, that were bumped, that were never recovered, or recovered after the meat had spoiled."
Yup. That's exactly what happened on the bull elk I liver shot last year. He bedded down 50 yards from the shot, while I watched him from about 90 yards away. An hour later, he decided to get up and walk away. I paralleled him from above attempting to close the distance for a followup shot. I ended up bumping him twice, before backing out for 8 hours. Ultimately, I found him 2 days later, and the meat was spoiled. The thing is, if I would have backed out when he was bedded, I wouldn't have had any clue which direction he had gone when he got up and walked off. He had clotted up by that time and wasn't leaving a blood trail. I still ponder if I made the right decisions on that one. Who knows.
I actually didn't say that deer rarely bed on a livershot,as most do.I inferred that some dont bed,just like mine this year.
The whitetail’s liver is a large organ so depending on what part of the liver you hit can make a big difference on the length of blood trail, bedding etc. In bowhunting recoveries I have learned, through hundreds of blood trails, that there is no “one size fits all.” The same can be said for arrow evidence inspection. It gives you an idea but animals have a way of making us continuously scratch our heads on how tough they can be.
If they are gut shot and, you have the weather to let them lay, it’s a 100% recovery as long as you don’t bump the animal.
I released an arrow at a buck a month ago, just as he took a step. Hit him back a bit with an Iron Will 125W. The deer trotted 10 yards, stopped and stood like a statute for five minutes. Then it turned, toward me tool a couple steps and bedded in some thick brush. Thought I had gut shot it. I watched it for an hour. It had its head up for a while then laid its head down a while. At about an 45 minutes the head went down and stayed down for 15 minutes. I quietly climbed down and approached the deer with arrow nocked. It was dead. When I gutted it, I found it was liver shot.
Elkmtngear, congrats on that nice buck and sounds like you made the right choice. Your liver hit elk accounts and Grey Ghost's post seem unfortunately very familiar to me also. I guess that sometimes we accept that we can only do so much......Badbull
Using tracking dogs around here has become extremely popular and I’ve seen great results from it.
I hit a buck in the guts last year after my arrow deflected off a limb. The dog and handler came out the following evening after I lost blood during a heavy rain. 36 hours after the shot, with rain on and off during that time, the dog was able to find my deer 800 yards from the shot, we were nearly 600 yards by the time we found the 1st bed as the buck traveled across a large bean field before ever entering the timber. There is no chance I would have found this deer.
The guy could tell you multiple stories like mine of his dogs finding deer that hunters thought were lost forever. If you have a tracking team in your area and it’s legal in your state, then it’s definitely something to consider.