Length of blood trail

Desk Jockey

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Just thinking back on my season here and struck by the contrast between two deer.

#1 - A buddy double lunged a nice doe with his 6.5 creedmor with a 143 Eldx. 70 yard shot. I watched her run off and she when 600 yards mostly down a fairly steep grade but lots of side hill and some uphill. Her lungs were busted up pretty good. Broke rib on both sides of the chest. No front shoulder.

#2 - I hit a doe with a muzzy trocar. Pass thru. Similar wound to #1. Both lungs. No heart. Busted the far side rib. No front shoulder. She made it 75 yards and started to stagger. She wobbled a bit and was down within 100 yards.

I realize that each animal is different but the similar wounds had me thinking. So I am curious, how far are trailing deer on “good” hits?
 
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Newtosavage

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One thing I've learned in 35 seasons of hunting deer and who knows how many deer, is they are all different. Past experience is no predictor of how far any deer will go when hit. I've had double-lunged 80 lb. does go hundreds of yards and I've had mature 5 year old bucks drop where they stood. It's kinda bizarre. One thing I do know is that region of the country seems to make a difference. Southern whitetails seem to always go further after they have been hit than Midwestern whitetails or western muleys. This is my experience.

I bowhunt almost exclusively with traditional gear since '88 and I'd say my average tracking job post-hit is about 80 yards. I've had a few die in their footprints and some nosedive at 20-30 yards. Those were all midwestern deer and mule deer. All the >100 yard tracking jobs I've had with my bow were Texas whitetails. They flat-out haul a.. after you hit them.

Some of the longest tracking jobs I've had have been rifle-shot deer. I once obliterated the heart on a TX doe at 80 yards with an '06, and she went over 200 yards. I couldn't believe it. It's always an adventure.

I don't want to start a controversy, but I've heard all my life rifle hunters talking smack about bowhunters "sticking" deer and losing them. My stock response to that is how many deer have rifle hunters hit and never knew it because it didn't drop in it's tracks. Or, they couldn't find blood because they were so far from the animal they weren't exactly sure where to start looking. Even then, many rifle hunters have little to no blood trailing experience because they don't expect they will need to. My guess is that's a lot more than any study or records will ever show. I think we all know how hard it is to pinpoint the exact location a deer was standing when we shot it from 150-200+ yards away, especially if it's dim light or foggy, etc. On the other hand, most bowhunters know whether they hit an animal and where they hit it, so there is almost a 100% knowledge of the # of deer lost with a bow, whereas with a rifle, there is no way to know that number. Okay, off my soap box now. :D
 

Newtosavage

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From this year, I shot 3 does with a rifle that traveled 25, 0, and 80 yards. I shot one mature whitetail buck with a muzzleloader that traveled 60 yards, and one mule deer buck with a rifle that traveled 0 yards. So that's an average of about 35 yards. It was a good year. :D
 

motts

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My last whitetail went about 60-70 yards - hard to tell for sure as I shot him just before last light so I was bloodtrailing in the dark. Double lung with a slick trick mag from just over 20 yards. I would guess most others have gone an average of 50 or so yards. I've only ever harvested anything with a bow so I can't comment on bow versus firearm.
 

motts

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I should also say I'm in Northern NJ, so most shots are fairly close (40 yards is a long shot unless sitting over a field) and a lot of very thick brush/underbrush where I hunt which might keep the distance they run down.
 

Poorcharlie

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One thing I've learned in 35 seasons of hunting deer and who knows how many deer, is they are all different. Past experience is no predictor of how far any deer will go when hit. I've had double-lunged 80 lb. does go hundreds of yards and I've had mature 5 year old bucks drop where they stood. It's kinda bizarre. One thing I do know is that region of the country seems to make a difference. Southern whitetails seem to always go further after they have been hit than Midwestern whitetails or western muleys. This is my experience.

I bowhunt almost exclusively with traditional gear since '88 and I'd say my average tracking job post-hit is about 80 yards. I've had a few die in their footprints and some nosedive at 20-30 yards. Those were all midwestern deer and mule deer. All the >100 yard tracking jobs I've had with my bow were Texas whitetails. They flat-out haul a.. after you hit them.

Some of the longest tracking jobs I've had have been rifle-shot deer. I once obliterated the heart on a TX doe at 80 yards with an '06, and she went over 200 yards. I couldn't believe it. It's always an adventure.

I don't want to start a controversy, but I've heard all my life rifle hunters talking smack about bowhunters "sticking" deer and losing them. My stock response to that is how many deer have rifle hunters hit and never knew it because it didn't drop in it's tracks. Or, they couldn't find blood because they were so far from the animal they weren't exactly sure where to start looking. Even then, many rifle hunters have little to no blood trailing experience because they don't expect they will need to. My guess is that's a lot more than any study or records will ever show. I think we all know how hard it is to pinpoint the exact location a deer was standing when we shot it from 150-200+ yards away, especially if it's dim light or foggy, etc. On the other hand, most bowhunters know whether they hit an animal and where they hit it, so there is almost a 100% knowledge of the # of deer lost with a bow, whereas with a rifle, there is no way to know that number. Okay, off my soap box now. :D
Completely agree as someone who hunts both with bow and rifle.
 

tgus59

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My bow buck went about 150 yards, and all 3 that I shot with my 450 Bushmaster dropped where they stood. Gun shots were 40, 60, 150.
 

Stillrunnin

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its anyones guess in my years deer hunting they will prove you wrong most go less then 100 yards but i have had bad shots go 50 yds and good shots go 300 yards
 

jakelogsdon

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I've noticed a few things over the years about how deer respond to being mortally wounded. Probably the most important thing is the type of hit. Heart vs double lung vs liver/lung ect. Next factor that I've noticed that has the biggest effect is the state that the deer is in when the wound occurs. Are they by themselves, are they with other deer, are they hyper alert or on edge, have they been running, are their adrenaline levels already slightly elevated, does the area have a lot of pressure.
 

Newtosavage

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I've noticed over the years that there seems to be a big difference in how deer react when the arrow stays in the deer vs. when it passes clean through. Any deer I've shot where the arrow stayed in them (not many, but enough to notice a trend) ran much further than the deer where the arrow passed clean through. I've also watched a deer bite an arrow in half, and another one try to remove an arrow as it was about to expire. I think arrows that stay in deer decrease your likelihood of finding the deer because you only have one hole and the arrow seems to scare the crap out of the deer.

Those deer that I've shot with a bow that died in their tracks or just took a few steps and died, had the arrow pass completely through them. They seemed startled but not scared. One jumped, then turned and sniffed the blood-covered arrow and then tipped over. It was kind of funny to watch.
 

Mike Islander

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Double lung, aorta, partial heart. ZERO blood...none. He did bleed into his mouth and down his side, but that was the only blood I found, on the buck, none on the ground. In fact, I wondered how the heck I missed him from 100 yards, then just followed the sound of the crash 40 yards into the woods.

30-06 with 150 grain Core Lokt. Midway up the body from the front leg.
 

jakelogsdon

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Double lung, aorta, partial heart. ZERO blood...none. He did bleed into his mouth and down his side, but that was the only blood I found, on the buck, none on the ground. In fact, I wondered how the heck I missed him from 100 yards, then just followed the sound of the crash 40 yards into the woods.

30-06 with 150 grain Core Lokt. Midway up the body from the front leg.
Did that deer have a lot of fat on him? Or was he in a strange posture when you shot? Ive seen both issues cause that. Skin moving covering the hole in the cavity, or fat plugging the hole.
 

Mike Islander

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Did that deer have a lot of fat on him? Or was he in a strange posture when you shot? Ive seen both issues cause that. Skin moving covering the hole in the cavity, or fat plugging the hole.
The main thing was the bullet went through his opposite leg bone, right at the thickest part, and stopped at the hide. That's after smashing through the left scapula. It happens. No exit wound = no blood in this case. I was shooting from a stand.
 
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Texasbuckeye

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I witnessed 6 deer get shot this year. All varying track lengths and some none:

1. Spike buck, crossbow at around 40 yards. Went prob 15 yards before just fell over.
2. 4.5 you buck, crossbow at 26 yards. Went about 50 yards and dropped.
3. Mature doe, .300 wsm at 100 yards, dropped right there.
4. 4.5 you buck, .308 at around 60 yards, dropped right there.
5. Mature doe, .308 at around 30 yards. Tracked for over 400 yards, never recovered. Figured she would be dead right over the initial ridge, had spots of blood with occasional blow outs, but the blood eventually ran dry and we never recovered her.
6. Mature doe, crossbow at 35 yards, dropped right there.

There is no rhyme or reason to it. I think my brother hit a little far forward on the doe with the .308, not accounting for her slight quartering away, but I honestly thought she was dead, fully expecting to walk right up on her. Deer are tough and I have seen heart shots cause DRT reactions while other heart shots (25-06) have 80-100 yard tracks.

Bottom line, get good at tracking. Sometimes it isn’t the blood you are tracking either. It’s sign an animal there and blood may be difficult to spot.
 

camping1601

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Good hits with the bow are 50-75 and with the rifle most are in their tracks with a few in that 50 -75 range.
The rifle hits I've had make it the farthest were with Barnes tipped TSX bullets.
I shoot 2'' mechanicals for Deer and Elk and a 300 wsm + 7mm stw rifle for Deer.
 

74hntr

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This is a topic I’ve been following a lot lately. Has anyone first hand noticed heavy arrow pass through vs lighter arrow impact cause a change in reaction. I’ve not changed my arrow or broad head setups enough over 30 years to really notice. I’ve hovered in fix head 500ish grain arrows since switched to carbon.
 

jakelogsdon

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I have noticed that if you have a quiet, fast and clean pass through the deer seem to be more unsure about WTF just happened. But if you crash bone and break ribs or your shot is loud they know that they just got effed up, and they respond accordingly.
 

sram9102

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^^^ This is pretty much my experience. Slipping an arrow through I have had a few deer act like something scared them and go back to eating. Gun shots are typically 75 to 150 for me. I do everything I can to keep bullets out of shoulders so I get very few deer dropping it their tracks. They sure react more with a rifle.
 

Rich M

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Had 1 buck go about 150 yards with dbl lung (2018 had 2 just flop over & die from same exact shot). Some deer just plain have a will to live.
 

DMooch

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For me, it's follow the trail for as long as there is evidence, then I start with my loops. Whether that's 40 yards or 400 yards.
 
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