After the shot

December 1, 2012

Dudley Wooten

PDT Contributor

When you’ve taken your best shot, you have probably killed you deer, but they don’t just don’t sit down, usually. They will run and you will follow. At the moment of the shot, take your bearing and size up the area. You’ve watched his exit path, now try to determine exactly where he was standing, when shot. RELOAD AND PUT YOUR SAFETY ON.

Now pursue the sign. At the point of impact, is there hair, blood or bone? The color of blood and/or hair can tell you where he was hit. His response, when hit, can tell the same thing. If at the moment of the shot, he just stands there looking around, he’s most likely not hit and looking for the source of noise. You had best get a good shot off. If he slips away with his tail tucked down, he could be un-hit or it could be a gut shot.

A good shot here would be smart. If he gives a mule kick and crashes into the brush, he is probably hit in a vital. When the deer leaves, watch him as far as you can. Give him a little time to lay down and you time to assess your surroundings, and reload and put your safety back on.

Now when you pursue the deer, you’re looking for the point of impact, blood, hair, or bone, and the blood trail. As you follow this blood trail, you will be looking for the blood on the ground, blood on twigs, and brush he touched, blood on logs he jumped, broken twigs, etc… You will also, be looking for the deer.

If he’s hit hard, he will probably not go 100 yards. Unfortunately, in the Southern Ohio woods, your view after the shot is seeing him jump once or twice into the, green briars and gone. Now, we’re starting to appreciate the worth of getting your gun zeroed in prior to the shot, using a rest with the shot, knowing where he is hit, blood trailing, and knowing where he is now.

Once again, if he’s hit hard, he has gone 50 yards, crashed, and won’t be getting up. I have seen deer just sit down or fall over like a shooting gallery target, but that’s rare. A wounded deer is weakened, but it’s far from over. They may lean against a tree, or lay down to rest briefly, but they will get up and go again. They will leave a pool of blood where they rested. Hopefully, if you’re alert enough, you can get a shot, while they’re still. As you’re blood trailing, you’re constantly looking ahead for the deer, so you can get that shot and make things better for the both of you. A gut shot deer will try to go to water, and they weaken. This means they’re usually going down hill. But guess what? When you finally get this deer, the drag will be uphill. Keep going, get your deer and next time, make a better shot.

At this point, I would give you 30 years of advice. The best case scenario is practice with your weapon before season take one rested shot. Hunt an elevated bench on a hillside. Make the killing shot, and drag him downhill to the truck.

When you find your deer, you will need to field dress it. This allows you to bleed it and get rid of the guts. Both will help spoil the meat if left in the deer too long. Of course this makes the deer lighter to drag and load, also. Before you move the deer, you must put the temporary tag on the deer – It’s the law.

Let’s say you don’t want to take the deer out yet. If it is cold enough weather, and you removed the blood and guts, you can tag it, prop it’s chest cavity open with a stick, and let it cool in the shade. I would not suggest letting it stay there if it’s warm or unattended.

When you leave the woods with the deer, you will now proceed to Stage 2 and/or 3 with tagging. Your rule book, that you got with your license and tag, explains how to do this. Some options include doing this online, by phone, or at a checking station. The next two tags are for the meat processing and/or taxidermist.

What I’ve listed in this article are logic and law. Keep in mind that it plainly states in that rule book that it is not all inclusive of all the numerous game laws. A good example would be the $50 fine for not having a pencil on you. Does this sound silly? The logic is how can you fill out your temporary tag in the woods without a pencil? I hope that you take my advice, and obey the rule book. I’m wishing you many years of safe and enjoyable hunting. I will leave you with two thoughts. First, consider the deer armed and dangerous. If you thought they might shoot back, you will respect the stealth needed to assure that you see them first. Second, treat your weapon, scope, and ammo as if they were your mother. Happy hunting.