Misses that didn’t

By Dudley Wooten - PDT Columnist

Three times Jon or I have shot a deer that we thought we killed and didn’t. You know how we practice and strive to place the shot in the vitals. This is meant to be through the rib cage and through the lungs or heart. This will do it and that means blood-tracking it 5 to 50 yards usually.

On 3 occasions we’ve hit a deer that we thought was hit well but wasn’t and followed it a mile or more only to see the blood trail just quit. The story is the same 3 times. Deer hit, arrow passes through, blood and deer can’t be found by the time you’re at the next hill. Now it gets less depressing and more phenomenal.

This same deer starts showing up again at the feeder, on camera, two weeks later totally healthy but with a little “fluff of fur” scar on its hide. It shows on both sides about 2 – 3 inches down from the back bone and just behind the rib cage.

This is where you can “miss” a deer when you don’t “miss” them. It’s a little like grazing a deer hide you may find a little blood or hair but the deer won’t die and you’re not going to be finding him.

If the shot had been 2 inches higher, the broadhead would have a severed artery or spinal cord and it’s “deer down.” If it were 2 inches lower it’s a gut-shot and a long miserable blood trail for you and him both. If it’s placed a foot aft, the deer is butt-shot, crippled and another long regrettable trail for all.

In each of these cases as the search goes on and on, you have so much time to think about, “I’ll never do this again,” but guess what? – it just happens.

As you blood trail, you’re thinking that deer didn’t even look hit at the point of impact and now he’s moving like he’s pretty limber. This is not looking like a deer’s normal path that’s bleeding out. He’s not resting, stopping, or leaning against trees and bleeding down them. He’s not slowing down or bleeding now. Color him gone. Now what do you do? We will come back tomorrow at first light and pick up this trail (hopefully before the coyotes do). Usually that works out but 3 times they were just gone until we would see them on camera. That’s truly a sigh of relief. It makes you feel better about everyone involved.

OK, it wasn’t the best shot ever taken but it was a good job of blood trailing. You don’t find deer that don’t die. The only things that arrow passed through was hair, hide, blood vessels, and air. With no bone, meat, vitals, arteries, or intestines involved, the deer is just off to the races to live to see another day.

When the broadhead passes through that one “sweet spot,” it’s not a “miss” but it is. If you’re not buying this, the next time you field-dress a deer and/or butcher it, pay particular attention to that zone in the deer and you’ll see that an arrow can pass through that exact spot (not too high) (not too low) (not too forward) and (not too far aft) and not really injure the deer.

I’ve never interviewed one of these deer but I don’t imagine they liked it. It did; however, beat the alternatives. We’re all better off with that placement of shot, in the end.

I first learned of that kind of “forgiveness – zone” as a country boy. On our farm, we have one 50 acre area of hilly pasture and there are 10 acres of oaks on top of those hills.

With the white-face cattle roaming that wooded pasture, they find a lot of new acorns and sometimes too many. As they eat too many acorns, they can bloat, get down and need help.

Since every country boy has a rope and a sharp knife – look out. I’d seen “Doc Karr” and “Doc Karr, Jr.” both put a rope around the animal to subdue him while he’s down and secure him to a tree. The next move amazed me. A sharp knife just through the hide (once again) in just the precise spot does no harm and a lot of good.

A quick well-placed shallow stab hits no vitals and releases a green puff of stinking, fermenting acorn gas. Now that’s a big relief to both of us because the steer feels better, gets up and you feel good that he’s up on his feet. It’s called “same day surgery” (aka – “drive-by stabbing) and I started my own homemade version of it after that. Thank God I’m a country boy.

May the forest be with you.

By Dudley Wooten

PDT Columnist

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.