18 Proven Tips for tracking Animal After the shot

In nearly every hunting magazine on the market today, there are articles giving details on how to take a deer, but few lend any advice on how to find the deer once the shot has been made.

Most sportsmen today have no trouble in finding deer and most of those hunters are successful at taking a deer. Hopefully, the shot was perfect, but

what if the shot was less than perfect?

Do you have the knowledge and capability to track an animal for long distances successfully? Most hunters would say yes, but unfortunately, their sense of pride may override their actual ability to track an animal successfully.

Questions Like,

“How long do I wait to begin tracking? How can I determine where I hit the animal?” and “What signs do I look for to help me find my deer?”

All are valid questions that many hunters have today. The idea of losing a deer because of a poor shot is a scenario we all fear and strive not to live through, but unfortunately, things happen.

So here are few tips to help you find your deer if something bad happens in-stand this year.

1. Always wait in your stand. Never push an animal too soon. Give them ample time to bleed out. Note the direction the deer headed and where you saw it last.

2. First go to where the deer was standing when you shot it and look for an arrow, blood, and hair. Study the types of blood and hair you find and this will help indicate where the animal was hit.

3. If you know the animal was gut shot, wait 6-8 hours before tracking. A deer hit in this area of anatomy has the ability to run for miles and will oftentimes die as a result of poisoning from the digestive fluids than from actual blood loss.

4. Always move very slowly and quietly when tracking wounded game.

5. Always follow one side of the blood trail and mark where you find blood so you can return to it later if you lose the trail.

6. Check the sides of trees, bushes and high grasses for signs of blood, (this will also tell you the height of the wound on the animal).

7. Check which way the blood is splattered to determine which way the deer are traveling. This is a good clue if the deer doubles back on its own trail.

8. Look for abnormal scuff marks and overturned stones where perhaps the deer may have stumbled.

9. If you lose the blood trail, mark the last spot you found blood and begin a circular search pattern. Begin with a small circle and continue to increase the size of the circle until you find blood again.

10. If there is no blood where you shot the deer, move in the direction where you saw him last. If there is still no blood begin a circular search pattern.

11. Just because you haven’t found blood doesn’t mean the deer haven’t been hit. The bleeding may be internal and if the shot was high it may take a while for the chest cavity to fill before it begins to leave a blood trail.

12. A vitally wounded deer will most often run downhill when possible. Although there are exceptions to this rule.

13. A gut shot deer will most often seek out water.

14. Wounded deer will head for heavier cover to bed down.

15. A wounded deer will most often run with its tail down.

16. Keep help to a minimum. The help of more than one or two hunters should be avoided. To many people trudging through the woods can deter finding the deer by destroying valuable sign.

17. Use such tools as lanterns and spotlights to help find blood and hair. The use of trailing aids like game finders and products that make blood fizz or glow in the dark are also great ways to help find your deer.

18. Never give up until you feel you have exhausted every effort to recover the deer.

Types of blood sign

  • Lung hit: Blood that appears frothy with bubbles.
  • Liver or Kidney: Very dark blood.
  • Gut or intestinal: Blood that has particles of vegetation.
  • Heart and arteries: Blood will appear a dark maroon color (like the liver or kidney).
  • Flesh wound: Blood will appear a light red.

Deer Hair

  • Side and neck: Hair is short and fine (1-3/4 inches) brown with black tips and gray near the bottom.
  • Brisket: Hair is curly, up to 2 inches long, stiff and are whitish-gray with black tips.
  • Shoulder: Hair is wavy up to 2-1/2 inches long with two bands of black near the tips and brown through the rest.
  • Heart: Long and fine usually 3-1/2 to 4 inches in length, black-tipped, tan below and the rest gray.
  • Stomach: Hair is slightly wavy, coarse and up to 2-1/2 inches long and will usually be all white.
  • Hindquarter: Wavy hair usually 1-1/2 inches long with brown and black tips, gray below that and gray at the bottom.
  • Chest: Hair is fine and wavy, usually about 1-1/2 inches long. They are black-tipped with black or tan, followed by a tan and a grayish-white at the base.


I’m sure this information will be helpful to some people and hopefully allow them to bring home the venison. Happy hunting.

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