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Thoughts on recovery.

I suspect many of you, as I do, receive a small truckload of archery and hunting magazines every month (not counting the constant barrage of specialty catalogs) and read them carefully to be both enlightened and entertained. How-to shooting by staffs of experienced archery experts is mostly spot-on and beneficial, though no one shooter's technique can be all things to all archers. Nor can all hunting theories be classified as gospel. In this regard, two lines of thought I come across frequently dealing with poor shot placement, tracking and recovery seem woefully misleading in the matter of paunch or "gut" shot deer.


It has never been my policy on this page to suggest (as though cast in stone) how certain things should be done. However, in the matter of trailing and recovering arrow-shot deer, I believe my experience certainly equals if not surpasses much of what I've read in the matter of properly handling hits of this sort.

While I am continuously amazed at the lethality of a properly placed shot dropping a deer within mere seconds, (accompanied with a strong sense of jubilation) I am equally aware of the sick feeling one experiences when a shot goes astray for whatever reason the Fickle Finger of Fate might impart. What happens afterward; how it is handled, is of the utmost importance and commonly treated too hastily.

The proper procedure to maximize recovery is to wait, and wait, then wait some more; admittedly a difficult, nerve-wracking thing to do, but you must--for much longer than you think!

I have read, and been told, countless times that the proper waiting period following such hits is three to six hours. If the deer is center punched in the paunch, three to six hours is nowhere near long enough! Twelve hours is the bare bones minimum, 18 infinitely better: here's a common example.

Two seasons ago, a good friend hit a fine buck an hour or so before dark. The deer bolted, ran for 30 yards, stopped, stood on unsteady legs for several minutes before walking slowly out of sight. The hunter waited until well after dark slipping quietly on tiptoes to recover his arrow, then headed to camp where close inspection of his shaft revealed the telltale greenish-brown smear with scant blood on the feathers.


He shot the buck at 4:30 p.m., and announced during dinner we should take up the search about nine. I disagreed, finally convincing him not to go search until there was full light in the morning--flashlights, lanterns and hope in the dark are not worth a darn on such hits. At 8:30 the following morning, 16 hours after the shot, we jumped the buck from its bed but it didn't have much spark left and he got it. The buck's bed had only a suggestion of blood mixed with rank, watery ooze. There is no doubt that had we returned at nine the deer would have been bumped and skedaddled without leaving a trail mere mortals could follow.

Believe me, this is no isolated example; 50 some years trailing deer, mine and those of many friends, total well into triple digits. In the process, valuable lessons were learned. Waiting until it hurts doesn't hurt near as much as not waiting long enough.

Another perspective often related as fact suggests that "poorly hit deer" seldom (some suggest never) go farther than 200 yards before seeking cover to bed down. Sorry, but that's pure baloney! Hey, some might go no further than 50 yards while the next may well travel 400. The bigger the deer, the farther they might travel before trauma sets in and makes them woozy. Two hundred yards is only "Ball Park," though I agree a fair percentage will bed within that parameter. However, when the frantic sweep search takes place after all sign has been lost, containing that search to 200 yards from the point of origin is short sighted. Wounded deer go as far as they want for as long as they can; nothing in their Rule Book dictates 200 yards. Too many things can move an agitated, nervous, wounded deer from its bed.

Coyotes are the number one problem, often the winner in the race to recovery. The assumption that a wounded deer will not travel uphill is a fairy tale too.

All in all, the best course of action in following up such hits is to maintain the patience of a rock.
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Title Annotation:Trail's End
Author:Dougherty, Jim
Publication:Petersen's Bowhunting
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Previous Article:Mountain monarch.
Next Article:Bring on October.

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