Bowhunting Bloodtrailing Tips Page

Tracks Lyme Disease Field Dressing Scoring Blood Trailing Aging Your Deer


An arrow kills a deer by massive hemorrhaging. Seldom will a deer fall into a state of shock and drop after being hit by an arrow. Consequently, an archer should expect to bloodtrail virtually every deer he hits, so he should be fully aware of the dynamics of a bow-shot deer. 

It is important to first understand what occurs after an arrow slices into a deer. The startled animal immediately flees toward cover, often unaware that it is even hurt, let alone mortally wounded. 
Since the blood vessels are under pressure, massive hemorrhaging of blood from the wound begins, and if the arrow passes through the body cavity, both wounds will bleed. However, there will be a period of time between when the arrow hits, and when the blood finds its way outside the body cavity and onto the ground. It may take only three seconds, but a startled deer could have covered 40 yards or more by then. That's why you should not become alarmed if no blood is found within 30 yards of the animal's escape path. 
As soon as the deer reaches the security of cover, it slows down and begins to feel faint. It then beds down, qickly loses consciousness due to blood loss, and dies. This entire scenario may take only 30 seconds from the time the deer is hit until it beds down. Unfortunately, the deer may have sprinted 200 yards or more, which means the archer must somehow locate his dead deer lying out there in the dense cover. That's where bloodtrailing comes in. 
As soon as a deer is hit, an archer should make a mental note of where the deer was standing, and then note the exact spot where the fleeing deer disappeared. This is called the "line of flight" and it will indicator the escape path where the blood trail should be located. 
After waiting about one half hour, quietly proceed along the flight path toward the spot of disappearance. Scan the forest floor for the arrow. The shaft will tell you volumes about your hit, if indeed you did hit the animal. It's not unusual for an archer to be positive he hit the deer, but then find a clean arrow. This not only tells you the deer isn't wounded, but it will also save you lots of frustration looking for a deer that wasn't hurt. 
The blood on the arrow shaft will also reveal valuable information about the hit. Bright red frothy blood indicates a deadly lung hit. Rich red blood means the liver was hit, also mortal. Dark red blood with seeds and vegetative matter in it indicates a paunch hit, and the archer should wait another few hours to allow the deer to further weaken. 
If the blood trail is lost, study the line of flight that the blood trail indicates, then survey the cover ahead and walk over to the densest stand of brush or trees. More often than not, you'll find your deer lying dead just inside the cover. If not, begin making zig zag sweeps through the cover until the deer is found.