One of the more common questions I get after people watch one of my long range hunting videos is, “How do you get over there and find the animal?” Usually this question is followed by a story of a well placed long shot where the animal takes a good hit and moves some small distance from the point of impact and the hunter has a very difficult time of recovery. Although I’ve had a few misses over the years I have yet to lose a hit animal at distance. I follow up every shot that I or my spotter can not physically see impact somewhere else. I feel that if you cannot confirm a miss you need to follow it up to be sure. Now this means that sometimes you are crossing great distances to look for hair, faint blood trail or possible bullet impact. This is not always easy to locate but I have been very successful at it, here are some examples and tricks I have used in recovery of game.
First and foremost in canyon country where I hunt primarily, recovery can start before taking the shot. I have many times held a shot waiting on the animal to pass area where spotting a missing bullet impact would be much easier. Now I don’t take shots that I believe that I can miss, but I also believe in stacking the deck in my favor as much as possible.
Excellent spotting background
A classic example of this happened about 3 years ago while I was spotting for a friend of mine for a shot on a whitetail buck. The buck a medium sized 4x5 was feeding around an overgrown skid road across a canyon at 639 yards. The road was overgrown with brush almost every where except a spot about 80-100 yards up the road from the deer where the road bank was a bare dirt patch. I directed my friend to the dirt patch and lazed it at 683 yards. He dialed in for the shot and we waited. Eventually the buck fed up to the bare spot and my friend took and made a great shot dropping the buck right where he stood (yes he was using an Edge).
My friend would have had to miss the buck by more then 10 feet in windage either way and 6 feet up or 2 feet down in elevation for me not to have been not able to spot a miss. Now had he hit and the buck ran, we would have had an easy point of impact spot to find when one of us got there to take up the trail. This how you can affect the outcome of your recovery efforts even before you take the shot.
When shooting into pockets like this a spotter can make or break a recovery