Identifying and locating the point of impact is the key to recovery efforts where you cannot see the downed animal. Regardless of the direction I saw it run or the last point I saw it I always start at the point of impact.
Spotting any miss here would be difficult
Now the direction of travel and last spot sighted are important but I donít just skip step A because I saw B & C. It would seem that spotting location A on the other side of the canyon and hiking over to it would be simple and sometimes it is. More often than not locating that exact spot is very difficult without some help.
Help can come in many forms, the easiest is to have a spotter with a hand held radio guide you to the spot. Even this can be made easier with a couple simple tips. I always carry a pair of hunter orange lightweight vests in my pack, one for the spotter and one for me. It always amazes me how well camouflage works even with your partner waving his arms around and jumping up and down. Even low light recoveries can be made with a spotter and the right preparation. I have a TMR reticule in my spotting scope and have walked a hunter to the downed animal by zooming back, centering the cross hair on the animal and putting a chemical light on the hunter. This will give you a pretty good shot a locating even in the dark if it is necessary. I donít attempt a dark recovery unless I am positive the animal is down. There is always good news/bad news is seems. The GN is that these techniques help a lot, the BN is these were easy 2 man recoveries. Having two guys always makes recovery easier.
On to tougher recoveries, 2 guys with an apparently good hit but the animal runs in to cover and disappears. Call the hit and stay with the spotting scope you can high five later. Immediately before any recovery attempt take good mental notes of impact sight and last known location. Watch any routes that could provide escape along the direction of travel. Now that you have given the proper amount of time send your tracker/shooter over and walk them to the point of impact.
Once they are there donít cloud their tracking ability by running your mouth about where you saw the animal last unless you see it moving. Let the tracker stay on the physical evidence, when they reach the point of last known location of the animal let them know, then just keep your eyes open and your mouth shut if you can. If they are on a good trail your in business, if there is no blood trail to follow (this can happen even with great hits) it will come down to tracking ability and the trackers ability to think like a mortally hit animal.
Now on to the toughest recoveries, these are solo recoveries. On solo recoveries you may or may not know for sure if you made a hit, a good hit or a miss and this is a huge disadvantage. Especially when by yourself make good mental notes about impact location before the shot is taken. After the shot your primary concern should be locating the direction of travel of the animal and potentially setting up for a follow up shot. Once the dust has settled priority one is to make sure you can locate the point of impact when you get to it. I try to pick a land mark that is impossible to miss, then when you get over there it will only be difficult instead of impossible to find. I try to find sights, a particular tree that I can line up with my position to locate my land mark.