Just thought I'd tell you all about the worst day in 15 years of hunting I recently had.
Deer season down under got going on April 1.
I had been watching a particular deer all summer long and had filmed over 2 hours of footage. I'm sure you all know the feeling of counting the sleeps until opening day when you can harvest your dream deer. This was the case for me as well.
On the second morning just on daylight I saw the deer in question making his way off his night feeding grounds. I snuck down the hill in my ghillie suite and got set up with my 300 weatherby mag. the distance was 313 yards, with the rifle zeroed at 290. Rifle was on a Harris bipod and rear bag. The deer was heading toward the private property boundary and paused momentarily facing away at 2 oclock. I felt the deer was not going to present a side on shot so decided to aim behind the last rib on my side to exit out the off side leg.
Booomm Whoooosh, Whop !!! ( Very Batmanish don't you think ? ). Deer gets blasted off his feet and down he goes flumbling around. Just enough time to reload and see him up on his feet looking really sick. Next thing he gets through the stock fence in the private property.
Convinced of a killing shot I lay there for 15 minutes whilst my spotter comes down to shake my hand. Once the adrenalin subsides I start down the hill quietly looking for sign of the strike. There on the ground in front of me is a 10 ft round circle of bones and bits from what looks to be the exit side upper and mid leg/ Actually I found bone some 10 yards behind the initial hit from just below the ball joint under the shoulder blade.
With the weather worstening by the minute we could only afford to leave him 2 hours before it started spitting rain and with fear of having all sign washed out we tracked him into the tree line. As I knew the owner I could persue him. Good blood trail on both sides of the body leads us to a bed full of blood indicating the entry and exit wound. Follow some more to another smaller bed where he may have stood for quite some time. Blood is Ferrari red without bubbles with no sign of a gut shot.
To cut a long story short we deligently followed the walking mark for over 3 hours on a good blood trail that was mainly bleeding from the exit wound. Keeping in mind that this deer weighs less that 100 pounds and is about the same size as a Labrador retriever. The blood trail travels in a more or les straight line for 1100 yards, with the blood being visable in spots from 15 ft away. Then I notice that the blood is starting to clot. Shortly after the deer does almost a 180 degree turn in some nasty counrty and we loose the trail and are unable to relocate it. So I mark the spot and come back 5 days later. Nothing.
I have been back with up to 10 other helpers looking in a piece of country around 1500 by 1500 yards and we have failed to locate the body. I am simply broken over loosing this deer. It is the first in 15 years of hunting that I have not recovered.
I truely believe the shot will have been fatal. I belive it has gone in low or low and forward of the lungs and heart and exited through the armpit on the off side leg. The deer would definetley been travelling on 3 legs. The deer had to have lost 1-2 litres of blood and they only have around 3 lts in their system. I have a palm size mound of leg bone as a reminder of the day and I am still trying to come to terms with it. What is this type of wound likely to do ?
For a deer this size what do you all think based on the story so far ? Should I be confident of a fatal shot and still hope to recover the body via smell or birds ? As you can imagine it's hard to stay positive. One of my friends suggested that we may infact be looking in the right area, but the deer may just be laying in the one spot until it dies of shock, blood loss or infection. Apparently they will do this ? Can you give me any positives or suggest any options I have not maybe thought of
With each step in the bush, you are a step closer.
I'm sorry for the disappointment! I do know how it feels. There is not much to say to help you feel better but the fact is that it happens.
You have to remember that a 100 pounds deer can hide in a very small bush; you could be walking up and down looking for it, go by just a foot away and not see it. Not to mention when there is bad weather. A relative of mine got shot in the mouth, he had his mouth opened and the bullet went right inside his mouth and he survived it. Some times there are things we can't explain.
It's possible the shot went in low just missing the lungs and miraculously missing the hart, the main arteries and destroying the shoulder on the other side, the lower part of it. Were you shooting downhill or uphill?
In any event, put it aside, you did the best you could. Enjoy the upcoming hunting days. Good Luck!!!!!!!!
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Our Lord Jesus said that as it was in the days of Noah and
also as it was in the days of Lot so it shall be in the days...
It's happening again!!! God sent to us His prophet, and His Word
to this generation and we once more are rejecting it as was prophesied!!! ---> As promised, God Sent His Prophet to us!
I think you have been doing everything that you can to recover your deer. I must say a lot more then some hunters would have done. As stated already a 100 lb deer can hide in a really small place. I have helped on this kind of search before and we thought that we would locate the deer by the birds and smell as well, but no such luck.
I knew of a man this year that shot a nice buck with a bow on Thanksgiving tracked it like you before completely losing its trail. Searched for days. Shot the same deer again with bow three weeks later, was there this time. We tracked that deer for 500 to 600 yards. I found where it had laid down, the wound had clotted up and when it got up we had no Idea where it had gone. There were to many deer and hog tracks to make his out. We searched all weekend for that deer walking just about every trail with no luck. So it happens, again you have done more to recover this deer then most will do. It may be that you locate it and there is nothing to make you feel better. Just know that it wasn't for a lack of effort from you an the recovery.
Founding member of the 7MM STW Club
Member Texas Cull Hunters Association
I know just how you feel. It is a horrible feeling to loose an animal. It sounds like you did everything right and did not make a shot beyond your ablity. Unfortunately these things happen and when hunting another live creature we cannot control the entire event. Take comfort in knowing nothing goes to waste in the wild.
" People sleep peacably in their bed at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf " - George Orwell
I am the way I am because I watched the movies "Red Dawn" and "Tremors" at a impressionable age.
This may help. A few years ago a frend and I were hunting Fallow deer
(About the same size) and he made the same type of shot with a 7 WSM
and knocked the deer off its feet.
While we were high five'ing the fallow jumped up and ran off to our amazement.
So we started looking and the tracking was the same as yours,(red blood,bone
fragments and later large blood clots) .
We tracked for nine hours with no luck and desided to return the next day to
pick up the trail,after seven more hours we lost all signs.
For the next 4 days we watched for buzzards. Still no luck.
One year later we were looking forward to redeeming our selves with a great
shot on an equaly good Fallow.So we returned to the same aera and after
about 3 hours we spotted a fallow with a bad limp and one nice antler
on the left side and almost no antler on the right.
We had decided to take a cull if we saw one and this was definitely a cull.
So we flipped a coin hunting stile(Flip a loaded round in the air and when it
hits the ground who ever it points at gets the shot). My friend made the shot.
In the process of skinning the deer we saw the extent of his injuries.And it
was the deer we had shot the previous year !!!
The round had entered the hind quarter and had just nicked the femor turning
the round just enough to make it skid down the outside of the ribb cage and
cuting the right front leag almost off.( we found damage to the femor,ribs
and the front leg had no bone for about 2'' and was just hanging hence the
The bullet had never entered the body cavity so he survived.
Note : when antlered animals are injured the antler on the oppisite side will
not develop as well as the other side.
I hope this was not to long but maybe your deer made it and you will see him
I read somewhere that if a deer wasnt down within 150 yards that in all likelyhood it was a non fatal hit. As tough as wild animals are I would say get out there and hunt if season is still open.
I have not lost an animal while using a firearm in 15 years, but know that anytime I pull the trigger no matter the range it is a possibility. It is a fact of life for hunters, even though we do all we can to minimize this risk. Sometimes you do everything right with a less than desireable outcome.
When I was a kid I shot the same deer two days in a row. The second day he was running a doe with his front left leg flopping. I beleive that had I not been there to finish him that deer would have been just fine.
Good luck hope you find him.
I admit that I know just enough to be dangerous.....but dangerous at ever extending distances.
I know how you feel, and I know there isn't much that can be said to make it better. I'm sorry it had to happen to you.
I had this happen similarly, and found my animal a week later by the birds. My animal, to my amazement made a loop and had gone back to where he had come from just before I had shot him. This was up hill from the shot and the direction that he went after the shot. My instincts failed me, I just knew that he couldn't go back uphill, but he did. I don't know the terrain, but you might check and see if he may have circled on you and gone back to where he came from.
As others have said, if you do not find him, he may live. For sure nothing goes to waste.
I also want to commend you for your perseverance in trying to find him, you are a true sportsman.
To hunt... or not to hunt...? What a stupid question.