Tracking / Finding Long-Range Game


Well-Known Member
Jun 8, 2001
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I was wondering if one of the more experienced in this group would share some techniques for tracking / finding game shot at long-range?

I have been taking all sorts of flack from another friend who I thought had an open mind but it turns out doesn't have a clue what I am talking about.

My friend's only experience is with deer shot at less than 150yds. So predictably he has seen deer scared out of their wits by the noise of the shot and running like hell as soon as they are hit.

I understand, through this board, that this effect is not seen at long-range because the animal does not hear the shot and really has no idea it has been shot.

At what range does this effect begin to be seen?

Are there any techniques for recovering game hit at long range? I know from varminting that the ground rarely looks the same close-up as it did through the scope and so finding kills can be difficult.

My plan was to leave a spotter at the firing point and have them direct the shooter to the location by radio contact.

Peter Cronhelm
Peter, having someone go ahead leaving the shooter at the point of trigger pull is exactly how we handle retrieving downed game in a long distance situation.

One of my favorite places to hunt is just across a guardrail off the side of the road that centers our property overlooking about 20 acres of clearcut in the middle of a big deep hollow with a steep ridge on the other side. The shots in and of themselves are not that long in distance (about 300 yards) but going straight to the POI is simply not an option without airsupport. Once the shot is taken, it requires at least 45 minutes to get to the "spot". I normally call on the radio to one of my buddies and then they come take the walk with directions from me on the FRS radio. Not only does it work great, its lotsa fun too. Of course once your buddy gets to the POI, it is obligatory that he radio back to say "Sorry buddy. No sign of blood or anything. I guess you missed it.....". At which time I simply say OK. Thanks for the help. See you back at the cabin!" And begin to walk away at which time he admits there is a blood trail and for you to come track your own dam deer.....At least that's how it works at our farm.
Jim R

Sorry to hear that you're taking flack; everybody finds it easy to have an opinion on something that they know little to nothing about.

Although I haven't shot deer/antelope out past 500 yrds, I find that, depending upon terrain and wind, that somewhere between 300-400 yrds the animals go from "scared out of their wits" to "alarmed". This might not sound like much symantically, but it's a big difference in the field. Some won't even run when shot at (and missed), they'll just raise their head and look. Therefore it would stand to reason that at even greater ranges the animal might not even be alarmed at all. Or it might hear the sound of the bullet striking the ground (in the case of a miss) and merely look over to where the sound came from.

Your plan to leave someone at the firing point and walk you into the proper spot by radio is the best one that I can think of.

Good luck,


99% of the time the animal is VERY dead when we reach them.

I have ALWAYS said that the long Range hunting game is for at least two people in the hunting party and to NEVER attemt it alone. You need a spotter to spot the shot/s.

When an animal goes down or takes a hit and leaps into brush pile, oak brush, laural or the like, the spotter locks his glasses(bigeyes) on him even if he is not moving at all. The spotter will never take his eyes off that spot. At that point the shooter takes one of the two walkie talkie's and a rifle and goes to the animal right away. The spotter talks him right into the down animal.
Normall they are dead but in cases where they are not (seldom ever), they are very close to dying and don't have the strength to run.
Even non vital hits kill them before we get to them just from the loss of blood.
With a good hunting partner who can spot and a set or two of excellent large bigeyes, you should NEVER loose the game.

As far as the noise factor, it seems to leave at about 400 or 500 yards.
The animal can not relate the loud report of the rifle to an alarm because it is simply to far away. Unlike the short range shooter who shoots at 50 yards. A tremendouse difference in noise alarm.

I have seen deer and elk walk up and stick their nose in the bullet impact hole in the ground. I hit and killed a whitetail buck one time and after the buck went down (right away) the one doe that was with him walked to the bullet impact hole (after it went through the buck), and sniffed the hole in the ground.
The noise of the bullet hitting, did not alarm them at all.
One exception to this is if a shot goes in low at their hoofs and sprays them with dirt or rocks. They will then run a short distance and stop or continue to walk and feed or just laydown and rest.

Some people you will never convince that longrange hunting is the most leathal of ways to hunt if you have the correct equipment and hunting partners to do it right.

We are unlike the hunter that hunts 3 days to a week every year and then puts his rifle away till next year. We shoot year around to know our capabilities.

I've seen the differance in styles of hunting and will always prefer the long range way, as long as I'm able.

Hope that helped
Darryl Cassel

[ 10-29-2001: Message edited by: Darryl Cassel ]
The strangest experience I have had on the noise issue was sheep hunting. I was on a stand behind a delapidated stone wall watching a rather large field. About 20 sheep came into feed at approximately 350 yards away. I waited for the largest one (who was in the back of the herd) to come into the open for a shot. As he did I let loose the 340 Weatherby and droped him in his tracks. The other sheep actually turned around and started sniffing the dead sheep. I don't know why, and I didn't believe when I saw it, but I had the hunt video'ed so I know it's true.
I am sure that we have a lot to learn about how game animals react to gunshots. The typical anti response is that they are scared silly. However I know that most of the people on this forumn have had to stop range practice because a deer walked onto the range during shooting.

I got a double on coyotes two winters ago when coyote #2 came back to see if coyote #1 knew what all the noise was about. He did but he was in no shape to give a warning. The double was at less than 200yds on a predator that is usually very wary of man and gunshots.

I am not too worried about my friend the naysayer, I just won't discuss it with him anymore. At the moment I am very confident of a 500-600 yd shot. With a bit more practice I am fairly certain of 900-1000yds. Beyond that I am going to have to do some serious practice.

Two years ago during the antlerless season I shot a whitetail doe at 513 yards. She dropped at the shot and never moved. A two year old buck had been standing (during the rut) about 10 yards from her when she dropped. Over the next 20 minutes I watched the confused buck. At first he just stood there looking at the fallen doe. Then he moved closer, pawed her shoulder, nuzzled her, finally put both feet on her shoulders. In the failing light I could just about make out the cartoon-like text box above his head containing the words: "What do you mean, you have a headache?".

It was almost dark by then so I went in to my cabin, cooked and ate a frozen pizza, got my stuff together, went out, found her, alone by now, and field dressed her.

I guess the amorous buck had moved on by now, looking for a more receptive doe.
Yes haveing radios and someone to walk as you direct them is the only way to go. Things sure do look differant when your down there compared to where you shoot from. Two years ago I set my neice up over a hay feild the deer just before end of shooting time would run out into the middle so I set up my heavy barrel and range finder. Gave her some instrution on what dot to use.Sure enough about 5 min before time 3 does ran out to 327 yds I told her one one the right first dot squeese and then the shot I was spotting and saw the bullet hit right in the heart area. The deer started to run my neice said she missed I said dead deer n----ow and it dropped. She was walking on air out to it. From a gal that hasn't shot much a good rifle and knowing where to aim did the job.
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