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Losing a big one: that feeling like you're gonna hurl

Six-GunSix-Gun Senior MemberPosts: 8,155 Senior Member
The rut was absolutely turned off last night.

I rattled, had an estrus candle out and a small buck showed up at last light...to eat. The good news was that a major cold snap was set to hit this morning and it came through as promised. It was 30 degrees with frost on the ground when I got to my spot. The conditions were ripe for the rut to kick in like magic. I hung a new stand last night after seeing too many deer come through this spot to sit anywhere else. I lit the estrus candle and climbed into my stand. It was 5 minutes into legal daylight when I decided it was bright enough to see and proceeded to rattle.

As God is my witness, I didn't get to rattle for 5 seconds when I heard brisk footsteps in the leaf litter below. It was clearly a deer, but it wasn't overwhelmingly loud enough to make me think it was anything special. Whatever it was, it came out of the trees extremely close to and I could see the body pass just 13 yards in front of my through heavy cover. When the deer finally stepped out, it was a no-doubt shooter.

I had already pre-lasered the field edge at various points and he was 30 yards out to my eye. I drew while he was preoccupied trying to figure out who to fight and shortly thereafter let one rip.

*THUMP*

The sound was good on impact and he ran to cover about 140 yards away. I let him sit for 30 minutes before even climbing down. When I got down, I saw a nice scape at the base of my tree that was not there the night prior. I checked my nearby trail cam to see if he had been through earlier that night. Sure enough...

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A short walk to the sight of the shot turned up a completely bloody arrow that I turned on end for tracking purposes. At the time, it was bright red and covered with blood (darkened as it dried by the time I snapped this pic).

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The track was on and blood turned up bright red along a path of rubs.

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I was on the trail with my landowner, a co-worker, my dog and...nothing. Over 6 hours of searching turned up no deer. The trail went from great, to absolutely nothing in 250 yards into the woods. I was at a loss. The shot felt great, the shot sounded great, the blood looked good, but nothing turned up. All I know is that this one stung.
Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.

Replies

  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 12,139 Senior Member
    Sadly this happens sometimes. Kudos to you for searching for 6 hours.
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Sounds like a replay of the muzzleloader opening day last year- - - - -good blood trail for 500 yards, then nothing!

    At least we saw that one a day later with nothing but a bloody side, grazing like nothing ever happened!
    Jerry
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    That's what sucks, Teach: based on how much, and the quality of blood we found, we're pretty certain the buzzards will be out tomorrow.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • twatwa Senior Member Posts: 2,245 Senior Member
    Been there done that...it hits you right in the gut and just makes you sick. Those thoughts were racing through my head Saturday morning when my daughter made what I thought was the perfect shot. Almost straight down with only about 2" of arrow sticking out the back. I saw the direction the deer headed and told my daughter we needed to wait at least an hour to go look. One hour and a 1/2 later we picked up the blood trail in the vicinity I had last seen the deer which was probably 100 yards from the stand. We followed it for another 75 yards or so when the buck jumped off and took off running. Our hearts sank....I told the daughter we needed to give the deer another 2 hrs as to not push it any further. What seemed like an eternity, and some good lunch we went back to look, when the buck jumped up the arrow had come out of its back somehow (still a mystery to me) but the broad head was not on the arrow. To my amazement, we could not pick up a blood trail so we aimlessly looked for another hour or so, when I just happened to stumble upon the deer. It had gone another 150 yards from where we had last seen it and had expired. When we were butchering her deer, my daughter found the broad head buried in the opposite side of entrance in it lower front shoulder. One of the deers lungs were toast and I still do not know how that deer was still alive and hour and a half after it had been shot. They are one amazingly tough animal.
    Sorry it didn't happen for you brother..that sucks looks like a dandy.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,464 Senior Member
    Ouch!
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    You do a lot of hunting, so this was bound to happen, eventually. Sometimes, you do everything right, and it just doesn't work. I have done it myself, years ago, and it completely disgusted me - probably the reason I never took up bow hunting. I have pretty much adopted a zero-tolerance attitude about wounding deer, for myself, and I know it is completely unreasonable, because I don't apply it as strictly to other game animals. Doing it has actually improved my deer hunting pleasure, because I don't kick myself for letting a shot go, rather than taking a low percentage shot.

    All you can do is put it out of your mind and press on, because nobody is ever going to be perfect.
  • earlyearly Senior Member Posts: 4,950 Senior Member
    Very difficult to track a deer that don't wanna be tracked
    Easier to track a camel through the eye of a needle
    Anybody that hunts long enough can empathize
    My thoughts are generally clear. My typing, not so much.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Thanks, guys. This one still stings and I asked my boss for early release (in exchange for an early show tomorrow) to go look one more time. I figure that buzzard will be about by now and this time, I'm going to focus on a backtrack path, the one thing we didn't check yesterday.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,227 Senior Member
    That's too bad, Luis.

    I'm guessing you made a high lung shot. The chest cavity bled out, which accounts for the bright red blood and amount of blood you found early. Then most of the blood from the chest has emptied out and the chest cavity will have to fill up again before you get any more blood out of the wound. It might even be a single lung hit. Regardless, I concur with you that there's probably a dead buck not far from where you lost the trail.

    It's good that you're going out to look again? Maybe he'll be laying dead fairly close by. The meat will probably be ruined, but at least you could salvage something. Do you have crows and/or ravens in the area? They're pretty good at finding carrion.

    Good luck, and sorry for the bad results.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Jerry -

    I agree with the high-lung assessment, and last season, a buttonbuck that I aimed and shot slightly high with my crossbow made for one helluva tough tracking job just a 120 yard path. Thankfully, I found him.

    The good news is that yes, we have buzzards and crows here that don't hesitate to circle nicely around anything dead. I fully expect to have them giving me a major clue as to where he went down when I arrive this evening. I'm waiting to find him 50 yards or less from where the blood ended.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • twatwa Senior Member Posts: 2,245 Senior Member
    Any sign of him tonight?
  • bellcatbellcat Senior Member Posts: 2,035 Senior Member
    Losing any game sucks...but it's part of what we do. On another note, the deer may not have been hit as badly as you think. Flesh wounds can bleed heavy, and then be healed enough to quit dropping blood. Keep your cameras out, you may see him again.
    "Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." Mark Twain
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    bellcat wrote: »
    Losing any game sucks...but it's part of what we do. On another note, the deer may not have been hit as badly as you think. Flesh wounds can bleed heavy, and then be healed enough to quit dropping blood. Keep your cameras out, you may see him again.

    Indeed. I didn't find a thing searching for him. However, there is was a VERY similar looking buck in the neighboring field tonight. This one looked close enough that I had to wonder if the deer I shot the other day lived. He was out there with yet another bruiser who, while not as wide, was much taller in the antlers. If I didn't get him, hopefully he lived and may present another chance.

    What was odd was that neither of these big bucks displayed rutting behavior like the one I shot the other day. They were both 175 - 200 yards away. I rattled when their heads were masked so they couldn't see me, and both just went about calmly eating. I could make out on raise his head curiously for about 10 seconds, but that was about it. Hopefully, these guys are just a few days away from getting fired up. We have another cold snap coming Wednesday, so hopefully they will all be chasing by then.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • orchidmanorchidman Senior Member Posts: 8,364 Senior Member
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    I tracked one of those with my neighbor who shot him for hours. ...

    Your neighbour must have been to the cpj hunts course if he shot him for hours................


    Sorry to read this Luis. I had that same feeling about 2 months ago, Was hunting for a meat animal for the Take A kid Hunting BBQ with Bloodhound. Sprung a doe that ran off a ways and stopped as it crested a ridge in thick bush. Fired and knew that it was a solid hit but the animal crested the ridge and vanished. Luckily Bloodhound was in a position to see what happened to it...........it ran 30yds and dropped. He only spotted it cos as it kicked its last he saw a fern frond making like a helicopter rotor...........and there was no wind at the time. Luckily for me cos there were only a couple of blood spots at the spot the doe stood when I fired and they soon petered out.

    The few minutes of that feeling was enough for me to question a lot of things..........including whether I would continue hunting.
    Still enjoying the trip of a lifetime and making the best of what I have.....
  • DurwoodDurwood Senior Member Posts: 972 Senior Member
    Sorry to hear this...unfortunately it happens to all of us sooner or later. Just a week ago yesterday I experienced that gut wrenching feeling of losing a big one as there was almost no blood trail. Fortunately things ended on a positive note and my buck only went 50-60 yards after the shot.

    I've lost deer that I would have bet anything they would be found and I've found deer I was sure were lost...
    You have the right to your own opinion, but you don't have the right to your own facts:guns:
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    I tracked one of those for hours with my neighbor who shot him. We found him a few weeks later when another neighbor shot him with a rifle. He had a nasty gash right across the bottom of his chest with clotted blood that was starting to heal. My guess, the arrow went low and smacked him on the sternum and deflected into the dirt. He bled like someone had cut his throat, and just like yours the blood trail disappeared after a distance. He never laid down, that should have been my clue...

    Honestly, I really do hope something like this happened. My hope is that if he didn't die cleanly, he lived another day and bred.
    Durwood wrote: »
    Sorry to hear this...unfortunately it happens to all of us sooner or later. Just a week ago yesterday I experienced that gut wrenching feeling of losing a big one as there was almost no blood trail. Fortunately things ended on a positive note and my buck only went 50-60 yards after the shot.

    I've lost deer that I would have bet anything they would be found and I've found deer I was sure were lost...


    I was extremely confident when I found the arrow and saw the quality of the blood. I thought that there was a big, dead buck just a handful of yards past the field edge. The reality couldn't have been further from the truth.

    The only comparably unreal loss of a deer for me happened after I put a shot on an early season doe from my climber. After waiting a bit, I started climbing down. Within a few feet of the bottom, a major rainstorm started up and was screwed. By the time I got the bottom, it was a downpour and the blood trail was gone. I was in total disbelief at what had just happened. Never found that deer either.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
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