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Trailing wounded game

It is a hunter’s ethical responsibility to stop the hunt and search for any wounded animal.

  • You should wait for at least a half-hour to an hour before trailing a deer, unless the downed deer is in sight.
  • Make a practice of carefully observing every movement of a game animal after you shoot it. Investigate the ground and trail after shooting before assuming you missed.
  • Once at the site of the shot, look for signs:
    • Blood on the ground or vegetation
    • Broken twigs or branches, or scattered leaves
    • A “dew” line if early in the morning
    • Tracks
    • Hair, meat, or bone fragments
    • Downhill trails, especially toward water
  • If you lose a trail, search in a circular or grid pattern, and try to pick up the trail again.
  • Use fluorescent orange flagging to mark the blood trail in case darkness or weather forces you to quit the search and return the next day. Marking the blood trail also shows where to look for more signs if you lose the trail. Be sure to remove the orange flagging after use.
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