About the Study Guide

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Before you begin trailing, notice:

  • Where the arrow strikes the animal.
  • How far the arrow penetrates—in some cases, it may pass through.
  • Where the arrow hits the ground if it passes through the animal.
  • How the arrow strike sounds—a “crack” may indicate a broken bone, a “thud” may signal a solid chest hit, and a “plop” may indicate a gut shot. Or you may hear the arrow slapping branches.

Where to Begin Recovery

Bowhunters should be patient and allow the broadhead to do its work before approaching or trailing the animal.

  • If you find the arrow with signs of a gut hit and the trail is skimpy, back off and wait six to eight hours.
  • If you shoot and believe that you hit the animal in the gut, don’t even follow the trail far enough to retrieve the arrow. Wait at least six hours before following the trail, even if rain, snow, or darkness threatens to obliterate the trail. It’s easier to find a dead deer under six inches of snow within 200 yards of where you shot it than to find one under three inches of snow two miles from where you shot it.
  • On a poor hit outside the chest or body cavity (neck, leg, rump, or back), the animal may run away quickly and then stop, calm down, and stop bleeding. Often the animal will survive. If you can follow the animal rapidly and aggressively, it will continue to bleed, even from a relatively minor wound. It may lose enough blood to get careless and give you another shot. It may even die from a wound that normally would not be considered fatal. If you’re certain you have this type of hit and the conditions are right—open terrain, tracking snow, or a good initial blood trail—it’s best to take up the trail immediately and push the animal.