After months of preparation, working hard to put in a food plot or checking trail cameras to locate your target buck, the moment has finally come. You see him chasing a doe around from a distance but you get your bow ready just in case. After a minute, she comes trotting through one of your shooting lanes with him lagging behind by a few steps. You draw, get to your anchor point, and settle the pin just behind his shoulder as he steps out broadside into the lane.
You release the arrow, he jumps and takes off running. After about 60 yards, you lose sight of him. Your adrenaline starts to kick in and your heart starts to pound as you try to relive the shot over and over to make sure it was a good hit. If you’re like me, you hang up your bow, sit back down (so you don’t fall out of your stand), and get your phone out. Send a text or a quick call to your hunting buddy to tell them that you just hit a buck. Then you try to sit and wait for at least half an hour before getting down to look for blood where the buck was standing when you shot.
Once you get to where you think the buck was standing, you look for signs of impact by the arrow. This could be hair, blood, or your arrow if it passed completely through the deer. Don’t be surprised if there isn’t any blood because it can take time for it to start to come out of the wound made by the broadhead and arrow. Look for kicked up ground to show that’s exactly where the deer was when he jumped after getting shot. Mark the place where you find the first piece of sign.
I carry a roll of flagging tape in my pack and just put a small piece on a stick and jam it into the ground. If you do find your arrow, look at it and see what is on it. Lung shots will leave bubbly blood on the arrow, heart shots will leave bright red blood. Liver shots will leave dark red blood and gut shots will leave green or brown bits on the arrow likely with some blood. If you suspect a liver shot, back out and wait at least 8 hours before tracking. For gut shots, consider waiting a full 24 hours before looking for the deer.