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Caribou Gear Tarp

Sometimes things go wrong


Well-known member
Jun 25, 2018
North Carolina
So I'll post up about the weekend a buddy of mine had as a reminder that sometimes things just go wrong. You can make a good shot and have good blood and still not recover an animal.

On Saturday, I went to a lease that I'm on with several other people. A good friend of mine was also hunting that afternoon. Around 6, the texts started coming in about a buck he shot. He said the hit looked good, he saw the direction of travel after the hit (with the lighted nock still in the buck), and heard what sounded like the buck struggling through the brush. We gave it thirty minutes then I climbed down and met him. We searched the shot site and couldn't find blood or hair. After a little bit of searching, we went to the trail crossing he saw the buck run past after the shot and searched around that spot. Still nothing. My buddy went and got back in the stand and I confirmed that we had the right places. We then proceeded to where he thought he heard the buck struggling through the brush. We finally located a good pile of blood near a creek. The blood was bright red with bubbles in it. I back-tracked a little so that we could confirm direction of travel, then we crossed the creek. We found blood on the opposite side of the creek and continued following the trail. It was a fairly steady blood trail, with the blood looking good the whole way. We never crossed a wound bed. Never heard the buck jump. Eventually we came to a second creek crossing that put us into a flat with lots of ferns and other green vegetation. We crept through this stuff as the blood trail got harder to find. Eventually we found another decent pile of blood, still bright red with bubbles in it.

That was the last place we found blood that evening. We began slowly making circles, trying to pick up the blood trail when the buck jumped up and ran off. He still had the lighted nock in him so we were able to mark our location and an estimated direction of travel. We then knew we had to back out. It had been several hours and the trail was over 550 yards where we left it. The next day, we came back and I brought my dog. Now the big caveat here is that my dog has NOT been adequately trained for blood trailing. I have worked her on some shorter tracks and she has done well, but nothing as confusing as what we would ultimately get into.

So Daisy picked the trail up all the way back at the first creek crossing and moved in about 10 minutes through what took us over an hour to find the night before. When she came to the second creek crossing, I began to get nervous. At this point, she started throwing her head up to air scent and she wasn't sniffing as vigorously as she had been before. She continued to last blood and started working the trail out. I had to restart her a couple times, but she eventually advanced the blood trail to a third creek crossing. For the direction that the buck traveled after we jumped him, there had to be a fourth crossing. We couldn't find it. Daisy never picked the buck's trail back up. She would find a trail that was promising, but there wouldn't be any blood and it would be obvious that she was following other deer trails as it wound in the opposite direction. We spent another couple of hours out there, but never found another drop of blood or any sign of the deer. As a last hope, we walked the creek, one on each side, for a long ways but never saw anything. I looped back through a thicket and Daisy never indicated and I never saw anything. We called the track off.

The best we can tell, it was a single lung shot. I assume the buck will die but we were out of options. Would've been my buddy's first bow kill which hurts a little more. For those who are curious, he was shooting standard light arrows with mechanical broadheads. Not sure of the total weight or anything. The shot was slightly quartered away. Best guess is that a rib slowed the mechanical down and drastically reduced penetration. Combine that with the arrow helping to plug the wound, and things were tough.

So just a reminder that things don't always go the way you hope or plan.


New member
Oct 19, 2020
It happens, all part of hunting. In years past, I would get so excited when I saw a deer that I would always make some sort of mistake.

I remember all of the first few bucks that I drew back on and can remember a pounding heart and very shaky aim (I only began hunting 5 years ago). One buck in particular I can remember blood trailing over 450 yards and then blood getting to pindrops before totally fading away (I believe i hit him in the chest somewhere just brisket, but really good blood for the first 150 yards). The next year I shot a similar sized buck, watched the arrow hit right in the pump house. The buck actually ran directly uphill and ended up dying ing some really high weeds in mid-october (chest high). We couldn't find him and the previous years sinking feeling got to us all after hours of searching for two days. I came back the following week after it had been 70 plus degrees for a few of the days and I followed the smell of death to buck (ended up being 165 yards from the shot, we just could not find him in the high grass). I was so sad i had failed to find him and harvest the body, but also so excited that I had made a good shot and I found him and Tug him instantly after getting the antlers.

As if the previous two years had not been enough to put me down and lack confidence in my bow hunting, last year on the first day of archery I saw a buck the last hour of daylight and with shaky aim yet again hit him low right in the front leg. I knew that wasn't going to end up in a harvest and we searched for hours that night and the day after but couldn't find him.

Moral of the story I guess is that it takes a few situations to get comfortable, at least for me. Finally this year, I feel I am now able to stay much more calm with deer in range. I have a better sense of when to draw and am able to settle the pin and go through the process without much thought. It seems much more natural and I have been able to harvest deer and watch them drop within 50 yards. All situations are different and all hunters are and it sometimes takes a few different situations to become comfortable!

Keep encouraging your friend and don't let him get down on his luck! Keep him hunting often!

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