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Deer dont always follow the books #8949351 11/04/23 05:28 PM
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Had a gut shot doe today (OK bow, i witnessed the shot but it wasnt my shot) that hunched good at the hit, slowly walked off and slowed to a stand for a bit, long enough that i tried to reload the crossbow and get a second shot off, but the other doe with her alerted and trotted off which took the shot doe with.

Here is where it go interesting. I knew the shot wasnt good, i saw thru the binos the arrow wasnt covered in blood, but there was a wound dripping blood as the doe walked off, and the wound was a pass thru as the arrow was on the ground. I wasn't sure if the wound was merely a flesh wound or something more. So we waited a bit and the. I said lets get down and check for blood trail and see if we could stalk up and get a second shot.

As i climbed out of the blind i spotted a deer off but not where i saw the doe go, but also not an unusual travel rpute from where they went. I tried to see if it was our deer but couldnt see and then they ran off after seeing me and it was two deer…supposedly the pair and they ran off like they werent hurt, so i thought ok, flesh wound, not lethal, but lets go look for blood and see what we see.

First thing we do is go to arrow. Not really any blood and initially think it might have just nicked skin, but on closer inspection the bolt showed some serous fluid but no true blood…uh oh…

Go look for blood where i saw the hot deer standing, see none. Gc over to the area i saw the deer when i got put of blind and see nothing. But being a good hunter and trying to teach good lessons, i said lets go back to the area where the deer was standing and look a little closer…sure enough there is some blood, not much but some. So then begins the trail. The whole time i am thinking the trail will turn one way to where those deer i saw ran off, but i remind myself to be true to the facts and not the supposed route. This will play out later in the trail too.

After many specks of blood found among the scattered leaves, i realize the deer i saw run off were not the hit doe, and i am on a different path. A path that was trending toward a creek bottom…gut hit deer will go down hill and toward water right? Only this trail went uphill away from the creek bottom. Again, finding specks of blood, we track her to the top of a hill where i actually see her bump from the creek bottom area and slowly hobble off uphill. I knew she was hurt bad at this point and we needed to tread lightly but i also thought if we could catch her i might be able to finish her.

We struggle around where we thought she was and find no blood. At this point we are either off the trail (most likely) or she was just bleeding so scantly it was going to be tough. So i start walking up the hill toward where i thought she went, going slowly and forgetting at this point about blood trail. To l surprise i see her bump at the tree line and walk parallel along the tree line and i think i see her lay down. So i carefully make my way to the edge and the rising sun is glaring bright as i make my way to the east. So i go a little south trying to get a better angle for a shot that wouldn’t be shrouded by sun glare.

As i crest the ridge and get just out of the trees, grabbing my rangefinder knowing that deer could be anywhere and a range will be important, i look to the north toward where i last spotted her, and dang if she isn’t laying at the top of a small gulley staring at me, but not moving. I get a quick range on her and give her the finishing shot. She was laying straight toward me so the shot had to go full frontal through the neck into the chest cavity. It was a lethal shot as soon as it hit.

The intial shot was back and low, and a pure gut shot. Not sure why, will have to discuss with shooter.


Learning points:
1. Gut shot deer can hunch pretty good and not want to run off. That’s textbook
2. Gut shot deer can go uphill, not textbook
3. Gut shot deer deserve a chance to be found. It is our obligation as hunters to try hard to find a hit deer.
4. Sometimes your mind or the woods can play tricks on you and DO NOT let that play into your track….follow the blood until you can follow the deer. I could have easily been swayed off the actual trail by where i thought the deer should have gone or by where i saw other deer thinking it was the hit deer. Follow the facts, not the theory.

Re: Deer dont always follow the books [Re: Texas buckeye] #8949405 11/04/23 07:42 PM
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Thanks for posting. I like to read and hear about stories like this. Every situation can be so different so as many stories as you can hear the better. My fear with archery is always the failure to recover the deer. I want to do everything I can before, during and after the shot.


At some point in life its time to quit chasing the pot of gold and just enjoy the rainbow. FR
Keep your gratitude higher than your expectations. RWH
Re: Deer dont always follow the books [Re: Texas buckeye] #8949418 11/04/23 08:05 PM
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That “gut shot deer always head downhill and to water” is a myth. It may happen every once in awhile but it’s not an absolute rule.

A guy shot deer will typically head back to its bedding area and lay down. It takes awhile for them to die but once they are bedded for a few hours they don’t want to move after that


For it is not the quarry that we truly seek, but the adventure.
Re: Deer dont always follow the books [Re: Texas buckeye] #8949419 11/04/23 08:07 PM
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Good story. I shot my first one with a crossbow this year and it's not over till you can place your hands on them.

Re: Deer dont always follow the books [Re: txtrophy85] #8949421 11/04/23 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by txtrophy85
That “gut shot deer always head downhill and to water” is a myth. It may happen every once in awhile but it’s not an absolute rule.

A guy shot deer will typically head back to its bedding area and lay down. It takes awhile for them to die but once they are bedded for a few hours they don’t want to move after that


Yelp, down hill thing is dumb. I killed three does in one set while back. Each ran up hill after being arrowed and double lunged. Big hills not rises. None went more then 100 yards, but uphill none the less. My bull this year did the same


Glad you found her TB


Donate to TX Youth hunting program.... better to donate then to waste it in taxes

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Re: Deer dont always follow the books [Re: Texas buckeye] #8949484 11/04/23 09:33 PM
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Where I grew up, in NE Louisiana, there was no uphill or downhill. It was flat. The few times I tracked gut shot deer, they were found at water, but there was water almost everywhere, so it may be meaningless data.

One thing I have seen, time and time again, with wounded deer was that they tend to drag their hooves. In damp leaves, they ruffle up the leaves and you can trail them that way, even if there’s not much of a blood trail.


Not my monkeys, not my circus...
Re: Deer dont always follow the books [Re: Texas buckeye] #8949492 11/04/23 09:51 PM
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603, that was something i have seen with quite a few tracks, you can almost squat down and see where the deer went thru the woods via the leaf kick-up.

I posted this mainly to dispel some myth, urban legend, or simply just one persons experience that gets propgated to honorary truth status. In hunting we need facts, skills, and need to trust our instincts sometimes more than “what i heard one time”.

My gut kept telling me the deer was part of that duo i saw bound away with no sign of injury and the shot was nothing more than a flesh wound. My head was telling me follow the facts and find blood and follow the blood not your gut. A flesh wound isnt going to have a deer hunched up and walking away…that’s a hurt deer. I saw blood dripping so i knew it should be there.

Hunter instinct also told me to go ahead and chase after it, carefully.

Glad i was able to share a recovery story today. This hunter has shot three deer so far, and two were some tremendously difficult tracks so i think i need to recalibrate the strike zone for him. I feel his first deer was too easy and he takes it a little for granted and that has resulted in two gut shot deer since. He isnt ready for buck shooting….

Last edited by Texas buckeye; 11/04/23 09:52 PM.
Re: Deer dont always follow the books [Re: Texas buckeye] #8949617 11/05/23 01:11 AM
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Last gut shot deer I shot dropped in its spot. I reload and take out another doe and watch her expire 30yds from impact. Movement catches my eye and I see that the first doe had got up run 100yds and jump a 5 strand fence. Go to impact, no blood. Follow trail to where she jumped the fence. No blood. Go to the actual jump spot and there is hair and stomach matter on the top strand. Let her sit 30min and get out the dog as there continued to be no blood. Lady found her about 40yds from the fence underneath in the middle of a thick cedar thicket. Deer can be tough. Shot was true to my aim, just didn’t realize she was quartering and ended up hitting liver and stomach

Re: Deer dont always follow the books [Re: Texas buckeye] #8949654 11/05/23 01:54 AM
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Deer don't strategize and plan an escape like one of us would.
They do whatever t.f. happens to flash into their brain when they're
shot. I've shot too many that tried to run and escape the perceived
danger with gel and goo for lungs and heart.
Had as many drop on the spot as if a 40 ft conex box had dropped
from above.
I've had several people declare the running uphill thing and the
head straight to water thing and the path of least resistance thing.
There's no typical reaction unless it's an absolute precision
C.N.S. shot.
I go for the pump house. No blood supply, they're done

Good Luck everybody

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