After the Shot
Posted on August 9, 2012
Important points to follow when following up game.
There are many things you must do to successfully follow up game, but these three are at the top of the list.
1) Analyze The Animal’s Position
After you shoot, be sure to stay still, quiet and quickly assess every detail that took place at the moment of release. Note exactly where the animal was standing upon the arrow striking, and exactly how the animal fled the scene. To help with this, pick out certain bushes, rocks, or trees next to the hit spot or the route the animal used to escape. This will make it easier as objects always look different up close and as you begin the trailing process.
2) Visualize the Hit
Next, visualize in your mind the animal’s position and where the arrow hit. If you suspect a perfect double-lung hit, then you probably won’t have any trouble finding your trophy. These hits usually result in lots of blood on the ground and a relatively short, easy-to-follow blood trail.
However, this is not always the case. Sometimes animals bleed internally, even lung shot ones. When this happens, you’ll have to look for other clues, mainly fresh tracks and perhaps tiny droplets of blood; these will hopefully lead you down the path of recovery. Sometimes a general “zigzag” walk of the area, if you’re hunting in open-country, will allow you to spot your hard-hit animal lying down somewhere, now fully expired.
If you happen to find your arrow at the hit site, analyze it for clues as well. The blood on it tells a lot. Bright pink-like frothy blood is a positive indication of a solid lung hit. Darker blood, without the telltale froth-like “bubbles” in it, usually means a hit to the liver or heart. Greenish matter smeared on the shaft, usually with white fatty tissue, too, means a paunch hit for sure.
Beyond a solid strike to the lungs or heart, blood trailing doubles in difficulty.
3) Mark the Trail
Use florescent surveyor’s tape for marking key locations, mainly where you stood while taking the shot, the location of the hit site, where the animal fled to, and for noting one small speck blood to the next as you trail.
When trailing, be careful of where you step. You don’t want to trample on any important clues, whether it be blood, hair, a piece of animal fat or tissue, fresh tracks, or even some matted down grass, a dislodged rock or broken stick, noting a place where the animal could have traveled through.
And one last thing, when tracking, always be mindful of how the blood is splayed on the ground, as it can indicate the animal’s travel direction. Sometimes mortally-hit game will double back along the same trail they had just walked, causing blood to go every which way. Blood always splays heavier to thinner when the animal is walking or running. The thinner streaks point to where the animal is going in.
Successful blood trailing is all about being smart and very patient (especially when marginal shot occur). In nearly all cases, being foolish and/or anxious will end up costing you a trophy, all because you decided to force the situation. Analyze each shot closely, wait the correct amount of time based on the clues, and follow up, searching for blood and other details like a trained detective on a crime scene. Shots at big game are simply too precious to do it any other way.
By BAH Staff