Sponsored by: Whitetail University, Atsko Products


By: Wade Nolan
bowhunting biologist
Oct 23, 51/Sept 22, 18

I know I’ve been in on well over 100 deer recoveries. Each one is different and each very important. It may be the most important act we perform during the hunt. Recovery determines success and has a lot to do with our perspective of the bowhunt.

There are 15 or more tips I could give you about making a sure recovery but the most important piece of the puzzle is persistence and what you do before you release the arrow.

Watch the hit, dee how the deer reacts, keep eyeballs on the escaping deer, listen for crashing, mark the direction of escape, note the arrival route, find the arrow, examine it for blood sign, look for hair, fat on the arrow, deep red blood, mark every blood spot with a dime sized piece of paper etc.

This is what we hope for. Blood sign that is evident and plentiful. This bright red lung blood always leads to a trophy.

But the biggest factor may be part of the landscape your hunting in. Are the leaves dry, how about the grass? Does the blood show easily? On this buck, which was my rifle hunters first buck with a crossbow, we had perfect conditions. The buck came to a scrape 25 yards from the blind. The shot was well placed and generated a lot of blood sign. We followed the trail at a walking pace and the buck went down in under 80 yards, plain sight. He could have cut into the thick stuff but didn’t. It was a satisfying tracking job.

Dan shot a buck from this blind over a scrape in an old coal loading clearing.

Always look for blood smeared on brush. Sometimes it doesn’t make it all the way to the ground.

But here is the question? Can you find a hit deer without a blood trail? The answer is mostly no. With no blood trail to lead to recovery, and when the deer travels more than 100-yards, is difficult and more than 200 yards almost impossible to find him. How many deer have you lost? Some deer are not recovered. If your honest, every bowhunter fails to recover a percentage. That doesn’t mean every of those deer died. The scientific  Ripley Study proved that many hit deer recover. But what can we do to insure a high recovery rate?

This is the win if you do it all right. Bowhunting is a game of nuances. Do it all right or you may fail.

The most important thing is to realize that if the blood trail is washed out you may lose the deer. So, what does that mean?

On this day Wade had a hard decision to make.

On this day I had to make a tough decision. The temperature stood at 33-degrees. The gusty wind brought rain and sleet one minute and a whiteout of snow every 10-minutes. I was comfortable in my blind but the weather was working against my standards. If I shot a deer in this mess I’d have no blood trail.

 To me it means that if it is raining or as it is in this picture, the snow is changing to sleet and back to rain for hours, I am not going to risk a shot. A blood trail that washes out in 40 yards is often a lost deer. My plan is to respect the deer enough that I will take the arrow off of my string and wait until the weather cooperates. If it doesn’t I bail out for the day. Making an unrecoverable hit on a buck will not make my hunt successful. I enjoy just being there and letting a buck walk. Because I may not be able to follow him up is enough reason for me to give him a break.

What about you?

Sponsored by: Whitetail University, Atsko Products

Wade Nolan was an interesting, educated, committed hunter, author, videographer and wildlife biologist who loved what he did and loved spreading the word of Christ. He passed away Sept 22, 2018 after a long battle with cancer. We will try and continue his legacy with past and new articles. For more please go to Wade’s web site, www.wadenolan.com/about.html 

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