Diagnose this shot sequence (lost deer)

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Talk' started by Rugger, Jan 30, 2017.

  1. Rugger

    Rugger Weekend Warrior

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    Updated: Diagnose this shot sequence (lost deer)

    30 yard broadside shot, wind going from the animals butt to it's head (my right to left). I've been watching this thing creep closer to my shot lane for 20 minutes. I have some twigs to deal with in flight path but animal walks right where I want it to, in a pretty open space free from branches/twigs etc.

    I'm resting my xbow on my cross beam, holding dead steady, aiming lower than midline - just behind the shoulder, ripe for a heart shot. I aim through the shot, and i squeeze.

    Loud thwack, deer gets knocked off it's feet and is immediately on it's back, legs straight in the air. I think ok, something went wrong but it's paralyzed. I reach for my cocking rope to re-up so I can shoot again. As soon as I begin to reach for the rope, the animal begins to writhe and flall around while grunting very loudly, maybe two or three grunts of 1-3 second length. It's hard to remember exactly because I was so shocked with the way this went down.

    After 2-3 grunts and flailing about, the animal gets to its feet and bounds away looking totally normal. No limping, hunching, none of that. The beast ran approximately 70 yards out of sight, no sight or sound of a crash.

    I get down immediately to check the arrow as it's basically sundown and the property I'm on has a curfew. It was a passthrough with approximately 70% of the bolt in the ground. I'm thinking the earth wiped away most residue. The fletching is red with something, but it appears to be meat/flesh rather than blood. It appears sticky and thick, unlike blood. There are some hairs around the fletching, mostly white hair.

    The mechanical head is totally clean except for mud from the ground. Two of the three blades appear to be slightly bent, but could very easily be from the ground. Again I'm thinking the wet ground wiped the shaft and head clean.

    There is zero blood where the animal was rolling around screaming. There are few decent signs of blood where the animal appeared to me to take it's first jumps after getting up. All blood was on the ground, I didn't see any on shrubs/trees near by. After the sparse blood where the first steps likely took place, the blood disappears.

    Now I didn't have very long to look and it was dark, but I had a good idea of which way it ran and I didn't see anything after those first 10 feet. I probably walked up 20-30 feet to look for blood - again having a property curfew. I did go up a considerable distance to look for a body, knowing that the only way i was going home with the animal tonight was to find it quickly, tracking wasn't going to do it.

    I have my thoughts on what happened but I would like to hear what others think first. I'll be headed back at first light.

    Update: Tracked this morning for about 5 hours over 400 or so yards. Found some long thin and white hair near impact site, which would lead me to believe it's belly hair. Blood was very small drips every 20-30 feet or so for the first 100 or so yards (running). It then slowed to a walk and made a 90* right hand turn into some low brush where I assume he was going to lay down (never did). I think he then began licking and/or gnawing at the wound somehow, as there were 6-10 distinct clumps of hair within a 12 inch circle, mostly white with some brown.

    For whatever reason it appears he took another step or two and then did a complete 180, following the 20 or so yards he traveled after that right turn and then continuing on in the opposite direction. Beginning at the spot that he turned right, the blood became moderate and tracking became easy. The blood was now in large 3-6 inch splotches ever two or so (deer) steps; enough blood where I could just walk along and follow easily. Note that there was no blood on trees or branches like there normally would be if he was exhaling blood out of his mouth or nose.

    After about another 100-150 yards the blood began to taper down fast, then quickly went from big noticeable splotches per spot to 2-3 drops per spot. Then over what seemed to be 2-3 deer steps it went from those big 2-3 drips that were still wet to a single drip right before a small muddy creek bed, maybe a 4-5 foot jump across. I found one faint drip on the immediate edge of the creek bed, then one leaf with a single light drop about 5 feet past the other side - very easily could have been residue from his hoof. That's the last blood I saw.

    Another weird note was that during the heavy blood areas, it looked as though one particular spot had been smeared around. It wasn't drops, but looked like someone took a paintbrush and mushed everything around on the leaves. Spot wasn't big enough to be from him laying down.

    When I first started walking along moderately heavy blood and it was obvious the animal was now walking I was pretty confident I was going to walk up on a dead deer. That quickly changed after 100 yards of good blood and it all but disappeared.

    Conclusion: With all of that said, I've concluded that 1) the shot was further than I thought, perhaps 35 yards or more (I estimated 30 for my shot) - this could have caused the shot to go low. 2) I now believe the animal was very slightly quartering away from me. 3) Combining those, I believe the arrow entered right behind the shoulder, or perhaps clipped it, and exited out the front of the far shoulder or even farther forward on the brisket. Yes, this is an unlikely shot and small window given that it would have missed the heart but it makes the most sense. There was no blood at head height, leading me to believe there was no single lung puncture that would have been seen in some of the high shot theories - the predominance of white hair with only some brown in the same clumps also leads me toward my theory. Lastly, and this is the only explanation I can think of, is that some nerve in or around the shoulder girdle got hit which caused the animal to temporary lose control of itself.

    Really bummed not to have found him seeing good rich red blood. Oh well, maybe I'll catch up to him next year.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
  2. kv486612

    kv486612 Newb

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    Very similar situation happened to me. Not sure why it happened so I'm curious to read what people think.


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  3. jjnowak

    jjnowak Weekend Warrior

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    It sounds like your arrow hit a dorsal spine on the vertebrae. It can send a shock to the spinal column that paralyzes the deer temporarily.
     
  4. DeepSouthDad

    DeepSouthDad Weekend Warrior

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    Go home and come back first light with a tracking dog.


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  5. Bowsage

    Bowsage Weekend Warrior

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    Shoulder.
     
  6. Rugger

    Rugger Weekend Warrior

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    I added a little more detail on where I was aiming, pretty much for a square heart shot, lower and right behind the shoulder. I don't think the bolt would have gone that high
     
  7. JMann11

    JMann11 Weekend Warrior

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    I agree with Bowsage, sounds like you definitely hit something in the nervous system, the deer could have ducked or something else could have happened that caused your bolt to go high.


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  8. 130Woodman

    130Woodman Grizzled Veteran

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    Hit the vertebra and temporarily paralyzed him
     
  9. dnoodles

    dnoodles Grizzled Veteran

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    That or a head shot...
     
  10. purebowhunting

    purebowhunting Die Hard Bowhunter

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    If he hit the spine which would be a good guess by the reaction of the animal, and the bolt was stuck in the ground, that arrow would have had to deflect down off the spine. Had to hit something solid, but with a pass through seems odd it wouldn't have passed through the chest cavity by what you're describing. Good luck.
     
  11. Rugger

    Rugger Weekend Warrior

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    For what it's worth to everyone, the arrow was in the ground at a very shallow angle - it didn't look as though it deflected down because of that shallow angle.
     
  12. bornfromthecorn

    bornfromthecorn Weekend Warrior

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    I think it may have hit the upper part of the spine like others are saying, and the low angle is because it deflected up, and not down. Kind of a similar fashion to glancing off the top of a block target. From how the deer reacted you hit it somewhere in the nervous system/ spinal column. I'd guess that the deer is still running around and alive.
     
  13. 130Woodman

    130Woodman Grizzled Veteran

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    Take a look at this
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Western MA Hunter

    Western MA Hunter Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I did that once w/ my bow and had the same reaction.. deer got up and had no luck finding him.
    Pulled the shot high and a bit forward.
     
  15. Worzeth

    Worzeth Weekend Warrior

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    Meaty and Sticky on the arrow with no blood and white hair. Sounds to me like he shot just under the belly and hit the fat line and the white hair from the belly. The hit freaked out the deer and that's what made it flip or fall to the ground and get right back up.
     
  16. Rugger

    Rugger Weekend Warrior

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    Updated original post after tracking
     
  17. tc racing

    tc racing Grizzled Veteran

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    did the deer have its head down when you shot? if so you might have went through the bisket and somehow clipped the vetebrea in the neck area? you might have missed the body completely and had a pass through on the far leg without hitting the bone. there is a lot of white hair there and it will bleed exactly how you are describing. this will also give you pools or 3" diameter spots of blood while bedding down. what happened is he was bedding and seen you coming and took off. as far as acting paralyzed, I could happen from a leg hit. I once shot a spike buck with my .22 hornet and somehow I hit it in the front leg. it dropped in its tracks and was dead. still to this day I have no idea how that happened. it was like the deer had a heart attack. my second theory seems most logical with the low angle that you found your arrow.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
  18. Rugger

    Rugger Weekend Warrior

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    It's head was indeed down feeding but I still dont think it was a neck shot. The blood was directly in the center of its tracks, about 6-10 inches back of his front prints, which leads me to believe the blood was dripping from the chest area. I feel like it was a neck wound the blood would be dripping off of both sides and I would have seen lateral distance between two drip spots under the animal.
     
  19. tc racing

    tc racing Grizzled Veteran

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    unless the blood was running down and dripping off the center of the briscuit? but neck shot doesn't explain the white hair. that is why I still think one of the front legs were somehow involved.
     
  20. rybo

    rybo Grizzled Veteran

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    What kind of property has a curfew? I've never heard of such thing.
     

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