3) A Gut Shot Deer is a Lost Deer
Sadly not all of our arrows fly true. Same goes for our bullets. Over one half of a deer’s body mass lies behind the diaphragm. Deer shot “a little back” are not lost deer. They might be temporally lost but almost always die.
“Gut shot” deer typically die 8 to 12 hours after being shot. These are the deer you don’t want to roust from their beds or unnecessarily pressure. When you pick up a green-slimed arrow and it smells like a barn, you don’t have to go home without a deer. You just have to go back to camp and wait the better part of a day before going after it. A gut-shot deer will almost always wind up dead, you just don’t want him to die in the next township. So, in this case, don’t push him.
4) Pick Him Up in the Morning:
I’ve had coyotes beat me to dead deer twice in the last five years. Once I waited until morning to track, and once I went back to camp and had a bowl of chili before heading out to pick up what I was sure was a dead deer.
Another time a bear moved the carcass of a dead deer I left in the woods for the boys to pick up. Thirty years ago, we would often leave a deer until morning (provided it was cold enough), before going after it. But the proliferation of coyotes and bears has changed all that. There are places in the country where it’s almost a footrace between the hunter and the predators to the dead or wounded deer. It’s that bad and that simple, period! If you’re certain you made a good hit, get on the track and get to your deer before the coyotes do.
5) Wounded Deer Always Head for Water:
Deer often go to water but not necessarily because they have been wounded. A wounded deer will generally head for an area where it has bedded before or an area where it feels secure.
It may or may not have anything to do with water. A deer that routinely beds on a high spot in a swamp may well head for that spot but for safety not for a drink. A wounded deer may cross a river, stream or beaver pond but not because it feels like a swim. A gut-shot deer will most likely (eventually) head for water as fever sets in and it has the urge to drink. I’ve tracked wounded deer for miles who have shown no inclination to head for water. What they will do with some frequency is try to get back to a safe area to bed down.
6) Wounded Deer Never Head Uphill:
I wish I had a nickel for every wounded deer I have chased up the side of a mountain. They will go uphill and come down the other side if they feel like it. Of course a deer with a wound that impairs mobility will most likely shy away from a steep climb, but don’t let the old myth about wounded deer not going uphill keep you from heading up if the sign is pointing that way. In fact, wounded deer often head uphill if that’s where their security area lies.