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Uncertain Of A Shot? Use A Deer Tracker!


by Keith Griglack, Hunter Education Administrator
October 15, 2020

PDF Version (pdf, 915kb)

One of the greatest responsibilities a hunter has during their time afield is making a swift, clean harvest on the species being hunted. Year round practice keeping shots within your effective range helps achieve this goal.

Effective range while hunting is quite different than effective range at the archery or firearm ranges. While you may be proficient with a bow at 40 yards while practicing, all your shots should be kept within 20 yards while in the field, with no difference between a vertical bow or crossbow. With firearms, your shotgun slug and muzzleloader shots should be kept under 100 yards; buck shot loses is efficacy beyone 35 yards.

But even with all this practice, sometimes the shot doesnít fly true and target impact on a deer isnít precisely placed. When in doubt, back out. Specially trained tracking dogs and their handlers are a phone call away.

Here are some "DOs and DON'Ts" to remember when afield:

  • DO take shots only within your effective range.
  • DO pay careful attention to how the deer acts after the shot and its direction of travel.
  • DO try to identify the hit location on the deerís body.
  • DO give plenty of time before climbing down and trying to locate the deer, arrow or blood trail. Using a lighted nock will help you find the arrow.
  • DO give the deer plenty of time before you start tracking it. Rushing can be the difference between an easy, successful recovery or a difficult, if not impossible, one.
  • DO take pictures of any blood and the arrow. This can be sent to a dog tracker and reviewed.
  • DO mark the track with toilet paper or something similar that is easily seen later.
  • DO mark the Point of Loss (POL), back out and contact a dog handler.
  • DONíT walk on the track or blood trail. Walk off to the side of the track.
  • DONíT clean the arrow. Leave arrow in woods, if weather allows, to give the tracking dog a starting point.
  • DONíT continue to track if you find an empty bed or jump the deer. Mark the spot and back out immediately.
  • DONíT grid search the area alone or with others looking for the deer if you lose the blood trail. This will destroy important visual and scent markers for the tracking dogs.
All hunted animals should be revered with equal respect. Whether it is a button buck, a doe, spike or buck of a lifetime, donít hesitate to use the tracking dog option complete the hunt.

Certified Deer Tracking Dog Permittees (pdf, 230kb)

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Last Updated: October 15, 2020