Tracking Deer Movement
A Guide to Tracking Deer Movement
You have to hit the brain or the heart with your first shot if you want a deer to drop dead on the spot. However, very few hunters can make this shot, especially if shooting from over 50 yards away. How do you track down a deer that flees after you shoot it? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about tracking deer, starting with how to find deer to shoot.
Deer Scouting Tips
As everyone knows, deer hunting typically occurs in the woods. However, simply walking into the woods does not guarantee that you will find deer to shoot, especially if you live in a state with a low or average deer population. Increase your chances of walking out of the woods with a kill by learning how to scout for deer.
Where to Scout Deer
Scouting is the first step in tracking deer. It involves finding locations where deer frequent. Signs of deer activity to watch for when scouting include droppings, antler rubbings, bedding areas, and feeding areas (we will discuss these signs in detail later).
You can find locations to scout deer by asking locals or experienced hunters who are familiar with the area. Alternatively, use an app like HuntStand. Once you find an area that deer frequent, you can set up a blind or stand to shoot from when prey comes around.
When to Scout Deer
You can scout for deer any time of the year. However, note that deer patterns, especially feeding patterns, usually change with the weather. For instance, where a deer feeds in summer will likely change during winter.
So, if you intend on hunting deer during a particular season, start scouting the animal at the beginning of that season. Doing so will allow you to identify and get used to deer patterns for that season in that area.
Common Methods for Tracking Deer
After scouting where to find deer, the next step is to set up a blind or stand to take down deer when the next one passes through. Alternatively, you can follow the signs of deer in the scouted area and use them to track down a deer to shoot. Signs you can follow to track down a deer to hunt are:
Scat or deer droppings typically look like black pellets, and the average deer poops 20 to 30 times a day during summer. If the droppings are still moist, they likely came out of a deer not too long ago, and the source is probably not far off. Areas with many clusters of fresh deer droppings are usually deer feeding or bedding areas.
Deer tracks are hoof prints embedded in the soil. You can follow fresh deer hoof prints to trace a deer and catch up with it. Finding new deer tracks is easier during wet weather because rain will wash away old tracks, leaving behind only fresh ones. Also, several deer prints on a path could mean you’ve found a path frequently used by a deer herd.
Deer sleep on the ground, where their bodies leave oval depressions in the grass, brush, or dirt. If you find multiple oval depressions in the ground, it could mean you’ve found a herd’s bedding area. On the other hand, a single depression in the ground could mean you’ve found a solitary buck.
Deer like to eat grass, vegetation, acorns, and nuts. If an area contains one of these foods and deer droppings, it is likely a feeding area. You can set up a blind or stand around the area to take down deer that visit.
Alternatively, lure deer by pouring corn or soybean on the ground not far from a bedding area. The smell of the feed can lure deer to you for an easy shot. You can make the bait more attractive by sprinkling an oil-based deer attractant around it.
Signs of buck activity in an area include rubs on trees. Bucks rub trees with their antlers to mark territory and strengthen their necks. Freshly rubbed trees will smell and look recently bruised or leak wet sap. Older rubs will look scarred and darker. You can use such signs to track the movement of bucks.
Besides antler rubbings, deer mark areas by scraping. Scraping involves a deer pawing the ground with its hooves, leaving an oval-shaped bare patch in the ground. Most deer scrape under an overhanging branch where they can rub their foreheads to leave more of their scent.
How to Use Blood Trailing to Track Deer
If your shot does not hit the brain or heart, a deer can run a long distance before eventually dying. In such a scenario, you must chase and track the deer to claim your prize.
How long to wait before tracking a deer after shooting?
Waiting before approaching a shot deer is wise because a hurt deer is a panicked deer, and a panicked deer will do anything to survive, including attack you. Bucks are especially dangerous because they can do serious damage with their antlers when threatened.
How long to wait before approaching a deer will depend on where your bullet penetrated. If the deer immediately dropped after you shot it, wait at least 30 minutes before approaching it. On the other hand, if the deer runs, wait about 45 minutes before chasing after it. Delaying chasing the deer increases the chances of the animal being too weak to flee when you approach it to finish it off.
What Is the Blood Telling You?
Tracking a deer after shooting it requires following its blood trail. Depending on where you shot the deer, there may be little or a lot of blood to follow, and the blood may be bright red or dark.
What does bright red blood mean when tracking a deer?
Bright red blood means your bullet penetrated the deer’s heart or leg. Dark red blood, on the other hand, indicates that you hit the deer in the liver. If the blood you are trailing has a greenish or brownish tint, it could mean a gut shot, especially if the blood has an odor. Since gut shot deer take longer to tire and pass, tracking may take longer, and you may have to shoot it again to put it down.
Blood Trailing with a Dog
Hunting dogs can follow the blood trail of a shot deer with their nose. Using a dog to track your shot deer can be helpful when hunting in low light or wet weather conditions.
The dog’s keener senses will increase your chances of finding your prey, especially if it has died in a hidden spot. Some of the best dog breeds for blood trailing include the Labrador Retriever, Blood Hound, and German Wire-Haired Dachshund.
Hindsight Is 20/20… Enhance Your Hunt with a Suppressor!
After tracking down deer, you still need to shoot it. Don’t shoot without a suppressor unless you want to experience uncomfortable recoil, deafening gunfire, and reduced accuracy. Visit the Silencer Central store today to find the best suppressor for enhancing your next hunting outing.