Tips on How to Track a Wounded Deer and What to Look For

One of the most common questions all new hunters have is how to effectively find an animal you have shot. Tracking wounded deer can be a challenge if you are unsure of what you are doing. There are some easy to make mistakes that can make finding your deer far more challenging than it needs to be, but it is capable to avoid these mistakes if you know what you are doing.


What to do when you know you’ve hit a deer

The very first thing you should do after you have made contact with a deer is to watch it. See what it does and where it goes. Depending on where you hit the animal, it may behave differently. If you are lucky, it will fall where you hit it. The trouble is that this doesn’t always happen and more times than not it will sprint off out of sight before you have a chance to chamber another round.

The most important thing to do at this point is to wait. Stay right where you are and avoid making any unnecessary noises. The deer will be stressed out and will be looking for a quiet place to regain some of its composure. You should be doing the same thing.


Blood trail - Photo credit:

Beginning the Tracking wounded deer

After half an hour or more, you may begin to track the deer. Go to the place where you made contact with the animal and survey the scene. You are going to want to look for evidence of blood or hair. In the case of bow hunting, check to see if you can find your arrow in the scene.

Look at the angle you were shooting from and check for evidence in the direction the deer fled. One of the key things you want to avoid doing here is to step in the direct path the deer took. By avoiding this, you are preserving the track in whole.

Do your best to locate blood evidence that the deer was in fact hit. The blood will have a different look based upon where the deer was struck.

  • Blood with a lot of bubbles in it indicates the deer was hit in the lungs
  • Bright, rich blood indicated a hit to an artery or heart
  • Dark blood indicates contact with the liver or a kidney

See how other experts get the job of tracking wounded deer.

Follow the Evidence

Once you have located evidence of blood, begin to slowly and quietly move in the direction the deer took. If you are hunting in an open space, this will be far easier to accomplish. If you are working your way through dense brush, be careful to look for evidence of the deer’s passing.

You should be crushed grass and broken branches as well as blood and other matter from the deer. When a deer has been shot, it is responding to its fight or flight instinct. This means that it will be moving with far less caution than it normally would and will be leaving evidence of its passing along the way.

Patterns of Blood

The pattern of the blood droplets you are following will indicate how far away the deer may have gone. If the droplets are far apart, the deer hasn’t been hit in an immediately fatal area and will take longer before it succumbs to the wound.

If the blood trail is wide or if you see the trail becoming increasingly erratic, the wound is far more serious and you should be on the lookout for the deer’s body before too far.

If you only find blood intermittently along the trail, it may indicate that the deer was hit in a far less lethal spot or that the wound is bleeding internally as opposed to pumping outside the body. These wounds can be just as fatal, though they will take longer to show evidence.

Keep in mind that not all blood makes it to the ground as well. If you know you hit the deer in the shoulder or high on the back, look for evidence on the passing trees or in the surrounding bushes.

Wounded Deer

Don’t Give Up

If you are an active hunter who is serious about the sport, then you need to have the dedication it takes to effectively track your deer. It may seem difficult and nearly impossible to find, but give it time and be patient. You may have to wait out a less serious wound before you can collect your game.

Another handy tip is to make sure to mark each area you find evidence of your game. Use orange flags to mark each position. This helps you to avoid any accidental flashes of white and shows you just where to look if you become confused about the trail.


Tracking a wounded deer is not an impossible task if you know what to do. The main thing all hunters need to be aware of is to be patient and look for the evidence the deer has left for you. Remember to:

  • Wait at least 30 minutes after contact
  • Look for clear evidence at the spot where you made contact with the animal
  • Examine any visible blood and leave visible markers so you can find it again
  • Work closely next to the deer’s trail to avoid marring the evidence
  • Patiently look for any evidence that is out of the ordinary in relation to the terrain you are in
  • Follow the blood trail and examine the entire area until the deer has been located

If you found this post to be of use to you or to someone you know, feel free to share it with a friend. If there is something we missed here or you have a trick of your own, share it down below.

You can read about Top 5 Locations To Find Trophy Sized Deer here! HAPPY HUNTING!!!

Joseph Gleason

With a dedicated respect to the environment, I understand the importance of being an informed hunter who learns as he goes. I truly recognize the value in how things were done before and how things are done today. Born and raised in upstate New York, I grew up exposed to skilled hunters who taught me the importance of what responsible hunting can provide both to myself, my family, and to the environment. I continue today to work towards refining my craft and finding new ways to practice the time honored traditions that were passed down to me from those who came before.

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