Chapter 7: Shot Placement & Recovery Techniques
Big Game Recovery
It’s imperative that bowhunters understand the importance of honoring
their responsibility to recover the game they have shot. A successful recovery
- Proper shot placement
- Attention to visual and auditory clues immediately after the shot
- The proper decision on when and how to begin the tracking and recovery
- Knowledge of tracking and reading game sign
- Attention to trailing details, including signs such as blood drops, partial
tracks, and bent twigs
- A stick-to-it, never-give-up attitude
- Multiple recovery strategies, especially if the trail is lost temporarily
The "Second Hunt"
Bowhunters often refer to game recovery as their "second hunt." Some
people get just as much satisfaction out of trailing as they do from hunting.
The process requires patience, attention to the smallest details, and an understanding
of the game’s habits. Proficiency comes mainly with experience. The best
way to learn is to watch a veteran hunter. If you haven’t experienced
actual trailing, a simulated trail devised by a group of veteran hunters
may be the next best option.
Attention to Clues
Like a detective collecting clues to pursue a suspect, a bowhunter must gather
a variety of "hit data" to help track the animal after it’s shot.
The first important piece of information for a successful recovery is noticing
where your arrow strikes the animal. Knowing where your arrow hit is a rough
- How long it will take your animal to die
- How long to wait before beginning the recovery process
To track your arrow after release, remain perfectly still—don’t
even lower your bow down the tree if you are hunting from a tree stand. In
addition to noting where the arrow strikes, notice:
- How far the arrow penetrates—in some cases, it may pass through.
- Where the arrow hits the ground if it passes through the animal.
- How the arrow strike sounds—a "crack" may indicate a broken
bone, a "thud" may signal a solid chest hit, and a "plop" may
indicate a gut shot. Or you may hear the arrow slapping branches.
- How the deer reacts after the strike. Does the deer instantly collapse instantly,
run away, or hump up and walk away? If the deer humps up, there’s a
high likelihood of a gut shot.
- If the animal instantly collapses (spine shot), immediately shoot it again.
- If the animal remains upright and leaves the area:
- Watch it as long as possible to determine the direction of travel.
- Listen as the animal flees—you may hear it fall to the ground. Also listen for a death moan, breaking brush, or rolling rocks.
- Note the time, landmarks around the shooting area, and where the animal
was standing or last seen.
- Take a compass bearing.