Trailing Game and Blood Sign
After you have waited a sufficient amount of time, move slowly and quietly from your shooting position to the area of your shot. Approach carefully to avoid destroying any important game sign. Look carefully for blood, hair, or your arrow if you think it passed through the animal, realizing that the arrow can be buried under leaves, grass, or dirt. Inspecting your arrow can help you confirm the type of hit.
Move in the direction the animal headed. Be careful to walk on the side of the escape route. Look closely for blood on leaves, weeds, rocks, and logs. Be aware that some drops may be very tiny so that you may need to get on your hands and knees for close inspection. Blood spots confirm that you are following the correct route.
Most bowhunters mark the location of blood sign. Reflector ties, toilet paper, or orange or chartreuse surveyor's tape may be used. Permanent marking materials must be removed after trailing is completed.
- Blood on both sides of the trail indicates complete penetration by the arrow. A small blood trail may indicate an entrance wound high on the animal. Very little blood may reach the ground because the exit hole may be plugged with hair, fat, or organs.
- Getting assistance from a hunting companion is invaluable at this point. An extra pair of eyes will increase the likelihood of spotting signs. Mark every sign, and don't forget to scan ahead to see if the animal can be spotted. A deer lying down with its head upright may jump when trackers get close. If this is the situation, back off and wait another hour or two.
Blood sign can offer important tracking clues, such as blood splashes in the direction the animal is traveling. (Dried blood usually has a brown color and can be difficult to spot on brown grass or leaves.) The color, appearance, and location of fresh blood can indicate the type of hit.
- Bright red blood indicates bleeding from arteries; darker blood indicates bleeding from veins.
- Blood that has bubbles or looks frothy could indicate a lung hit.
- Fluid that is greenish, has tallow, or is clear, can indicate an intestinal shot.