The Miserable, Heart Wrenching, Nauseating, Tedious and Joyous Art of Tracking Deer.
By Sean Ferbrache, Chief Operating Officer AHLA
If you were to ask my hunting partners and friends, they might describe me as some kind of mad genius when it comes to tracking deer. Someone that has the knack of finding the tiniest of blood specks and most obscure clues. I guess on some level, that’s a pretty fitting description. Tracking deer is just like anything else in life. Maybe you have heard of the rule of 10,000 hours? The 10k hour rule predicts that anyone can be great at anything if they practice enough. So, when applied to my hunting career and my perceived prowess as a tracker, it tells you that I must not be much of a shot! In fact, it doesn’t seem like I ever get to see my deer go down in sight. This lack of skill and/or luck has led to what seems like 10k hours of tracking wounded deer for myself and friends.
Let me share with you the things that I have found to be the most instrumental in finding my deer.
The first is one that gets mentioned a lot, but adhered to rarely. Unless you see your animal go down in plain sight, do not start tracking right away. It’s so simple, but the urge to find that deer is equally strong. My best advice is to pack your things up and head back to your truck before taking a single step in the direction the deer ran. Once at the truck, remove a layer of clothes, make sure you have your tagging kit, have a snack and then start back to begin tracking. As a rule, I let at least an hour pass from impact to tracking. This is how I force myself away from the impact area and a potentially wounded animal. By leaving the area, I put myself in a much more relaxed, objective frame of mind. This is how you want to approach any tracking job…objectively and with a clear mind.
Mark the last drop of blood you find…everytime. I have seen it done many times with many different items, but the one that works the best is and always will be toilet paper. By tearing a small piece and placing on or near every blood drop, you can look back and see a clear path. When you stand behind this trail of Charmin you will be amazed at how easy it is to see where the deer was going. Once you leave blood, you can spend several minutes looking for the last drop you found. What a waste of time! Once I find blood, I mark it. When darkness and/or rain are approaching the last thing I want to do is look for a clue I already found once. The toilet paper is bio degradable so you don’t have to remove it.