I woke up this morning to a text that was sent late last night. It was from a hunter that shot a 12 pointer in the front shoulder with his muzzleloader. He tracked it until bumping it out of a bed after 150 yards, then backed out. As he was leaving, he found more blood but resisted the urge to follow it. We discovered today that the deer had, unknown to the hunter, ran the same way the hunter left the woods and he had been pushing it. Kunox and I arrived at sunrise, met the hunter, and drove back onto the State land he was hunting. The area had been logged within the last year, and the buck had been shot in a clearcut. The hunter has hunted this buck exclusively the last two seasons, so you can imagine he was a little stressed over the turn of events. Kunox got locked on and we got to the hunters point of loss pretty quickly. The bloodtrail was adequate to follow without too much difficulty for a while, then stopped except for an occasional drop every now and then. Kunox went hot a few hundred yards after last blood and the hunter caught a glimpse of a body and a tail. He thought the deer looked smaller than his buck, but we followed until we could confirm that yes, the track was too small. We went back to last blood and Kunox took us in a different direction this time. We went 200 yards with no blood, then we started to see fresh blood and knew we had the buck on its feet. Rifle season started today, so I had told the hunter to bring his. When we started seeing fresh blood I told him to stay close in case he gets a shot, and I also shortened Kunox’s lead to a couple feet. We continued and Kunox eventually took us to a trail that had blood right at the waters edge of the Deer River. Kunox quickly jumped in and acted like he wanted to swim across, but after 20’ (he was on a 30’ leash) he turned around and came out of the river onto the next trail over, shook off, and proceeded away from the river. When we had gotten to the river, I told the hunter to walk the bank downstream to see if he could spot the buck either in the water or near the bank, so the hunter was at least 50 yards from me when I spotted the buck bedded down in some thick stuff. I had the hunter come back toward us and see if he could get a shot. As he came back, the buck jumped up and crashed through the brush out of sight, and it was obvious he was hurting. From this point on the buck opened up good and the bloodtrail was extremely easy to see. Kunox was super excited as we hustled after the buck, and I was thankful I wasn’t being pulled by a bloodhound. We jumped him 2 more times before the hunter was able to shoot him. The track was 2.1 miles long, and the initial shot was in the left front leg.