Wounded Deer ?


Active Member
Following the tracking threads has become one of the highlights to this forum to me. Thanks to all that have contributed.
I'm curious: What have been the reasons for wounded deer. I like to learn from my own mistakes as well as what others would do over if given the chance.
The number one reason for myself has been rushing the shot . It's been a few years since I've lost one but looking back the few that I have lost were due to a boneheaded move on my part in one form or another.
Nerves, bullet selection, scope off, etc....
What are others experience?
I rushed the shot this year on my target buck. He was close enough but through thick cover. The doe he was following had already ran and he was getting ready to pursue when I fired through a hole in the brush at his shoulder quartering to me. All we can figure is bullet failure on shoulder bones caused bullet to not get into the vitals. I am still sick over this :(
One reason deer get wounded instead of killed is when the yardage is misjudged. This is certainly true with a bow and can be true for muzzleloaders and shotguns.

Another reason a deer gets wounded with a bow is their reaction to the sound of the bow or crossbow producing a drop in posture to run all before the arrow or bolt strikes the kill zone.

Judging distance becomes more difficult in disappearing daylight. I love my range finder because my deer losses have become few and far between since I use a rangefinder.

Hope my comments help.

Back when I was young and just starting to bow hunt, I got all practiced up and was shooting really well. What I didn't take into consideration was how my hunting coveralls would make shooting the bow so much different that practicing at home.

On my first hunt I had a deer come out just perfectly and stop broad side 25 yards away. When I released, my string caught on my coveralls and instead of hitting the deer in the boiler room, I hit it squarely in the hind legs. I learned a lesson that day. All practice is not created equal, and shooting in street clothes is not the same as bulky coveralls. I think the arrow stopped at the hip bone and probably just fell out when the deer ran away, but that shot made me sick enough that I didn't take another shot at a deer until I was certain I could make a good shot under actual hunting conditions.
Not to be considered an admission :rolleyes: but buck fever and failure to breathe can contribute to misses. At least that is what they tell me.

The less experience one has this can show up and the larger the antlers it is possible this can show up. At least that is what I hear. o_O

Truth be told - that is in the past for me now but once upon on a time ...
For some people its the lack of understanding the ins and outs of the weapon they are using. I would say rushing the shot is often a contributing factor as well.... too the point of some even taking a poor shot as they think it will be there only chance.
I am blessed enough to have lost just one deer, but I missed a few cleanly when I was younger. The problem for me was that I was just a hair under 6 feet tall and only 130 lbs soaking wet. Combine that with my only deer rifle being a very light 270 WSM and I couldn't shoot worth anything because I was too nervous about the recoil. But now that I am 20 lbs heavier, I to love shoot that same rifle; It was just too much for me at the time.
Most of the deer that I track and don't recover are shot above or on the spine or the hard ribs near the spine. Also, aiming behind the shoulder results in non-fatal hits in "No man's land", missing the vitals if the shot is off by inches. Center punch deer with a double lung shot.
Most of the deer that I track and don't recover are shot above or on the spine or the hard ribs near the spine. Also, aiming behind the shoulder results in non-fatal hits in "No man's land", missing the vitals if the shot is off by inches. Center punch deer with a double lung shot.
Are you saying that is what they are aiming for or what should be the aiming point? Not understanding the last sentence?
With a bow the aiming point should be center of the ribs, not right behind the shoulder. If the arrow goes forward and hits the shoulder, the deer will usually not be recovered, if the shot goes high in the crease the deer is usually not recovered, and if the shot is low, the deer will not be recovered. The difference between a good shot and a bad shot is a matter of inches, when aiming right behind the shoulder.
If bow hunters center punch the deer and it's gut shot, the deer is recoverable. If the hind leg is hit the deer is recoverable. Shots in the shoulder and high in the crease are usually not recovered.
Most tracking calls I get are high hits, which are rarely recoverable, as many do not enter the chest cavity. This is usually due to poor yardage estimation. The second most common would be taking quartering towards shots. This is a poor shot with a bow as the vitals are very condensed horizontally. A much higher success shot with a rifle, though. With a rifle, most tracking calls are for high spinal shock hits (not usually recoverable) and far forward hits (often not recoverable). Gut and liver shots are the 3rd most common reason I get calls, and most of these will be recovered with bow and rifle if the deer is not pushed.
For young hunters and some of us who just get the shakes, not picking a spot on the animal is our worst mistake. We will all make errors in yardage, which can be somewhat alleviated by knowing your shots prior to the moment of truth.
Secondly, and perhaps as important, is shot angle. Quartering to shot angles are asking for heartbreak. Sharply quartered away is a big gamble as well. Neck shots are risky, but i have friends who still aim for the neck. Not a high percentage shot.
Brush shows the perfect shot. You should also aim for the opposite leg as the exit mark also in my opinion. High placed treestands are the biggest demise of bow shots especially. Also the 3D tourneys train people to try for that heart shot and is a big risk shot to make in the field. Deer is always at an angle you don't think, and they can move in a split second changing where an arrow hits.
If you want to be great with bow or gun, spend time hunting small game as squirrel, rabbits, groundhogs, birds with small caliber rifle and bow. Then when it comes to a deer, you will be much more effective and jitters will be almost nonexistant till after the shot. Confidence is a huge factor in any activity. I honestly never am aware of my shot with bow or gun till after the fact. Mind needs to go in to automode without intentional thinking trying to make something happen. True with any sport.
Rushed shot. My 13yr old shot this deer a few weeks ago. He came in with his nose to the ground following a doe. My boy wanted the deer and was patient, but not patient enough. He sighted in on the deer as he approached. The deer stopped for about 5 seconds and he let an arrow fly. The first pic is where the deer was standing while he was aiming...


This pic is where the deer was standing a moment later when he released. You can see the blue lines on his butt how far he moved in this step (he didn't even take a step, just picked his front leg up and shifted forward). The blue dot is the arrow entrance. Stomach shot.

Had my boy waited 30 seconds the deer probably would have presented a going away angle instead of coming towards. A better angle would have allowed a little movement and still been a good shot. If he would have waited the deer also might have just left without another shot opportunity. They don't usually stop long while chasing does...

We did recover the deer, but it was the next day and he was still alive.

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This conversation has made me rethink my shot placement. (Not a bad thing) I've been hunting with a xbow the last few years. All of my shots have been within my 40yd max limit. I've been aiming right behind the shoulder with the hopes of a heart shot. My most productive stand allows for a slight trajectory upwards. Like Doghr recommended I'm aiming for the exit shoulder. 4 of the shots have been great with the deer piling up within 30 yds. 2 have been somewhat of a cluster. The one was a shoulder shot that ended with the deer going down the hill, swimming a pond and being finished off with a 2nd shot. The last one was a quartering away shot. I think the deer turned more so at the last moment. The arrow entered and exited on her right side. She ended up going down the hill and dying in the creek across from my driveway within minutes. Successful outcome but could've done without the wife and kids seeing that one. I felt bad about both of those. The one more so than the other.
The things I've learned from my own mistakes have been. Wait for the shot ! Calm the nerves and breath. (Not going to lie, even at 50yrs old my heart rate takes off when I see something.) Also shoot the broadhead to make sure of point of aim. After reading this I realize my point of aim could be up and back more with a little bit better outcome.
Thanks for all the replies. I love this forum for the wealth of knowledge.