A gut shot deer is any hunters nightmare. It is never good news when you hit a deer in the gut, but it’s our job as hunters to make the best of a bad situation.
To be as brief as possible, there are several key things to understand in this situation. First, how do you know you gut shot the deer?
Typically when you hit a deer in the gut, it will hunch up and walk or trot away in a strained looking position. If you are still not sure after the shot where you hit him, the arrow should be able to tell you the story. Once you recover your arrow, check it for blood. If the arrow is covered in green or brown “gut junk” then you know it has been a gut shot. The arrow will also have a rather foul odor. If you’re firearm hunting you will have to rely purely on what you saw when you hit the deer and any possible stomach matter that may be on the ground near where you shot it.
Now that you’ve determined that you’ve gut shot the deer, your next move is simple. You don’t need to think about this one, just pack up and very quietly exit the woods and head home. A gut shot deer needs to be left alone to bed down and pass. If you push a gut shot deer it will run for miles and you most likely will never see it again. Provided you let the deer be, it will bed down after a short distance and decease.
So what should you do after leaving the woods? Go home, have a beer and call up some buddies. If you shot your deer in the morning, wait til that evening to go back out and search for your deer. If your shot was made at night, wait until the next morning. Come out there the next day and begin tracking. Gut shot deer typically do not leave much of a blood trail, so know this going into the search and make sure to persevere.
With a little patience, a couple good friends, and a lot of perseverance you should be able to recover your gut shot deer and enjoy some well deserved venison steaks.
But remember, if its a gut shot, back out immediately. Always back out.
Feature image via Matt Hansen.