What Every Bowhunter Should Do After the Shot

Blood trails can be much shorter if you are patient after the shot. ...

Last week, I arrowed a nice little buck, and I’m happy to say the bowhunting factors I always go on about came together resulting in a quick and clean kill.

First, I waited for the right shot angle (broadside, but slightly angled away) before releasing my arrow at a relaxed, unsuspecting animal. Next, my aim was true and the razor-sharp broadhead sliced effortlessly through both lungs before burying the arrow to the fletches 10 yards past where the animal stood.

Climbing down from your deer stand or making a lot of noise right after the shot can mean a longer blood trail to follow and a more difficult drag back to the truck.

Perhaps most importantly, I remained still and quiet after the shot as that buck walked off, bleeding profusely and wobbling as it went – right until it dropped a good 20 yards away and in sight. Then I waited 10 more minutes to ensure that it was dead.

This waiting after the shot part is critical but some bowhunters forget this in the excitement of the moment. Instead, they fidget nervously, reach for binoculars, cheer, text or call hunting buddies or do other things that spook the animal when they really should remain quiet and still.

That’s because staying silent and still after the shot can make the difference between the quick recovery of an animal and a long and sometimes futile tracking job.

The reason is simple: even a deer fatally wounded by a double lung shot can live long enough to put plenty of real estate between you and it. And it will do just that if it feels a predator is hot on its trail.

The best way to avoid this situation is to remain still and silent for a period of 20 minutes or so on a fatal shot and much longer on a less fatal shot. This allows the deer to move away unpressured, lie down and expire. Given the chance, they’ll often do this nearby.

Fidget or make any other noises too soon, however, and you can be sure that it will use every last ounce of life to make your tracking job more difficult. In the case of the deer I tagged this week, remembering this paid off as it died on the lip of a fairly steep ravine. Had I made noise, got up or pushed it in any way, it would have meant a long uphill drag for yours truly. Staying still and quiet can mean an easier job of wild game recovery.

I know this is basic stuff but it’s so easy to forget when the adrenalin is flowing. Remind yourself to stay put after the shot, and you’ll have shorter blood trails to follow.

Once that buck is down, you’ll want to make sure you have these five hunting accessories to make field dressing deer easier.