John's Journal...

Terry Drury’s Bowhunting Tactics

Day 4: More of Bowhunter Terry Drury’s Secrets to Recovering an Arrowed Buck

Editor’s Note: Longtime avid bowhunter Terry Drury of Missouri, the brother of nationally-known hunter Mark Drury and co-owner with Mark in Drury Marketing and Drury Outdoors, is an active member of PSE and Mossy Oak’s Pro Hunt Teams. Terry likes shooting his reliable PSE Dream Season X-Force bow.

Click for Larger ViewSecret #3: Go slow, slow, slow and easy. The slower we go, the less chance we'll have of pushing the deer out of that area. This advice ties into what I've said on earlier days. The fewer people you have, the less noise and disturbance you make, and the less scent you'll put into the woods. Obviously, an injured deer will react in a defensive manner. As soon as that animal smells a foreign substance, particularly if it's human odor, he'll be on the lookout and trying to escape. You may or may not have the luxury of having the wind at your face. But the most-effective way to recover an arrowed deer is when wind blows from the animal to you as you’re attempting to recover it. If the wind is blowing toward the animal, he will detect you. If that deer's not hit vitally, it will get out of there at that time. When my brother Mark and I try to recover an arrowed deer, we conduct ourselves almost as if we're stalking the deer, and we'll do that as slowly and quietly as possible.

Click for Larger ViewSecret #4: Look for blood low on the ground or high in the brush – on weeds, limbs, logs. Sometimes you'll see a blood trail on the ground, and a lot of times, we've seen a beautiful blood trail where the deer has sprayed. Then we'll spot a lot of lung blood, for example, with air bubbles in it. However, if you don't have that kind of blood trail, you may be looking at the color, depending on whether it's dark red or bright red, and trying to determine whether you've hit the deer in a muscle or any of its vitals. My hunting friends and I have learned to take our time, look on the ground and examine every weed to pinpoint the deer's blood. Many of those weeds only may be half a centimeter in diameter, and the streak of blood only may be tiny, but we may locate it 2-feet off the ground. The arrow may be rubbing either the entrance hole or the exit hole. If you can determine the deer arrowed is on a certain trail, then you not only want to look on the ground, but you also always want to look-up high. Don't limit yourself to searching for a blood trail just on the ground. We never let a leaf go unturned. We'll look at the front sides and the back sides of leaves. We'll look to see if the blood has sprayed off to the side. We try to determine, even though the deer's that arrowed is on a trail, if the blood may not be on that trail. If the animal has bounded or taken a leap, the blood may have sprayed 3- to 4-feet off to the side of the trail.

Click for Larger ViewSecret #5: Get on your hands and knees if you lose the deer's blood trail. My brother Mark and I do it all the time. If we lose that blood – and it may be for only 25, 50 or 75 yards – we're immediately on our hands and knees. We're looking for tracks, where that deer may have stumbled, a leaf that may be turned just a little bit out of the ordinary, the humus underneath the leaf that may be pushed up a little, etc. If the deer is staggering at all, you can tell that by where he's kicked-up a limb, a leaf, a little bit of topsoil or dirt. So, if we lose the blood trail, we're not only looking for blood but also for anything that has been disturbed, moved or turned over on the ground. And, we're on our hands and knees when we do it. We never give up, until we’ve gone through all the measures and still can't find the deer.

Click for Larger ViewSecret #6: Listen not only when you make the shot, but also while you're tracking the animal. When you make the shot, you want to hear that arrow placement as well as see it. Did it sound like you hit something solid like a shoulder, or did it sound like a "ka-thump" when something goes through a drum or a barrel? When making that shot, you have to be mentally prepared to listen. You have to train yourself to not only see where the arrow's hit, but you want to be able to remember what it sounds like. Then, when you're tracking the animal, always keep your ears open, which is the reason you want to track an arrowed deer slowly. If you hear heavy breathing or gurgling, or let's say you hear the animal crash, try to remember in which direction you've heard that crash. Also, if you're down on the ground, and you hear heavy breathing or gurgling, stop right there. Don't go any farther. Give the deer some time, and try not to push the animal out of there.

If we’re following the blood trail on the ground and hear the deer breathing or gurgling, chances are my hunting friends and I will back out and give the deer more time to expire. If he's breathing heavily and gurgling, there's a real-good chance his body cavity is filling-up. The deer isn't bleeding out, and his blood already may have clotted, but the blood's still filling-up his lungs. This deer may have had a high lung shot or perhaps a one-lung shot, and he's having difficulty breathing. Although that sounds rather gruesome, that's exactly how an arrow affects a deer. He actually drowns in his own blood. Then I'll wait another 8 to 10 hours and give him some time before going back in after the deer. Chances are – unless the deer's disturbed by either human pressure or a coyote – that deer will lie right there and expire the first place he beds-down. Sometimes an arrowed deer will bed-down and start feeling very uncomfortable. Then the deer may get-up and move another 50 or 100 yards, but if he's wounded in his vitals, he'll lie right back down. As long as you don't push the deer out of there, nine times out of 10 he'll stay right there.

You’ll learn more-intensive hunting information and tips from 17 nationally-known hunters in these new Kindle eBooks by John E. Phillips: “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros,” “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro” and “PhD Whitetails.” Go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Tomorrow: Bowhunter Terry Drury’s Remaining Secrets for Recovering an Arrowed Buck

Check back each day this week for more about "Terry Drury’s Bowhunting Tactics"

Day 1: Terry Drury Explains the Ways Not to Hunt High-Pressured Deer
Day 2: Terry Drury Explains the Best Times to Hunt High-Pressured Areas for Deer and the Value of Sanctuaries in Those Areas
Day 3: Bowhunter Terry Drury Shares His First Two Secrets to Recovering an Arrowed Buck
Day 4: More of Bowhunter Terry Drury’s Secrets to Recovering an Arrowed Buck
Day 5: Bowhunter Terry Drury’s Remaining Secrets for Recovering an Arrowed Buck

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Entry 685, Day 4