John's Journal...

Hunting Deer - Trailing and Tracking After the Shot

Day 1: Learning When to Take a Bow Shot at a Deer

Editor’s Note: One of the most-critical ingredients in recovering an arrowed deer is to know exactly what’s happened prior to, during and after the shot is taken.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“My hunts always seem to happen this way,” my friend Kevin thought as he stood on his tree stand, watching a fat buck feed 50-yards downwind of him. The deer was meandering up the trail that Kevin had chosen as a likely spot to take a deer. In a few short minutes, the buck would be within 25 yards of his tree stand and well within killing distance. So, the range and the shot were of little concern for Kevin. The real problem was the fading light. The sun already had gone down behind the hills and was just beginning to pull the cover of darkness over its head as Kevin watched the buck. The whitetail took his time coming up the trail.

“I could take a long shot and chance it,” Kevin debated with himself. “If I get a good hit, I should recover the animal before nightfall and be able to get him back to camp. But if I wait on the shot and have to do any trailing, I’ll probably lose the deer in the darkness.” However, taking a longer shot than he had to wasn’t the decision Kevin made. “A close shot and a well-placed arrow either should down the deer or make a good hit, so that the task will be shortened if I do have to trail the animal,” Kevin told himself.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewFinally when the 6-point buck moved into the opening where Kevin had waited to take his shot, Kevin drew his bow and aimed just behind the front shoulder of the deer. The release was clean. The arrow flew straight. Then as Kevin held his breath for what seemed an eternity, he finally heard the “whop” of the arrow striking the deer. The deer wheeled and fled into the bushes. As Kevin listened, he heard the crashing sounds of his trophy in flight. Finally there was nothing but the eerie silence of the rapidly-darkening woods. Kevin leaned back against the tree he had climbed to gather his thoughts to relive the events just before, during and after the shot.

To get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and print books on hunting deer, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “Deer & Fixings,” click here on each. Or, 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.

For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Shooting a Deer - Remembering What Happened Next

Check back each day this week for more about Hunting Deer - Trailing and Tracking After the Shot

Day 1: Learning When to Take a Bow Shot at a Deer
Day 2: Shooting a Deer - Remembering What Happened Next
Day 3: Recovering a Deer That’s Shot
Day 4: Locating a Shot Deer - the 5 Top Ingredients for Success
Day 5: Searching for Downed Deer

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Entry 843, Day 1