John's Journal...


Determine Whether Or Not You've Hit The Deer

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: You'll immediately feel violently ill when you release an arrow and watch the broadhead cut nothing but air. Unfortunately, I've had this happen to me more than once. At times, like you, I've heard off in the distance my hunting buddies screaming and hollering when they've missed shots. I've also seen bows have rude encounters with tree trunks after they've failed to perform properly. However, I've learned often the best part of your bow hunt occurs after you've missed a shot. Many times, you'll get a second shot at the same deer or a bigger deer.

Click to enlargeTo understand whether to draw or to freeze after the shot, you must know positively whether or not you've hit a deer. I knew I'd have to take a hurried shot when I saw a nice 6 point chasing a doe several years ago quite a distance from me. But I felt I could make the shot when the buck walked into an opening about 38-yards away. As I released my arrow, I saw the buck immediately turn into thick cover, giving no indication of my having hit him. I listened but never heard the deer fall or run off. After the shot, the buck just vanished. I waited 20 minutes before climbing out of my tree stand and going to the spot where the buck had stood when I released the arrow. Click to enlargeI could find no blood. I had to search for about 30 minutes before I located the arrow with its shaft and fletchings covered with blood. Because the deer had gone into a briar thicket, I couldn't find any blood, hair or any other kind of sign that would indicate a hit. By walking into the thicket, I realized the thicket plunged off into a deep ravine about 20 yards through the briars. When I dropped off the side of the gorge, I followed the buck's skid marks down into the valley. Not 20 yards from the bottom of the gorge, I discovered my buck piled-up. Apparently the arrow had gone in low into the back of the animal and traveled forward but didn't leave an open wound channel. The buck hadn't bled until he lay down. If I hadn't found the arrow, I wouldn't have had the confidence I needed to continue to follow the deer and find my trophy.Click to enlarge

Always check your arrow. Often when you think you've missed a shot, the arrow may reveal that you've actually made a good hit. Because of the fastness of bows today and your concentrating so hard on the sight pin, many times you won't see an arrow enter the deer. Often a buck won't give any physical appearance of your having hit him. However, generally the arrow will have some telltale sign on it.


Check back each day this week for more about WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU MISS WITH JOHN E. PHILLIPS...

Day 1 - Second Chances
Day 2 - Use The 10-Yard Formula
Day 3 - Determine Whether Or Not You've Hit The Deer
Day 4 - Don't Leave a Good Spot And Have A Good Attitude
Day 5 - When The Bucks Come Running And When You Hit But Miss



Entry 273, Day 3