This fall I was in a camp where two big whitetail bucks were hit (by bullets) and escaped. Both were big animals. Both were shot at less than 100 yards. Both hunters are highly experienced and highly competent shots. Both deer were tracked for half of one day and much of the next by a person who is an expert at it. In both cases, the blood trails petered out and the country in which they were shot is extremely difficult to track in.

What happened? I don’t know. But here are some possible factors:

– I think that few hunters, even experienced ones, know for a certainty where their shot goes and how the deer reacted to it. It’s rather like accurately describing an automobile accident in which you are involved.

– Most fatally shot deer don’t think about escaping. In the few seconds they have left, they are simply running. However, I believe that some do make an effort to hide before the lights go out, and they can be extremely difficult to find.

– Blood trails are an inexact science. Reading one often involves wishful thinking. Also, the hide can shift to stop blood flow, or fat can clog a bullet hole if the animal is hit high.

– If a deer is fatally shot, you are going to find it in about 100 yards. It may go 125, but it will not make 200. If it is not fatally shot and there is no snow, or the blood trail dries up, you’ll probably never find it.