Back off don’t push ‘em
It doesn’t matter how much you practice or how selective you are with your shots, sooner or later you are going to make a bad hit. Gun, bow or muzzleloader, things happen in the deer woods beyond our control.
While a bad hit is inevitable, losing your deer isn’t. Most wounded deer will bed down within a few hundred yards of where they were hit. Once pushed from that bed, however, there’s no telling how far the deer will go.
Watch and listen
What you do in the minutes immediately following a bad hit is critical. First, watch; keep your eye on the deer. The second you lose sight of it pick out a landmark and etch that landmark in your mind.
Next, listen; try to hear if the deer changes direction from where you last saw it. Also listen for a crash that could signal that the deer went down.
Lastly, if you’re sure you made a bad hit, leave the woods to get help. Do not go to look for the deer.
Do not disturb
If you are bowhunting and know where the arrow should be, it is okay to look for the arrow if doing so will not disturb your deer.
The arrow might give you key information on the type of hit. The most important thing to keep in mind is to not push the deer from its first and, hopefully, last bed.
Resist the urge
Most hunters cannot fight the urge to go looking for their deer, especially a big buck, after a bad hit.
While these same hunters realize they need to back off once they’ve pushed the deer from its bed, the mistake has already been made.
You have a much better chance of finding your deer if you let it alone right after the hit.