Heartbreak in So Cal (Lost Buck)

cjdewese

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 8, 2020
Messages
306
Hey Guys, So just a bit of background so you understand the full situation. I am a late in life hunter that grew up in a non hunting family. I've always been interested in the outdoors and wanted to hunt for a long time and the covid year gave me a chance to start. I don't have any hunting mentors to help on this journey my uncle was the only one that hunted, got hit by a truck in 2005 was paralyzed for 17 years and died last winter. Since starting I have a few friends that have started hunting as well and always ask me for advice so bottom line is I don't really have anyone to learn from outside of forums, youtube videos and practice myself.

In May of 2020 I bought my 1st bow and started practicing as I started scouting the areas I was going to hunt. Year 1 I shot my 1st buck 15 minutes into my 1st hunt. Made a decent shot, double lungs but high, and had a dead deer less than 100 yards away.

2021 I learned more and hunted more areas, had a chance at a spike fork which is legal here on opening day of archery season but decided to pass. Never got another opportunity the rest of the year but I hiked a lot, had a lot of encounters with doe's and started to get used to hunting the wind.

2022, I did a lot more scouting early season found several different areas that I could hunt in different wind conditions and have been hitting them almost perfect all season. Before Friday of last week I had 7 sits where I saw deer, multiple does and several spike bucks but nothing that was legal. The only legal buck I had seen was one I jumped checking out a new area to possibly hunt.

Friday of last week, got in a natural ground blind near a trail I have seen consistent sign all year but the wind wasn't right to ever hunt it. Finally got a good wind took the day off and was in the blind a half hour before dark and started getting set up and quiet. Had 3 doe's come in at 8 AM followed by a nice tall forky (100% shooter for my area) so I grabbed my bow and waited for a shot opportunity. As I grabbed my bow I hit a branch and made some noise. All of the does and the buck were now looking right in my direction but had no idea I was there still with the buck standing broadside.

I was able to get drawn back with the buck standing broadside, maybe a bit quartering to, aimed where I thought I needed to, right behind the shoulder and let the arrow go. Heard a loud whack and saw the deer running off with my arrow coming out of the side of the deer (no blood where the arrow was) following those doe's as they were blowing alerting everything something was here. Hard to tell exactly where the impact was in all the commotion as they ran off but didn't hear a crash like I did in 2020. Waited about 1/2 hour before going to check the impact spot 23 yards away to look for any blood or my arrow falling out. Didn't see it right away and no blood at impact site, backed out and went to get some help to track.

We were back up in that area about 2-2.5 hours after the shot and started tracking. Found the front 2/3 of my arrow about 10 yards from where I shot him covered in bright red blood, some muscle and some fat but no bubbles and instantly started to get a bit worried. Found the back third about 10 yards after that and I got all but 6" or so through the deer. We followed tiny blood spots mainly his tracks for about 300 yards over the next 3 hours, found 1 area where a clot fell out and saw drops consistently for about 10-15 yard then nothing. We were able to find 1 spot of blood in an old bed about 50 yards from last drop in an oak thicket. There were 3 other fresh beds with fresh tracks coming out of each in different directions and it became very difficult to tell which tracks were his. We grid searched from that point for 3 hours following random tracks looking for blood or any sign but didn't find anything before my help had to leave. I was back up there 2 more times that day looking by myself in any area I could find a trail heading but didn't find anything by dark. Went back up there Saturday and Sunday looking for any birds and expanding the search some but didn't find anything else.

With how far he ran, the fact a lot of it was uphill and the lack of birds in the general area the next few days tells me he is most likely still alive or will possibly be a lion or coyote meal which sucks. I wish I would have found him so I could at the very least have learned from my mistake or where exactly I shot him. I am fairly confident I shot too far forward, hit his brisket area because of the muscle and fat on my arrow and no bubbles on my arrow or on any of the drops we found.

I am bummed to say the least. My 2nd opportunity in 3 years and I didn't make it happen. It's a terrible feeling losing a deer but I did learn a lot.

#1: Slow down even more before the shot. Make sure your angle is correct and that you hit where you are aiming.

#2: Take more Photos! Take a photo of the arrow as soon as you find it, any blood drops or anything that looks like it may help. Being the 2nd track I've ever been on didn't realize how important time sensitive photos would be. Color of wet blood vs dry, condition of arrow right after impact and so on would have helped put the pieces together as to what kind of shot I have.

#3: Tracking deer with a minimal blood trail is hard in the fall with everything turning red and in an area with red rocks. Try to identify his tracks and use that if you can.

#4: Hearing your deer crash after the shot is the best sound an archery hunter can hear. The opposite SUCKS!

Anyway, thanks for reading if you did. I just felt I need to write it down so I can start to move on from it and get back out hunting. All I have thought about since is the shot, what I saw when they were running off and if there was anything I could have done differently after the fact that might have produced a different result.

Back on the bicycle today to try and move on.
 

long hunter

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jul 27, 2021
Messages
1,003
Some where along the line every hunter who really hunts will lose a animal, sounds to me like you done all you could to find it its just part of the game, sucks yes but it happens, I do not bow hunt and this one of the reasons to many variables with the bow and to many lost animals in my opinion, but harbor no ill feelings towards bow hunters just not my cup of tea. Dont beat yourself up to bad thats how we learn.
 

AM_Hunter

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2021
Messages
78
What zone was it in? I found a deer leg last Saturday during opening of rifle. Looked to be fresh but I never found the rest of the deer or any other parts. No meat on the bones but the joints and cartilage were still there, looks like it had died within the last week(ish). Just curios if it could be in the same area.
 
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cjdewese

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 8, 2020
Messages
306
It happened Friday the 7th in 19 so i dont think it was mine. I've been finding a deer about every other month for the past two years. Both 16 and 19 have a pretty high cat presence unfortunately. We have an old guy that runs cameras year around as a hobby in retirement and has 5 cats in 1 picture near water.
 

Bubblehide

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Joined
May 13, 2015
Messages
3,306
Did you find the spot you first heard him crash;? There should have been obvious blood there.
 

AM_Hunter

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2021
Messages
78
It happened Friday the 7th in 19 so i dont think it was mine. I've been finding a deer about every other month for the past two years. Both 16 and 19 have a pretty high cat presence unfortunately. We have an old guy that runs cameras year around as a hobby in retirement and has 5 cats in 1 picture near water.
Damn sorry to hear that, yea the leg I found was up in 14, from where it was it looks like it got drug up by a cat or coyote maybe
 
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cjdewese

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 8, 2020
Messages
306
Did you find the spot you first heard him crash;? There should have been obvious blood there.
Unfortunately no crash. Heard a crash on my 1st buck but not this one. Just them running away and one of the does blowing. Biggest spot we found was about a baseball size and only twice. Once about 20-25 yards away from the shot shortly after the backnhalf of the arrow and about 150 yards after that. Never saw anything bigger than a drop much bigger than a dime for the 300 yards+ otherwise.
 

jedi

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Messages
79
Location
eburg
could have been a high double lung and thats the cause of little to no blood.

we had a similar situation with a friend years ago. high double lung, crawling on hands and knees looking for blood. would find a pin drop and then look at vegetation to see if we could determine direction the deer ran. found it laying dead 400 yards away and it looked like someone dumped two 5 gallon buckets of blood everywhere. we got lucky and found ours.

sounds like you did everything you could to recover. ive seen guys lose deer in rifle season with the same issues. dont get too far down on yourself. its the unfortunate side to hunting that everyone will experience at one time or another
 

Jump-High-235

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
11
If you hunt long enough, you'll lose an animal. My son lost the first deer he shot with a bow. Good lung shot, but we were too excited and pushed in too soon and jumped the buck, never to be seen again. I think your approach is correct. Evaluate what went wrong, determine what you can do better, and try again. Best of luck!
 
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cjdewese

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Joined
Sep 8, 2020
Messages
306
Some good news the other day. My wife saw a group of deer on some private near us and took a video of a buck she thought matched the description of what I told her about the deer I shot and lost.

Turns out he is still alive and doing well. Better yet, I got some feedback on where I hit him and why it wasn't lethal. You can't see it in this photo but I was able to go down and look at him with my binoculars to confirm.

I ended up hitting him in front of his shoulder and it passed through in front of the shoulder on the other side. Low and forward of the shoulder.

I went back and ranged where I was on that shot after the fact and also realized it was closer to 32-33 than it was to 25 so I think when I split my 20-30 pins I was still lower than I wanted to be.

Happy to see him alive and spreading his genetics around here, we don't get many deer that tall here and looking forward to seeing and hunting him next year if he makes it.
 

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robby denning

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Feb 25, 2012
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13,581
Location
SE Idaho
Some good news the other day. My wife saw a group of deer on some private near us and took a video of a buck she thought matched the description of what I told her about the deer I shot and lost.

Turns out he is still alive and doing well. Better yet, I got some feedback on where I hit him and why it wasn't lethal. You can't see it in this photo but I was able to go down and look at him with my binoculars to confirm.

I ended up hitting him in front of his shoulder and it passed through in front of the shoulder on the other side. Low and forward of the shoulder.

I went back and ranged where I was on that shot after the fact and also realized it was closer to 32-33 than it was to 25 so I think when I split my 20-30 pins I was still lower than I wanted to be.

Happy to see him alive and spreading his genetics around here, we don't get many deer that tall here and looking forward to seeing and hunting him next year if he makes it.
great news man.

wounding sucks sucks sucks and we all strive not to do it, but it can happen. I try to school myself hard on each one and not make the mistake again. Seems all we can do. Maybe you'll get another crack at him next year. Stranger things have happened.

thanks for the update.
 

Where's Bruce?

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 22, 2013
Messages
6,301
I feel ya. TSA messed up my bow's rest in the airport...shot field tips just fine but my broadheads were hitting far left. Learned this after an exhausting search for a mulie I hit that somewhere between 180-200. It is gut-wrenching but it's true, eventually we all lose one. Put it in the mental vault and forget about it. Easier said than done. This is the last item I saw when tracking my mulie...he had doubled back but my Canadian guide refused to continue to search in the dark cuz of brown bears in the area. Still haunts me.

IMG_2146.JPG
 
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