Editors Blog

Blood-Trailing Gut-Shot Deer

 Blood sign. Photo by Chris Hermans

A bullet or arrow through a deer’s abdomen is usually referred to as a gut shot. What some hunters don’t realize is that not all gut shots are the same. The rumen (stomach) shot is probably most common because it is directly located behind the liver. The intestines are even farther back — located just ahead of the hips.

As noted in my book Whitetail Wisdom, a deer’s reaction to a projectile though the rumen is characterized by the animal humping up and walking or trotting slowly from the scene. It is common to find stomach contents (partially digested food) on an arrow, and to notice a foul smell on the arrow shaft itself. Blood trails often appear with brown/green streaks. Hunters should wait at least 10 hours before tacking up this blood trail. If left undisturbed, this deer will often die very close to its first bed. If you jump the deer, it might run a long distance, and it will oftentimes not leave a bloodtrail to follow because the wound will have either clotted up or become clogged with stomach matter.

A projectile through the large or small intestines is a true gut shot. These deer will also die in their beds if left undisturbed. Wait even longer — at least 12 hours — before taking up this trail. 

To learn more about tracking and trailing wounded whitetails, check out our latest home computer product Blood Trailing Whitetails.

2 thoughts on “Blood-Trailing Gut-Shot Deer

  1. stacy sutherland

    I just shot a nice buck not more than 2 hours ago from the looks of the blood trail he is hit in the lungs ( bright red blood not much dark blood)but i didn’t have the luxury of waiting 10 hrs to go get this deer it was getting dark so i had to start tracking and i found blood high up on a tree 4 ft high! all over the ground i thought sure he would be around there close but after a while i lost the trail and i started back out of the woods and damn if i didn’t jump my wounded deer i had walked right past that rascal he was hidden from me any way he ran off about a hundred yards so i went ahead and came home and called in to work so i can go get him in the morning. this buck shouldn’t have even went 5 feet much less a quarter mile with the amount of blood he was pumping out I shot him with a bolt action 270 at 25 yards you would have thought that would have been death in an instant but the dog gone bullet may not have expanded I do know it went clean through him. I never intended for this deer to suffer I pride myself on clean instant kills but something went wrong this time I had a perfect shot at his shoulder and i shot at it but i must have pulled off ever so slightly have you ever had this happen?

  2. Joel Spring

    I agree about the 10 hour wait. I frequently get called in to assist friends in tracking jobs and have had the misfortune of jumping gut-shot deer many times. I don’t know many deer hunters who haven’t had this happen to them — at least not many who have been at it very long. My only disagreement (and it’s a minor one) is in reading the deer movements. I’ve had gut or liver shot deer "hump up", certainly. But I think it’s important to point out that nothing is 100% in how deer behave after the shot. I’ve had heart shot bucks trot off with their tail up as if nothing happened — and then just tip over. I’ve also seen plenty of really good shots result in humping-up and/or walking away slowly. I think that, if you didn’t see the precise spot the arrow hit, that you shouldn’t take anything for granted until you see the arrow and, even then, it can be deceiving. Sometimes on a hard-quartering lung shot, you might find paunch, etc…..you never know. Nice article, and I look forward to getting the book!
    Joel

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