Goose's Deer Tracking Work

Posted by Vince Crawford | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Doe Hunt to be Remembered

Here's a FULL account of my hunting adventures from the opening morning of Missouri archery season. I apologize for the LONG read, but its just too cool of a story to not pass on.

MAN OH MAN! What a morning of up's and down's!

First stand location, played what the wind was SUPPOSED to be, per the weather man. It was supposed to be NE. Well, it was NW, and the doe coming in from the SE didn't think to much of me at 7am.

I needed to cook up some pasta for the football team tonight, so I was trying to decide when it get my 'cook on'.

At 9, I decided to just switch to my burr oak acorn stand that I WANTED to hunt originally, with the ACTUAL wind I had being perfect for it.

I slid over there as quietly as possible, and got set up by 9:45.

10:00, here came momma and two little un's. I had two slick head tickets to punch, so I was hoping to work on both of them.

Momma came right in, and I got drawn with no problem. At 22 yards quartering away with her head down, I let my arrow fly.

Something weird happened with the shot, but I never could quite put my finger on it. I heard the arrow crack the deer, but she ran away different than normal. I also saw the arrow flip about 15 feet into the air.

I grabbed another arrow to stick another one, and I drew, but wasn't presented another shot.

I sat back down, and recomposed myself, and sent my brother Nice a text.

Then, I heard twigs breaking to me back and right.

I grabbed my bow off the hanger, and found a doe and two fawns looking for me, but smelling the bottom of my stand instead.

I was confused. There was enough time for them to circle me. I had two doe tags to work with, so I figured I would just try to punch the doe, and worry about one or two blood trails in a few minutes.

She circled the tree, so I moved around quickly to my left and drew. She looked up at me at 8 yards, and I let my arrow fly.

Again......something not right. She wasn't reacting the way I was used to. Then it hit me that I was shooting new heads with a smaller cutting diameter, and something just wasn't going right at all.

I grabbed my one spitfire arrow, and knocked it, and turned around.

The doe and the two fawns were standing at 20 yards, looking at me.

As I drew, I saw blood drizzling down from behind her shoulder, but she just stood there.

So, I shot her again! This time, with my GOOD arrow!

And that shot CRUSHED her. She ran away just like they always do. Running for the hills.

I texted Nice again, and told him I wasn't for sure what was going on, but I was for sure done with the 'new, great' broadheads.

I relaxed, and waited 40 minutes. In that time, I realized the first doe had her brown coat, and the other still had her red coat. I was dealing with two different deer for sure.

I found my last 2 arrows first. They were both lung blood covered. Dead deer by a ways.

My third one, took me a minute to find. (Actually, my first shot). I began to really question what happened. I hadn't missed, because my arrow was not there?!

About 5 yards in the direction the deer had ran, I found my arrow, covered in bloody fat (not fatty blood).

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what that meant. All I had to hit was her bread basket, and the front shoulder, and her neck. Everything else was covered by a tree when I shot.

There was no blood.

So, I began to follow where I thought she had ran, and about 20 yards into the path, blood started showing up in squirts. Just on that left side too, BUT I had a passthrough with my arrow?!

I followed the trail about 150 yards, and found a bed full of blood. That, of course, is the best sign of......Back out, and leave stuff alone for a while.

I circled, trying to find a direction she took from there so I could mark it. No luck.

Something was really odd, and I was not confident I was going to retrieve this deer at this point. No guts, but a lot of blood, but no real sign of really giving up either.

So.....being the utility dog wanna be guy that I am......I called the Agent in that county, and told him the story, and asked if I could use my dog to give it a run.

I did NOT expect to get to try her out on the opening day of season, but WHAT THE HECK!

So, I picked up my gear, and headed home to get Goose.

Still having to get this pasta made.

Goose smelled the blood on my hands and boots, and was VERY interested to get out the door, rather than worry about some stupid pasta.

I weighed my options, and decided it best to make my pasta and take it to the school first, rather than bank on being able to make it back. I was right. The school worked with me to get it put in the cooler, so they could warm it up later (dinner is in 30 minutes up there. )

As we drove back to the farm, I started playing my blood tracking book on rewind in my head, trying to figure out how to approach this whole thing.

I let her sniff my boots more in the truck, and repeated "dead deer" to her over and over.

When we got there, I hooked her new 30 foot leash (number from the book.....easy to keep up with, and let the rest of it drag if you are closer to her) up to her. She didn't know what to think about dragging it at first, but I assured her it would be okay, and we continued through the woods.

We walked out to the 'stickin' tree', and I showed her the easy trail first. (the deer with two holes in her).

I repeated "dead deer" and pointed down to the blood. She was VERY, VERY interested. She ran back and forth down the trail. I wondered how to get her pointed in a direction.

Well, I just sat her like I was sending her on a waterfowl retrieve, and pointed down the line, and said, "dead deer.....fetch it up!" And she took off with her nose to the ground!

The trail was easy to follow, and we found the deer in about 80 yards.

As was expected, she freaked out when she found the deer. She liked following the blood, but had no idea what she was going to find at the end of the trail.

The first hole had plugged up with gut on the back side. The second hole was through the shoulder on the back side, so it anchored her good.

I assured Goose of her work, and gave her a treat for doing so good.

I then tied her up, and got that deer all tagged and bagged.

Then, we headed back to the 'stickin' tree' for round 2. It was going to be a tough learning curve!

Here's Goose with her first ever blood tracking 'find'.


So, we head back, I set her down, and point her on a line, just like we had done.

SHE wanted another treat!

Now.....I've got 150 yards of this done already, but per my book reading, we started over from the beginning.

And, I was keeping in mind, she could be following my boot tracks from this trail too, up to where I had hung my hat in a tree at the bloody bed.

I had not realized how much this deer had ducked and dodged through the brush.

Goose did it right though. Just like I had read. She had her nose down when she was on the trail, and you could see her body language change when she would lose it. (I could see the blood at a decent level to understand her changes.)

Here's what her body language looks like when she's looking to pick the trail back up again when it turns.


When she would mess up, I would let her work it out. If it took her longer than a minute, I would back up, and find a spot of blood for her, and point to it, and say, "dead deer". She would come to that point, and start over again, picking a different direction.

One spot hung her up really good, and I had to un-weave her leash out of all the trees. It was funny looking for sure.

When we reached my hat, she smelled the bed a lot, and really looked puzzled. She acted like that should have been the end.

So, I said, "dead deer. Find it" and gave her my double hand signal that looks like I am shrugging my shoulders and means, "I don't know where the heck it is". It works for her bird training, so why not this, right?!

So, she started making her circles, like she was looking for a bird, and acted like she came up with the trail. I'm telling you, there was NO blood. But, she looked confident with her tail wagging, so I picked up my hat and marked the spot with some tissue, and followed along.

I let her lead, and I just watched the ground. About every 20 yards, I would see a tiny drop of blood, or a smear on a twig. This went on for about 200 yards. I would mark spots with tissue about every other one I would see.

She didn't even look back to check on me like she does shed hunting. She just kept going.

The further blood spots got apart, the more I was doubting her, thinking she just decided to start going for a walk in the woods, but then, I would find another spot.

Then, she got to the edge of the woods, and stopped. PLEASE NO STANDING BEAN FIELD!

I marked the edge, and told her again "dead deer, find it."

She took off at a GOOD clip with her nose to the ground. I was speed walking, and had her by the very end of the 30 foot leash.

I wasn't seeing ANYTHING.

So, about 50 yards into this, I told her to 'whoa' and I pulled back on her, and slowed down to a crawl to look for blood. Nothing. There was nothing there. Deer tracks, sure, but no blood.

Then, I watched her sniff the underside of some beans, and I lifted them up! Blood!

I started looking with my head cocked down, and I could see it every 20 feet or so!

So, I let her take off again! Told her to "find it!"

Going, going, going. I'm thinking man oh man.......this is getting to be a LONG trail. Longer than I have ever had end at a dead deer, that is for sure.

Then, all of the sudden, she throws on the breaks, and there's a bed right on the edge of the beans full of blood. Crazy!

I start looking around, while she is looking for a new trail. 30 yards out in the beans, I see a circle of no beans. Then, I see a blood spot on some beans on the way to the circle!

I waited, COMPLETELY excited, and let her pick up the trail again. She took off through the beans with me in tow.

And there was our prize!

Less than an hour before, she was scared to death barking at the first doe. This time, she starts jumping in the air, barking at it, and the jumping and barking at me, like, "How do you LIKE THAT?!"

I'm telling you........ THAT right there was THE coolest thing I have ever seen on a solo hunt. She got two treats for that one.



So.....the conclusion.......what was the problem with the shot?!

I hit the shoulder! NO penetration into the chest cavity at all! The arrow hit the shoulder, and immediately slid straight upwards, exiting at the backstrap! Remember, I found the arrow near where I had shot her! The deer died from having such a bad cut on its shoulder that it bled out! AND THIS WAS WITH A FIXED BLADE HEAD! There were no tip or blade cuts on the bone that I could find at all either.


Comments (1)

  1. Awesome, Vinnie! Great dog work. Fun as heck, isn't it?

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