Just sick to my stomach...


Oct 23, 2020
In a long hunting career, I've lost one deer. That occurred some 25 years ago.

I'm hoping I don't make it number 2. I'd been bowhunting and had a nice little basket buck coming in to my stand pretty regularly. He popped out tonight feeding in the small field and I watched him for ten long minutes as he fed closer to me.

I'd made up my mind that if he came into range, I'd take him.

Just a minute later he fed into a patch of flattened grass that I'd ranged at 20 yards and I pulled back on the bow. I hit the release and heard the thwack. He hunched up at the impact and bounded off. I could see the arrow hanging out the off side, basically held in just by the vanes. By all appearances, he took the arrow clean through both lungs. He stopped 50 yards out and wobbled on his feet. I figured he's one dead deer. He pivoted and ran unsteadily into the woods...I heard a couple of crashes in the brush and then...silence. Since it was nearly dark, I climbed down from the stand and gathered my gear and enlisted my brother in law to help drag. I was pretty confident I'd have a short blood trail ending in a dead buck.

2 hours of diligent search by headlamp revealed no deer, no arrow, and not a single drop of blood. I'll be back out searching at first light, I can't imagine the deer is alive, but I know they're tougher than folks give them credit for. Right now, I'm just sick to my stomach. I'd feel better if I'd just missed clean.
I shot a young doe this evening. She was hit hard with a 220 grain Speer FN from a 356 Win. She ran through incredibly thick bush for almost 80 yards. It took some work, but with the help of a good friend, we found her. The shot took out the lower lobe of both lungs and ruptured her liver. She did leave a sparse blood trail that grew more pronounced with each bound. I'd guess that Guy is spot on when he suggests that you'll find him after sunup.
Sometimes they don't leave much blood sign. Better light will make a difference. From the sounds of it, I think you will find him.


Spent several hours this morning combing my hunting area without success. The area is rough like E. Tennessee gets-steep oak thickets, sinkholes, blow downs, grapevine and bramble choked ravines. It's entirely possible that deer was down and dead in minutes and is in some ravine beyond the fence. I did hang the trail camera back up in case he comes back and is merely wounded.

With the rut on, there are enough does in the area that he won't go anywhere if he's living yet.

This weekend is the youth hunt and archery opens back up on Mon.
Man that stinks. I think we’ve all had it happen and it puts a knot in your gut. Considering your description of the hit and the obstacles of the territory, I’d bet he expired quickly and is just well hidden.
Sorry to hear this, but I think the others are correct, we've all had it happen. Brings back some bad memories.
I was hunting here in KY years ago with my dad. He put a 12ga slug into a small 8pt and it ran off around the side of the hill. I picked up some hair and started trailing in the direction it had gone. Eventually I started seeing some blood. I trailed him across one ravine, then across a second ravine, then to a third ravine where I lost the sign. Didn't see the deer anywhere, so I started circling. Ended up back at the edge of the third ravine. Upon looking closer, something at the bottom of the ravine caught my eye. The buck had made it to the spot where I was standing, then collapsed and slid down into the ravine. When he got to the bottom, the leaves swallowed him up until just the tip of his nose was sticking out, and that's what had caught my eye. Almost impossible to see.
I shot a doe from about 75 yards with a .45-70 three or four years back. It felt like a great shot, lots of blood. Never found her that night or the next couple of days. I suppose its possible something else got to her during that first night but that was/is of little comfort.

I sincerely hope you find that buck. Believe me I know what you're going through. It happens to everyone sooner or later I suppose.

Do your due diligence and whatever happens is what happens. Lessons learned don't come cheap. Sometimes the only lesson to be learned is that its possible to do all the right things and still fail now and again. That's life brother.

The very best of luck to you.
Been there....sucks. Happened to one of our party last year. As has been noted, nothing in nature goes to waste. You have done diligent and ethical work to try and find the animal. CL
That stinks! Been there myself bow hunting. I’m confident you’ll find him at first light. Wish you the best of luck.
I hit 1 this afternoon. Found blood where it was standing when i shot. Followed the blood for 30yds on the run she was on. Got to a grass field and couldn't find any blood. It sucks.
I know what you’re going through.

BTDT got the T-shirt. From your description I’m confident that buck is DOA. I had a similar experience on a coues deer hunt.

Another hunter found the rack two years later. It’s amazing the places they can get in to when dying. I commend you for your due diligence.