Venison in the freezer depends on a successful recovery. The moments after the shot can be just as important as the preparation that went into the shot opportunity itself. Here’s an action plan after the shot has been taken.
Look and Listen
Watch the reaction of the deer very closely right after the shot for any clues of the hit. Visually mark the exact spot where you last saw the deer. Listen for any sign of the deer expiring, a loud crash for example.
Prepare for a Second Shot and Stay Safe
Even if the deer went down immediately, go ahead and make plans for a second shot. If the deer is still within range and you are not 100% sure your first shot will result in a quick expiration, take a second one. Make certain your firearm is unloaded and you follow treestand (if using one) and hunting safety before moving to the next step.
Study the Sign and Take Up the Trail
What you know about the shot will determine how quickly you should take up the trail and start recovery. Unless the deer clearly expired within sight, you should wait at least 10-30 minutes before pursuing the trail. Start at the spot of the shot and study any available sign. Bubbly red blood most likely indicates a lung shot; a good sign. Walk slowly on the blood trail marking where last blood is. Use an orange hat or something similar; flagging and bright eyes work well too. For paunch or other less desirable shots, wait at least 4 hours before taking up the trail.
Follow the Rules
Make certain you fill all state game and fish laws after you recover your deer. Most require immediate tagging and some require calling in as well. Know and study the regulations before you go out.
Take Another Shot – with a Camera
Shot opportunities are often extremely quick. The moment of harvest took seconds while the preparation may have been months. Preserve the hunt with great photos. Grab a buddy or use the timer feature on a smartphone. Always clean up the deer (wipe off blood, place tongue in the mouth, etc) before taking photos. Include your gun or bow, but make sure it is displayed safely. 80% of the public doesn’t hunt so ensure social media posts or promos represent hunting favorably.
Keep It Clean and Cool
As soon as possible, start the field dressing process with a goal to keep the meat clean and cool the entire time. Wear gloves while field dressing (check out HS field dressing items here).
A well placed shot is just the beginning to enjoying venison with family and friends. Follow a plan and you will have the grill going in the no time.