5 Things to Consider when Blood Trailing
Know where you hit your animal – It’s important to stay focused when you’re shooting. Know where the animal is when you shoot it. Use a physical marker that is close to the animal when you shoot it as a starting reference point. Be aware of the spot on the animal’s body you hit as well. Knowing where your bullet or arrow struck the animal is very helpful information when you’re blood trailing because based on your placement you’ll know what kind of blood you’ll most likely encounter and where you’re most likely going to find it (ground, against trees, etc). For example, if you know you hit the gut, you’ll know that there will be green and foul smell around, if you hit the heart or liver it will be a dark red or if you hit the lungs it will be bright red and often filled with bubbles.
Behavior of the animal after the shot – Watch what the animal does after it is hit. Be aware of the direction it took off in and the condition. This will also be indicative of your shot placement. This will help you to gather more information that you might be able to confirm as you are trailing.
Wait – be patient. Give it space and time. How long depends on shot placement. Some die quickly while others die slowly. You don’t want to jump on the blood trail too soon because you can spook the animal and end up pushing it further. I always give a minimum of 20 minutes before following if I know the shot was great, and two hours if I’m not sure.
Study the arrow if possible – an arrow can tell you a lot about your shot: the blood or lack of blood, the color, and how much. Check if you can what type of hair is on it, since neck or behind the shoulder often has hair that is different in color or length.
Don’t move forward until you’ve found more blood – you can quickly get off the blood trail simply by losing the spot you last saw blood. To avoid this don’t move forward until you’ve found more. Mark the place you last see blood and continue scanning for more.