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Sun. Dec. 17, 10:00 AM ET

Trailing Wounded Deer

After he shot, Huntley couldn't see where, or if, the bullet struck. After the smoke cleared, Huntley watched the buck intently, saw that he was hit, and noted several landmarks near the spot where the buck disappeared into the brush.

Normally Huntley would have given the buck more time to expire before exiting his stand, but the sun was setting on the Oklahoma skyline and time was of the essence. He had to find the blood trail, and hopefully a dead deer at the end of dark.

Huntley went to where he last saw the buck just before nightfall, but the deer was nowhere to be found. However, he found blood, and tied a piece of surveyor’s tape to a branch above it to begin a highly visible blood trail that he could backtrack if needed.

With the first spot of blood marked, Huntley began the search for the next step of the blood trail. Surveyor’s tape is an indispensable item both for marking a blood trail and for relocating a large kill, such as an elk, that must be packed out in stages.

Huntley was extremely relieved to find another big spot of blood and marked the second stage of the blood trail. He used a simple overhand knot to tightly secure the surveyor’s tape to the highest branch he could find.

Make sure you purchase reflective surveyor’s tape, which is invaluable if you need to follow an animal after dark. A high-powered flashlight will help you find both blood on the ground and your marked blood trail.

After losing the blood trail Huntley backtracked to the spot where he last found blood and searched the ground in every direction. Wounded animals travel in unpredictable routes. Marking the blood trail is often the difference between elation and devastation.

Thanks to an inexpensive roll of surveyor’s tape and his own diligence, Huntley found his trophy just after dark and was able to recover this fine buck before any meat spoilage could take place.