Yesterday I took a walk behind my farm to survey the results of this past hunting season. This week in the whitetail woods, I looked for dead whitetails. To my delight, I found only one. It was hard to tell the reason for the doe’s demise but I suspect she may be a wounded and lost deer. Not a bad percentage for the 700 acres of heavily hunted woods she lived in. At least 25 deer were taken from the property between bow season opener in early October and the close of late muzzleloader two weeks ago.
We have some very interesting scientific data that relates to wounding and loss concerning bowhunted deer. As a bowhunter, you should be familiar with it. The study was conducted on a 53,000-acre military reservation near Brainerd, MN in 92 and 93.
More than 6000 bowhunters took part in the two-day hunts and researchers interviewed the hunters as they left the field. They were asked how many wounded deer they had seen, had they shot at any deer, did they hit any, did they recover a deer they shot?
About 72% of the hunters who shot arrows that connected with deer recovered the deer. The other 28% did not recover the deer they believed they hit. This 28% was divided into three categories.
• Hit deer that another hunter claimed and brought in. Actually, the researchers learned that about 8% of the deer brought in had been hit previously to being taken down and tagged. In the end, about 45% of the deer shot but not recovered by the first shooter were subsequently shot and retrieved by another hunter.
• Instances where hunters had evidence of a direct hit, i.e., blood on an arrow or hair at the site of the shot. These made up 19% of the unrecovered hits.
• Then 1% of the hunters believed they had hit the deer but could produce no evidence of the hit.
An aspect of this study that makes so authentic is that the fenced property was flown and surveyed by helicopter after each days hunt. The chopper was equipped with an infrared sensitive camera that located the warm carcasses of downed and unrecovered deer. In addition, ground crews surveyed the property by foot after each hunt and scoured the property for dead deer and again a year later, looking for remains of dead deer that may have been missed.
In the end, only 13% of the deer remained unaccounted for and 13% were represented by the missed category or shot by more than one hunter. A 13% loss rate is very low and the rate is likely considerably lower due to some interesting whitetail physiology. That means that bowhunters are at least 87% effective.
All antlered ungulates participate in battles. Dr. Valerius Geist conducted some research on moose, elk and whitetails concerning injuries. He discovered that some moose sustained over 225-puncture wounds over a lifetime and survived them all. One bull elk had survived 103 antler puncture wounds and a whitetail buck 46-puncture wounds. In many cases, an arrow wound is similar to an antler puncture wound. Unless the broadhead entered vital organs or severed major arteries the deer, elk or moose, the animal has a great chance of survival.
Some physiology factors at play in the fall among ungulates are an amped up amount of testosterone feeding to specific muscles in the neck area. Hence, the swollen neck that plays a role in protecting spine and throat during battles. There is also an amplified clotting ability apparent in the fall and a flood of endorphins that serve to deaden an animal’s ability to feel pain.
The white-tailed deer we hunt are survivors and the Camp Ripley study serves as a testament to the effectiveness of the bow and arrow as a management tool. The single doe carcass that I found on the farm is more proof in the pudding.
All bowhunters use broadheads to take down game. My broadhead research has shown that not all broadheads are created equal. Choosing a broadhead that has integrity, accuracy and dependable cutting blades is also a big part of the puzzle we bowhunters must assemble. Go to www.swhacker.com for a complete graduate course in mechanical broadheads. Watch the short video and learn the truth about your broadhead’s performance.
Seeing is believing…watch this short bowtube clip on Wounded Deer. http://www.bowtube.com/media/1356/Wounded/