If you love to go trophy deer hunting and have never had an animal become injured from a less than well placed shot, then you are luckier than most. But even the most skilled hunters will experience this situation at some point during a lifetime. Hunters without good ethics will leave the animal to go off on its own and suffer; whereas ethical and responsible hunters would track the animal down.
Yes, it takes time and effort to track an injured deer while trophy deer hunting. So instead of looking at it like a chore, consider it a challenge which reaps a great reward. Unfortunately, many hunters will track an injured animal for a short period of time, but as soon as it becomes too difficult or takes too long, they give up. The best attitude is that just as you need to put in time and effort necessary to go on a trophy deer hunting trip, tracking an injured animal is a part of the overall process.
Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the deer will likely leave a blood trail that would make tracking easy. However, the more common scenario is that another hunter will shoot a different deer, killing it and while going to retrieve and dress the body, they come across the injured animal.
Now, if you were using a bow for your trophy deer hunting, the animal typically jumps and arches the back when hit. However, if the deer were only injured, it would naturally hunch the body while trying to find a place to hide. On the other hand, if the deer were shot with a rifle or shotgun, a trail of blood mixed with brown/green particles (from the stomach & intestines) would be found in the form of digested and undigested food.
Another important note when trying to find a wounded animal that shot with a rifle or shotgun, generally they run much further than those shot with a bow. In fact, gunshot wounds often become blocked by the intestines so blood trails are not as common. The unfortunate thing about a wounded deer from a rifle or shotgun is that most injuries take a long time to kill the animal, which is even more reason to track it down.
To find a wounded animal, the first place to start would be at the initial point of impact, then head in the direction the animal ran after being hit. Most often, deer will take the easiest path to freedom, so as you make your way in that direction; try to think like a deer. It should be noted that deer will sometimes circle back toward the area where the hit took place.
Sometimes, just walking slowly, 40 yards or so and stopping along the way to listen for sounds will lead you to the animal. Deer want to get away from the area hit as quickly as possible; they are running on adrenaline.
A few other indicators that might help you in finding an injured animal during your trophy deer hunt would be to look for blood that appears frothy. In this case, the animal would have taken a hit to the lungs. If the blood is a deep red, then the liver was hit.
Additionally, when a deer is injured, it will typically choose downhill routes instead of traveling uphill. Finally, realize that death is likely to be very slow. Therefore, the animal will look for a place to bed, which is usually not more than 50 yards from where it was hit.
As an ethical trophy deer hunter you will be dedicated to tracking down a wounded animal. “Fair chase” hunting is the only way to go; being a dedicated, ethical and professional hunter makes you the best trophy deer hunter you can be.