Tips on Blood Signs While Hunting

Recently, I wrote an article about finding a wounded animal, Finding Your Wounded Deer.  There are so many facets to this problem that I want to attack it from a different angle.


Blood Spatters are Important Indicators of the Length of Your Search for a Wounded Animal!


Blood Signs While Trailing an Animal

Understanding what you are seeing on the trail may help you in finding a wounded animal.  Wild animals are not going to help you; it is up to you to decipher the blood spatters.

The experts I’ve consulted suggest starting where the animal was hit.  They recommend using squares of toilet tissue to mark the trail. Alternately, use plastic flags (and remove them later).

Recognizing the exact location the deer/elk/whatever was hit might not be very easy.  Before leaving your shooting location, find some landmarks to help you find the correct spot.

Knowing where the animal was shot can be a good indicator as to the distance you will need to travel to find the deer or other animal.

Blood Signs

You might need to get down on all fours to search the area.  Sometimes, blood and hair strands cling to the sides of grass stems and other foliage.

  • Blood that is frothy — with bubbles — is probably a lung shot.
  • Conversely, blood with bubbles may be a hit in the neck, with the bullet or arrow opening arteries and windpipe.
  • Blood that is very dark, may show a liver or kidney injury.
  • Blood mixed with vegetation (often greenish in color), usually means a ‘gut’ shot.
  • Blood in a spattered pattern can show an animal that is moving fast or that major blood vessels were severed.
  • The height of the blood sign often tells you the location of the wound.
  • Blood spattered on both sides of a trail usually indicates a pass-through wound.  However, this same sign can indicate that an animal doubled back on his trail with a one-hole wound.

Blood Signs and Length of the Chase

Generally, knowing what a blood spatter means will tell you how long it will take to find the animal.

For example, that frothy blood sign that indicates a lung shot, will probably be a short search.

Blood with bits of undigested food (a stomach or intestines wound),will usually take a much longer time.

However, bright blood — indicating a muscle shot or heart shot  — could be either! (A heart shot won’t take long, but a muscle shot could lead you on for miles!)


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Thank you!


‘Elk’ is a Rear Window Graphic used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics


This blog is a companion to my website:

Published in: on October 14, 2010 at 11:22 am  Comments Off on Tips on Blood Signs While Hunting  
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