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Tracking Tips

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Tracking Tips

Postby Swede » 05 16, 2017 •  [Post 1]

The thread about our favorite time to kill an elk got me to thinking about the problems and possibilities we deal with when tracking an elk we have shot. If you have a good tip we can use, please share it here.

Here are many things I routinely do. I will share a few here and others can contribute more.

1. I mark where I last saw the animal as soon as I go to that spot.
2. I immediately listen to the crashes of the animal as it leaves. If possible I would like to hear it go down.
3. I look for my arrow if I believe I got a pass through.
4. Along the trail, I leave markers.
5. in the evening when I lose track of the animal, I try to catch its scent it by going to the bottom of the draw or down hill from where the animal is most likely down.
6. A running elk will kick up dirt and debris. It is conspicuous. Look for those tracks among the tracks that may have been left before.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby saddlesore » 05 16, 2017 •  [Post 2]

I mark every blood spot with orange surveyors tape on a branch, weed or whatever is close.

Stay off the trail itself

Don't ever assume that if you have a straight line for 50-75 or even100 yards the elk is going to continue in a straight line.They will turn right left or whatever at times
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 05 16, 2017 •  [Post 3]

Move slowly when tracking a hit elk. Stop often and listen and smell. An elk, even when hit well, may not bleed significantly for some pretty long stretches (depends on the hit, the hit angle, going uphill, downhill, etc.). Learn to tune in to the tracks of the target elk as much as the blood sign (this is crucial and may mean the difference between finding a wounded elk or not). Realize that bright red/frothy blood does not necessarily signify a lung shot. Did I mention move slowly? Its real easy to miss and even destroy tracking sign if one doesn't move slowly (and as Saddlesore mentioned, stay off the actual trail the elk is traveling as much as possible).
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Roosiebull » 05 16, 2017 •  [Post 4]

great discussion, and great tips.

one of my favorite tools in the woods, is one I didn't have for a long time, my gps. I had them in the early 2000's, but they were unreliable.

I love using my gps for tracking, it is a very helpful tool, marking blood on longer blood trails can really help, and gives you a spot to go back to if you lose sign. if it gets really sparse, I will use flagging tape as well, and pieces of toilet paper to mark blood spots on the ground.

looking for vegetation pushed in a direction is also a very good thing to pay attention to, and looking under leaves and ferns is important, sometimes, blood is not visible on the brush, but hidden on the bottom as animals move through it.

keep an open mind while tracking, like saddlsore mentioned, just because they go in a straight line for a long time, doesn't mean they will continue on that line. don't let your theories dictate tracking. they don't always go downhill after they are hit, and they don't always head for water....though normally they might, they don't always.

animals can cut back on their own back trail, I have been confused by that a couple times. sometimes you are wrong when you think they went a direction (at least I am :D )

I have been fooled on what direction I thought they went, when they went a completely different one. my buddy and I both were on a bear he shot, we both watched it run right, but it actually went left.

stay optimistic, some people are way too quick to give up.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Elkduds » 05 16, 2017 •  [Post 5]

We're gonna need a bigger thread...There is a lot to tracking. Look for blood and disturbances above the ground, on plants, branches tree trunks. During scouting, practice tracking elk you spotted so you can discern between fresh and older sign. Learn to recognize disturbances to down timber, dirt, rocks, leaves, needles. Look from different angles: left side, right side, down low in back, in front (without disturbing the sign as noted above). Prepare to be wrong, your elk may diverge from the bunch you are tracking. Then you have to back up and find where he turned off. Hunt in fresh snow ;)
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby saddlesore » 05 16, 2017 •  [Post 6]

This first elk,I had to depend on blood on high weeds she went thru.I lost the track, because she turned right, left cover, went across the beaver pond and fell in. I looked for an hour. My mule finally spotted her head out of the water,still alive. I had to use the mule to drag her out after I waded into that black mud to get a chain around her neck after I killed her.

Image

This elk last year, really worked me.Good double lung shot and a good blood trail after about ten yards. Again in high weeds. Another 30 yards and the blood stopped. I mistakenly kept going down several game trails that other elk with her had really scuffed up the dirt.Two hours I did grid work up and down and across,Funny,I thought I kept smelling her. I finally called my buddy on the two way and met back at the mules. Ate a snack and returned to the kill sight.
My buddy stepped off about 5 feet from the last blood and was standing on a log. He said "here she is right here" . That is the log on the photo.There were 3-4 drops of blood on the log. She must have fallen over, fell thru the green pine limbs and then fell thru the dead brush which closed back over her. All I could see was about 8 "of brown hair when he pointed her out to me.The 2nd photo is after we cut all the brush away ,trimmed the pine limbs and drug her away from the log.If I would have trusted my nose,I could have saved myself 2-3 hours of looking. If you smell that coppery blood smell the elk is close. More often than not,there is no blood for the first few yards. So if you really stymied, sit down and think outside the box for a bit.

BTW,I use the chili powder tip when processing her.It sure kept the flies and yellow jackets off

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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby >>>---WW----> » 05 16, 2017 •  [Post 7]

I use TP at every spot of blood I find. It is easy to spot if you feel the need to look at the back trail to determine direction of travel or need to back track yourself. And the big plus is that there is no need to pick it up after the tracking job is done. I hate flagging tape for that reason.

I also carry a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide. If you see a red spot on a leaf you can be sure it is blood if you spray peroxide on it and it foams up. I have used this method on dried blood that was 24 hours old and it still worked.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 05 16, 2017 •  [Post 8]

>>>---WW----> wrote:I also carry a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide. If you see a red spot on a leaf you can be sure it is blood if you spray peroxide on it and it foams up. I have used this method on dried blood that was 24 hours old and it still worked.


X2! WW mentioned this some 5 years ago and I started using it. Works like a CHARM! I always have a small bottle of it in my pack.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Lefty » 05 17, 2017 •  [Post 9]

After listening , sometimes using binos to watch and animal as it heads into thickets. I mark my shooting location first. A jacket, pack and or toilet paper.
Mark every sure location as you move forward
Back to moving slowly
Watch ahead 5-100 feet. Some grassy conditions , dew, and easy frost make a big difference. Look for sign not just blood rolled over leaves and grass is huge while on a fresh track
As kids my brother and I use to track for fun. Even got paid $50 in 72 when I was 15 to get on a buck and stay on it for the day.
A few years back a couple other elk hunters watcher me for over an hour , I thought they were rocks as a I tracked a bull I missed the night before.

Find the next sign before you move
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby >>>---WW----> » 05 17, 2017 •  [Post 10]

Just in case you haven't read it, I highly recommend this book. ( Tom Brown's Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking ) It's a heck of a good read. Some pretty amazing stuff and well worth your time. It just might make your tracking ability a whole lot better.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby ElkNut1 » 05 17, 2017 •  [Post 11]

Yes sir, great info! Use your binos! Use them looking at the ground in front of you, you will be surprised how just a few feet away you can pick up a nearly unseen drop with the naked eye using your optics! I also use them looking ahead for additional drops on logs, rocks, brush or anything blood may be on especially if not finding blood/sign where I'm standing!

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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Swede » 05 17, 2017 •  [Post 12]

ElkNut1 wrote: you will be surprised how just a few feet away you can pick up a nearly unseen drop with the naked eye using your optics!


Like one of the better Yogi lines I have read. :D
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Lonnie » 05 17, 2017 •  [Post 13]

I have a friend who swears that a blood tracker light is the best thing. I have thought about buying one. What do you guys think. I see the advantage if you shoot a animal just before dark. But I dont know if it would help you in the day light.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Lefty » 05 17, 2017 •  [Post 14]

When tracking in the dark , put your light at a low angle to the ground , dirt impressions can be easier to follow.

Sometimes turned leaves and grasses show much better with a flashlight in the dark, and are very apparent with a light
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Da White Shoe » 05 18, 2017 •  [Post 15]

Anyone that has only ever bloodtrailed deer will be amazed by how much blood an elk can leave on the ground without going down.
They just have way more blood to lose, before they succumb.
All the same bloodtrailing rules apply, but you should expect about triple the distance a deer will travel after the hit.
I believe... with every big game species that I've hunted...
an arrow that hits lower is always better than an arrow too high.
I feel that this is doubly important with an elk.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby WapitiTalk1 » 05 18, 2017 •  [Post 16]

Da White Shoe wrote:Anyone that has only ever bloodtrailed deer will be amazed by how much blood an elk can leave on the ground without going down.
They just have way more blood to lose, before they succumb.
All the same bloodtrailing rules apply, but you should expect about triple the distance a deer will travel after the hit.
I believe... with every big game species that I've hunted...
an arrow that hits lower is always better than an arrow too high.
I feel that this is doubly important with an elk.


Yes sir. The word "gallons" rings a bell.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Swede » 05 18, 2017 •  [Post 17]

While agreeing with Da White Shoe and RJ, I am often amazed at how little blood comes out of a well hit elk. This is especially true of one shot from a tree stand.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Da White Shoe » 05 18, 2017 •  [Post 18]

Swede wrote:While agreeing with Da White Shoe and RJ, I am often amazed at how little blood comes out of a well hit elk. This is especially true of one shot from a tree stand.


I'm sure you know this, Swede... but, for the newer guys...

Treestand angles make for higher than normal entrance hits... which makes achieving an exit extremely important. The blood that collects in the chest cavity will need to reach the lowest hole in order to spill out on the ground. If the entrance hole is above the halfway point on an elks side... and, there is no exit... that elk could go a long way without leaving much blood.
If there's an exit way down low... it'll usually be like draining a bath tub. Barring that hide or fat doesn't plug the hole.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Swede » 05 19, 2017 •  [Post 19]

Precisely Da White Shoe. I get an exit hole less than 1/2 of the time. Sometimes tracking is a meticulous effort.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Da White Shoe » 05 19, 2017 •  [Post 20]

Swede wrote:Precisely Da White Shoe. I get an exit hole less than 1/2 of the time. Sometimes tracking is a meticulous effort.


I've never killed an elk from a treestand, but I've killed a lot of deer from one. I been there... and, I feel for ya, brother!
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby ABQ_Chica » 05 29, 2017 •  [Post 21]

Thanks for the advice and tips! Any chance of putting this thread into the "archived tips" section? This one looks like it will be a good reference.
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Re: Tracking Tips

Postby Swede » 05 29, 2017 •  [Post 22]

I will gladly archive this thread soon. Saving good information advice is always a great idea. Thanks for bringing it up
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