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    • johnny2
      Post count: 135

      I know no one likes to talk about this but what percentage of our animals shot aren’t recovered. Do you think that most unrecovered animals survive? Based on what I’ve seen over the years I think most do survive. What does everyone else think.

    • Chris Shelton
      Post count: 679

      The title is misguiding! But I get it now, anyway . . . this is a touchy subject. I have personally never wounded a big game animal. Unfortunatly the serious small game hunter that I am, it is basically impossible for a rabbit hunter to go without hitting and not recovering one. It has happened to me twice, and a freind several times! I can say that small game almost never survives! However depending on the shot I think that big game will survive if they do not become infected with a bacterial disease. My freind shot his first deer last year, nice 8 point buck, when I saw it I knew right away, and when he recovered it he found a wound on his back right leg, which caused the antler deformation on his left side. He had supposeatly been shot, and it must have happened a couple of months in advance because he was pretty sick. I would be willing to bet that some crop damage permitie shot the deer in the summer months because my freind got the deer in November, rifle season(he shot it with a curve though) and when they opened the deer they realized that there was no salvagable meat on him!?
      I do not know that for sure, I know the meat was throw away, but I have never heard of bacteria infecting the meat like that? I never saw what infection they were talking about, my freind is a very ethical hunter, it was his sisters boyfreind that told him it was infected! Anyway that is neither here nor there, my short awnser is yes I think most survive. But the question I will now pose is this- Is that what my mind says or is that what I want to believe?

    • Jesse Minish
      Post count: 115

      I think that most people want to believe that they survive when in reality they don’t.

    • Rogue
      Post count: 84

      I don’t know if it’s possible to put a percentage value on animals that might survive. I noticed that on a few other sites there still seems to be some debate about a magical void between the spinal column and the lungs. I had a horrible deflection on a cow elk 2 years ago that was quartering away and hit her in the hind quarter, she made it 80 yards before expireing. So unless its a minor flesh wound I have little faith in the animal surviving.

    • johnny2
      Post count: 135

      You’re right a percentage would be impossible

      As for the void between spine and lung, it exists. I have had 2 experiences with this hit. The first was on an 8 pt I shot a few years back on public land. Upon recovery I noticed a fresh broadhead wound through the backstrap. With a little bit of asking around I found who had shot him, actually a friend of mine. The buck had been shot 2 days prior to my killing him. When I shot him he was showing no ill effects. The second time was on a small buck I eventually killed 7 weeks, yes thats right, 7 weeks after my initial hit on him. I was pretty sure it was the same deer and when skinning him I found the scar in the perfect shape of the 3 blade muzzy(compound days). I have several friends who have also killed deer with similiar wounds. All that I know of were in perfect health. I say if someone doesn’t believe in this void they haven’t seen very many dead deer.

      I base my belief on the survival of many unrecovered deer on two things. The first is knowing a lot of hunters that have shot deer with broadheads lodged somewhere in them or bullet wounds from past seasons. I don’t think a season has gone by when one of my friends or myself hasn’t taken a previously wounded deer. And these are just the obvious wounds, what would we find if we were really looking. Second, I hunt public and private land, both recieve heavy pressure. I know most everyone hunting on these places and if I don’t I will know someone who does. I hear about almost any deer shot whether it’s recovered or not. I think that in most cases if a wounded deer dies someone will find it eventually. Crap, one deer expired in the creek after a fatal hit last fall and was recovered in a brushpile when the water went down this summer by some fishermen. There are very few carcasses found by folks roving the woods, and we are talking fairly small areas of land with a high hunter density. It may be different out west but even in the mountains here hunters are like horse crap, ain’t too many places they ain’t been(don’t know if anyone else has heard that expression before, it’s an Arkie thing). I’m not saying all lost deer are found by someone or they survived I just think most are.

      I have heard of documentation of deer survival even after a one lung hit. Documentation by biologists. Wild animals are incredibly tough. I have killed turkeys that wouldn’t make it through a metal detector because of the lead in them from a previous hunter encounter, struttin around without a care.

    • Steve Sr.
      Post count: 344

      Sorry, I’ve personally butchered over 3000 whitetail and a buddy and I have shot over 100.

      Many, very many, were shot too high but BELOW the spine. All dead deer.

      Backstraps are not below the spine.

      Yes, deer can and often do survive hits, as all animals.

      Ive dug out dozens and dozens of broadheads that were not lethal and the deer healed fine.

      Each and every one did not penetrate after hitting a bone.

      Lungs do not “collapse” during exhale. Their chest moves in and out as they breath, just like every other game animal and humans, and only a small percentage of lung capacity is exhaled. Even after both lungs are punctured by an arrow they will not be “deflated” in size to any degree when you field dress it.

      The only post I will make on this, I won’t argue this point that I have heard proclaimed for decades and decades but there does not exist a “no man’s land” UNDER the spine where an arrow can go through, forward of the diaphram and not hit lungs OR the artery running down the spine, if not both.

      Odd things can happen and some are such that no one can explain them but the fact remains that a sharp head passing under the spine of a whitetail, forward of the diaphram, will create a very dead deer in very short order.

      More often than not such a shot going through and not taking the deer out quickly is either higher or further back than it appears and was either a flesh wound if high or further back and behind the vitals.

      Even closely watching my bright fletching for the best indication, it’s not rare to find the arrow has hit one way or another much further than I would have ever guessed and have helped track deer after deer after deer that was “double lunged broadside” according the the hunter to find a deer shot a foot or more off of that intended area.

      Just my opinion that I feel well based by experience but feel free to believe what you wish and take shots accordingly that work for you.

      We will both be happy with your shot in that case. 😀

      No offense intended to anyone.

      God Bless.
      Steve Sr.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      I don’t believe that discussing numbers or percentages of bad hits and lost game — while honest questions — help us much. Truth is, it happens too much, with “too much” being a relative value according to our maturity as hunters and humans, so that while we can work and succeed in reducing it, any will always remain too much. And while it’s self-evident to anyone who’s watching that a vast majority of such losses arise from hi-tech pseudo-hunters shooting dart-weight arrows with inefficient broadheads at unconscionable distances, that doesn’t change the fact that we too screw up. I sure do and this year’s elk is an example that fortunately didn’t become a disaster. The one area we can talk about in this context that is nothing but productive focuses on primary causes, both personal and gear, that lead to wounding losses, and how to overcome these problems, at least in ourselves and our traditional community. The equipment end of this discussion is what the Ashby forum is all about. The personal angle is far more difficult to get at because it requires absolute personal honestly and admission of fault, when our instincts prompt us to deny or intellectualize. If we hunt long enough, we will suffer losses. That’s a given, period. Where the real substantive grit comes into play is in how we react. We can shrug it off, which I don’t believe anybody here is inclinded to do but is all too common in the big picture of hunting. Or we can honestly explore the causes so that maybe, going forward, we won’t keep making the same mistakes. This way leads to personal growth as hunters and thoughtful humans. The shrug-off approach leads to no gains whatsoever, for us or the world, while distancing us from the very things we should be attempting to grow closer to via ethical hunting. Or so he says, blah blah blah … 🙄

    • johnny2
      Post count: 135

      Steve, I don’t want to argue this either and obviously you have seen more deer than me, but if I remember correctly the backstrap runs from the top of the spine(actually its not the spine but a dorsal bone attached to the spine if I’m right, I don’t remember what it’s called) to the top of the ribs. Both of the deer I mentioned were shot through the bottom of the backstrap and top of the ribs well forward of the diaphragm. Now it’s been years ago since these incidents happened but I was looking at carcasses not remembering where my fletching was at the shot. Just for the sake of a deer anatomy lesson how could this have happened any other way? A spine hit would have been obvious and a lung hit would not have a deer kicking days or weeks later. I’m not the only guy around here that has seen this hit on deer later taken by a lethal shot.

      The statement about deer surviving a one lung hit came from a Jim Dougherty article years ago.

      Again Steve I respect your opinion, you seem like a level-headed guy that knows what he’s talkin about. I am really curious as to what happened on these shots. I was told about this void when I started hunting and every one that I know accepts it as gospel, I’m talkin guys that have been huntin as long as you gray beards:D What’s going on with these hits? Can you hit a deer above the lungs without hitting the spine unless it’s just a skinning shot? Wouldn’t a shot through the backstrap hit bone unless it went under the spine? Let me know man. If I’m missing something I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong.

      Dave, you are correct, this subject was redundant in that we already have the Ashby reports and that most folks that are thoughtful enough to hunt with a stick are most likely among the most ethical of hunters and discussing numbers of lost animals would be pointless. My bad. I’ll just stick to coming up with REALLY controversial subjects.:twisted:

      If nothing else perhaps this thread can satisfy my curiosity about this danged “no mans land ” shot.

    • Jason Wesbrock
      Post count: 762


      Steve is correct. There is no “void” above the lungs and below the spine.

    • Steve Sr.
      Post count: 344

      As far as this thread’s subject goes, Dave once again nailed it.

      As for the other, Ill post more on a thread in the future with a dead varmint in the photos to clarify some things I feel important.

      Might even be worth MORE than 2 cents.:D

      God Bless
      Steve Sr.

    • Hiram
      Post count: 484

      Some Indian tribes hunted this way which is to wound and track. It happens with all weapons in hunting situations which are unpredictable.Hunting is unpredictable otherwise we would just walk in the woods to the store.The only close to sure thing is the pneumatic rod poked through the brain at the slaughter house. I’m not condoning it,(wounding) I hate it! But it happens and always will. Precautionary measures are all part of shooting and tuning, honing your “Getting Close” skills along with growing up into a seasoned and responsible Bowhunter.I have wounded Deer before. I also make every effort to recover it! I believe that is the difference between some of us and others. Wasted meat is the real crime after the mistake was made by wounding it. Every effort to “kill it quickly” out of respect and honor for the critter along with hard headed “not giving up on the recovery” attitude must be done.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      J2 — In no way did I intend to scold you or say this/your thread is a “bad.” Rather, simply trying to refine it to what I, whose opinions are of no more value than yours or others, consider the meat of the matter.

      The “fin” of rib-like bones projecting up from the spine is called the “spinal process” and the backstrap runs along either side of it, external of the rib cage. The much smaller tenderloins run opposite the backstraps, on the inside of the rib cage. On a porkchop or T-bone, the backstrap is the bigger round piece and the tenderloin is the smaller. With dead elk lying on their sides, there is always a “void” of open space between the lungs and other organs and the spine. Thanks to this void, we are able to remove the tenderloins simply by cutting up along the back rib to the spine and sawing through a few ribs, then cutting down again and pulling the ribs back … without having to gut the animal, which with elk saves a lot of work and about a foot of blood and guts up your arms! It’s all good! dave:)

    • William WarrenWilliam Warren
      Post count: 1384

      Bad shots happen even if we have practiced due diligence in our preparations. I had the misfortune of losing the very first deer I ever shot with an arrow. It was a poor shot placement, a classic rookie mistake of shooting to far forward. Second mistake was going after him too soon and jumped him out of a bed. Spent the entire next day trailing tiny specks of blood to a second bed. there was no more blood after he left that bed. That experience has effected me for a long time and I have probably passed on many animals that I should have shot at because I was waiting for that perfect shot. As a result, I prefer close shots, 15 yards or less, quartering away at unsuspecting animals. Anything else and I’m likely to hold my draw.
      As for an “annular space” under the spine? I’ve field dressed many deer and I have not seen this. I think a high shot from a tree stand might produce only a one lung hit resulting in a long tough tracking job. If you think you have a high hit, it pays to wait awhile before going after him or it could result in a lost deer. Just my thoughts.

    • johnny2
      Post count: 135

      David, I didn’t take it as a scolding but more of a…well as you said a call to get to “the meat of the matter”(sorry, I just couldn’t say it any better). Looking at my first post from the distance of a day or two, asking for folks to put a number on wounded animals seems a little goofy. And you should know by reading my other posts that if I disagree with your opinion I’ll tell ya, no matter who you are.:twisted:

      I think the best thing to come out of this will be some pics by Steve. We could all use an anatomy lesson. I am still dumbfounded as to what is happening on these hits. As I’ve said, I saw with my own eyes what I took to be wounds in this void. That being said I told Steve in a PM that I haven’t bothered to look at vital organs in an intact rib cage in a long time. Shame on me.

    • SteveMcD
      Post count: 870

      All I can say is… I have taken few shots that I have regretted, but I have never regretted not taking a shot.

      Whitetail Autonomy –


    • johnny2
      Post count: 135

      Ok, some of you have said there is no void but no on can explain the shots. Steve came closest in a PM, said that the lungs did not extend to the back of the rib cage. I can buy that. Maybe a shot under the spine and behind the lungs but in front of the diaphragm. That still makes a void, it just changes the geography.. I have dressed lots of deer, but as I mentioned before I havn’t bothered to look at organs inside the rib cage in a while. But wouldn’t the lungs sit different in deer inverted or laying on the ground as opposed to a standing deer?

      Someone explain the scenarios I asked about. If you can’t explain them I don’t think you can say with certainty that there is no void.

      You can be certain if I see this again I’ll be postin some pictures.

      David, I reread one of you posts about the location of backstraps and tenderloins and you mentioned a “void” are you saying there is one?

      I know we may never know the answer to this and every one may have their opinion but ain’t it interesting how a thread has evolved into a complex discussion about a few square inches of deer.:)

    • rayborbon
      Post count: 298

      Will it survive and what percentage?:

      Depends on where it was hit, how deep, etc.

      I have lost one bear once. Nothing else so far. I think that bear lived. I’ll never know for sure. All I can do is try hard every time to make the best shot I can do and do it right.

    • JEVANS
      Post count: 15

      I have lost deer. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not embarassed to say it either. It’s just part of hunting. Some from bad shots and a some from bad decisions. I think anyone who is experieinced will say the same thing.

      One shot that I made still puzzles me. My Dad and I were putting a stalk on a whitetail buck, a tall 9 point that we had been watching. We were in some heavy brush when he stood up about 15 yards infront of me and I made the shot.

      Here’s the wierd part. We both had a great look at the shot. 15 yards, perfectly broadside and looking the opposite direction when the arrow hit him. It passed clean through. Looked like it never even slowed down.

      When I retreved the arrow there was just a little speck of blood on the cock feather. There was no sign and no blood on the ground. I looked for that deer for 2 weeks and never found it.

      The next year my neighbor told me that he had seen a tall 9 point with a white scar on his side. I never got to see the deer, but his description was perfect. I am sure it was the same deer.

      The moral of the story is, that if there isn’t a hollow spot then I shot the “magic arrow”.

    • Bloodless
      Post count: 103

      Johnnytwo — I can sort of echo wat Dave said about the ‘void’ in elk, at least dead ones laying on their sides — big space up there on top! Maybe different on live deer for shooting purposes but in any case a hi shot like that ain’t no good shot, no way! Void or none. “low-front,” get to the heart of it! bb

    • johnny2
      Post count: 135

      Update. Last week I talked to a friend of mine that owns a meat packing company(slaughterhouse for those not so p.c.), this guy processes between 3000 and 4000 deer every year for at least the last fifteen years, somebody do the math, that’s a lot of deer! I posed the question about the void. He told me there is definitely a space between the lungs and spine on a deer that can be hit by a bullet or arrow which is not fatal to the deer. He has seen numerous deer with scar tissue from old wounds on pass through shots that happened in seasons past. Think what you want but I believe a guy with this much hands on experience with deer carcasses would know.

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