Quantcast

Blood trail follow up

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

dsayer

40 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
433
Reaction score
32
I started to post a question about the lack of a good blood trail in the other thread with my Alabama deer but figured it might be better as a stand alone topic.

I was using my elk hunting load this deer season because I didn't have time to get to the range enough to dial in a PRB load, which I prefer for whitetail deer. So I was using 100gr of 2F Graf's and 380gr REAL. The entry and exit would looked identical, which suggests to me that the bullet just blasted straight through with limited/no expansion. It hit a rib on both sides. I've experienced this no/poor blood trail on one other occasion with a TC Maxi Ball and a similarly hot powder charge (T7).

Has anyone else experienced this? I'm thinking the hot load and conical projectile had 1) too much juice to cause sufficient expansion and "shock on contact" but 2) not enough energy for the type of shock one usually sees with modern rifles. I've just never had this issue with PRB over a more moderate powder charge. The vast majority of the deer I've shot with PRB have been DRT.

Combined with a shot in the upper third of the cavity and I think a poor blood trail is the result.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
1,122
Reaction score
800
I believe you are right on with the pass through, As you are aware the white tail is a tenacious animal with the will to survive that equals or bests any animal on earth in my opinion. I have harvested a few with flinters and percussion rifles alike. The longest shot one was 90 steps from my blind used a .54 cal CVA mountain rifle percussion, a huge 9 point that now graces my wall. 80 grns. 3 f goex , .530 round ball, 15 thousands patch. deer bled very little and went about 100 yards. Double lung shot found the ball on opposite side from whence shot right next to the hide, flatted about 1/4 size of original ball, no bone strike. There have been others dropped straight down with both black powder and the other type rifles. I like the 80grn loads and all shooting is done with 3 f, round ball with the softest lead you can find. I find with a bit of tinkering in load development this load with minor grn. variations works for me from 50 cal. up to the 62 cal. rifles. Never bought into the 100-110 gr. loads. And as always shot placement.
 

hanshi

Cannon
Joined
May 7, 2009
Messages
10,450
Reaction score
1,781
I don't think I've ever shot a deer with a muzzleloader that didn't leave a blood trail, often a huge one. Often the deer (recovered ball) bled more than many of the pass-throughs. Of course I hunt exclusively with ball and have no experience with conicals.

A few of the blood trails were light but still easily tracked since none ran far at all. Some leaked so profusely it was puzzling how they could even move out of sight. For a ball/bullet to expand it must be soft and achieve high (for a muzzleloader) velocity. Anything from the 1600 to 1800 fps range should leave a blood trail that at least can be followed.
 

renegadehunter

32 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Oct 29, 2014
Messages
499
Reaction score
285
Location
Idaho
Just my opinion based on my hunting experiences, but I'd say the higher hit is more to blame. The higher the hole the more blood required to fill the chest cavity and start running out onto the ground from the high hole(s).
I shot one with a .54 cal Hornady Great Plains Bullet with 100 2f charge about 3/4 of the way up. High hit due to a branch I was trying to avoid as well as pulling the shot a bit. At the point of impact there was some blood on both the entry side and the exit side and also a small bit of lung, but then none all the way to the deer 75 yards away. Lots of blood in the chest cavity when I cleaned it, but not enough to fill it up clear to the high holes I had put in it. The exit hole was about the size of a golf ball so there was definitely some expansion.
100 grains is simply what the rifle shot the best with the GPB conical and thus why I use it, but higher velocity should result in more tissue damage and expansion of the projectile rather than less. Ever seen what a really fast unmentionable does to a ground squirrel even if not using a HP?
I just feel that with a lower velocity projectile that doesn't create the shock wave/tissue damage that a higher velocity unmentionable does we need to shoot them lower in the chest cavity so that it doesn't take much blood for it to start running out.
Your shot placement is perfect for where I like to hit them with an arrow, so that I can avoid that arrow stopping shoulder socket if I pull the shot a bit, but I find that it does take a bit longer from the POI before I start finding blood on the ground.
 

brewer12345

40 Cal
Joined
Apr 22, 2019
Messages
299
Reaction score
105
I shot a yearling doe this Fall with a 54 PRB over a stout load of Black MZ. It was about a 50 yard shot and the doe ran off after I fired. Within a minute or so of the shot I heard thrashing and underbrush being broken, so I know that she died pretty quickly after I fired. I found some blood and a bunch of hair where she was hit, but the blood trail was almost nonexistent. Other than where she was standing where hit, I saw a couple tiny splatters. Luckily I saw the direction she ran off in and just kept doing expanding semi circles in that direction. Found her about 100 yards away, with tons of blood on the ground in a 10 foot trail leading up to the carcass. The ball appears to have flattened somewhat on entry given the size of the entrance wound, and there was a ton of blood in the cavity. I hit her a little farther back that was optimal, but the ball wrecked the deer: lung, liver, kidney, etc. I don't know why there was minimal blood trail, but I had pretty much the same experience.
 

bud in pa

40 Cal.
Joined
Apr 11, 2003
Messages
390
Reaction score
195
I've told this before, my buddy shot a doe from his tree stand. He was about 15 feet above the ground. His .600 cal. ball pushed by 80 gr. of 2 F entered the back between the shoulders and out thr bottom of the chest. NO BLOOD! I was on my hands and knees and could not find a speck of blood. We made ever widening circles and found her about 100 yds. away! Go figure!
 

Britsmoothy

70 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
7,164
Reaction score
3,763
Location
England.
These are low velocity firearms.
Forget shocking, concentrate on bleeding.
Deer shot with anything in the high chest/ just under the spine area can run a while without losing blood.

Lord Nelson was struck by a musket ball from above, possibly a .680" ish ball.
He hung on for ages but I bet a deer has twice his strength!
 

30coupe

40 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
375
Reaction score
205
Location
Iowa
I have a lot more experience with bow kills than muzzleloaders, but I can tell you a shot above the centerline of the chest will put very little blood on the ground with either one. The chest cavity will generally be full, but there won't be much leakage. There may be some fine spray from the nose on a lung shot, but most of the bleeding will be internal. The good news is they rarely get far with a hole in each lung, be it from an arrow or a ball.
 

Long monday

32 Cal
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
19
Reaction score
8
I unfortunately had this experience with 2 deer yesterday.

unfortunately, we never did recover the doe. 4 hours of looking in ever increasing circles.
The buck was found by tracking his prints in the soft ground.
he had it 60 yards. I back tracked on my hands and knees. Still no blood.
The shot was just below center line on his body. I failed to account for the fact that he was at 25 yards and I was sighted for 50. So that cost me about 2” high.
But seriously, 2 deer hit with a .530 prb and no blood = a more stressful day than I want to deal with again.

definitely aiming a bit lower next time.
 

DJH

36 Cl.
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
50
Reaction score
23
I've shot several deer with a .530 patched round ball. None of the deer fell where they were standing. All sustained horrific wounds as the PRB busted through the chest cavity destroying lungs and tissue. The shortest distance I've had one fall was about 20 yards. The last three have made it about 75+ yards. Typically, there is a good enough blood trail to make for a fairly easy tracking job.

The most recent kill the ball hit a little high but still took out both lungs. The blood trail was pretty sparse. When tracking I was starting to get a bad feeling because there really was not a lot of blood on the ground. As I kept tracking, the blood trail kept getting better. We found the buck about 110 yards away.
I tell younger hunters that every kill is different. Don't expect the deer to drop where you shot them. Always mark exactly where they were standing when shot, and the last place you saw them as they were running away. If they run out of my sight, I like to give them a few minutes before I start following up the trail.

Whitetail deer have never ceased to amaze me at their strength and stamina and will to live. The fact that they can travel the distances they do after the wounds they have sustained is nothing short of amazing. But......put the ball where it needs to go and you should recover the deer no problem.
 

tenngun

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
13,880
Reaction score
4,642
Location
Republic mo
Some times there just isn’t one.
Give your deer time to die. Ten or fifteen minutes. Swab, dry and reload. Enjoy the beauty of the day.
Most, deer will run straight and curve away from the shooter. So if your deer was pointing west and you were south deer should run west and curve north.
It will run and run hard. So even with a lot of litter or hard ground you can see it’s steps. If it hits brush look for blood off the ground. In a few hundred yards if nothing is chasing it it will lie down.
Listen hard for coughs , they sound like small dog barks.
Watch when you shoot. Sometimes they turn and flee along back trail. You have a wall of smoke. Be mindful of the edges of the cloud.
Get out in the spring and practice following deer trail. Scare a few and watch where they run. Go see if you can find their trail. Sit and wait for them to stop running then trail them. We practice at ranges we need to practice tracking too.
Low chest often bleeds well but not always. Spine shots bleed poor but they drop pretty quick.
Down body shots may not bleed at all. Or you only find blood a few yards from deer.
 

rich pierce

70 Cal.
Joined
Nov 27, 2004
Messages
5,105
Reaction score
1,026
Location
St. Louis, Mo
I agree a hit in the upper half of chest leads to a poorer blood trail. It happens s lit when there’s it much time to get a shot off. The front sight doesn’t get snugged down. But in any case a double lung shot should limit a deer to 125 yards. Waiting is key. I wait half an hour unless I see or hear the deer go down. Strangely sometimes another deer appears in that time slot and if you have the tags and don’t mind the work.....
 

Loyalist Dave

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
9,509
Reaction score
2,446
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Britsmoothy is correct..., you can only count on the damage that is done by the bullet..., and in my experience that often = the diameter of the ball, alone. IF it deforms, that's a bonus.

Bucks, especially if they have been "upset" in the few minutes before they are shot, tend to go far, and even with double holes they may not bleed outside their body. That upper area of the chest is sealed by the diaphragm. A high shot, as mentioned is often the culprit, but adrenaline can give the deer who has a cardio system compromised by a bullet a really good boost before he lays down and passes. I've also found "no blood trail" and when I found the deer and back tracked to learn, I found that there was no blood on the ground, but a whole lot on the bushes where he passed because he was coughing it all up. I was looking down, when it was 2 feet off the ground.

LD
 

Carbon 6

Cannon
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Messages
7,308
Reaction score
3,848
It is possible to send a bullet through an animal without making it bleed hardly at all.
The chest cavity is not a bag of blood, a good portion of it is empty.

I have shot deer and other animals that left me wondering how I killed them until an autopsy was performed.
 

Idaho Ron

58 Cal.
Joined
Mar 1, 2007
Messages
2,292
Reaction score
250
I started to post a question about the lack of a good blood trail in the other thread with my Alabama deer but figured it might be better as a stand alone topic.

I was using my elk hunting load this deer season because I didn't have time to get to the range enough to dial in a PRB load, which I prefer for whitetail deer. So I was using 100gr of 2F Graf's and 380gr REAL. The entry and exit would looked identical, which suggests to me that the bullet just blasted straight through with limited/no expansion. It hit a rib on both sides. I've experienced this no/poor blood trail on one other occasion with a TC Maxi Ball and a similarly hot powder charge (T7).

Has anyone else experienced this? I'm thinking the hot load and conical projectile had 1) too much juice to cause sufficient expansion and "shock on contact" but 2) not enough energy for the type of shock one usually sees with modern rifles. I've just never had this issue with PRB over a more moderate powder charge. The vast majority of the deer I've shot with PRB have been DRT.

Combined with a shot in the upper third of the cavity and I think a poor blood trail is the result.
I have a question. Do you know for a fact what the hardness of those bullets are?

The REAL bullet has a very small Meplat. It is almost a spire point. If that bullet was made out of harder lead that would be a big reason for it not functioning how you wanted them to. The high shot would also not help with a blood trail.

That said I used to tease guys on here about shooting tiny deer. Since then I had the opportunity to shoot a Whitetail buck. I shot the buck with a 243 Winchester at about 50 yards with a 100 gr bullet at 3150 FPS.
I didn't flatten him out. We didn't find a blood trail until he ran about 30 or 40 yards. I found him he was piled up and all turned out well.
The reason I mention this is, and I got to swallow my pride a bit here. Whitetail deer are tough. There I said it! If elk were as tough as whitetails pound for pound they would be very hard to kill.
The more I learned about them the more I found that even though muledeer are for the most part bigger I think whitetails are tougher.

If you would like I can do a lead hardness test on your bullets if you want me to. I have done it for a lot of guys here. If they are harder than you are thinking you might want to rethink your elk loads.
 

Art Caputo

40 Cal
MLF Supporter
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
462
Reaction score
602
Location
New England
While most of the deer shot with a LRB have dropped where standing, or within sight, I have had some tracking cases personally, and assisting friends over the years . Practices that I have found to be helpful over the years.
-At/after the shot, stay still and quiet. A fatally shot deer will many times lay down in cover, and bleed out within a short distance if it does not detect you. if it did detect you, or you prematurely jumped it, it can cover a surprising distance before expiring,
-If the deer runs out of sight at the shot, even if you hear a crash or other indication it stopped running,, wait at least 15 minutes, or even longer if you suspect a bad shot.
-Put a marker on each track or patch of blood found to determine direction, and be prepared to shoot. Do not step on/disturb any detected tracks or blood trail!
My most interesting tracking experience occurred in my early hunting days, about 40 years ago. I shot a doe at 45 yards where the ball angled from behind the back of rib cage exiting the chest, while taking off the top of the heart. She ran off at the shot. After about 45 yards of tracking the blood trail ended with no sign of the deer. After making several outward circles and finding no blood, I returned to the last patch of blood that I found. No additional sign, but I could smell “guts”. As it was getting dark, and using my flashlight I noticed a glint of white through a foot high brush pile about five yards from the last patch of blood seen. The doe had completely burrowed herself beneath a very small pile of brush before dying. The seepage of guts from the entrance wound was the giveaway.
 

brazosland

40 Cal
MLF Supporter
Joined
Feb 24, 2019
Messages
394
Reaction score
366
Location
Central Texas
Pretty amazing what a deer can hide under.
Years ago I found a dead one I shot wedged under a fallen tree. Definitely crawled under there.

Two things. The REAL bullet, being designed for hunting bigger stuff and is not cast from pure lead, it job is to make two holes in much larger targets. Combined with a pointy front end you won’t get the terminal effect on a small critter that a ball will give you.

Second, I kill a lot of hogs and it’s very common for their body fat to seal the wounds...even large holes. Which means little blood trail.

All that combined with a high hit equals not much blood. I still can hear my father telling me to “let out a lot of warm blood and let in a lot of cold air.”
 

hanshi

Cannon
Joined
May 7, 2009
Messages
10,450
Reaction score
1,781
I've had deer drop DRT, take a couple of steps and drop, run a few years and drop and so on. If they run out of sight I normally hear them fall and have heard them cough. Virtually always they've left a blood trail, usually copious, sometimes light but never that difficult to follow.

Whenever I shoot one I reload and wait an hour or so before leaving my stand. Not because I think they will run - remember, some are DRT - but just to see what else comes by. Many, many times I've collected three in under an hour, sometimes letting a couple walk as well. I find deer to be easy to kill with a good shot; occasionally even with a mediocre shot.
 
Top