Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

Kevin Mennett

March 6th, 2017



Lessons Learned


Kevin “Roo” Mennett


The evening of November 5 found me perched in my tree stand trying desperately to relax and get comfortable.  Despite my best efforts I was failing miserably.   It had been one of those days; I was in a rush to get to my hunting spot, I grabbed the uncharged battery pack for my video camera, I bumped deer on my way in to my stand, my pull up rope was hopelessly knotted up. . .  I think you get my point.  So, here I was sitting in my stand trying to relax and focus but something prevented me from achieving my goal.  That something was my brother Cory.  Let me explain, Cory had been hunting in Pennsylvania and had kept me updated through texts about his morning hunt.  He had a fantastic morning full of bucks cruzing and chasing does.  He sent a text at 9:57 telling me things seemed to have slowed up and he was going to head back to his truck for a lunch break.  Shortly after, 9 minutes to be exact, I received another text saying he had just shot a nice buck.


I wasn’t jealous (much) of Cory’s success; he did his homework, scouted hard and hunted harder.   That’s the beauty of hunting the pre-rut, put yourself in a good spot and you never know what will happen.  To be honest, part of my frustrations was due to my losing faith in my stand set.  It was a classic funnel yet I hadn’t been seeing the deer I expected to see here, which was the cause of my lost faith.   My hunting options were limited so here I sat NOT being jealous of Cory’s success and not trying to dwell on the fact that he and I had NEVER doubled on bucks EVER.


The sound of crunching leaves brought me out of my self-inflicted pity-party.  I slowly rose and reached for my bow moments before two doe slowly fed into view.  I kept watch in hopes that a buck was following; he wasn’t.


I watched as the pair fed across the hill top when they suddenly stopped and looked intently behind me.  Soon I could hear something running through the leaves towards me; turning my head slightly,  the sound grew louder and I could now hear a series of low grunts.  Peering through the woods I spotted movement, the movement turned into a doe being harassed by a tall tined buck.  The pair were on a trail that would led them past my shooting lane in seconds.  I quickly drew, anchored, and settled my 20 yard pin on the opening.  I mouth grunted as the buck hit the opening and watched as my ignitor lighted nock momentarily disappeared as it passed through the buck.


I hung my bow up and sat down as I watched the deer take off through the woods.  I wish I could tell you that I saw the buck topple over, but this isn’t that kind of story.  As I watched the buck slow up, it quickly became apparent to me that something wasn’t quite right.


The buck had bolted at the shot but after going only 40 yards he slowed to a walk and began rapidly flicking his tail side to side.  I had been positive that I had made a low heart shot but the tail flick is often indicative of a liver or stomach hit.  I watched as the buck slowly walked off flicking his tail at me.  I was confused.


I was still baffled 30 minutes later as I knelt over the spot where I had shot the buck.  The arrow was clean except for the faintest streak of blood on one of the vanes.  The arrow and the pile of white hair I was looking at told me that I had shot low and simply “shaved” the deer.  The buck’s behavior and the two tiny brown drops told me a different story.  I was unsure and wanted desperately to search the trail the deer had taken but the phase “when in doubt back out” kept playing over and over again in my head.  That’s just what I did, I gathered my gear and quietly snuck out in the opposite direction.


I made a couple phone calls to a few of my hunting friends whose opinions I value;  they all seemed to think liver or stomach hit and remained optimistic about a recovery.   Good friend and fellow Ridge Runner, Steve Boswell, volunteered to go with me to help me search.


The next morning Steve and I started tracking my buck.  I was perplexed, Steve was optimistic and the trail was difficult.  Steve was able to make sense of the faint sign and within forty minutes, we were standing over my buck.  The 9 point only traveled about 150 yards before piling up.  My shot had hit farther back than intended taking the deer at the base of the rib cage.  Thank goodness for my Rage broadhead.  I called Cory to tell him I had found the deer, he congradulated me and said “The curse has been lifted!”  We had finally doubled on bucks!!!


While this story had its “happy ending”, some don’t.  The simple fact is, if you hunt long enough (especially archery hunt) you will have to track a wounded deer.  So in hopes of helping you recover your animal when the time comes, I’ve put together a few “Lessons Learned” over my years.  I have also included a chart I came across from Bowhunting.com that should prove useful.




  • Mentally mark where the deer was standing at the shot, the location on the body of the shot and the last place you saw the deer.
  • Observe the deer’s body language. Often heart or lung shot deer will bolt immediately.  Liver shot deer will sometimes take off only to slow quickly and “hump up”.  Stomach shot deer will “hump up” immediately and slowly walk off.  Often, both liver and stomach hit deer will flick their tail from side to side.
  • Stay in your tree stand or ground blind. Remain quiet and listen.  Sometimes you’ll be fortunate and hear your deer crash.  Sometimes you may hear other deer or animals react to your deer.
  • When in doubt SNEAK out. I can’t stress this point enough.  If you have the slightest doubt about your shot, sneak out as quietly as you can in the OPPOSITE direction your deer ran.  If you bump your deer too soon, you increase your odds of not recovering it.
  • When trailing your deer, stay to one side of the trail. If you walk on the trail, you may step on the sign.
  • Low and Slow. Bend down and look closely at the ground.  Take your time, this isn’t a race.  Go too fast and you’ll miss sign.
  • Don’t forget to check the trunks of trees and leaves. Steve was able to find blood under some of the leaves the deer brushed up against.  It was invaluable to locating my deer.
  • Mark the sign as you find it. I carry either a partial roll of toilet paper or even better, flagging tape.  It helps point you a direction your deer is taking.
  • Get help (but not too much). 2 or 3 people is my limit.  Too many people looking just increases the chances of someone stepping on sign.  I like to have someone (NOT the shooter) take point and the other try to decipher the sign.  The shooter is often too excited and misses clues.
  • Don’t give up too quickly. Patience is the key to a successful recovery.


Blood Types and Waiting Times (From: Bowhunter.com)

Description of blood sign Most likely source Min. waiting time
Bright pink-tinted blood, possibly bubbles (profuse) Heart or lungs, lung hit if bubbles are present One hour, immediately if you see the animal fall
Red blood (profuse at first) Liver Three to four hours
Reddish-brown blood, may show signs of fibrous matter (non-profuse) Paunch 10 to 12 hours
Bright red with pinkish-tint (profuse) Artery One hour, immediately if you see the animal fall
Dark red, may appear watery (non-profuse) Muscle/bone Follow-up immediately only if you are sure it was a muscle hit

(Chart Provided by Bowhunting.com)

WV archery 2016

Kevin WV Archery 2016

Cory PA Archery 2016

Cory PA Archery 2016


  1. Roo, Great read and advice. Enjoyed being a part of the recovery team. Congrats on a fine buck!

  2. Congrats to both Roo and Cory on two beautiful bucks. Nice job guys!

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