Hunters often follow blood trails to track game animals they’ve shot with a bow or firearm. Blood trailing is a skill that’s particularly important to bowhunters whose targeted animals can cover a fair amount of ground after being hit. This is true even if the shot is clean and fatal.

But blood trails provide more than just a trail.

Here are four Blood colors decoded

Blood color can indicate where a shot landed and, knowing that, the shades of blood offer clues about where the animal can be recovered.

Bright pink blood

This is what we want to see! You’ve probably hit the heart or lungs. If there are bubbles in the blood, odds are high it is a lung hit. Follow up immediately, but cautiously.

Dark red blood

Often indicates a liver hit. Wait several hours before trailing.

Brownish-red blood

Not good, especially if there is some grainy material on the arrow shaft and/or fletches. Often indicates a hit through the digestive tract. Back off quietly and wait at least half-a-day. If you shot the deer in the afternoon or evening, wait overnight before continuing the trail,  and then be on red alert for the deer to still be alive when you arrive.

Dark red blood with soupy consistency

Often indicates a muscle hit with no internal organ damage. Old school thinking was to wait overnight before following up, but the new school methodology — to which I subscribe — is to push a muscle-hit deer as hard and fast as you can, hoping it will either bleed out or you can get another arrow into it.

When making the shot, be sure to concentrate on the little spot on the animal that you wish to hit and follow through. At the same time, try and see exactly where the arrow hit the deer. When things are happening fast and your arrow is flying nearly a football field a second, this can be difficult. Knowing where the arrow hit is a big help in the tracking process. That’s one reason light-colored fletches, lighted nocks and video cameras have all become very popular.

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Featured photo: John Hafner