Whitetail Video: Coyotes Devour Bow-Killed 12-Point Buck

Unfortunately, the decision to back out of the woods at dark and wait to trail an arrow-hit whitetail in the morning can result in losing venison to coyotes.

Whitetail Video: Coyotes Devour Bow-Killed 12-Point Buck

The Tennessee public land bowhunt shown in this YouTube video from DO3 Outdoors (Dad of Three Outdoors) is a few years old, but I’m showcasing it because it does a good job illustrating the difficult decisions bowhunters face after arrowing a deer in the minutes before dark.

Do I take up the trail? Did I hear the deer go down? What are the chances I bump the buck? How cold is it? Will the venison still be good if I back out and wait until morning? Is rain in the forecast? Will coyotes find the deer first? 

I’ve bowhunted whitetails for nearly 45 years, and I can tell you that I still ask these questions and more after arrowing a deer when darkness is fast approaching. 

I’m not about to play Monday morning quarterback regarding the bowhunter’s decision to back out of the woods in the video below. I can’t tell where the hunter’s arrow impacted the buck.

What I see is the buck stops walking due to the bowhunter’s bleat, then it appears to stand perfectly still while the arrow is in flight. Maybe the buck didn’t crouch low to flee (i.e. jump the string) because the shot distance was fairly long and the animal didn’t hear the bow fire?

It also appears that the arrow, which has a lighted nock, penetrates fully through the buck’s body and then sticks in the ground. For that reason I’m confused by the hunter’s comment, “Please tell me I got enough penetration on that buck.”

Whatever the case, as you’ll see, the bowhunter follows a somewhat sparse blood trail and then finds the 12-point buck in the morning 150 yards from where it was hit. Sadly, coyotes devoured the carcass.

Thinking back on my many years of bowhunting with family and friends in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, we’ve “backed out” close to a dozen times and waited for morning to take up the trail. When temperatures are cool and the hunter isn’t confident in the shot placement, it makes the most sense to me. A time or two we’ve had coyotes find a deer first, but it wasn’t as bad as shown in this video.

It’s simply impossible to predict whether coyotes will find a carcass first. In the three states I bowhunt, coyotes are the most common in South Dakota, so I’ll sometimes take up the blood trail on a marginally hit whitetail in the middle of the night instead of waiting for dawn.

I hope I don’t have to face such a difficult decision this deer season. Waiting until morning is never easy, even though it’s sometimes the smartest plan.


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