Most hunters have the fear of shooting a piece of game and then not finding it. For those who hunt in snow, tracking is fairly easy. For the rest of us when obvious blood is not seen, the animal did not show any signs of being hit and we cannot find cut hair or a blood-coated shaft, there are lingering doubts. Did I hit the animal or did I not?
Regardless of whether you think you did nor not, go look and look hard. I have shot many game animals and made fatal hits, but the critter showed no visible indications of being struck. High lung shots or mid-body shots on deer are notorious for giving this result.
For me deer recovery is a three-letter word. DOG. In the terrible thick areas where deer often go to die, my “hound dogs,” actually mixed-breed Labs, have found much game for me – some of which I would not have found. A few of their recovery stories are in my book, Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound.
I often use a plastic sled to drag my critters out of the woods and
sometimes employ my lawn mower to pull it. I also made a $35 “deer barrow” from a salvaged piece of aluminum ladder and wheels from a cast-off bike. One time I even field dressed the deer in the woods, put it in a cooler and used my safety harness and strap to pull it out of a deep gully to the road.
When I was in Alaska, I often cut up the animal into sections small enough that I could haul on a pack frame. I never worked with horses. I do know from others that horses that have been trained can carry meat, but don’t count on just any horse accepting a load of meat. They have to get use to that strange-smelling stuff that you are wanting to put on their backs. They may pull a carcass, but not carry it.
One implement that every hunter should carry is a simple drag rope made of nylon with two non-slip loops tied in it. Even if you don’t use it to drag the deer, it will be useful to tie the animal to the sled