Get on Track with Runnings this Firearms Deer Season

By Nick Simonson

With firearms deer season approaching, it’s important to be ready for what happens after the shot to be certain your deer will be found and your tag will indeed get punched. In addition to the gear required for scouting and the hunt itself, Runnings has all the tools needed to track, locate and field dress your deer this November and the friendly staff can help get you set up for everything the trailing process may require.

Main Light

As many large deer begin their movements at dusk and present the only shot of the day as the last of legal light fades on the horizon it’s likely that a night search for a downed deer will happen at some point during the hunting season. A powerful beam will help you find the trail and tracks in the dark following these pre-dark moments.  Strong multi-hundred or multi-thousand lumen-rated flashlights, like those by PT will dispense enough illumination to follow prints in the mud or dirt and pick out the bright red droplets of blood on the trail of a wounded deer.  Additionally, they provide the light necessary to navigate the twisting, tangled paths that many deer take to areas of dense cover where they will bed down and eventually expire.  Look for lights rated at or above 500 lumens for the brightest options to help pick out what can be very small signs in the grass or on the field edge.  When comparing modern models with older flashlights that used candlepower ratings, remember the lumen to candlepower ratio is about 12.5:1, to know how strong the beam will be.  Obviously, the higher the rating, the brighter and better the light will be for tracking.

Get Ahead

Additionally, having a reliable headlamp and perhaps a backup model in your gear pack, such as those by Browning will provide a steady flow of light as you progress along the trail following the shot.  Having a hand free to utilize a stronger flashlight to pick up on blood or other sign, and an extra beam to make things brighter, makes the whole process a lot simpler.  Find headlamps with adjustable elastic headbands that easily go around hats and caps which may be required in colder weather or as the chill of evening settles in. Having a spare means a second person can join in the tracking process, upping the odds of someone finding vital clues while trailing an animal.

Marking Tape

Bright, non-stick trail marking tape in pink, orange or chartreuse can be tied to branches, twigs or other areas to mark the trail of a wounded deer.  Simply tear or snip off a small ribbon and attach it to a plant, sapling or stick on the next point of blood, prints or other indicia on the path, and refer to it as you explore ahead for the next sign of your quarry.  Remember to tie it tight in case you bump the deer from its resting spot or need to return later (or the following morning) to continue the efforts, so it stays in place if weather patterns shift or the wind picks up.

Drop Lights

With the proliferation of low-cost LED lighting technology, a number of inexpensive lights can be stashed in a small case, ready for deployment in the dark.  Use them to mark trails at night at major junctions, sites of significant blood or other sign, and to serve as a reference point that can be easily seen from a distance.  Those with built-in hooks like the PT Power Worklight can easily be put up on fences to mark the point where a deer might have jumped and to provide guidance in the dark, or hung on trees to provide a reference point.  Just remember to pick them up when the efforts conclude.  Don’t forget extra batteries for these beacons and for main light sources.

Map & Contact

Whether on a GPS or in printed format, it’s good to have a map of the hunting area handy for quick reference.  Add in a page with topographical features to trace ridges, ravines, creeks and fields that steer deer movement to provide greater insight to potential travel routes after the shot.  Add in contact information for surrounding landowners (where needed in certain jurisdictions) to get permission to enter their lands while trailing a deer.  Make lots of notes as each season progresses as to paths, resting sites and feeding places as many deer will utilize trails, bedding areas and similar locations in times of stress. The knowledge of these locales will help provide a base for the tracking process.

eTrex 22x

Get To It

When found, field dressing a deer is the most important process in preserving the quality of meat for processing efforts which will follow in the days after the hunt.  The two most important items to have on hand, or easily stashed on a belt, are a sharp and reliable knife for skinning and opening up the vital area and a field saw for cutting through the pelvis for the gutting process or for working with other bones, should an animal need to be quartered and carried out for transport in certain areas of Runnings territory.  Keep knife blades extra sharp with the help of a sharpener and be sure to check them prior to the season to make sure they are ready to go when the situation calls for it.  If you need some help for the haul out, consider investing in a field cart for moving harvested deer from the field back to the truck.

Having these items will make any tracking, tagging and field dressing process easier, so stash them all in a case that is ready for deployment once hunting season starts..  Whether it’s a simple hip pack brought into the field, or a larger backpack stashed in the truck, having something to hold it all together makes everything easier to deploy.   Stop in at your local Runnings for all your deer hunting needs from the required blaze orange clothing and the necessities like ammunition and binoculars to those items that make swift work of tracking and cleaning your quarry.  The friendly and knowledgeable staff will help get you outfitted to make this the best deer season yet and bring the final part of your hunt to a successful close!